New faculty build on a legacy of excellence
By HELEN PLOTKIN, Editor
The Hendrix faculty is experiencing a changing of the guard. A cohort of faculty who came to Hendrix in 1970s is beginning to retire at the same time that the College is hiring additional faculty to meet the demands of growing enrollment. The Hendrix Board of Trustees has set of an enrollment goal of 1,300 by 2013 and mandated that the College maintain a 12-to-1 student-faculty ratio.
To meet those goals and ensure that Hendrix can continue to boast of having a faculty that is among the nation’s best, Dr. Robert L. Entzminger, provost and dean of the College, invests a great deal of time in effort in recruiting faculty.
Over the last two years, Dr. Entzminger has overseen the hiring of 35 new faculty members. Eighteen new faculty joined the Hendrix ranks during the 2007-08 academic year, including eight in tenure-track positions. So far, the College has hired 17 new faculty for the 2008-09 year, eight of them in tenure-track positions.
Faculty are the heart of a liberal arts college dedicated to undergraduate education. As the College’s chief academic officer identifying top scholars who are right for Hendrix is a top priority for Provost Entzminger.
“I need to be confident that the person understands the kind of institution that Hendrix is and is willing to make a commitment to high-quality liberal arts education,” Dr. Entzminger said. “More than that, I want to find people who will bring something else to the table -- an interest in interdisciplinary work or a talent or specialty that will allow us to develop a new area of study that will bring real value for our students.”
The right faculty member for Hendrix is also someone who loves teaching and who puts students first.
“The faculty at Hendrix are unusually dedicated to their students,” Dr. Entzminger said.
Finding that right person involves faculty, staff and students from across campus. The search committee usually involves faculty members from inside and outside the hiring department. The Committee on Faculty, the provost and associate provosts, and the president are also part of the process. It is a time-consuming process, but a vital one, Dr. Entzminger said.
“The search process has helped us get great candidates,” he said. “In a tenure-track search, we just don’t let anybody settle. If it’s not the right person, we won’t offer them the position. Sometimes that means we have to close a search and then start it all over again until we can find someone who is right for Hendrix.”
Sometimes the right person can be found close to home.
“Over the last two years, we have added four alumni to the faculty,” Dr. Entzminger said. “That speaks well of the education they received at Hendrix and of the esteem with which they hold this institution. They ‘get’ what we do here and are eager to return and help sustain that tradition.”
The new professors joining the Hendrix faculty in tenure-track positions this fall, include 2000 Hendrix graduate Courtney Mashburn Hatch as assistant professor of chemistry. She earned a Ph.D. at the University Colorado. Other new tenure-track faculty for the 2008-09 year include:
- William Hacker, assistant professor of English, Ph.D. from Cornell University
- Brett Hill, assistant professor of sociology/anthropology, Ph.D. from Arizona State University.
- Megan Leonard, assistant professor of economics and business, Ph.D. from Texas A&M University
- Kristi McKim, assistant professor of English/film studies, Ph.D. from Emory University.
- Aleksandra Pfau, assistant professor of history, A.B.D., University of Michigan.
- Andrew Scott, assistant professor of foreign languages, A.B.D., Rutgers University.
- Bobby Williamson, assistant professor of religion, A.B.D., Emory University.
Non-tenure track faculty are often hired to fill in while full-time faculty are on sabbatical or leave. Others are hired to fill short-term needs.
“The one-to-three year contracts are designed to address enrollment stress,” Dr. Entzminger said. “Some will convert to tenure-track positions as soon as we are confident that there is a continuing need for the positions.”