UND General Info | UND Medical School | UND Discussion | Other Sites | Look Back


Reports of UND professors planning to leave have been almost weekly reading since last fall. Lobbyists for higher education spending used those departures to win more money in faculty raises.

But now the university administration would prefer the image of a campus where top-notch faculty want to come instead of go. Administrators report image problems from playing up an exodus of faculty and a crisis-level erosion of quality during the legislative session. A special Council of Deans meeting at UND is scheduled Wednesday just to deal with the legislative session's impact on the university's image. "We're getting a backlash from the image we gave in trying to bring our case to the Legislature. It's critical that we regroup to turn that around," said Alice Clark, vice president of academic affairs. "We need to restore the morale among faculty, students and the public, and reassure them there still is quality education on campus. The legislative increases were "a healthy place to start," Clark said.

The effect of the raises in matter of contention on the faculty, though. Larry Dobesh, chairman of the UND economics department, thinks the faculty got the best deal they could, given the poorer economy west of the Red River Valley. "The morale looks a lot better," he said of the faculty. "Before, there were sad faces. There've been more smiles than I've seen for months." Dobesh himself intends to resign later this year to be a finance professor at Moorhead State University.

Language department chairman Gene DuBois hasn't noticed as many smiles as Dobesh. "The general impression I get is that the 8 percent and 7 percent raises from the Legislature are almost insulting, when people have gone without a raise or only a very small raise, as long as they have here." Recruitment efforts for a key Spanish teaching position have drawn disappointingly few applicants, DuBois said. His department has voted unanimously not to open new sections of French or Spanish classes with temporary or fill-in teachers. The language professors message is that quality will suffer if UND keeps handling freshman enrollment increases with a Red Cross approach.

The math department, too, has been going through a crunch. Chairman Milton Winger thinks it could lead to the departure of three or four professors before the year is out, Clark said some emergency money is being routed to boost the pay of full-time math lecturers who threatened to resign. Winger said faculty recruitment pressures in math are severe.

Across campus, in fact, there's a particularly heavy recruitment load for this time of the year. Clark said there are searches under way to fill 40 vacancies -- counting some positions opened in previous years. Usually, most vacancies are filled before late spring. There's been a spate of late announced departures this year.

Here's a summary of other faculty developments this year:

For the second year in a row, administrators say, the university has taken a heavy loss in experienced professors who are in the midpoints of their careers.

Among 37 faculty members who are officially not returning after this school year, there've been 17 resignations. Most are top-ranking faculty, many of them department heads.

Some, including William Dando in geography, Donald Bergstrom in chemistry and Kevin Fickenscher in rural health, have been leading grant-getters.

Turnover at UND is not necessarily above what's normal for a public university. Nor are departures unexpected or unwelcome. It's common for department stars to move up the career ladder, for example. And new blood adds vitality to an institution as heavily tenured as UND, where seven of 10 faculty members have virtually guaranteed job security. Nevertheless, the past two years have taken a particularly heavy toll of what Clark considers the stable, loyal "backbone" kind of faculty members.

The year isn't over. More departures are anticipated. The list won't be complete until summer is out, Clark said. Before the 1988-89 school year, there were 21 resignations out of a total turnover of 48. The rest were mainly non-renewals and retirements.

The figures from Clark don't include the medical school, which keeps its own records. It has had three administrative resignations so far this year.

Over the past five years, the UND faculty turnover, not counting the medical school has ranged from 37 to 48.

The yearly turnover has been about 10 percent of tenured faculty members. They number roughly 400 of the university's total full-time faculty of 600.

Departures have been more numerous the first year of a biennium, the year after the Legislature meets. Because of that trend though most of the 1980s. Clark predicts turnovers will increase in 1989-90.

There also at lest 13 professors who've won approvals for paid developmental leaves next year, and another eight who are scheduled for unpaid leaves of absence.

Some leaves could turn into permanent departures, many professors suspect.

For example, geology professor Dexter Perkins, active in environmental efforts, is taking a one-year development leave, starting in December, to teach at Blaise-Pascal University in France. He said he had one offer to join that faculty and would keep his options open when he's abroad. His plan now is to come back, though.

There's been speculation about Owen Anderson, a top UND law professor who's requested a second year of developmental leave at a higher-paying college in Texas. Many think he'll stay there. But one year in texas was enough for two other UND professors, Zena, Beth McGlashan and Harley Straus, both of the School of Communication. They're returning this summer from one-year leave in El Paso and have indicated conditions are better at UND.

Reference: Grand Forks Herald 8 May 1989