Campus News

University launches $2.2M initiative to hire 16 new faculty

Jere Morehead

Sixteen new faculty positions at UGA have been created through an interdisciplinary hiring initiative designed to enhance teaching, service and research in fields that are of emerging statewide and global significance.

“I am very pleased that we are able to announce these interdisciplinary faculty hirings,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “These new faculty will address some of Georgia’s most challenging issues by reaching across traditional academic boundaries. I congratulate the deans and the Office of the Provost on their good work in developing these innovative faculty positions.”

Seventy percent of the salaries for the President’s Interdisciplinary Hiring Initiative will be funded through the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, with the remaining 30 percent split between participating units. A total of $2.2 million has been allocated for the initiative, which includes funds for salaries as well as one-time startup costs, such as those required to equip laboratories.

In September, deans from the university’s schools and colleges were invited to submit proposals for interdisciplinary faculty positions. The proposals were reviewed and selected by a committee charged by the Provost’s Office.

Interim Provost Libby V. Morris noted that the interdisciplinary hiring initiative capitalizes on areas of strength at UGA and will create new collaborative opportunities for existing faculty. The selected proposals include positions in poultry health and production, digital humanities, biological imaging and brain mapping, emerging infectious diseases, housing for older adults and health policy, among others.

“Increasing the number of faculty who work across disciplinary boundaries places the university in a stronger position to attract research funding while broadening the range of expertise we offer to our students and the communities we serve,” Morris said.

Interdisciplinary collaborations at UGA have increased in recent years as the institution has marshaled its resources to address some of society’s most pressing issues. UGA’s Obesity Initiative, for example, has bolstered the university’s ability to compete for grant funding, created new learning opportunities for students and facilitated new obesity prevention programs in partnership with hospitals and communities across the state. The university’s emphasis on interdisciplinarity also is evident in the recent launch of faculty research clusters through the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts as well as in the work of longstanding units such as the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.

The 2014 Presidential Hiring Initiative builds upon previous efforts to replenish tenure-track faculty positions lost through attrition in the wake of the Great Recession. The university’s first faculty hiring initiative began in 2010, with two additional phases in 2011 and 2012. These three initiatives allocated more than $6.3 million to establish nearly 90 new faculty positions. The addition of 16 faculty positions through the 2014 initiative brings the total number of new faculty positions created in the past four years to more than 100.

“Attracting and retaining top faculty is essential to providing students with the world-class education they have come to expect from the University of Georgia,” Morris said. “The continued growth of our research enterprise and the enhancement of our service to the state also hinges on our faculty, which is why they remain a key priority.”

A list of proposals funded through the President’s Interdisciplinary Hiring Initiative is below:

• biological imaging and brain mapping, department of computer science, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and department of cellular biology, Franklin College;

• classical rhetoric, department of classics, Franklin College, and department of communication studies, Franklin College;

• digital arts, department of telecommunications, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and department of theatre and film studies, Franklin College;

• digital humanities, College of Environment and Design and Franklin College;

• emerging infectious diseases and vector ecology, departments of infectious diseases and pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Odum School of Ecology;

• fiber and polymer science, College of Engineering and department of textiles, merchandising and interiors, College of Family and Consumer Sciences;

• food for public health and wellness, department of food science and technology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and department of environmental health science, College of Public Health;

• health policy, department of public administration and policy, School of Public and International Affairs, and department of health policy and management, College of Public Health;

• housing for older adults, Institute of Gerontology, College of Public Health, and department of housing and consumer economics, College of Family and Consumer Sciences;

• international political economy, department of economics, Terry College of Business, and department of international affairs, School of Public and International Affairs;

• mobile health computing technology, College of Engineering and department of epidemiology and biostatistics, College of Public Health;

• molecular ecology and global change, Odum School of Ecology and department of genetics, Franklin College;

• multidisciplinary patient health education, department of clinical and administrative pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, and department of foods and nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences;

• paleoenvironmental reconstruction, department of anthropology, Franklin College, and department of geography, Franklin College;

• poultry health and production, department of poultry science, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and department of population health, College of Veterinary Medicine; and

• sustainability science and renewable energy, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and Savannah River Ecology Lab.