UC System May Face Cuts in New Faculty Hiring

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As this year's $148 million budget shortfall trickles down to the 10 UC campuses, faculty hiring may be slowed significantly to compensate for funding losses-a prospect that could hurt job opportunities for many graduate students.

Last week, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau addressed the topic of new faculty hiring in front of the Graduate Assembly and predicted that a slowdown will occur, according to Assembly President Miguel Daal.

The potential of reduced hiring and recruitment of new faculty is weighing heavily on the minds of some graduate students.

In the process of his job search, graduate student Taylor Boas received e-mails from several universities who were cancelling their job searches because of the financial downturn.

"A number of schools have university-wide hiring freezes," Boas said. "It doesn't look good for universities to say they're being affected by the economy. I think there are a lot more universities that have put the brakes on job searches, but just haven't publicized it."

On the heels of an almost 30 percent increase in campus graduate school applications, recent undergraduate alumni are not the only ones resorting to graduate school to avoid the daunting job market.

Many students are considering the possibility of prolonging their graduate school experience by conducting post-doctoral research rather than braving the current job market, Daal said.

Though hiring reductions have not been reported on a campus-wide basis, some departments have informed faculty that reductions will be implemented to compensate for the cuts.

A longtime figure in the political science department, professor J. Merrill Shanks agreed with Birgeneau's prediction, saying that within his department the effects of the financial crisis are already being felt.

"In thirty-some years, this feels like the biggest short-term adjustment we've had," he said. "There will be a slowdown in the recruitment of faculty and it will be a significant slowdown."

Though responding to funding cuts was left up to campus discretion, UC Berkeley may not be the exception when it comes to faculty reductions.

At the UC Board of Regents November meeting, chancellors for several campuses, including UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and UCLA, reported that they faced difficulties in keeping budget cuts out of the classroom.

"We might lose some of our faculty and may have to eliminate some programs," said UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal.

On the Berkeley campus, some faculty have predicted that the budget cuts will eventually affect academics.

"The crisis is having effects on curriculum," Shanks said. "There are students who want to take courses taught by visiting professors and lecturers, and some of those courses will no longer be taught."


Kelly Fitzpatrick covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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