USF may face an exodus of teaching talent after this year’s budget cuts and departmental restructuring.
The University has already lost 12 faculty members to other schools.
“I have 12 letters of resignation,” said Senior Vice Provost Dwayne Smith. “Typically at this time we have about five to six.”
Faculty members said that better salaries, research opportunities and academic outlook have attracted them to other schools.
Most recently, Carolyn Eichner of the Department of Women’s Studies and Kennan Ferguson, director of Interdisciplinary Social Studies, have declined USF’s counteroffers and will accept positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“We took a hard look at the present and future of the University of South Florida and decided we do not share its commitments and direction,” Eichner and Ferguson stated in their resignation letter.
Their letter specifically cites the controversial absorption of the women’s studies department into the College of Arts and Sciences as an example of the administration’s commitments.
“The current administration’s reorganization efforts will almost certainly leave women’s studies a department in name only, with neither a chair nor budgetary autonomy,” they stated.
Despite the increase in resignations, Smith said that the administration will deal with each faculty member on a case-by-case basis rather than reassess its commitments.
USF will continue to counter the offers from other universities, but the state’s stagnant economy makes Florida’s professors easy targets for out-of-state universities, Smith said.
“If it’s a matter of seeking more money and more resources, those are just in short supply right now,” he said.
While USF might come close to matching the salaries offered by other schools, research funds are scarcer at USF, he said.
“Often times what has been included with their offer from another institution would be some really nice start-up package that includes really nice infrastructure support,” Smith said. “That’s often what we can’t meet.”
Other schools are also facing financial difficulties, Eichner said, but they have managed to use their resources to strengthen their academic and research goals.
“(The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is) prioritizing increasing their research profile,” she said. “USF could probably come close to the salary (they offered), but not the research funding.”
USF will use temporary fill-ins to supplement the faculty ranks while they target potential new hires, Smith said. Despite budget concerns, USF should still draw highly qualified professors.
“We will have some fairly high profile people coming in with this year’s new cohort of faculty,” he said. “We have gone out and recruited them aggressively.”
Smith said he remains optimistic that incoming faculty will sufficiently replace the numbers lost to resignations. In years past, new hires from other universities have far exceeded the number of faculty members leaving USF and that it will probably be the case this year, he said.
Other high-profile resignations from USF this year include Chief Financial Officer Carl Carlucci, robotics expert Robin Murphy, and John Skvoretz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.