The University of California at Riverside, which in recent years made its share of budget cuts in response to shrinking state appropriations, plans to hire 300 new faculty members over the next five years.
"This is a chance to shape this university for years to come," said Kim A. Wilcox, the university’s new chancellor, who announced the hiring plan on Thursday during a ceremony to formally install him in office.
The plan is to hire tenured and tenure-track professors in disciplines to be determined. Mr. Wilcox said the institution’s agricultural roots are important, as is its reputation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the STEM fields. Yet, he cautioned that there were no plans to "turn our backs on the core of the university—the liberal arts and humanities."
The new hires would bring the number of tenured and tenure-track professors to nearly 1,000.
University officials said it was too early to tell how much it would cost to expand the faculty. But, paradoxically, the money to do so has come, in part, from the university’s response to tough times. Previous administrations, Mr. Wilcox said, were "fiscally conservative" during the years when the status of state funding was uncertain.
Now that the institution’s budget is more stable, hiring new faculty members is an option. It also helps, he said, that Riverside is expanding its research budget, and tuition revenue will help cover the cost as well.
Once the university names a new provost—the search is nearly complete—then the recruitment of faculty members can begin. About 100 professors will be hired each academic year.
Mr. Wilcox, who oversees an institution that by law is designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, sees the new hires as a way to make the faculty better reflect the demographics of the nation, of California, and of the university’s enrollment. At Riverside nearly 30 percent of the student body identifies as Chicano or Latino.
"I really see this as a chance for us to diversify our faculty," Mr. Wilcox said. "This is a chance for us to recruit people to an institution that has a critical mass of students and staff of color, and that has a reputation of academic excellence." In a recent interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Wilcox described how Riverside had achieved parity in student success, across racial and income groups.
Mr. Wilcox, in his speech during the installation ceremony, detailed plans to put a new interdisciplinary-research building on a fast track, and he made the case for the university to increase its enrollment—which is already just a few thousand students shy of the 25,000 expected to enroll by 2020. The university is also recruiting for a new position of vice provost for international affairs.
"We’re going to try to use this opportunity," he said, "to improve all the parts of the campus that we can."