University of Iowa pursues initiatives to poach top faculty from across country 

By: - November 10, 2022 6:29 pm

The Old Capitol is a landmark at the University of Iowa and part of the official university logo. (Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa)

The University of Iowa is working to poach top faculty members from other universities while retaining current personnel through two initiatives presented to the state Board of Regents.

UI President Barbara Wilson discussed some of the programs being used as “talent magnets” by the university. The regents met Thursday in Council Bluffs.

“It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that we are in a competitive business, a competitive landscape, and everything we do is in light of our peers and working hard to attract the best and keep them at Iowa,” she said. “… Everybody’s poaching across the big research universities and we should be in that game, too.” 

Recently, the university began the Transformational Faculty Hiring Program aimed at recruiting the best faculty across disciplines. Wilson said deans at the UI know they can come to the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost if they finance incentives for faculty members from other institutions to move to Iowa. 

The offices will help with some of the costs to attract such faculty members, she said. She specifically pointed to supporting research and scholarship with these funds. 

“We have provided, or are providing, up to $1.5 million per hire in these kinds of costs,” she said. 

Recruiting faculty is not cheap or easy, Wilson said, especially when it comes to luring professors from Ivy League or big research institutions.

According to the UI’s University Human Resources website, retention across the board has been a struggle. 

“Across employee groups, nearly 20 percent of UI staff and faculty leave the university within their first year on the job,” the website reads. 

The UI has also increased funding to retain current faculty members with the Mid-Career Faculty Scholar Award, which gives a variety of professors $25,000 annually for three years. The funds are used for scholarship, teaching or research, Wilson said. 

The award is working, she said, pointing to Professor Mary Charlton from the College of Public Health, who received the award and then was called by another institution regarding a job offer. Wilson said Charlton did not return the call after receiving more financial support from the UI. 

“We will be doing this every year; there’s a huge, pent-up list of nominations because the award is new, but I think it’s going to be a game changer for us,” she said.

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Eleanor Hildebrandt
Eleanor Hildebrandt

Eleanor Hildebrandt is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication and global health studies, with a minor in German. She is a managing editor at the university newspaper, the Daily Iowan, and has served as an reporter intern at Iowa Capital Dispatch.