After a hiring lull during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston College recruited 63 new faculty members this year—one of the largest faculty cohorts in recent years and the most diverse group of hires BC has ever seen, according to Vice Provost for Faculties Billy Soo.
“Because of COVID, we deliberately reduced the size of our new faculty hires just for contingency purposes,” Soo said. “We didn’t know exactly, at that point, how fully in person we were going to return. And then the other thing is, every year we always have a batch of faculty who leave or retire, and that group has actually been quite high … the last two years.”
According to BC News, almost half of the new hires are people of color, including 13 Black faculty members.
“This is my first year in the role,” said Shaylonda Martin, assistant director of faculty and academic affairs. “But what I’ve noticed so far is that this is the largest AHANA group hired and the largest number of faculty that we’ve ever hired.”
Soo said he thinks the new recruits were drawn to BC’s mission of leading its students on a “comprehensive journey of discovery” and building upon its Jesuit traditions.
“Clearly, the message that we’re giving resonates with the faculty that we’re recruiting—they buy into our mission and what we’re trying to accomplish here at Boston College.”
This new group of faculty is also the most accomplished set of professors BC has ever had, according to Soo. Six of the new faculty members are endowed professors—professors whose salaries are permanently paid from the endowment fund—and one of whom is a former MacArthur Fellow—a five-year grant awarded to individuals who show exceptional dedication to their creative and academic endeavors—Soo said.
“It’s just something I’m really proud of,” said Soo. “Because, number one, there are a lot of schools out there—many of our competitors are also trying to diversify their faculty. We’re not the only ones. … We were astounded by how successful we were.”
Martin said these endowed professors will bring a lot to the University in terms of research and experience.
“[Endowed professors] are more established professors,” Martin said. “And they’re coming from all different areas of study, and I think they’re going to bring a lot to BC, especially their established research.”
Soo said that the great resignation—all-time high rates of resignation during the COVID-19 pandemic—greatly affected hiring in academics since not many people are looking for work.
“We have had to replenish our faculty,” Soo said. “So that led to this bigger hiring group of people. And I think number one, [hiring] is very important because we want to make sure we have enough faculty to cover all our classes, and given the emphasis on in person teaching, we want to make sure that they’re really full time and they’re committed to the school.”
Given this hiring shortage and competitive job market, Soo said he was pleased the University was so successful with hiring this year.
“This is not a year where you give one offer and they accept it,” Soo said. “Oftentimes there’s a lot of negotiation that goes on [and] oftentimes they have competing offers … and that’s certainly the case this year … but [our success rate] is fairly high—I would almost say it’s close to 80 percent.”
Soo said he is hoping the new faculty will fall in love with the University and find their place within it.
“I’m hoping number one that they love the place,” Soo said. “We explain to them what we’re all about, and when they accept the offer and they come in, you always hope that they’ll fit in well, that they’ll have a great experience.”
While this year was very successful in terms of hiring new faculty, Soo said the University’s work is not done yet.
“I want to say as successful as we are, the job is not yet done,” Soo said. “You know, I think we’re not yet as diverse as our student population, and the diversity of our student population is always something I aspire to for our faculty … and we have high hopes for next year.”