University hiring initiative brings more than 100 faculty


ISU President Steven Leath delivers a speech during the 2015 Ag Summit on in Des Moines on March 7.

Michaela Ramm

With the growing enrollment of undergraduate students, the administration at Iowa State is taking steps to ensure students are receiving a quality education from equally qualified faculty.

Since 2012, President Steven Leath has enacted the President’s High Impact Hires Initiative in order to meet this goal. The initiative helps the university’s colleges hire new faculty to meet rising teaching needs by providing funding and services for ISU Extension and Outreach program and by conducting research for the state’s economy.

Tom Hill, senior vice president of senior affairs, said it was key that the university continues to offer opportunities to all students, despite the negative effects of increased student enrollment.

“We are a name-brand institution and our job as a name-brand institution is to provide opportunities for citizens,” Hill said. “With that philosophy, we’ve created an environment that young people want to flock to.”

Initially, Leath said his goal for the initiative was to hire 200 new staff members. Now, in 2015, the university has hired more than 300 new faculty staff in the last few years.

This is all an effort made by Leath and university officials to maintain the student-to-faculty ratio as the enrollment numbers continue to swell on campus.

“We went from 29,000 students to a community of 36,000 this year in four years,” Leath said. “By hiring so many faculty so aggressively, we’ve kept the ratio the same.”

According to a report release by Inside Iowa State on Aug. 20, the current student-to-faculty ratio is approximately 19-to-1. This is the second year in a row that figure has remained the same.

A total of 124 new tenured or tenured-track faculty have joined campus for the fall, with 89 percent of student credit hours to be taught by faculty.

Leath said the university leaves hiring largely with the provost and the various departments as to what they need.

“We let that be driven by the individual departments so that it best serves their needs,” Leath said.

The priorities for the faculty initiative are focused in two areas. Leath said one deciding factor is determining where enrollment is growing and therefore where the greatest teaching need is. The second, he continued, is “in the surge in some areas where there’s a critical piece missing.”

However, Leath said university officials are still making sure the quality of all newly hired faculty — whether tenured or non-tenured — is up to par.

Since the initiative has been enacted, Iowa State has been advertising for hundreds of positions throughout the various colleges, a big increase from what was the case in years past.

Leath said with the surge of hiring, the quality of applicants has gone up, and more applicants are applying from farther away.

“We’ve had people apply from coasts who would have never looked at a Midwestern school,” Leath said.

The four-page ads in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which the university places to promote open positions, draws a lot of attention. Leath said applicants see it as exciting that faculty members would have a big peer group their own age throughout campus.

“The quality of applicants is really high because there’s so much enthusiasm,” Leath said.

The Inside Iowa State report can be found here.