Karen Davis’ ’83, G’90 desire to create a welcoming environment for all has permeated every corner of the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS). Building the college’s career services from the ground up and becoming the assistant dean of…
Update on Cluster Hire Initiative
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
As faculty hiring for the 2023-24 academic year gets underway, I am writing to update you on the status of the University’s Cluster Hire Initiative. As you may recall, the Cluster Hire Initiative working group, co-chaired by Associate Provost Jamie Winders and Dean Cole Smith, was charged with assessing the program’s performance against its original objectives. Following intensive engagement with deans, program directors and faculty, the working group found that the Cluster Hire Initiative brought excellent faculty to Syracuse University and accelerated and expanded certain areas of research and creative work. It also found that work is needed to maximize the clusters’ impact on research and creative excellence.
Cluster Hire Initiative Working Group Recommendations
To that end, the working group offered four tangible recommendations, including the following:
- consider a smaller, more clearly focused set of clusters with appropriate funding to help them run as centers or institutes;
- provide support for cluster leadership and cluster facilities, including operations and management, to promote academic excellence;
- clarify and clearly message the goals, visions, objectives and governance of the cluster program; and
- continue to prioritize “regular” faculty hires to retain existing core strengths within our academic units by evaluating hiring incentives for cluster vs. non-cluster hires.
With these recommendations in mind, we will take the following actions:
- Associate Provost Winders will work with the deans to ensure that “regular” faculty hires are prioritized for the 2023-24 academic year. These faculty searches should contribute to the school/college and/or department strategic goals, research excellence and/or curricular needs and do not need to be associated with the Cluster Hire Initiative.
- We will pause faculty hiring in the Energy and Environment, Health and Neuroscience, and Big Data clusters to allow consideration of the focus and direction of these clusters and their alignment with the Academic Strategic Plan. Duncan Brown, vice president for research, will work with stakeholders in these research clusters to develop plans for the future. I have asked for these plans by the end of the Spring 2023 semester.
- We will work with the appropriate academic leaders and faculty to sunset the Virtual and Immersive Interactions and Innovation and Entrepreneurship clusters. The University will continue to support faculty hired into these clusters. There will be no impact on these faculty members regarding the path to tenure and promotion, and the schools/colleges involved will continue to support the research and creative activities of these faculty members.
- Finally, I have asked Vice President Brown to develop a plan, guided by and aligned with the University’s new Academic Strategic Plan, for supporting cluster leadership and cluster facilities.
2023-24 Cluster Hires
Faculty searches for cluster hires proposed for the 2023-24 academic year should be discussed and approved by the cluster leads, the appropriate dean(s) and the vice president for research prior to requesting the hires. The following clusters are eligible to propose searches in 2023-24:
- Aging Studies
- Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems and the Human-Technology Frontier
- BioInspired Institute: Institute for Materials and Living Systems
- Citizenship and Democratic Institutions
- Social Differences, Social Justice
As we consider future enhancements of the Cluster Hire Initiative, we will continue to consult broadly with deans and faculty to assess how to best support, strengthen and evolve the existing clusters. We will also evaluate hiring incentives to ensure we are attracting and retaining high-performing faculty across diverse disciplines.
I am grateful to the many stakeholders who provided input during this process and look forward to our continued engagement.
Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer