More than 100 professors hired over the last five years bring new talent and perspectives to campus and region
New faculty making their mark By Paul Kandarian
ew students on a college campus always impart a sense of youthful energy. At UMass Dartmouth in recent years there has been another shot of energy brought by new faculty, an infusion of academic talent the likes of which the university has not seen before. Over the past five years, the university has hired more than 100 new tenure-track faculty members, a whopping comparative figure considering the university’s total number of faculty: 350. Provost Louis Esposito said the turnover was due to early retirement programs implemented during recent years of budget cutting and the overall aging of a faculty that was largely hired during the ’70s.The resultant hiring boom means “people my age (65) are retiring now, and we needed more faculty.” The university recruits nationally in every discipline and in the latest hiring, officials have found an outstanding batch of brains. “The quality of these young people is phenomenal, in terms of the schools they’ve come from, including places like Harvard and Stanford,” Esposito said. New faculty members such as Shannon Jenkins and her husband Doug Roscoe, both of the Political Science Department, share a common observation about an energized campus. “There is a sense of youthful energy here that does offer a different perspective,” Shannon Jenkins said. “A lot of students are first generation, they’re excited to be here and I get a lot of energy myself from that.” Timothy Walker, assistant history professor since September 2004, sees himself and the university “as a good fit. I was hired to fill a position that the History Department was thinking about for a long time, someone specializing in Portuguese overseas empire studies, which is exactly what I do.” New blood means new ideas, Walker said. “There’s a big group of us who came between the year I did and now, about 60 or 70, and it’s exciting,” he said. “A lot come in with ideas on how to develop new programs and enrich the university. It’s a very good time to be coming here.” Deana Jelovac, assistant professor of marketing and manage-
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ment information systems, came to campus less than a year ago from Belgrade. She came to the university for the location and also “because I was very impressed by the collegiality of faculty in the marketing department and felt I would fit in well.” New faculty members represent a great source of “new energy, enthusiasm and ideas,” Jelovac said. “The New Faculty Institute has made it possible to get to know each other and share experiences and ideas.” The Institute was developed in the fall of 2003 to integrate new faculty and librarians into university life, and support them as they work toward reappointment and tenure, said Jen Riley, NFI director, associate professor of English, and director of the Women’s Studies Program. “It’s a magnificent way to get everyone together,” Riley said. “This year we have 25 new tenure track faculty and six full-time lecturers. Our goals are to not only introduce new faculty to important issues such as contract renewal and annual reviews, but to engage faculty in an active and rigorous teaching and scholarship program.” Senior faculty, meanwhile, are critical resources for the new faculty. “The advice and experience senior faculty have shared with me are extremely useful and will have an important impact on my career both as a researcher and a teacher,” Jelovac said. Dr. Sonja Peterson, chair of the Department of Community Nursing, is in her 25th year at UMass Dartmouth, and has had two new hires in her department, Dr. Alicia Curtin and Dr. Diane Martins. Peterson said she’s doubly blessed by having two extraordinary new faculty members at a time when there is a nationwide shortage of nursing instructors. “What really excites me about these two is they come with their own research interests,” Peterson said. “Diane’s focus is on the homeless; Alicia’s is on the Hispanic elderly population. They were wanted elsewhere, and I’m so glad they picked us, they’re wonderful teachers.” Being an assistant professor of art history is Sarah Teasley’s first full-time teaching job. She’s been here since fall 2004 and came from the University of Tokyo where she was doing graduate work.
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