UC Berkeley to Restrict Hiring of New Professors

Officials Plan on Hiring Fewer Faculty Members Than in Previous Years Due to Budget Cutbacks

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The pressure to stay competitive for any university relies heavily upon faculty strength. UC Berkeley is no exception, and recruiting top professors is an active effort campuswide.

However, the estimated $60 to $70 million cuts in UC Berkeley's budget this year will restrict campus hiring, officials announced yesterday.

Vice Chancellor of Administration Nathan Brostrom said in a campuswide e-mail that administrators would freeze staff hiring, while continuing to hire faculty at a reduced rate.

There are 25 searches for new faculty members this year, according to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer-in contrast to the 131 searches that took place last year.

Chuck Stoup, assistant dean for finance and administration for the College of Letters and Sciences, said the college is bracing for the decline in hiring.

"If someone does leave voluntarily, I think the chances are very good that the positions will be left vacant," he said. "People do retire ... We're simply not replacing them."

Stoup said that while the campus is looking to cut costs, hiring will continue for positions that must be filled.

Despite budgetary restrictions, departments are still looking to strengthen their programs.

Alan Weinstein, head of the mathematics department, said he will continue pursuing potential faculty members even with cutbacks.

"Campuswide, it's downsized, but there's fluctuations," he said. "We have some great opportunities."

During the recruitment process, individuals are presented with modest salary increases, he said. The individual's current university has an opportunity to make a counter-offer. The decision usually involves two comparable salaries, making other issues more pressing in a professor's decision.

Weinstein also cited housing and available positions for working spouses as key parts of hiring negotiations.

While the campus looks to recruit faculty, many UC Berkeley professors themselves receive inquiries from other institutions.

"Other universities have contacted me and I've been looked over," said campus history professor David Johnson. "Since almost every department at Berkeley is very well-regarded, this happens just as frequently at Berkeley as it does anywhere else."

Competing institutions, including Harvard University and Stanford University, regularly inquire after campus faculty. However, economic difficulties have also hit these campuses.

"Overall, the attempt to lure away faculty has certainly not increased during this downturn, and may even have slackened a bit outside of business, law and economics," Breslauer said in an e-mail.

Breslauer also said the campus eventually retains about 70 percent of those faculty members who are pursued by other universities.

Robert Reich, a professor at Goldman School of Public Policy and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, taught at both Brandeis University and Harvard University before joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 2006.

"I jumped at the chance to come here," he said. "Berkeley is clearly the best public university in the world."

Reich said the emphasis on inter-department interaction was a major draw. When he first arrived on campus, he was invited out to lunch with members of another department to discuss ideas spanning both fields.

"I daresay that would never happen at Harvard," he said.

On average, Reich said he receives four inquiries from other universities per year. However, he remains happy at his current post.

"Frankly, I've not pursued any alternative," he said.


Leslie Toy covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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