Posted on April 16, 2021

Hiring Booms

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, March 24, 2021


Ohio State’s new president, Kristina Johnson, recently announced that the university plans on hiring at least 350 new tenure-track professors in the coming years. Syracuse University has already started hiring some 69 new tenure-track professors as part of a cluster hiring initiative. {snip}

Such investments in the faculty demonstrate something about each institution’s — and each institutional leader’s — values. {snip} In each case, hiring plans are linked to the university’s research aspirations and diversity goals. {snip}

Ohio State


About 150 of these hires will be part of a new initiative called RAISE, short for race, inclusion and social equity, which was inspired by the university’s Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities, Johnson said. At least 50 of these RAISE professors will be scientists, artists and scholars whose work addresses social equity and racial disparities in fields from health care and justice to education and the environment. Ohio State also hopes that some 100 of the RAISE professors will be underrepresented scholars, including scholars of color.


Ultimately, Johnson said, “the RAISE initiative will bring to Ohio State researchers who develop new approaches to building an antiracist society, while changing the composition of our faculty and transforming our own culture, practices and policies so that Ohio State becomes an absolutely inclusive community.”


Johnson’s plan seems to have been well received on campus, including by Don Pope-Davis, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology. Pope-Davis, who has overseen successful diversity initiatives within the college, said Johnson’s plan “is an incredibly transformative opportunity, one that will impact and benefit the success of our students and community.”

Pope-Davis said 30 percent of faculty members within his college are now people of color, and that the new hiring boom will provide opportunities for further diversification, representation and inclusive excellence.

“We want our students of color to see their academic interests reflected in the composition of our faculty,” he said. “I want to build on the success we have had in recruiting and retaining talented scholars.”

Matthew Mayhew, William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Educational Administration at Ohio State, said, “As a faculty member, it’s exciting that the president has a vision for the university that involves hiring more peers. I think it’s fantastic, and I have to trust that somewhere someone has met with the budgeting folks about how to fund this decision before announcing it.”


More than that, Mayhew said it’s “brilliant” how Johnson wove various initiatives together, namely equity and inclusion and a “huge commitment” to research.



Syracuse is a smaller, private institution. But it, too, is thinking big about the faculty.

“We’re taking the approach we’re taking because it’s a competitive opportunity for us to attract top talent, and that includes diverse talent,” Kent Syverud, chancellor of Syracuse, said this week. {snip}

Some three years ago, Syracuse adopted a joint cost-saving and fundraising program to generate $100 million for investment in strategic priorities. A good portion of that is now funding faculty hiring. That includes the cluster hiring program, which onboards small groups of faculty members working on the same or related topics across disciplines and even schools and colleges.


He added, “We believe that if we build it, the students will come. And they are coming — our applications are very strong.” How strong? Undergraduate applications are up 24 percent this year over last. Ph.D. applications are up, too.

Elsewhere, cluster hiring has been shown to support faculty diversity. To enhance the connection between cluster hiring and inclusive excellence and generally increase faculty diversity at Syracuse, the university has added financial incentives to schools and colleges.

In one case, the Diversity Opportunity Hires program provides a rotating fund to increase cost-sharing with the Office of Academic Affairs for recruiting underrepresented faculty members into any open position. This includes cluster hiring but isn’t limited to it.

Additional funding is being made available to support the hiring of underrepresented candidates into cluster positions. Typically, central funding made up half of a hire’s salary and benefits, with schools and colleges covering the rest. For underrepresented hires, central funding will cover 70 percent instead.

Syracuse has been under pressure to do more to support diversity and inclusion since 2019, when a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents were reported on campus. Syracuse responded, in part, by committing to hiring a more diverse faculty. Syverud also said that diversity has long been central to Syracuse’s definition of excellence.