LEWISTON — While many colleges and universities are paring faculty and even whole academic departments, Bates College is heading in the opposite direction.

The elite liberal arts college announced this week that it plans to add eight permanent and tenure-track faculty positions over the next three years.

Expanding the faculty “is a matter of central importance to the strength and vitality of our academic program,” Malcolm Hill, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, said.

The decision runs counter to a trend that has seen jobs in higher education decline by about 10% during the past decade, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s partly due to fewer students, a demographic reality.

Several less selective private colleges have shut down completely, from Lincoln College in Illinois to Becker College in Massachusetts. Many universities have either made significant cuts in their programs or are eyeing them, including the University of Maine at Farmington, which sliced nine faculty positions last spring.

Elite institutions such as Bates, though, have not felt the same types of financial pressures, though like many it is worried about inflation and an uncertain economy.


In the past decade, the Lewiston-based college created seven new endowed professorships as part of a major fundraising push called the Bates Campaign, pushing its overall tenured total to more than 90. It also has about 120 nontenured faculty members.

With about 2,000 students, the numbers deliver a better than 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which puts Bates in the top ranks of American colleges.

Hill told faculty of the expansion plan recently, calling the move “a matter of central importance to the strength and vitality of our academic program.”

He said the new professors will make it easier for the faculty to cope with the workload involved in advising students and helping them with a required senior thesis, some of which are detailed, complex probes of serious academic issues.

Hill said the extra teachers will also “enhance the student experience with smaller class sizes” and expand the college’s curriculum.

The plan to add more professors fits with the college’s view of itself.

“Bates has long been known for its strong academic program, anchored by a faculty of outstanding teachers and scholars who work intensively with students to help them acquire the knowledge, skills and habits of mind that will equip them to be highly effective leaders and contributors in their lives after Bates,” Hill said.

It is not yet clear what the new professors would specialize in.

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