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‘Hiring freeze’ eases as university recoups staff for face-to-face semester

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The university released 356 frozen positions since January of this year in preparation for the next school year, President Neal Smatresk said in an email to the North Texas Daily.

A hiring freeze went into effect in summer 2020 to limit expenses, but high faculty/staff turnover left staff personnel 231 positions shorter than in 2019 and limited course availability for some students this year.

Vice presidents within the university were given the green light in March to begin listing positions throughout the semester and into the summer within their respective departments. During a faculty senate meeting on March 10, Smatresk said positions will be filled according to vice presidential priorities and pending freshman enrollment.

Total student enrollment exceeded 40,000 students in fall 2020. However, first-time freshmen enrollment experienced the sharpest decline since 2009.

The Office of the Provost, which is responsible for Academic Affairs including faculty hiring, is among the departments opening personnel lines for hire. The current academic year began with about 80 fewer faculty members than the previous year.

According to university published data, six out of the 11 colleges experienced decreases in full-time faculty membership: College of Visual Arts and Design (16), College of Education (10), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (5), College of Music (4), College of Health and Public Services (2) and Mayborn School of Journalism (2).

Faculty positions being considered for the fall semester are primarily intended to satisfy university accreditation requirements, address key curricular gaps and fill key leadership gaps at the chair level, Provost Jennifer Cowley said in an email to the Daily. There are 49 active faculty listings as of March 2020.

Art history sophomore Sarah Cordero said they were unaware of fluctuating faculty numbers across the university, but said they remember encountering difficulty when trying to enroll in classes for this past fall and spring semester.

“I really wanted to take pre-Columbian art and pre-Columbian theories in art,” Cordero said. “Both of them showed up on the catalog as existing for the 2020 to 2021 semester, but they had no signup times.”

Pre-Columbian Art of Mesoamerica and Topics in Pre-Columbian Art are advanced elective courses listed under the Art History program, Cowley said, but “are not required to complete the major.” Cowley also said “[the university does] not currently have a full-time faculty member with expertise in Pre-Columbian and African art.”

Cordero is currently taking Topics in Native American Art taught by visiting assistant professor Christopher Green, who Cordero described as “phenomenal” and “incredible.” However, Cordero said they worry Green and his course will not be a permanent addition to UNT.

The university recently filled one position within CVAD for the fall semester — a new college dean — and has seven more listings open including three department chair positions and four faculty members.

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“CVAD had a number of vacant positions this year and a number of searches are underway for new faculty,” Cowley said. “We look forward to a number of new faculty hires in CVAD, and across the university, that will be joining us in the fall.”

Featured Image: Faculty members can park throughout campus in designated parking lots, including Lot 9 located next to Terrill Hall. Image by John Anderson

Article Originally Published by Cristóbal Soto on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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