Business faculty shortage offers lucrative career opportunity

Business schools are desperate for doctorally qualified faculty. Kenneth R. Smith, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at the University of Arizona, has hired 31 people in the three years he's been dean, yet he still has 17 vacant faculty positions out of 150 and expects to add seven new positions to that this year.

Nationally, more than 2,380, or 20 percent, of authorized positions were unfilled in 1981-82 and more than 850 additional positions were planned for 1982 -83.

This shortage is partly the result of burgeoning business school enrollments. At the same time, there's been a conscious effort by business schools to improve the academic quality of their programs and strengthen their research orientation.

''That was true before I came to the University of Arizona in 1980, and it has accelerated since then,'' he says. Nationally, about 670 people with business doctorates graduate in the United States in an average year and over 500 business schools are attempting to hire them. The University of Arizona, one of fewer than 50 universities that consistently turn out more than five PhDs in business a year, graduated 13 last year in a program with 80 students.

Dr. Smith was a member of an American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business task force that estimated there are more than 4.4 openings for each PhD graduate from a business school.

''Accounting is the biggest problem nationally,'' says Dr. Smith, who also cited shortages in finance, production, and operations management. Management information systems, economics, organizational behavior, and marketing slots are also hard to fill.

To combat the faculty shortage in his own department, Smith has been forced to increase salary offers to over $30,000 for strong candidates.

Another hiring incentive is to promise to help faculty continue their professional development by providing support for research during the summer, he says. But at public universities, summer research is rarely financed by public funds.

Fortunately corporations are, at their own initiative, extending their programs of support to public institutions. For example, last year the Procter & Gamble Fund gave an unrestricted grant to the Marketing Department at the University of Arizona. Part of that grant is for faculty development.

Dr. Smith stresses that when he speaks of vacancies, he means positions not filled by permanent faculty or tenure-track doctoral faculty - his preference in hiring. ''We've found some short-run solutions and have done the best we can to fill them temporarily.''

''Using master's students in a supporting relationship to a faculty member playing the lead role is one way to compensate for larger classes,'' he says. Doctoral students end up being responsible for their own courses and are usually assigned introductory courses at the undergraduate level.

''We've also used top-level executives who have retired from major corporations. They have a lot of very serious experience and a perspective that can help our students.''

Robert Wallace, assistant secretary of the US Treasury in the 1960s and president and vice-chairman of the Exchange National Bank of Chicago in the '70s , was hired as a full-time lecturer in both the finance and management areas. Richard Lessler, former vice-chairman of the Interpublic Group of Companies, is teaching part-time in the marketing area.

''I think the challenge for the business executive or lecturer is to understand and build on the analytical core of the business program so they can relate their expertise and experience to the other things students are learning in the program,'' Dr. Smith adds. ''It's not just a matter of an executive wandering into the class to tell anecdotes.''

Visiting professors offer Dr. Smith another option. Many deans use visiting status to try to recruit faculty, he says. Recruiting nonbusiness doctorates to teach in his program has also helped, he says. Disciplines whose training could be relevant to business schools, according to the faculty task force, are sociology, operations research, industrial engineering, and computer science.

Smith says the challenges of finding faculty signify that ''the role of management education has changed from that of stepchild on the American college scene to one of significant importance.''

''The private-enterprise system is looking for scholars who can understand and improve it, as well as for capable young graduates who can move rapidly into management positions. Higher education has had to accept the legitimacy and scholarly nature of our endeavors.''

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