SEAS hiring boom focuses on research profile

The School of Engineering and Applied Science hired 32 faculty members in the last four semesters, part of a long-term plan by the school’s dean to make the school more competitive across the research-heavy field.

The school continues to hire the highest proportion of new faculty compared to any other school within the University as opportunities to develop research become more pronounced across the institution.

With 10 full-time faculty hired this fall and six new hires in the pipeline for next year, the school has added more new faculty to compensate for higher-than-usual retirement rates in recent years. Last year, new hires represented 9 percent of the full-time faculty base.

David Dolling, the school’s dean, said he hopes to create 25 to 30 slots for new hires over the next five years, which would be advanced by a combination of resignations, retirements and entirely new faculty positions.

Dolling said the school’s reputation has drawn in recruits from the top engineering schools in the country.

“It’s well known in the outside community that GW has a buzz about it,” he said.

Provost Steven Lerman, who attributes the trend to shifting age demographics across the University, sees the hiring window as a chance to “shape the next generation of hires,” especially with the planned construction of the Science and Engineering Hall as recruitment bait.

“They quite clearly know about the building and are excited about coming to GW in no small measure because of the commitment to that building,” he said. “It’s partly just the symbolism of having made that commitment that engineering and science is here to stay.”

Several of the new hires have strong backgrounds at research-intensive institutions, Lerman said, and would be expected to be research-intensive faculty at GW as well.

“With that said, we still look at three things: teaching ability, research and their propensity to serve,” he added.

In recent years, climbing retirement rates across the University have been concentrated in SEAS, where the average age of a faculty member this year is 53.2 years.

The University offered a buyout package to 39 full-time professors in the school of engineering – half of their full-time faculty – in January 2010. Six professors accepted the buyout.

The new hires will be supported by a financial commitment from the provost’s office and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“In research intensive areas such as engineering and science, new faculty require startup funds to buy equipment and get their research programs started,” Lerman said. “The amounts involved can be substantial, particularly in laboratory research-based fields.”

Lerman declined to provide at the time exact figures for the startup funds, but said that the added push will be expended over several years.

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