By TAMI OLSEN
Almost 20 percent of the BYU Math Department faculty will be newcomers this fall because of retirements, leaves and new positions.
Wayne W. Barrett, department chair, said approximately 10 new faculty members will be hired for the next academic year, doubling the normal turnover rate. The department has 49 instructors.
Positions within the department opened for various reasons. Three faculty members are retiring, one is on year-long leave and one is on half-year leave, Barrett said.
The department also has two high school math teachers that came to the university for a year to gain more teaching experience. The two in these positions will be returning to their schools and will be replaced by two more in the fall.
In addition to these changes, Barrett said four new spots were created by the administration as part of an attempt to decrease freshman class size and accommodate the the 500-student increase this upcoming year. Various departments throughout the university have been given permission to hire more instructors under this plan, Barrett said.
The task of hiring new faculty members was a daunting one. Barrett said he personally communicated with more than 20 people through telephone and e-mail in places as far as Russia, Venezuela and Japan.
“I didn’t expect such a huge number” to have to replace, Barrett said. “It took a lot of work. We spent a lot of time doing this.” A committee was organized to assist in the process, and most of the positions have been filled now, he said.
The real challenge in hiring new faculty members was finding qualified Latter-day Saints, Barrett said. Besides the LDS affiliation, the department was generally looking for research and teaching, as well as experience elsewhere. “We went around the world looking for these people,” he said.
The department did not systematically advertise for the positions like they have in the past. “There are many people from all over the country who would be glad to come work here,” Barrett said. “But we’re looking for LDS, and that’s harder to find.”
English skill levels are sometimes difficult when bringing in people from different countries, but because of the LDS preference Barrett said they “hire when we may not have considered them otherwise.” He said the people coming in have lots of teaching experience and have won awards or were given strong recommendations.
Barrett didn’t think the large amount of new faculty would affect the students adversely in any way.
William Smith, a professor in the Math Department and member of the committee for hiring the new professors, said, “They’ll make a fine contribution to our effort to teach and research at BYU. They’ve all given evidence of being dedicated scholars with high principles and personal excellence expected at BYU.”
New faculty members will become involved with the faculty development seminar put on by the Faculty Center. As chair of the department, Barrett said he will also help them adjust to the school. He anticipates working with them and explaining what students will expect, what is considered usual, at this school.
David Cardin will be coming to BYU to begin teaching in the fall. He graduated from BYU with his bachelor’s degree in both math and physics and got his doctorate from Stanford University. He has been pursuing his post-doctorate at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario.
Cardin said he is “very pleased” to have been hired. “It’s a wonderful place to teach,” he said. “One reason I’m looking forward to it is because the student body is so hard-working. I think it’s just a good environment to be in in general.”
One of Cardin’s goals while at BYU will be to help students see that math is interesting and important.
“Even people not planning to be math or science majors, I still hope I can broaden their view of the world in general by a stimulating course,” he said. “I hope to help math majors move on to bigger and better things.”
Final plans for the Math Department changes will made probably around mid-June, Barrett said.