The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

New faculty replace retirees

By Emma WestRasmus

Provost Kathy Murray described the 16 new professors on campus this fall as “a dynamic and extraordinarily diverse group of individuals.” Fifteen of the new 16 professors-the largest one-year influx of professors in three decades-were hired to fill vacancies left by retiring and departing faculty members, and Macalester created one new position in the Humanities and Media and Cultural Studies Department, which has been filled by new Professor John Kim. Some life-long academics, others newly minted Ph.D.’s, these professors have traveled to Macalester from Rwanda, New Zealand and Carleton. Despite the current economic climate at a time when other schools have frozen hirings, Murray praised Macalester’s continued commitment to maintaining academic excellence in its students as well as its faculty.

“We didn’t lay anyone off or cut any benefits,” she said, “and even raised our financial aid offerings for accepted students.”

Cuts were instead made in other areas, such as reducing the amount of food at campus events and decreasing travel budgets for the administration.

“We ran as many searches as we felt like we could,” she said.

There were two new positions that would have represented a growth in both departments-one in the Russian Department and one an Economics and Political Science joint position-that the school decided not to pursue because of financial limitations.

Murray said that the 16 new tenure-track faculty members are not a direct response to the unusually large incoming freshman class.

“Hirings are typically posted in the fall, an active search takes place in the winter, and we aim to have all new faculty hired by March,” she said. “We didn’t have a sense of the size of the class of 2013 until May, by which time these new faculty members had already been offered positions.” However, Macalester did accommodate the large freshman class by hiring some part-time faculty, as well as by moving some current part-time professors up to full-time status.

Alicia Johnson, a new faculty member joining the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, said she is looking forward to being part of the Macalester community and getting to know her new students.

Coming most recently from a doctoral program at the University of Minnesota, Johnson said that the sense of connectedness in a classroom was missing from her previous academic situations.

“I’ve been a part of three very big schools,” she said, “and in those settings it was my experience that student-to-student and faculty-to-student interactions were very unusual. I didn’t know my professors, and there was a significant level of anonymity. That’s not the case here at Macalester.”

Brett Wilson, a new professor in the Religious Studies Department with a specialty in Islamic Studies, is a self-described Southerner and is looking forward to experiencing his first true winter. Wilson also echoed Johnson’s eagerness to get to know the “unique and diverse individuals” that make up Macalester’s student body, he said.

“I’ve always had a good impression of Macalester,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to living in the Twin Cities and to getting to know my students.

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