Departments seek fresh faculty, ideas

Seven educational departments at Geneseo are searching for experienced individuals to join their faculty through a cluster hire process. Those chosen will be involved in work that extends across multiple departments. According to Interim Provost David Gordon, the mathematics, psychology and sociology departments are currently looking for statisticians for each department. Anthropology, history, political science and international relations, and languages and literatures, specifically the Spanish faculty, are looking for those with expertise in Latin American studies.

The new faculty will be placed within the individual departments, which means that Geneseo is looking to hire three new statisticians and four new specialists in Latin American studies.

“I think, if it works well, not only the individual faculty members will be working across departmental lines,” Gordon said. “I think it will be a way for the larger departments to cooperate and talk to each other.”

Each department is obtaining a faculty member whose knowledge in the cluster field is most closely associated with their department. These new hires, while working within their departments, are expected to collaborate on a project with one another as well. Those projects haven’t been determined yet.

According to Gordon, the departments are responsible for establishing the focuses of these interdepartmental projects. While they are still discussing what these projects may be, the departments plan to wait until the open positions are filled so that the new faculty members can contribute ideas.

Possible project ideas already thrown into the discussion include research projects and developing new courses or a team-taught course.

“The idea is that if you get people working together in a similar area but they come from different disciplines, we hope that it will lead to some creativity in what they develop and something that could be of interest to many different students of different majors,” Gordon said.

While faculty members have worked together in the past, specifying and mandating these partnerships as part of the job description is something new.

“One of the things we’re interested in academically is interdisciplinary work,” he said. “This is one way to contribute to that.”

Although Geneseo is currently only looking at applications for two clusters – statistics and Latin American studies – this is a hiring process the faculty intends to use in the future.

“It’s an experiment. Because we went for several years without hiring new faculty members this seemed like a good opportunity to try new things,” Gordon said. “We will be hiring several each year now for the next couple years.”

Although the search began in September 2013, the college will not hire people until spring 2013, according to Gordon. The new hires will begin their placements during fall 2014.