Truman State University is looking to fill up to 19 faculty and staff positions, including six open staff positions, three positions in student affairs and an estimated 10 faculty positions.
Sally Herleth, executive director of human resources, said the six staff positions include two housekeeping jobs, a study abroad adviser, an admissions counselor and more. These job listings are posted outside the human resources office.
Herleth said the turnover rate at Truman has a number of factors, including retirement. The University did not offer a retirement incentive this year, but she said normally they see a higher number of staff and faculty taking advantage of that opportunity when it is available.
Herleth said over the course of a given year, Truman has anywhere from 50-100 positions to refill. She said some of the positions are entry-level, so they expect a higher turnover for those. Herleth said people leave usually for personal reasons.
Herleth said the recent cuts to the budget have been a concern, and the University has chosen not to fill some positions because of budget constraints.
“We take a pretty good look at all staff positions in particular to see [if] we need this, is there a better way we can do this, can other people cover those responsibilities and stuff,” Herleth said. “We’ve become pretty lean and mean, so it gets kind of harder to do after a while.”
Herleth said most searches are external. She said the number of available staff positions and the turnover of this year is fairly typical.
She said usually the University advertises staff positions locally and online. For higher level positions, the job listing would be posted on larger venues, such as the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Janna Stoskopf, vice president for student affairs, said there are three positions she oversees that are currently vacant. These positions are director of Residence Life, assistant director of the Career Center, and the director of Student Access and Disability Services.
While the search for a director of Student Access and Disability Services is wrapping up, the Res Life director position only recently became available, and the position in the Career Center was recently created.
Stoskopf said the University typically sees some turnover in residence hall directors from year to year, but that is expected because it is seen as an entry-level higher education position.
Stoskopf said generally position searches go through a process of posting the job listing and creating a search committee — made up of students, stakeholders and faculty selected by the department supervisor — to review candidates and determine the top three to then interview and invite to campus. Once on campus, Stoskopf said they meet with various groups who give their input to the search committee for consideration. The department supervisor ultimately makes the decision.
Stoskopf said some factors that might turn candidates away are the region Truman is in, personal reasons or a lack of connection to the Truman culture. She said salary is also a factor, and the University is looking to address that problem by increasing salaries across campus, but this has become more difficult with state budget cuts.
Stoskopf said while there are only three open positions she oversees, she is concerned about what positions those are. She said Truman and its students rely on the services each position provides, so it is important to fill them and ensure those responsibilities are being fulfilled.
“It is crucial in all respects,” Stoskopf said. “Quite honestly, when I look at the work we’re doing with the budget issues that we’ve had over the last few years, we have done everything we can — not just us in student affairs, but across the University — to try to identify where there are places where once a position becomes vacant, we don’t have to refill it, [and] we can figure out how we approach it differently … I would say that we have done so much of that over the course of the last 3-5 years that quite honestly, we’re at what I would consider bare bones staffing.”
Janet Gooch, vice president for academic affairs and provost, said there are just a few faculty positions open right now, but the deans and academic departments are finishing assessing their needs and submitting requests for faculty positions. Gooch said this process of working with the deans helps to keep an eye on the size of Truman’s faculty relative to the curricular needs and size of student body. Gooch said if she had to estimate, she would expect to conduct about 10 faculty searches this year. She said as the University switches to The Dialogues next year, course demand will be more difficult to determine. Gooch said Truman has budgeted for the faculty required and will continue to hire faculty where it is essential to teach the University’s curriculum.
This year, there are about 10 full-time new faculty members.
Gooch said searches for faculty positions are typically external and take several months. While some departments can find new faculty relatively easily, Gooch said it is harder in some areas because there are fewer Ph.D. candidates or fewer people looking to teach. The search for a dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education, Gooch said, has failed previously and is now on its second attempt. The University has since hired a recruiting firm to help identify potential candidates for the latest search, she said.
Gooch said it is important to find the right candidates for the open positions at Truman.
“It’s about finding the candidate who is going to fit into Truman, but then also that we’re going to be a good fit for the candidate,” Gooch said. “It has to go both ways, and there’s so many factors involved.”
She said hiring the right people is the primary goal of the University and it is the best course of action to keep Truman moving ahead.