University works to retain staff

Haley Hays/The News Bellarmine Ezumah, assistant business professor, listens to a student’s response to a question from her lecture.
Haley Hays/The News Bellarmine Ezumah, assistant business professor, listens to a student’s response to a question from her lecture.

Haley Hays/The News
Bellarmine Ezumah, assistant business professor, listens to a student’s response to a question from her lecture.

Murray State attracts students with its small town atmosphere and low cost and it uses those same qualities and others to recruit and retain faculty.

Marty Jacobs, professor of education and newly elected Faculty Regent, is in his 20th year at Murray State.

He said when he applied to Murray State in 1994 he was looking for his next adventure.

“Murray just ended up being a really good fit,” he said.

Jacobs was granted tenure after working five years. He said during those first five years, he was evaluated on his teaching, research accomplishments and service to the University.

He said evaluations in those three areas determine if a faculty member is fulfilling the needs of the University. 

Jacobs stressed the importance of a supportive role for fellow faculty. He said the tenured faculty have a responsibility to mentor those who are untenured.

He said having a mentor helped him when he arrived at Murray State, and he thinks faculty support is one of the most important parts of the being a professor.

Jacobs said he has loved working with his colleagues over the last 20 years, but his favorite part is working with students. He said he loves being a part of the next generation.

“It’s been a treat,” he said.

Sunayan Acharya, assistant professor of economics and finance, started working at Murray State two years ago. Acharya said Murray State was appealing because of the city’s low cost of living and the friendliness of his colleagues.

He said he stayed because he likes his job and his department.

“There’s a lot of flexibility in terms of what I can teach and what I can do research on, and those are two very big things,” he said.

Acharya, who has three years before he can apply for tenure, said he believes Murray State does a good job recruiting and retaining faculty.

“Murray looks for people that would fit in here, in the University and the town,” he said.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jay Morgan said most faculty decide to make Murray State their home within three years.

Morgan said the trend seems to be that if a faculty member stays past three years, he or she ends up staying for a long time.

He said some qualities attracting faculty to Murray State include benefits, the teaching environment, a strong student body and a retirement system. Faculty also look at the quality and cost of living in a small town like Murray, he said.

Morgan said each year the University hires approximately 35-40 new faculty members. This fall, 70 new faculty members were hired. Morgan said more professors retired last year than usual, causing the spike in hires.

He said retirement is the most common reason for a faculty member to leave the University. 

Other than retirement, he said faculty occasionally leave if they or their spouse gets another job.

Morgan said the departments that have recently hired several new faculty members are psychology, biology and occupational safety and health.

He said the new hires are due to the retirement of several professors in those departments.

Morgan said there are numerous appeals to potential professors to come to Murray State.

Story by Kate Russell Staff writer