Universities face faculty crunch as profs retire

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By Lucy Nersesian

As other universities rush to fill the void of outgoing professors, Ryerson faces a similar prospect.

U of T said this week they will be forced to hire more than 500 new professors — most of whom will be retiring — by the year 2004 and add at least 120 instructors this year.

Similarly, York University has embarked on a hiring binge for 250 professors.

Ryerson administration and the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA) have been discussing this situation for the past five to 10 years.

“I do see this as a problem … and it’s something Ryerson will face like all of Ontario,” said RFA president Michael Doucet.

In 199, there were 11,750 full-time faculty in Ontario, a drop of 2,000 from 1990.

Ryerson was predicting a faculty shortage in the early 1990s. In 1991, the school said 182 teachers would reach retirement age by the end of the decade. At the time the school was unsure if it would be able to fill the gap because of budget constraints.

The average age of Ryerson’s staff has climbed in the past 20 years. According to Ryerson’s Retirement Pension Plan (RRPP), which covers the majority of faculty and staff, the average age of the 1,107 contributors in 1997 was 47, compared with 42.2 in 1987 and 39 in 1976.

“Ryerson will have a problem competing and retaining good young faculty members,” Doucet said.

The recruiting wheels were already set in motion as Ryerson recently ran an advertisement in The Globe and Mail. In one display ad, the faculty of applied arts was accepting resumes for 11 tenure-track positions in programs including journalism, image arts, graphic communications management, interior design and theatre.

Doucet said the problem of recruiting new professors will further intensify in 2003, the double cohort year. The new four-year high school system sends out its first graduates the same year the last set of five-year graduates leave high school for university, doubling the number of university applicants.

“The province expects us to roll up our sleeves and accommodate this,” Doucet said. But he thinks Ryerson can turn a potentially bad situation into a good opportunity.

“We should seize on this for a new academic building. Most classes are full and we are going to need more classroom space — real classroom space, not movie theatres.”

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