At a time when many universities are shrinking the size of their teaching and research faculties, Chicago—and the Division of the Humanities—are moving forward with a strategic investment in faculty. Over the next five years, the University plans to add 40 new tenure-track and tenured positions, the first step toward a ten-year goal of making 150 to 170 new faculty appointments.

What is motivating the initiative? “Basically, the faculty of the University has remained fairly steady since the mid-1970s,” says Martha T. Roth, dean of the Humanities Division. Meanwhile, enrollment in the College has more than doubled. Over three decades, graduate and professional enrollments have increased significantly; research needs have changed; and disciplines have evolved in new directions. To improve the University’s competitive position, says Roth, “We want to grow the faculty.” 

With roughly 1,170 tenure-track faculty members, Chicago has a smaller professoriate than peer institutions with similar enrollments. At the same time, the faculty’s intellectual interests and commitments across disciplines have burgeoned, in the humanities and throughout the University.

To meet these challenges, the first phase of strategic investment in faculty is already underway. Jointly the Divinity School and the Humanities, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences divisions will add 22 new junior positions in the next five years. A decanal committee plans to announce the departments and subfields receiving appointments by the end of this academic year, allowing searches for the positions to begin in summer 2010. Eight University professorships—targeting internationally recognized, senior scholars in diverse fields—will be established, as well as ten new faculty positions in the professional schools.

“The gratifying piece to me is that even in these economic times, this is an institution that values the humanities,” says Roth. “Other universities are taking measures like closing their classics departments, and what we’re doing is in stark contrast.”

The University hopes to raise $135 million in endowment to support the plan, one of eight strategic initiatives identified by the president, provost, and trustees. Katie Malmquist, director of alumni relations and development for the Humanities Division, has been tapped to manage fund-raising efforts for the faculty initiative.

Photo: Agnes Callard, one of three Neubauer Family Assistant Professors in the Humanities Division, joined the philosophy faculty in 2008.