Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Recruitment and Retention

Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of the graphs.


Many of the surveyed departments had worries in the area of recruiting and retaining quality faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. There were several common strategies that departments implemented to deal with this issue.

Do you feel that your department is at risk of losing faculty to other institutions?
The vast majority of departments felt they were at risk of losing faculty to other institutions.

If yes, what efforts have you used to address it?
Many emphasized the need for pre-emptive measures, such as:

  • Salary increases
  • Early promotion and nomination for awards
  • Technician and other Lab support
  • Working to "remain a collegial and fairly administered department"
Responses to other offers included all of the above, as well as:
  • Prompt, strong counter offers
  • Spousal/partner job offers ("the two-body problem")
  • Renegotiate research/teaching/service loads
  • Subsidized housing

What departmental or institutional strategies have been most effective in recruiting faculty?

  • Substantial start-up packages (e.g., "gobs of start-up money")
  • Demonstration of long term commitment (i.e., "excellence promotes excellence," future hires)
  • Recruitment is a "team effort" at all stages, involving lots of personal contact, especially during decision-making period
  • "Target high-potential candidates just as they are finishing their doctorates", taking a risk on candidate before other institutions are ready to commit
  • Joint appointment with other departments on campus
  • Institutional or federal initiatives to increase diversity
  • Spousal/partner accommodation
  • "Opportunities for faculty to take part in designing curricular programs (rather than merely filling existing teaching requirements)"

Is graduate student recruitment/retention an issue for your department?
The vast majority of departments felt that graduate student recruitment was important.

  • Recruitment was mentioned much more than retention, which formerly was only really a problem for international students, but may be growing for all students
  • Graduate Forums/Booths (apparently more successful at GSA than AGU)
  • Summer stipends, and fundraising to increase stipends in general
  • "Flying students in for well-orchestrated visits" that involve faculty and existing students
  • Lots of personal contact
  • Effective web pages
  • "Decouple first year grad support from research grants" to allow students to explore department
  • Early decisions on admission
  • Networking with colleagues at other institutions

Is undergraduate student recruitment/retention an issue for your department?
The vast majority of departments felt that undergraduate student recruitment was important.

  • Retention rarely mentioned in survey responses
  • Revised curriculum and degree options to appeal to broader range of students (e.g., environmental, policy, biogeosciences, etc.); "Improving the pedagogical logic (as opposed to the disciplinary content)"
  • Recruit from general education courses, using best, senior faculty to teach them, then good advising ("promote profession in large intro service classes," "proactive recruiting from our general education courses")
  • Increasing field-trip opportunities for potential majors
  • Hiring a full-time departmental recruiter for undergraduates
  • Work with institutional admissions office and high schools