Six professors accept SEAS buyout

Six faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Science have accepted the University’s buyout packages, and the University’s top academic officer said last week employees in other schools and departments might face a similar option in the future.

The SEAS buyout packages, which were offered by administrators to free up resources for more research-focused faculty, were offered in October, and professors had to accept the package by Jan. 29. Thirty-three professors declined, Executive Vice President Donald Lehman said.

Lehman declined to give the names of the six departing faculty members, but said he is satisfied with the number of professors who took the buyout.

“It is certainly satisfactory. Six out of 39 is, depending on how you want to say it, somewhere between one-sixth and one-seventh of the total number that were eligible,” he said. “That is not bad at all, that’s good.”

He added that if the economy were better, he thinks more professors would have accepted the buyout.

“If it had been a normal economic time I would have expected about 10, cause 10 is about 25 percent,” Lehman said. “But I am sure, quite sure, that because of the economic situations, because no one knows what is going to happen, less people took advantage of the package.”

Because of the results from the SEAS buyout, other schools and departments throughout the University may see similar options, Lehman said.

“We are thinking about it,” he said. “We haven’t made any definite decisions yet.”

SEAS Dean David Dolling said he is also satisfied with the buyout program’s outcome, and added that some of the faculty members who took the buyout will leave at the end of the current semester. Dolling also declined to name the professors who accepted the package.

The University offered the buyout packages to SEAS professors in an effort to free up resources and positions for more research. University President Steven Knapp and other University officials have made research a top priority for GW’s future, and by offering buyouts to faculty – who may or may not be actively researching – SEAS has the ability to hire more faculty who are research-focused. These professors will be expected to research in addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate students.

Professors who received a letter explaining the buyout option said GW’s increasing focus on research was named as a reason for the buyout program.

“This program is being instituted in anticipation of the ongoing academic evolution of The George Washington University as a major research university, in which the faculty will be expected to have significantly enhanced, externally funded research activity,” Dolling said.

The 39 faculty members offered the package comprise about half of the 83 full-time faculty in the school, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research’s Web site.

SEAS is already gearing up to hire new faculty to replace those who accepted the buyout. In an interview in early December, Dolling said SEAS would be hiring 14 new “top-tier” professors in the coming year.

Faculty who accepted the buyouts will be able to choose when they will leave, with the latest departure being spring 2011.

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