Three University of Arizona faculty members officially have been named Regents' Professors by...
Sander Establishes $10K Award for Mid-Career Faculty
The new program is aimed at retaining the UA's best and brightest.
The 1885 Distinguished Scholar award will be bestowed on up to three such candidates, whose research, scholarship or creative contributions "promise to catapult their disciplines to new levels of innovation." In addition to the 1885 Distinguished Scholar title, each recipient will receive a one-time $10,000 award.
The nomination process for the first awards has already begun. Submissions are due Feb. 17 and must include a nomination cover sheet, curriculum vitae, and four letters supporting the nomination.
Award recipients will be announced in April.
"The real future of our institution is in the hands of mid-career people," Sander said in an interview. "What we are trying to do is be able to recognize really outstanding associate professors who are in an upward trajectory in mid-career (and say): Please think about us before you start thinking about Purdue or Harvard or wherever."
Sander said he worried about his faculty members making such moves for 23 of the 25 years he spent as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"It's just something deans worry about," he said.
Sander said his job was simply to find the money. The University of Arizona Foundation's 1885 Society provides money annually to the president's office, and he decided such an award would be a good use of those funds.
"It's a whale of a good investment, considering these people (eligible award candidates) are bringing in millions of dollars in grant money," Sander said.
In an interview, Mutchler said it's not unusual for early- to mid-career faculty members to establish a lab, write a book, publish some papers – and leave.
When such departures happen, there's a huge loss in brainpower and economic stimulus to the state as well as to the University, he said.
"They are the future of the University. How do we keep them here?" Mutchler asked.
Once faculty members reach the level of associate professor or associate librarian, he said, there is no requirement that they reach full professor or librarian even after making tenure.
This award is aimed at people who are likely on track to make full professor or librarian and just haven't yet because not enough time has elapsed, he said.
"We want to start identifying those people and finding a way to reward them so we don't lose them," Mitchell said.
With the state's budget problems over the last few years and nobody receiving raises at the University, he said, the only way for a person in such a position to get a pay increase has been "offer-matching." That means he or she would get a better offer from someplace else and then give his or her department a chance to match it.
Sander said he's worked to set the new program up in a way that makes it sustainable after a new president is named and he leaves his position.
"Good ideas are easy to implement," he said, "and this was one that definitely fell in that category."