Number of faculty at all-time high; women and minorities increase slightly| Nov 3, 2014
The total number of faculty members climbed to an all-time high of 1,175 this year compared to 1,052 a decade ago.
On Oct. 8, theUniversity Board of Trustees approved 20 more appointments to the faculty, taking the total count up further.
Despite the growth in faculty, the student-to-faculty ratio has hit a decade high of 6:1, after being stable at 5:1 for most of the past few years.
Of the professors, 71 percent are tenured, of which 49 percent were promoted to tenure while at the University.
Dean of the Faculty and psychology and public affairs professor Deborah Prentice said that over the years, the University has been increasingly successful in drawing faculty members with noteworthy successes in their respective fields.
“Academia, like every other industry has become more and more competitive. Princeton has fantastic faculty — we have the very top researchers and teachers in the country,” Prentice said. “So they are people who have succeeded in an incredibly, incredibly competitive market. They are unbelievably accomplished, capable and driven people.”
The percentage of female faculty members has grown slightly in the past decade from 28.4 percent 10 years ago — 299 out of 1,052 members of the faculty — to 29.3 percent this year or 344 out of 1,175 this year.
The representation of minority tenured professors, excluding visiting professors, has increased from 15.9 percent in 2004 to a decade high of 19.1 percent.
Astrophysical sciences professor Scott Tremaine GS ’75 noted that there has been a significant change in the amount of faculty diversity from his time as a student as compared to his time as a faculty member.
“Many years ago, we had almost no faculty from the Soviet Union or from the countries in Eastern Europe. We also had no faculty who had received the bulk of education in China,” Tremaine said. “Traveling to the West is easier, so the geographical diversity is larger than it used to be. The gender, racial and cultural dimensions are more diverse than they used to be.”
Prentice said the quality of students and colleagues are the main reasons faculty members chose the University over peer institutions, followed by the sense of community and campus location.
“It’s tremendously rewarding to work with the very best students,” Tremaine said. “It’s that prospect of working with the strongest, most motivated, extraordinary students [that] is the single most important factor in Princeton.”
He added that the sense of community for the faculty, like that of sharing experiences of their children growing up together, is another important factor in attracting these accomplished professors.
“The University faculty at Princeton is more of a community than the university faculty at many other universities,” Tremaine said. “Many departments have a strong culture to nurture young faculty to help them through the promotion stages, to help them with their teaching, to help them with their research and to find a communal belonging within the department.”
Associate Dean of the Faculty Mary Baumsaid the faculty’s sense of community has recentlystretched beyond their respective departments to span the entire University.
University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83’s new model of strategic planning, which will involve ad hoc committees that include faculty members for the first time, will help achieve this goal, she said.
Prentice added that the present faculty is probably the most accomplished ever as it takes a lot more to be successful now than it did to be successful in the past. The skills required to be a professor have evolved to include various aspects like interdisciplinary research ability.
“Having all the faculty members teach — that’s the hallmark of Princeton,” Prentice said. “The other institutions that have people of our caliber … none of them has the same commitment to teaching.”