Kent State’s hiring freeze continues despite several new hires at the university

Megan Wilkinson

Why Should Readers Care?

  • The university cut back on hiring faculty and staff to keep down budget costs.
  • Some of the academic departments need their faculty and staff to work harder since they cannot hire as many positions.

Kent State hired 47 new full-time faculty members for the academic school year, though there has been a hiring freeze since Dec. 2010.

President Lester Lefton said the university hired dozens of faculty and staff this academic year in order to fill important positions.

“We have loosened the reins of the hiring restriction,” Lefton said. “There are certain functions that are really important to run an institution and when somebody leaves, you have to fill the position.”

Provost Robert Frank said Kent State plans to hire only “crucial” faculty and staff positions until further notice.

“Over the last month, we probably have been a little more liberal than we have been in the past six months,” Frank said. “If you look at the numbers this year, there was a much smaller group (of new hires) than other years.”

Lefton said an example of “mission critical” hires is when only one faculty member is teaching a specific course and he or she retires. Another example would be if enough people left the university to make the remaining faculty or staff stretch too thin.

Tim Chandler, senior associate provost, said hiring is one of the university’s biggest expenses. He said about 80 percent of Kent State’s budget is spent on faculty and staff members.

“We need to think about whether or not a position is critical for the institution and students,” Chandler said. “We don’t want to put the burden of these expenses toward tuition fee increases on students if we don’t have to.”

Chandler said the university is still trying to hold down costs by keeping the hiring restrictions in place. In order to hire any faculty or staff position, the university requires all departments to submit a hiring request form to the human resources department.

“We’re not just filling slots anymore if someone resigns,” he said. “This is not an easy thing to do.”

The hiring restrictions have been a challenge with several departments at the university. J.R. Campbell, dean for the School of Fashion & Design, said faculty members in his school have worked harder since the start of the hiring restrictions.

“It has been a challenge for the fashion school since the school is growing, and we’re trying to build up faculty to deal with the increased number of students we have,” Campbell said. “But the restrictions are appropriate given the budget at the time and we are working through it.”

Some departments, such as the College of Public Health, were not at all affected by the freeze since the college was just established at the university in 2009. Sonia Alemagno, dean for the College of Public Health, said her college hired most of its employees prior to the freeze through funds set up by the university Board of Trustees.

“The freeze simply hasn’t affected us as it has other units,” Alemagno said. “I think the university is doing what it needs to do during a challenging budget time, and my take is we’re all being very cautious, which is the right thing to be.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].