Report: Faculty numbers down at Regents universities


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New data from the Iowa Board of Regents reveals that all three of Iowa’s public universities are losing tenured and tenure-tracking faculty.


A recent Iowa Board of Regents report over the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa showed that all three universities are losing tenured and tenure-track professors, as well as proposing fewer promotions for professors with or without tenure.

The report, released during the first week of April, showed that overall faculty totals for all three universities have fallen by 4% since last academic school year, with numbers falling from 6,028 to 5,815 overall. The last time faculty numbers were this low state-wide occurred during the 2014-2015 school year.

UNI in particular lost a total of 8% of faculty members within the last year, while Iowa and ISU lost only 3%. Additionally, UNI lost 15% of non-tenure track professors and 5% of tenured or tenure-track professors.

Despite these decreases, the most recent faculty tenure report from the BOR shows that UNI remains committed to tenured and tenure-track appointed professors. According to this report, 72% of UNI professors are either tenured or on track to receive tenure, as compared to 44% of professors at the University of Iowa and 69% at Iowa State University.

However, promotions for all professors, whether or not they are tenured, are declining across the Regents universities. In total, 237 promotions are proposed at the three schools, as compared to last year’s 277.

During the 2019-2020 academic year, UNI lost seven full time positions due to professors accepting positions at other universities, leaving for personal reasons or retiring, according to John Vallentine, Associate Provost for Faculty.

Despite these losses, Vallentine believes that UNI currently has the ability to adequately cover the core needs of students with its 641 faculty members.

“We have a strong commitment to our faculty being successful and productive at UNI in order to serve our students now and in the future. We will continue to move forward in providing the best learning experiences for our students, and this includes hiring and retaining exceptional faculty members,” he wrote in an email to the Northern Iowan.

According to Vallentine, UNI currently has 22 faculty searches in progress. He noted that hiring decisions are determined by many factors, including the state budget and the university’s yearly enrollment.

UNI’s enrollment has recently declined significantly, decreasing from 10,497 in the 2019-2020 academic school year to 9,522 in the 2020-2021 year, according to a September 2020 article from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Although some of that decline has been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment had already been falling. In 2019, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that fall enrollment was expected to dip below 11,000 for the first time since 1982.

Although there are challenges, Vallentine emphasized the commitment demonstrated by UNI faculty.

“The faculty continue to be extremely dedicated to UNI students, which is evident in their ability to adapt in teaching during a global pandemic. I have always expressed that our students are fortunate to have professors teaching them in their classrooms,” he wrote.