University of Michigan
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December 15, 2018

Top accomplishments: Interdisciplinary Junior Faculty Initiative

March 10, 2014

Top accomplishments: Interdisciplinary Junior Faculty Initiative

A tribute to President Mary Sue Coleman

In an effort to enhance the university's interdisciplinary teaching and research efforts, as well as improve the student-faculty ratio, the university has created 101 new faculty positions.

President Mary Sue Coleman announced in 2007 a five-year, $30 million initiative to hire 100 tenure-track junior faculty members to increase the university's focus on teaching and research across disciplines.

"By hiring new faculty members to work in cross-cutting teams, we are building upon U-M's intellectual hallmark of collaborative teaching and research," Coleman said.

To date, 101 new positions have been approved, spread across 25 different teams or clusters of research and teaching. Of these 80 percent have been filled.

These teams draw on the knowledge and perspectives of several disciplines, using new research techniques to explore complex problems in human health, environmental sustainability, and the alleviation of poverty. In emerging fields such as digital environments in the humanities and learning from massive datasets, groups of junior faculty are deepening our understanding of the world.

The goal of the initiative is to recruit scholars whose work crosses boundaries, or for cluster hires that bring experts from different fields together to explore significant questions or address complex problems. The program is intended to enhance the university's ability to engage in emerging research opportunities and to increase tenure-track faculty involvement in the university's teaching mission.

During the last four years, 92 proposals were submitted and 25 have been funded. All the funded proposals are for clusters, generally for groups of three to five people and involving two or more schools and colleges. Additionally, all schools and colleges participated in at least one proposal and all have received at least one position.

"Faculty hired through the interdisciplinary initiative are strengthening our research enterprise and increasing our ability to take cutting edge research into the classroom," said Dr. Lori Pierce, vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and professor of tadiation oncology.

"As President Coleman wisely recognized, this influx of new faculty is helping us to fulfill our dual mission of addressing the challenges facing society today and training those who will address them in the future."