Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More interdisciplinary junior faculty proposals OK’d

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Navigating the ever-changing digital landscape. Taking knowledge of the human genome and cell mechanics to the next level to improve disease treatment. Understanding how the structures we build affect the natural environment.

These are three of six interdisciplinary teaching and research areas that will be the focus of a second round of junior faculty hiring. This year 24 positions are called for in the proposals that were chosen from 28 proposals (requesting 123 positions), submitted to the Office of the Provost.

“From cells to skyscrapers, our faculty are engaged in path-breaking work. The proposals submitted to the interdisciplinary initiative this year reflected the innovative ideas and imaginative approaches to complex problems that characterize work across the campus,” says Provost Teresa Sullivan.

President Mary Sue Coleman announced in 2007 a five-year, $30 million initiative to hire 100 tenure-track junior faculty members to increase the university’s focus on teaching and research across disciplines.

The goal is to recruit scholars whose work crosses boundaries or for cluster hires that bring experts from different fields together to explore significant questions or address complex problems.

“We continue to receive impressive proposals that are creative in their intellectual approach to solving problems. These newest faculty positions will provide students with increased opportunities to learn the value of approaching dilemmas from multiple perspectives,” Coleman says.

Last year, 25 junior faculty members were hired for projects ranging from data mining to microbial ecology and energy storage to HIV/AIDS. The latest round of topics are: Digital Environments; Environment, Information, and Sustainable Development: The Asia-Africa Nexus; Financial Markets; Multiscale Cell Mechanics; Petascale Computing; and Sustainable Built Environments.

The proposals include departments within LSA, the School of Information, School of Natural Resources and Environment, College of Engineering, the Medical School, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Law School, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning.

Announcing the new hires, Sullivan reiterated that while the university faces fiscal challenges in the current economy and is looking at ways to trim the budget in the face of continued declining state support, protecting the university’s academic mission remains the top priority.

"Investing in faculty is critical to maintaining our position as a leading university," Sullivan says. "Recruiting promising junior faculty strengthens our research and teaching capacity and helps us to retain outstanding senior scholars as well."

All schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus are eligible to submit proposals.

An Interdisciplinary Junior Faculty Initiative Faculty Review Committee evaluates proposals based on rationale, intellectual strength, contributions to undergraduate and graduate education, mentoring plan, promotion and tenure plan, and contribution to advancing institutional priorities.

The committee recommends proposals for funding. Sullivan and Coleman make final decisions.