Business school faculty lured away by better pay Top-notch teachers leaving College Park

December 16, 1991|By Lou Ferrara | Lou Ferrara,Special to The Sun

COLLEGE PARK B — COLLEGE PARK -- With the budget ax falling around him, business professor Richard Poist gave up his teaching job of 20 years at the University of Maryland.

But there was a consolation -- another position in greener academic pastures with a substantially higher salary.

Dr. Poist was not alone in abandoning ship at the business school on the College Park campus -- and other faculty members are thinking about it.

"You're certainly not going to get that [salary and position] from the University of Maryland," he said from Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State University. "They haven't been able to counteroffer."

Four top business professors have left College Park within the year, and officials predict as many as 10 more -- out of about 60 -- may leave by the end of 1992.

Before the budget crunch forced layoffs and higher tuition, about one professor would leave each year but could be quickly replaced, business school officials said.

Now, Dr. Poist and other faculty members are leaving for more lucrative offers at a time when the university is attempting to earn national recognition with its business school. Last year, U.S. News & World Report's closely watched rankings of the nation's colleges and universities placed College Park among the top 25 business schools.

Officials say the school is caught in a "tailspin" that could threaten the prominence it has gained.

A year-old freeze on hiring and pay raises is making it difficult for administrators to keep top faculty on the state's flagship campus. And state budget officials have proposed to Gov. William Donald Schaefer 1 percent to 2 percent pay cuts next spring for all state employees, including university faculty and administrators.

Some schools see College Park's problems as opportunities for them.

"Often you approach people if you think they're movable," said Dr. David Shrock, dean of Iowa State's College of Business. "Anyone with money right now would have a pretty good chance of hiring some top people."

Iowa State officials hired Dr. Poist, whose teaching focuses on transportation logistics, at the end of last year, before $210,000 in budget cuts began to cut into Iowa State's business college.

At that time, tax revenues were just beginning to dry up and curtail spending in Maryland. Since October 1990, more than $600,000 has been slashed from College Park's business school budget. The budget for next year is expected to dip below $7 million, compared with $7.7 million last year.

Also, the business school normally receives about $500,000 annually in contributions from local corporations, but only half that has been given this year.

Because 90 percent of the school's budget is for salaries, the cuts immediately affect faculty, said Dr. Robert Miller, an assistant dean who oversees the financing of College Park's business school.

"If they fire more people and continue to double my class sizes, then I would be forced out. If I'm pushed, then I would have no choice," said Dr. Haluk Unal, a three-year business professor at College Park.

Since the budget crunch began last year, Dr. Unal's class size has increased from 30 students to 45.

Dr. Unal said he has received offers from Arizona and Florida universities, but his family has roots in the area and convinced him to stay.

Rudolph Lamone, dean of College Park's business school, said he persuaded six top faculty members this fall to turn down offers from other universities.

"Other business schools are looking to hire the best people, and they know we have some real superstars here," Dean Lamone said.

He said that while he originally was going to hire three new faculty members this semester, he will be lucky to hire one.

If administrators want to hire new faculty, their request must be approved through a long process. Provost J. Robert Dorfman, who plays a key role in new hiring for academic departments, said the campus is unable to extend many offers it would like to.

"With some of the markets out there at other institutions, they have better resources right now," said Dr. Dorfman, also academic affairs vice president. "For the number of offers we make, they must be for something very essential."

Dr. Richard Durand, marketing department chairman, said he has lost one blue-chip professor this semester and wonders if she will be replaced at all.

"You don't lose good faculty, then turn around and hire somebody back that fast," Dr. Durand said. "A month doesn't go by here many of the faculty are not given a phone call and asked if they would like to explore moving to another institution."

Dr. Durand said he has received three offers from other universities recently, and his marketing department lost Professor Debra Stephens to Villanova University in Philadelphia this fall.

"We've been after her for the past two or three years," said Alvin Clay, dean of the Villanova College of Commerce and Finance. "I hate to see Maryland lose money this way, but we're in a tough bind, too."

Professor Stephens said she accepted Villanova's offer because she could concentrate on teaching more than research.

Dr. William Bradford, the College Park business school's academic affairs associate dean, said that if the raids continue, the business school could lose the prestige it has worked for.

"It's hard to get up there and easy to get knocked out because of the competition," Dr. Bradford said. "Our ability to stay up there is in serious jeopardy."

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