Faced with declining faculty ranks in recent years, the University of Illinois plans to hire 500 new professors over the next five to seven years.
The news came Monday during a campus town hall meeting where Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida reviewed a strategic planning process being developed and announced several initiatives already under way or soon to be launched.
"All I can say is: Be ready to move," Wise said to an overflow crowd of faculty, staff and students assembled at the Beckman Institute.
The two leaders said the UI will be the pre-eminent public research university with a land-grant mission and global impact. In order to hold such a title, Adesida outlined three goals for the campus: improve scholarship, discovery and innovation; provide students with a transformative learning experience; and have an impact on society.
Rebuilding the faculty in several strategic areas is a key component of the vision unveiled on Monday. In recent years the number of tenured-system faculty has decreased from about 2,100 in the 2007-2008 school year to a current tally of around 1,856.
Faculty ranks have eroded due to several factors, including a spike in retirements, hiring freezes amid an uncertain state funding outlook and employees leaving for opportunities elsewhere. The campus has organized several hiring programs to counteract that trend, but numbers are still down, particularly because of a high number of faculty who retired last year.