During a time of budget cuts, St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences are hiring new faculty members. Some students think it’s a good decision for the school, while others are concerned about where money is being spent.
The Opus College of Business is hiring seven full-time faculty members to start next fall. But Christopher Puto, dean and chair of the Opus College of Business, said this isn’t anything new. In the last five years, the school has hired 50 full-time faculty members, and the additional seven next year will help the school receive accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“We have enrollments that are significantly growing, and we don’t want to have 200-seated classes,” said Puto. “We’ve got be able to provide the faculty to teach those classes.”
With somewhere between 35 and 45 percent of all undergraduate students majoring in business, it is the largest major at St. Thomas, Puto said.
By achieving AACSB accreditation, the business school hopes to be more competitive with other graduate options students have.
Joseph Kreitzer, associate vice president for academic affairs, said the decision to hire new faculty was based on technical grounds to get accredited. The AACSB requires a certain number of credits to be taught by full-time faculty members. Kreitzer said, from his understanding, this is the last year the college of business has to hire new faculty members in order to reach that requirement.
Kreitzer also said becoming accredited was a “no-brainer.”
“If we want to be a player, we just have to have that sort of accreditation,” Kreitzer said.
The College of Arts and Sciences will also be hiring new faculty members this year, but a smaller amount when compared with the number of students in each program. Dean of Arts and Sciences Marisa Kelly said there will be eight new faculty members, five of whom are already hired.
Kelly said one reason the College of Arts and Sciences doesn’t need to hire many new faculty members is because the college isn’t going through the same transformation as the Opus College of Business.
“In any given year, are there places where maybe we’d want to hire an extra person or two? Absolutely,” Kelly said.
But because the College of Arts and Sciences is not starting any new programs or expanding to a great degree, it’s unlikely that it will need to request many new positions. Open positions are due to faculty retiring or otherwise leaving the university.
Kelly said she is certain the college will make requests to fill these positions, and she is confident it will be able to hire faculty for them.
“It’s always a balancing act for any university and any unit within a university,” Kelly said. “Are we able to hire the high quality faculty that we need to in the arts and sciences in order to maintain excellence in our programs? Absolutely. We have been able to do that, and we will continue to be able to do that.”
Some students have mixed opinions about where faculty members are being hired, but most of them see AACSB accreditation as a positive thing.
Junior marketing management major Sam Zastrow said the college of business should be hiring faculty members to meet accreditation standards.
“I think that if that’s what the case is, then it’s neccessary for St. Thomas to do that,” Zastrow said. “The college of business is what brings a lot of the students here to campus, and it is what they’re known for. So I think it’s important for the college of business to grow and to get new minds and new voices, as much as other people might not agree with it or be upset about it.”
Patrick Hangge, a junior majoring in biology, has mixed feelings about the hiring of new faculty members.
“I think it’s good that they’re trying to get accredited to get national recognition,” Hangge said. “Maybe if that’s what the focus of the school is, then it’s probably a good thing. At the same time, I don’t know because it’s not really equally represented. And it’s supposed to be a liberal arts school, so shouldn’t they be focusing more on the liberal arts and not on business?”
Kelly Trussell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.