As the semester comes to a close, we, The Brandeis Hoot editorial board, would like to recognize faculty members who put in time and effort to improving our education and lives at Brandeis.
Brandeis would not be able to operate as it currently does without its faculty. Our professors have the capability to shape our entire college experience, grant life-changing advice, connect us to future employers and more. Faculty are those that help students find the subjects that they’re passionate about and allow them to grow in their field. Brandeis’ struggle to retain faculty in the recent past, however, has made it more difficult for us to get closer to and fully appreciate the opportunities that these professors represent.
According to a recent Hoot article, a self study published by the university in September 2018 stated that Brandeis lost eight of 26 faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences who received offers, and more were lost from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the International Business School (IBS) in 2010 to 2016. There are obviously factors associated with Brandeis that are causing prospective Brandeis faculty to choose peer institutions over this one.
One of the factors we have identified is that half of the university’s professors are tenured while the other half are not. Those who are not tenured are mostly on long-term contracts and are not provided with the same rights as tenured faculty members. In addition, many contracted faculty members have annual contracts, which offers little job and economic security. Non-tenured professors make up 46 percent of the faculty while tenured professors only make up 54 percent. The previously mentioned self-study states that Brandeis’ percentage of tenured professors is lower than average. Without promise of a future at the school, professors will be less likely to want to work here, and without more long-term professors, students will be less likely to want to go here.
Another factor that might discourage professors from teaching at Brandeis is the incredibly high cost of living in Massachusetts. While Brandeis might be a great atmosphere for young faculty members, the Boston area is notoriously difficult to find housing. In addition to the high cost of housing, cost of childcare is also very high in the Boston area, which may play a role for young professionals. We think Brandeis could look for more avenues that would allow it to be more competitive against outside offers and universities.
Professors are an important part of Brandeis’ identity; if we keep losing our faculty, we will lose the base of our university. Without professors, there are no classes. We need to protect our education by protecting our professors and supporting better services and treatment for them from the university, both the administration and the student body.
Students may not be directly involved in deciding the salaries or tenure status of their professors, but we can make sure that the faculty feels valued. Simple actions like saying thank you or striking up a friendly conversation at office hours can ensure that a professor’s hard work is noticed and appreciated.
Editor’s note: Editors Sabrina Chow, Celia Young and Rachel Saal did not contribute to this editorial.