Faculty Hiring Varies Across Campus Departments
By Laken Franchetti, News Editor
Gettysburg College currently offers 54 academic majors, minors and programs; these campus departments vary in their handling and allowance of faculty hiring.
One department that is currently in the process of hiring is the Department of History. The department is in search of a tenure-track Latin American historian, and students were invited to participate in the hiring process. The three candidates had to deliver job presentations that were open to all faculty, staff and students across campus.
The political science department has also been searching for new faculty, and they have experienced a rapid rate of growth with numerous hires.
Chair of the political science department Caroline Hartzell shared that there are nine tenured and tenure-track positions within the department, and one recent hire was just finalized. That new hire will begin teaching in the fall of 2023 and will be the tenth tenure-track position in the political science department. Despite this new hire, Hartzell stated that the department is considered to be short on staff.
“Given a number of retirements in recent years, our department is still one position short of the 11 tenured/tenure-track faculty we had in our department a few years ago,” said Hartzell. “We do consider ourselves to be short on staff given the fact that we are the largest major at the college, with the number of majors growing over the last several years.”
The political science department also has three visiting assistant professors (VAPs) that have been there for two years, yet all three will leave at the end of this academic year. The department is in the process of hiring one new VAP for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Aside from the issue of pre-tenure leaves in the department, political science currently has a large ratio of advisees to advisors, ranging from 25 to 50 advisees per faculty member.
“We try to keep the number of advisees on the lower end of this scale for junior faculty, with senior faculty taking on higher advising loads,” explained Hartzell. “Given that in any given year we have 1-2 faculty members on leave during the year, we probably average close to 30 advisees per faculty member across the department.”
Political science and economics double major Jules Blech ’24 shared that she was unaware of this high ratio and has received much support from her advisor.
“Over the summer, we met to discuss future plans, and she was willing to disclose her personal journey to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” Blech said. “I do feel like the relationship is more based on students reaching out to their advisors when they need help and advice instead of a series of consistent check-ins. I don’t mind this dynamic because I am not afraid to email to ask questions or set up a meeting.”
Blech was interested in knowing further about how her education had been unknowingly affected by the large student to advisor ratio.
“I am curious how the ratio of political science faculty to students affects other parts of my education. I do wish there were more options for higher level courses at Gettysburg, but I am unsure if this is due to a lack of professors or student-interest,” Blech said.
If the college presents an opportunity to make another tenure-track line available, Hartzell said that the political science department would ask to be allocated a position.
Similar to the history and political science departments, the psychology department will also have new faculty in the 2023-2024 academic year. The department currently has eleven full-time faculty members. Along with recent retirements, an increase in psychology majors over the last three years has led them to pursue new faculty.
Department chair Daniel McCall said, “Full-time tenure-track faculty bring new areas of scholarship to the department as well as new opportunities for students to participate in laboratory research, so we’re excited about bringing in new faculty next year.”
Some of the department’s full-time faculty are currently teaching extra courses while the department searches for new faculty. This faculty search includes two new tenure-track positions in clinical psychology and behavioral neuroscience. McCall shared the process of this search and how hiring in the psychology department meets the college’s race and equity goals.
Job advertisements are posted in major professional psychology publications as well as publications that will be seen by traditionally underrepresented groups, such as the Association for Black Psychologists and the National Latina/o Psychological Association. The psychology department also utilizes “inclusion partners” during the hiring process.
“Each of our search committees has a trained ‘inclusion partner’ — a faculty member who is trained to ensure that searches offer due consideration to all candidates and that the hiring process is fair and equitable,” McCall explained. “We ask all candidates to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their application materials, and when candidates come to campus for interviews we have them meet with a diverse group of students as part of a two-day interview process.”
These aforementioned departments have faculties that are rapidly evolving to combat retirements, an increase in interest, visiting professors, and the availability of tenure-track lines, while other departments on campus have not undergone such rapid change.
The art department currently has two tenure and one tenure-track faculty for the art history program as well as one tenure and tenure-track faculty for the art studio program. Acting department chair Jack Ryan did not believe that the smaller number of faculty when compared to other departments on campus affected the quality or number of classes in the art department. However, he did express his thoughts on the quality of arts and humanities at Gettysburg College as a whole.
“I think that at this political moment the Arts and Humanities have been diminished because of the misperception of what every Division One Department does on this campus,” said Ryan. “Writing, drawing, painting — anything that requires time and thought have been devalued.”
Although Ryan did not believe that the small number of faculty affected classes in the art department, there is student concern. Art studio and political science double major Lily Morrell ’24 voiced her thoughts on the art department’s current staffing.
“The staffing of the art department has definitely affected the number of classes. The limited staff being stretched to teach multiple classes means we don’t always have courses available despite needing them for a major or minor,” said Morrell. “The uncertainty of whether a course will be available or not has barred many students from [pursuing] higher level art classes or preventing them from taking any at all.”
She recognized that the professors within the department are passionate and knowledgeable about their respective fields, but she expressed a want for the department to grow in faculty size and course scope to introduce more diversity and variety.
Ryan additionally serves as Vice Provost and Dean of Arts and Humanities. He credited smaller first-year classes as a reason for fewer full-time faculty members. Pandemic departures have also played a role in smaller faculties and the need to hire.
As well, there were no tenure-track faculty hired during the 2021-2022 academic year.
“That effort was part of an approach here and throughout higher education to proceed cautiously with hiring during the pandemic. The College has recently authorized nine tenure track positions this year,” said spokesperson for the College Jamie Yates.
Associate Provost for Academic Assessment and Dean of Natural Sciences, Computer Science, and Mathematics Darren Glass acknowledged that some faculties could benefit from additional hires.
“I am excited that we are hiring new faculty in several departments this year, both as visiting faculty and on the tenure track,” said Glass. “There are certainly still some departments that would benefit from more faculty, and I hope that we are able to meet more of those needs in the coming years.”
There is recognition of the need for more professors, yet faculty hiring not only depends on the College’s availability for positions but also which departments would be selected for the opportunity.
This article originally appeared on pages 6 to 7 of the February 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.