New faculty members joining the University of Kansas School of Engineering this academic year represent a nearly 20 percent growth in the size of the faculty over the past three years. Some searches for newly created positions are still under way.
"The university has made strategic investments in faculty that will help propel it toward even greater achievement," said Stuart R. Bell, dean of the KU School of Engineering. "This support not only validates the importance of engineering and computer science to the university as it strives toward specific goals, but stresses the need for more graduates in these fields nationwide."
The main reason for the growth surge is KU's five-year tuition enhancement plan, which began in fall 2002.
The many facets of the plan focus on enhancing the student experience through additional programs and learning opportunities, increases in GTA salaries, faculty and staff merit increases and, perhaps most important for the school, new faculty positions and start-up packages.
University administration has set the goal of hiring 100 additional faculty university-wide through the plan. Of the positions already allocated, the School of Engineering has been rewarded with 19 full-time equivalents. The faculty expertise represented in these positions embody strategic areas of research for KU. Chief among them are Bioengineering, Transportation, Bioinformatics, Chemical Engineering and Remote Sensing and Telecommunication. Additional positions at the school, open through natural attrition, are also being filled to address strategic initiatives.
Several of the positions will help the school pursue advances through interdisciplinary research efforts. Many of the new faculty members have shared appointments with other KU departments, such as Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Other faculty will be allied with major interdisciplinary research centers on campus, such as the NSF Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, the NSF Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, or the KU Center for Bioinformatics.
The KU tuition enhancement plan increased revenue through higher tuition rates that received the blessing of the student body. In spite of the graduated tuition increases, the Office of University Relations reports the university's basic tuition is still 27 percent below the national average and 17 percent below the regional average.