Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recruitment program combines postdoc and tenure-track faculty slots

U-M is collaborating with the University of California (UC) to attract faculty by offering up to nine postdoctoral fellowship spots that can lead to tenure-track faculty positions.

What the candidates get is a big head start on their academic careers. In turn, university officials hope to attract exciting new scholars who will contribute to U-M's diversity and excellence while bringing new talents to campus.

Through the new President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, U-M is offering postdoctoral research fellowships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and social, behavioral and economics (SBE) fields, coupled with faculty mentoring, professional development and academic networking opportunities.

"Most importantly, we view these postdoctoral fellowships as providing an exceptional opportunity to recruit potential new faculty to the university," says Provost Phil Hanlon. He says U-M seeks applicants whose research, teaching and service will contribute to diverse perspectives and equal opportunity in higher education.

"This program offers not only individual faculty and postdoctoral applicants unique opportunities, it is also a special opportunity for departments to pursue highly qualified applicants with unusually attractive offers of a postdoctoral fellowship followed by a tenure-track position," says Abigail Stewart, Sandra Schwartz Tangri Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies, professor of psychology and women's studies, LSA; and associate dean, academic programs and initiatives, Rackham Graduate School.

She pointed out that the program is in keeping with the university's ongoing proactive approach to identifying and recruiting faculty who contribute unusual talents to the U-M community.

UC offered this opportunity to universities including U-M that have met since 2001 to discuss increasing the representation of women and minorities particularly in STEM disciplines. The university is the first to join UC to offer the postdoc program.

"U-M felt that UC's success in administering this established program, and it's national appeal to applicants, were attractive reasons for us to collaborate," Stewart says. "The UC program is widely known nationally and internationally; we believe we will build up a large and competitive applicant pool much more rapidly through this collaborative process."

Chris Whitman, vice provost for academic and faculty affairs, Office of the Provost, says, "It seems to be a very effective model because it not only attracts many applicants, but recently the junior faculty hired through this program at UC have been tenured at a greater rate than other young faculty. We hope to be equally successful."

The UC is hosting the website and will transmit all applications to U-M, which will make all decisions about applicants to U-M. Applicants may apply to both programs at once, or to either one.

Each candidate will need to specify a faculty mentor who is contacted in advance of application, and willing to serve as a mentor. Faculty members are encouraged to identify emerging scholars they would be interested in sponsoring for this fellowship program.

The program will provide funds for salary, benefits and research. Up to nine post-doctoral positions will be available annually, until nine faculty positions are filled.

While the program isn't intended as a pilot program or template for future programs, "It may offer a model of cross-institutional cooperation in pursuing valued goals that will benefit all of us — institutions and applicants," Stewart says.

The online application is available at sitemaker.umich.edu/um-postdocs. All application materials must be received by Nov. 1.

Hanlon also says it is possible to plan for a potential candidate to do a postdoc in one academic department, but to take up a tenure-track position in another. In that case, both departments should be identified in the application process.