In 2017, UF President Kent Fuchs announced the “Faculty 500” initiative, a plan to hire 500 new faculty by Fall to rank in the top 5 most prestigious research universities in the country.
Typically, 300 to 400 new employees are hired each year, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said. About 230 new faculty members were hired to start this Fall, and the remaining 270 faculty will be hired by Fall 2019, putting the initiative a year behind its goal.
The majority of the new faculty members are in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments with some prioritization in liberal arts and sciences, Orlando said. The $52 million cost for the increase in faculty is funded by the Florida Legislature, alumni and university resources.
The emphasis on STEM fields will increase the number of faculty members who are awarded millions of dollars each year for their research. UF announced last Tuesday that the colleges of Medicine, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences received record-breaking amounts of money for research in 2018.
The growth of faculty, researchers and research funding will help to rank UF nationally in the top 5 public universities, Fuchs said.
“In the vast majority of university rankings, the University of Florida is among the top 10 public research universities in the nation,” Fuchs said in an official statement. “Our goal now is to be among the top five.”
The hundreds of new faculty will also lower the student to faculty ratio from a 20:1 ratio to 16:1, Orlando said. This ratio is used to determine a university’s ranking compared with other research institutions.
Dana Bartosova is one of 13 new faculty members in the Department of Mathematics who will begin their first semester at UF in Fall. Bartosova, assistant logic professor, worked in Germany, Brazil and Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University.
“It was an opportunity that came up, and it is very important to get a permanent position. And certainly the logic group is very strong,” she said. “So, when the offer came, it was impossible to reject it even though I still had one year more in Pittsburgh.”
Bartosova said her main goal for her first semester is to connect with her students and get them interested in her field as well as organize UF’s yearly logic conference.
Another long-term goal of hers is to create a foreign exchange program with her students and students from places she’s studied, like Brazil.
“Certainly, the faculty all over has been diminishing in the previous years, and logic has suffered a lot from that as well,” she said. “The new faculty will be able to have some stronger influence because there are so many of us coming. Also, the revival is certainly very attractive for the future.”