The Webster University Board of Trustees met on April 21 to discuss the budget for the 2011-12 academic year and to approve 11 new full-time faculty positions and 12 new administrative positions.
The new positions come at a time when many schools such as the University of Missouri, St. Louis University and Southern Illinois University have all experienced faculty setbacks.
Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Betsy Schmutz said Webster has been able to avoid hiring freezes and thrive through careful management.
“(New positions have) been done through very strong, conservative management of resources,” Schmutz said. “We’ve typically had a handful of (position) ads each fiscal year, but I’d say this year’s number is more than what is typical.”
Webster has avoided several budget cuts placed on public universities due to decreased state funding. Many private sector institutions have increased tuition to compensate losses, a fate Webster has escaped.
The new positions, both faculty and administrative, focus on serving student needs.
The board approved positions for both the Geneva and Leiden campuses, including a head for student recruitment and an academic department head.
The St. Louis campus will gain an assistant vice president for undergraduate recruitment and two staff members for a Financial Aid call center. Greg Gunderson, vice president and chief financial officer, said the positions were specifically tailored to benefit students.
“In my department, business and finance, there were several needs not met,” Gunderson said. “As we looked at positions, they didn’t touch student lives.”
The new faculty positions created for the 2011-12 year will be funded by money that was set aside this year, not by marginal revenue. Gunderson said the positions, which stretch across several schools, were decided upon with the help of current faculty.
Provost and Senior Vice President Julian Schuster said the new jobs were created as full-time positions to better serve students and increase an invested faculty at Webster.
“The current balance between full-time faculty and part-time faculty is heavily tilted toward the part-time faculty,” Schuster said. “I do think investment in our full time faculty is necessary for us to achieve our goal.”
Gunderson said the new positions will be advertised and search committees will be formed to fill the openings.
“Webster (education) is a good value and a good experience,” Gunderson said. “We’re in an environment which our demand is growing. (The new positions) are going to increase this margin in years to come. It speaks well of our future.”
The board projects growth for Webster in the following academic year in both enrollment and tuition income. This growth will help fund the new positions, Gunderson said. Schuster said Webster will focus future resources on reaching a goal of global academic excellence.
“We are going to invest in our faculty and staff, we are going to invest in our programs, we are going to invest in our students, and we are going to invest in our facilities,” Schuster said. “Through all of those four points we are going to set Webster on a path of reaching global academic excellence.”