The University of Akron is aggressively hiring faculty and launching searches for at least four deans, but is putting a possible widescale departmental reorganization on hold until new President Gary Miller starts his job Oct. 1.

The university this week announced the anticipated hiring of 17 more faculty, in addition to 25 faculty hires the university announced in June.

"These positions are vital to the university," Interim President John Green said in a news release. "We worked closely with the leadership of each college to prioritize needs and plan for the future. Delivery of quality degree programs is key to student success; therefore, special emphasis is being placed on filling positions where demand is growing or where there is strong potential for growth."

Of the 17 positions, 10 are tenure-track and seven are nontenure-track.

At least some of those positions are to replace faculty who took buyouts or early retirements this summer but the university determined their jobs were still necessary, UA spokeswoman Cristine Boyd said.

UA also will begin searching for four academic leaders, including deans to lead the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education and the College of Health Professions. The university said a search for a director of the School of Nursing may also take place along with the search for the College of Health Professions dean.

The university also pledged to hire a chief of academics, a priority the faculty union has pushed for several months.

At the same time, university leaders are holding off reorganizing academic departments until the development of a strategic plan, which will be a top priority for Miller. Interim President John Green announced the continued pause of the reorganization process in an email to campus last week.

Green had previously halted the process six months earlier, promising to review its necessity by the end of August.

"Since then, many of our colleagues met to discuss, analyze and recommend ways to meet the objectives of that proposal without structural reorganization," Green said.

But with Miller named president mid-August, Green said the two of them would make a joint decision in the next few weeks about how to move forward.

The university also recently completed a process to identify areas of renewed focus for the university, phasing out other programs or degree tracks with lower enrollment, or where there's significant duplication in the local higher education market.

This spring, about half the full-time faculty were offered either a buyout or early retirement, which 41 faculty members opted to take.

 

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.