UniversityThe trend of hiring junior faculty at DLSU
The trend of hiring junior faculty at DLSU
February 28, 2012
February 28, 2012

Like most universities, DLSU has housed many of the country’s leading educators, but as time passes, the University faces the challenge of having to replace some of the well-known retiring professors.

Dr. Myrna Austria, Vice Chancellor for Academics, notes that retirement of skilled veteran faculty is imminent. Certain departments bank heavily on the expertise of a few teachers in their fields; to retire some of them would be a crippling blow to the prestige and quality of these departments.

“There are really good faculty in the College of Science, Economics and Chemical Engineering… [but they] are in their 60’s and already retiring,” she laments. “There is no one to replace them.”

As of last term, the University has approximately 44 professors who are 56 years old and above. These 44 are equivalent to a valuable 9.5 percent of the faculty, made distinct by their years of teaching and research experience. Succession is therefore an issue.

As an attempt to replace the outgoing faculty members with more or less equally seasoned and competent professors, DLSU is scouting outside the University. The University is looking at compensation to reel in the best professors just as Br. Andrew Gonzales FSC revamped DLSU’s salary scales in the past to attract top class faculty from other schools such as the University of the Philippines (most of this batch have gone on to become University Fellows), to teach at DLSU.

Any University’s efforts to scout for veteran faculty from other universities, however, is ‘pirating’, and, as Austria affirms, is a discouraged tactic among universities. The focus then turns to hiring fresh Lasallian graduates, with or without a Master’s degree. This presents another problem, which involves a possible lack of skill in transmitting knowledge to students on the part of fresh graduates.

No MA, No Hire

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) released a memorandum order, CMO No. 40, in 2008, requiring all faculty of higher educational institutions to have at least a master’s degree upon hiring. The implementation of this memorandum order is to be done this school year, AY 2011-2012.

Dr. Feorillo Demeterio III, Vice Dean for the College of Liberal Arts, cites that strict compliance with the rule may put DLSU at a disadvantage in attracting gifted hires. “We scout for talented, gifted students and invite them to teach, encourage them to study and hire them as fresh graduates,” explains Demeterio.

“If we do not do that, if they already have a master’s degree [by the time we approach them], some of them will opt not to have a career in the academe, either [by] entering corporations or starting their own businesses,” he furthers.

The question of skill, however, among the younger faculty is an issue. While nonetheless competent, there are questions as to the proficiency of ‘green’ teachers in relation to their experience in research and industry experience.

Gabriel Eroy (III, BSA) states, “Some of [these fresh graduate professors] were really obvious with what they lack: that is, experience.”

Elana Cabrera (IV, AB-PSM) reinforces the visibility of the gap for some of her younger professors. “I believe they are somewhat struggling with the topics, unlike the older professors who really know what they are teaching.”

School of Economics (SOE) Dean Dr. Winfred Villamil, counters saying, “Younger faculty members have more energy.”

“Younger faculty members are more up to date with respect to their knowledge; in other words, older faculty members learned what they knew long, long ago before any of [the present generation],” he furthers.

A Need for Faculty Development

The administration has been taking steps to resolve the gap in faculty experience by augmenting its faculty development program. “We have [few] problems with the senior faculty,” clarifies Austria. “Our faculty development program is directed more towards our junior faculty, because they are the ones who will be growing.”

The faculty development program is a staple for universities seeking to comply with CHED requirements in maintaining competent faculty members. While regulations pertaining to funding of the faculty development program vary, the allocation should be sufficient to pay for the expenses of faculty for their continuing education, flight and accommodation for conferences and incentives.

Education here pertains to a Master’s or Doctorate degrees to be earned by junior faculty overseas; it is a priority area for faculty development. The experience of studying in distinguished partner universities abroad is recognized as beneficial in the perspectives of faculty.

“We encourage our faculty members who take their Master’s and Doctorates here to go abroad, look for fellowship abroad, and DLSU will give them some incentive,” explains Demeterio.

Fellowship, sandwich programs and other incentives falling under faculty development are formulated under the principles of successful succession management, to bear the brunt of losing veteran teachers who have contributed significant research and transmission of knowledge in their respect fields. Therefore, DLSU allocates approximately Php 2 million in faculty development every term to cover for incurred expenses.

Faculty development, however, is not yet concretized.  “Whoever is the next administrator, that should be the basis for approval,” reveals Austria, pertaining to the formalization of faculty development. “Right now, we do not have any document. [Faculty development proposals] are not approved blindly, though, it is just not written.”