By Mary Chan
Unemployed professors may soon be able to find work at the University of Calgary, but they could face a large workload.
Starting this fall and continuing over the next decade, the U of C hopes to hire new faculty in various departments, though U of C Vice-president Academic Dr. Ron Bond did not offer a specific number.
"It is hard to quantify the number of professors we will need," he said.
Bond offered three reasons for increasing the number of hirings: an aging faculty, many of whom will retire in the next 10 years; increased enrollment in the next 10 years; and increased research opportunities.
"The combined effects of an aging professoriate and the appearance at our door of members of the ‘echo-baby-boom’ means that we will need professors in almost all areas," he said. "Using Stats Canada data, the Alberta government has said the post-secondary system will need to create an extra 23,000 spots for students (between 1996-2005)."
Despite the increase, President of the University of Calgary Faculty Association Anne Stalker does not see it as a restoration of the cuts to post-secondary education in 1993. Between 1991 and 1997 the total number of faculty members at the U of C dropped by 124 positions.
"It’s not a restoration if the intent is to satisfy new demand," she said. "If the need has increased, it doesn’t restore what has been taken away. But if some of these positions have been provided without new students, then it would be a restoration."
According to Bond, the university also wants to take advantage of research funding from both the federal and provincial governments, including the province’s Access Envelope (which has funded areas such as Social Work and Information and Communications Technology), the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Science and Engineering Research and the federal Canada Research Chairs Program (which Bond says will increase the number of professors mainly in Engineering, Science and Medicine).
Stalker worries about the lack of funding for professors in Humanities and Social Science.
"It’s quite problematic," she said. "Governments do not seem to understand the contribution these faculties make to society and to employment. As an economy we actually depend on the skills that are well developed in the areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, et cetera."
Bond also stressed the importance of having adequate infrastructure, including the library, student services and human resources.
"We are totally strapped for office, lab and classroom space, and without the new money to acquire it, it is pointless to be hiring new faculty and to be aiming to teach greater and greater numbers of students," he said.