Research, enrollment up despite faculty decrease

A statistical analysis of University data showed an unexpected result last week — the number of faculty members is decreasing, but the amount of research has been increasing.

Christophe Pierre, vice president for academic affairs, told the Academic and Student Affairs Committee that the number of faculty has decreased significantly while research productivity, student enrollment and student interest in attending the University have all increased significantly.

And even though the University had less manpower to lend to technological research and development, the federal research expenditure has grown notably on the Urbana and Chicago campuses; from 2007 to 2011, it grew 27 percent at Urbana and 17 percent at Chicago.

Trustee Karen Hasara asked Pierre if these numbers were a good sign for the university system. Pierre said he had the same doubt.

“This combination of trends is not sustainable; it’s working well right now, but at some point it will collapse,” he said.

The committee also discussed the importance of recruitment and retention.

University statistics for all three campuses showed that the net faculty number has decreased significantly over the years.

In 2011, 117 new faculty members were recruited at the Urbana campus, but 191 members either retired or resigned.

The student enrollment rate, however, continues to increase. The trend from 2001 to 2011 shows the enrollment rate increasing by 13 percent at both the Urbana and Chicago campuses.

“Quality faculty and quality students are the backbone of the University. Academic excellence is our chief priority,” Pierre said. “We want to recruit the best and support their needs.”

In addition to analyzing university statistics, the Student Affairs Office presented the board of trustees with 2012 diversity programs.

The six culture centers at the University have been “giving students a home away from home,” said Renee Romano, vice chancellor of student affairs.

Romano said that a few years ago, someone drew stick figures of Muhammad on the Quad. Later, many Muslim students expressed great concern about the drawings.

The Student Affairs investigation group looked into that incident and created the “Tolerance Program,” which encourages students to respond to acts of intolerance on the campus.

The Academic and Student Affairs Committe will meet again Nov. 7 in Springfield.

Aixin can be reached at [email protected]

_Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect numerical inaccuracies. The growth in research expenditures is 27 percent at Urbana and 17 percent at Chicago over four years, not 44 percent total in one year, as originally stated. The numbers reflecting faculty hiring and resignation/retirement have also been updated to exact numbers, reflecting the Urbana campus only. The article also incorrectly stated that enrollment had increased 26 percent in one year, when it had, in fact, increased 13 percent on both the Urbana and Chicago campuses over a ten-year period. The Daily Illini regrets these errors._