The UF College of Journalism and Communications has hired 15 faculty members in an effort to push UF to top three in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of top public schools.

UF currently holds No. 9 and is tied with the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Irvine.

One factor that has kept the school from reaching a higher nationwide ranking is its faculty size, said Spiro Kiousis, executive associate dean and professor of public relations. The Florida Board of Governors is providing about $110.6 million that UF is using to hire more faculty and reach its goal of entering the top-three ranking.

The college’s 15 hires include 11 lecturers for the journalism, telecommunication and public relations departments and four assistant professors for the advertising, telecommunication and public relations departments.

Joining the college’s ranks are professionals in their fields and top-notch researchers and scholars. Kiousis said this many people have never been hired by the CJC at once.

“To my knowledge, it’s unprecedented,” Kiousis said. “It’s historic nationally, as well as historic for us.”

The new faculty will be teaching both already established and new courses in the college. Some have started their positions, but the majority of them will begin in the Fall, including CNN Wire’s Moni Basu, who will teach narrative nonfiction.

Professor and chair of UF’s Department of Public Relations Marcia DiStaso said the department will gain Natalie Asorey, a social media specialist who will teach a writing and social media class; Mickey Nall, who worked for Ogilvy Public Relations and was the 2013 Public Relations Society of America chair and CEO, and Myiah Hutchens, a public relations scholar who will teach political public relations.

Having these new hires will put more full-time faculty members in classrooms, DiStaso said.

“We’ve got some amazing (graduate) students teaching, amazing (adjunct professors) teaching, but this just gives us a little bit more flexibility,” DiStaso said.

DiStaso said each department evaluated its faculty to determine which skill sets were lacking. Applicants were judged based on how they could strengthen the CJC’s faculty base and improve the student experience.

“It’ll help us grow, help us meet demands of students to kind of provide the fantastic degree that we’ve been providing but also step up our game,” DiStaso said.

Construction to create offices for the new faculty members began Thursday, said Randy Wright, executive director of the Division of Media Properties. Four spaces in Weimer Hall that were once conference rooms and storage areas will be used for the new offices.

The construction and furniture cost an estimated $193,000, and technology for the rooms cost $40,000, Wright said.

“This is the first time in my nine years (at UF) that we’ve done something extensive to make space for new faculty,” Wright said. 

The construction is projected to be completed by Aug. 15, before the new faculty orientation.

“It’s nice for us to be able to continue to grow,” DiStaso said. “It’s rare for universities to do that. I know many across the country that are just teaching bare minimum classes, and we can provide all the hot, fantastic topics with some amazing professors.”