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10 Strategies to Attract World-Class Professors

Posted by  Jami Morshed

In today's university climate, workforce development has become a more important pursuit than ever before. Colleges and universities around the country are struggling to find top teaching talents that want to join and take up professional roles. 

This situation has made it difficult for universities to remain competitive, and it has the potential to damage educational and academic offerings in university programs across the country. Luckily, there are several common-sense HR steps that universities can take to attract world-class professors. Read on to learn more:

1. Reduce class sizes

While decreasing class sizes is easier said than done in a college environment, it can be a critical move when enticing the attention of world-class professors. Currently, many world-class professors are actively choosing to work for small colleges due to the smaller class sizes (approximately 50 students). 

World-class professors often find it difficult to teach adequately to lecture halls filled with hundreds of students — one of the best things universities can do to attract quality professors is make the teaching environment more approachable. A source like the U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings offers statistics such as how many universities and colleges have classes that fall below 20 students. This guide can be helpful for evaluating the class size practices of other universities and deciding whether the move is appropriate.

2. Place more focus on teaching than publishing

Many world-class professors find the "publish or perish" approach to seniority and tenure difficult to handle. In this type of dynamic, professors must first dedicate themselves to research, and second to teaching, which results in lower-quality classes and distracted teachers. Teaching universities that want to improve their concentration of world-class professors will do well to implement measurements and standards that place the primary focus on teaching and the secondary focus on publishing papers.

3. Improve the lines of communication between faculty and staff

For a university to function well and earn the presence of world-class talent, it must offer a united front regarding faculty and staff. The HR department needs to ensure consistent information dispersal and host regular communication sessions to ensure that staff, faculty and additional personnel are on the same page with relevant topics related to the health, well-being and functionality of the university.

4. Keep salaries and benefits intact

Faculty wages and benefits often claim a significant portion of a school's operating budget, but it's critical to keep salaries and benefits intact to attract world-class professors. Slashing these areas to reduce spending results in the alienation of quality professors and makes it more difficult for universities to attract excellent faculty, which in turn makes it difficult for said universities to establish themselves as competitive institutions.

5. Improve the focus on wellness

Wellness is a huge deal in many industries right now, and colleges and universities are no different. Many of today's world-class professors want to know that the university they work with cares about their health and well-being — as well as the health and well-being of the university students and staff. Implementing work-life initiatives for faculty, staff and attending students may seem like a small step, but it can go a long way toward making a university a more attractive place to teach.

6. Reduce the reliance on adjunct faculty

Reliance on adjunct teachers is a significant issue in the world of higher-education today. Institutions concerned primarily with teaching can hire adjunct faculty instead of pay world-class professors, but unfortunately, this decision results in a negative environment for world-class professors, places more focus on the importance of grant funding, and often drives world-class professors away from teaching at said school.

7. Pay attention to teaching effort

Many world-class professors feel as if university administrators underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to put together quality courses. To correct this concern, university HR departments must work closely with faculty to ensure that hours worked are not being underestimated or overlooked.

8. Implement data-driven approaches

World-class professors want to know the universities with which they sign on to work are applying data-drive approaches to success. Management approaches like Six Sigma and Lean often fit the bill nicely. Also make sure to have the right student management systems in place.

9. Hire world-class leaders

World-class leaders result in a world-class faculty, and HR administrators must do what they can to hire high-quality scholars and place them in leadership positions. Some of the world's best universities have powerful scholars at their heads, which is always an attractive trait to would-be faculty.

10. Forge through significant changes

If a university hasn't managed to attract world-class talent, there's probably a significant reason for its difficulties. The school's HR department must develop a strategy for change and implement it aggressively; as long as the approach benefits the desires and needs of world-class professors, it will pay off with better student educations and scholastic environments in the long run.

World-Class Professors Make for Better Universities

World-class professors are difficult to come by, and they don't want to work for just any university. By implementing proactive HR strategies and developing a plan to attract quality professors to a college, your institution can begin providing better scholastic talent and increasing value for students across the board.

Jami Morshed

Jami is vice president of global higher education at Unit4. My mission is to help colleges and universities improve student success and institutional effectiveness. I’m responsible for everything we do at the Unit4 Global Center of Excellence to help institutions prepare for the future through scalable and comprehensive software solutions that streamline and modernize core business processes while eliminating the burden of managing ever-changing technology.

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