As many as 34 faculty members were rumored to have left Wittenberg over the summer, prompting much concern amongst the student body regarding Wittenberg’s faculty retention rate. This new concern closely follows the stress over student retention rates that dominated the end of the previous academic year.
But according to Kevin Evans, Wittenberg’s director of human resources, the university’s faculty turnover rate is certainly nothing to be alarmed about. According to Evans, only 17 faculty members left Wittenberg over the summer of 2013. “The turnover rate may seem high, but when compared to previous years it is fairly consistent. In 2009, we also had 17 faculty leave.” he said.
Even still, the departure of 17 faculty members may seem significantly higher than the average turnover of 12 full-time faculty that has been observed since 2008. However, not all of the faculty that left Wittenberg over the summer were full-time positions. Of the 17 faculty members that left, 6 were for retirement while another 3 left because they had completed their one year visiting positions.
“So over half the turnover was due to normal attrition,” said Evans.
Evans also said that it is normal for faculty to leave Wittenberg during the summer months, as they normally complete their teaching contracts in May.
So according to Evans, Wittenberg’s retention of faculty does not seem to warrant much concern. However, there are now some big holes in the university’s faculty that need to be filled. The departure of Garnett Purnell, for example, has necessitated a search for a new Athletic Director. Jeff Ankrom, associate provost for faculty affairs, and Wendy Gradwohl, associate professor of business and faculty athletic representative to the NCAA, are co-chairing the search for Purnell’s replacement. According to Ankrom, their efforts are progressing smoothly. “The AD search is going well. We have conducted phone interviews and we will meet soon to trim our list to a top 3-5” he said.
The search for a new Vice President of Business and Finance is also underway, after the recent departure of Darrell Kitchen. Provost Chris Duncan is co-chairing the search along with Chief Information Officer Rick Mickool. “We had a very strong and diverse pool of applicants and we will be conducting preliminary interviews of campus next week with a select number,” said Duncan. The week following preliminary interviews they hope to have three or four candidates on campus to be interviewed by various members of the campus community, the staff in the related division, and President Joyner as well.
In the next few weeks, Wittenberg will see a number of important changes in its faculty, particularly for senior management positions such as the Vice President of Finance and the Director of Athletics. However, it appears that such changes are normal, and are being attended to effectively.