Mizzou Advantage to fund 25 new university jobs

All the new positions will be filled in about five years.

In a time when MU is dealing with the strains of the economic downturn, Mizzou Advantage is still finding a way to hire new faculty.

Mizzou Advantage has set aside part of its budget to match the university up to $50,000 to hire four to five new faculty annually – a total of 25 new positions within the next five years.

“The positions will build communication between different parts of the campus in order to build on clusters of strength that can be used to better the university as a whole,” Mizzou Advantage Coordinator Meg Phillips said.

Collaboration has many of its own advantages, Phillips said.

“The idea behind collaboration is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, which enables us to achieve more than we could separately," she said. "We are trying to find strategic ways to best utilize Mizzou's resources."

Mizzou Advantage is the brainchild of Provost Brian Foster. He said the main idea of Mizzou Advantage is to find competitive advantages, on which MU could build a foundation to define areas where it can compete successfully with the best universities in the nation. Some of its areas of concentration include Food for the Future and Sustainable Energy. These new faculty will be hired to strengthen the networks within the university.

A hypothetical example is in the Food for the Future initiative. In order to allow MU to compete with other high-caliber universities, the communication among different sections of the field such as food security, food safety and food marketing will be improved, and new faculty positions will be created to improve the quality of research and education.

The focus is to hire new faculty within certain areas to build the universities’ stature within higher education. These new jobs will come as replacements to university positions. Foster said in a university the size of MU, there is a lot of turnover. Some faculty members retire each year, for example.

“We don’t want new units, we want networks of collaborators,” Foster said. “We are going to hire faculty to strengthen networks, on and off campus, and find people within desired skill areas to strengthen the University of Missouri’s networks.”

Foster said reestablishing lost jobs within the university might be a strategy for Mizzou Advantage to look at in the future.

There will be multiple presentations explaining the structures and strengths of the emerging networks in the fall. These presentations will be open to the entire campus, and further discussion on the subject will take place there. Foster encourages any faculty members who are interested to attend and participate.

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