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Colorado research universities struggle to stop poaching of faculty

May 21, 2013 by

School ChoiceBy Anthony Cotton –

Pieter Johnson has made quite a name for himself since coming to the University of Colorado in 2007.

Among the ecology and evolutionary biology professor’s accomplishments: being named a Packard Fellow and receiving an accompanying $875,000 grant, and in an article in the journal Nature earlier this year theorizing on how biodiversity could help combat infectious disease.

The resulting buzz has made him a hot commodity — like Peyton Manning hitting the NFL free agency hot.

That, in turn, has led to other universities attempting to make Johnson their franchise player.

Unfortunately for the University of Colorado, Johnson isn’t the only potential star on the market. CU Boulder provost Russ Moore said 48 faculty and staff members were approached this year by other schools regarding jobs, making the campus, in the words of one departing staffer, a “target-rich environment.”

“People are coming after our folks left and right,” Moore said. “Michigan, Berkeley, Wisconsin, Harvard — we’ve had a slew from Stanford the last few years. It’s important that we retain our faculty to maintain the quality of a high-performance university. But it’s been difficult to keep pace; the last three years we’ve been losing ground.”

Colorado State University is facing similar issues, with more than 20 of its professors getting outside offers, according to a CSU official.

Bottom-line issue

The poaching of high-caliber faculty is more than an academic issue — it’s a bottom-line issue for families and students at the state’s two research universities. When CSU raised its tuition by 9 percent for next year and CU Boulder boosted its tuition 8.7 percent, one of the main justifications was the need for money to retain faculty.

The schools also contend that retaining star teachers bolsters their reputations, which adds to the value of their degrees, which leads to better jobs and higher salaries for its graduates.

Faculty at CU and CSU lag behind what faculty at peer institutions make. While across the board the shortfall on average is about 5 percent at CU and 6 percent at CSU, the deficit could be as high as 15 to 40 percent, depending on the discipline.

via Colorado research universities struggle to stop poaching of faculty – The Denver Post.

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