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Retaining Faculty

Retaining Faculty

Every year at this time our institutional research office reports on faculty departures from the previous academic year to this one. The data are interesting. The attrition rate for instructional faculty was 5%, one percent below the previous year and the same as the year before that. The rate is low by national standards for public doctoral institutions, where the norm is 8%.

Slightly less than a third of our “departures” were due to retirement; about the same percentage seemed to have resigned to take another job; the rest (38%) completed their contract or appointment.

I periodically encounter faculty who seem to think we are hemorrhaging, often because someone has left from their unit, and they extrapolate in dire fashion. We certainly do lose some faculty we would much prefer to keep (we also, of course, have been busy hiring from other institutions and, on the whole, remain on the plus side here). But we don’t seem to be facing a major problem overall.

We’ve tried to be strategic in responding to offers or possible offers, and apparently this approach has garnered some success. We reflect, of course, the fact that, overall, the academic job market is hardly jumping and also, I’m sure, from the relatively good spousal employment situation in this region. I hope our experience also reflects the positive features of working at Mason. I don’t mean at all to suggest that our patterns should induce complacency, but they are, on balance, somewhat encouraging, and they do warrant some notice.


I wrote this somewhat prosaic note before the news of the basketball coach’s departure. It may take on a bit more meaning in this new context. Like most Masonites I have greatly enjoyed our basketball exploits and greatly appreciated the many talents of Jim Larranaga, and of course, I wish him well. But the symbolic reactions to his decision should not obscure the fact that we have assembled a really talented faculty, staff and student body at the University and have steadily improved our retention capabilities in all categories. I see no reason to believe that much has changed since Friday (including the probability of a pretty good team next year, for those of us who enjoy this aspect of the University).