The Faculty of Arts and Sciences' top priority this year will be to increase the number of junior and senior professors, Dean Jeremy R. Knowles said yesterday.
Speaking in University Hall on the release of his annual letter to the full Faculty, Knowles said he wants to lower the Faculty's student-teacher ratio while keeping constant the size of the student body. He also announced that the Faculty spent about $513 million last year, nearly $25 million more than last year's expenditures.
Though the 17-page letter cites many successes, Knowles urged the Faculty to act to resolve problems he termed pressing.
"My main message this year is carpe diem," Knowles said. "I believe we must be very careful not to become complacent."
In the main body of his letter, Knowles said that some departments are more successful than others at recruiting and retaining competent faculty, and that other departments should mimic their methodology.
Knowles also cited the frequent problem of a shortage of teaching fellows (TFs) in the college.
College officials said that this has resulted in part from an increase in financial aid for graduate students. This increase, he said, means that the extra income provided by a TF job may not be needed.
The letter also included updates on capital projects and information technology. Capital projects discussed include the ongoing renovations of Widener Library and plans for two new buildings to house offices and laboratories for the physical sciences and the life sciences.
Thought priding itself on updating its technology, the Faculty still falls prey to computer problems.
Serious technical problems with Project ADAPT, the new University-wide online financial program, and delays in implementing the new HOLLIS network will all receive Faculty attention this year.
In another part of the letter, Knowles wrote about his desire to encourage every first-year to take a seminar-style course. Given the way Freshmen Seminars are structured, not all first-years who want to take the courses can do so.
Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 said that the possibility of such a proposal has not yet left the drawing board.
"We're still early in the discussion stage," Lewis said. "We are just beginning to think about it."
Another major goal for the next year, Knowles wrote, is to ensure the best use of the space currently available.
After Knowles read his letter, he challenged faculty members to answer some of the questions posed in his letter.
In response to Knowles's question on recruitment, Suzanne P. Blier, professor of the history of art and architecture, suggested that departments take advantage of candidates from faculty searches elsewhere in the University.
She also suggested more interdisciplinary programs like those in the Afro-American studies department.
At least one professor had doubts about whether Knowles' emphasis on Faculty hiring and retention left more pressing issues unresolved.
The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and minister in Memorial Church, said in an interview that he believes that the House system, another topic mentioned in the letter, must be seriously reconsidered.
"It is great to have all this new faculty, but attention must be paid to how to work with the Houses," Gomes said. "Knowles alluded to recapturing space in the Houses. But you can't satisfy that question by renovating a few attics or cellars."
But President Neil L. Rudenstine said he thought Knowles's letter was a step in the right direction and that increasing the size of the Faculty should be a priority.
"I am very much in favor of [the letter]," Rudenstine said. "I believe it is important to move ahead steadily and strongly."