Throughout the University of Toronto’s long history, we have seen intense periods of dramatic expansion in the size of our student body. Each of these episodes has required the hiring of additional faculty and staff, who, over time, have shaped the character of our university.
Today we find ourselves in the midst of another great hiring cycle. This provides us with the unique opportunity, in accord with our new academic plan, “Stepping Up,” to attract a new generation of outstanding professors, and fulfil our aspirations of becoming one of the world’s leading public teaching and research universities.
Our need to hire new faculty is being driven primarily by demographic change, including the incredible recent immigration to the Greater Toronto Area. Moreover, the large body of faculty hired in the 1960s is reaching retirement age and needs to be replaced. The university has already embarked on expansion with the planned enhancement of the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC) and the University of Toronto at Mississauga (UTM). Over the next five years, UTM and UTSC will grow from about 4,000 students per campus to around 11,000, which means they require additional faculty members beyond the normal replacement levels. Both campuses will now have autonomous departments, enhanced graduate education and a more intensified research focus. These factors demonstrate the need to hire high-quality faculty who will have the capacity to shape the future academic success of UTM and UTSC.
The hiring that we do today will define the University of Toronto for the next several decades. We have a responsibility to hire the best talent available. We must be able to compete with the world’s leading public teaching and research universities for the good of Toronto, Ontario and Canada. In concert with our heightened ambitions, we have enjoyed the great support of our alumni through initiatives such as the Jackman Chairs in the Humanities, and the support of government through the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust. All of these initiatives have allowed us to compete on a level playing field in the international arena of academic hiring. They have helped us to retain outstanding Canadian graduates and recruit Canadians to return home from abroad. They also enable us to hire from among the best international talent, pursuing quality while also addressing equity issues. Our hiring practices are both proactive and rigorous: along with proven research expertise, a candidate must demonstrate strong teaching ability.
In the past four years the University of Toronto has hired 500 new professors, more than half at the assistant professor level. Canadian universities, including the University of Toronto, contributed 40 per cent to the total; 45 per cent received their degrees from premier universities in the United States; and about 15 per cent were hired from abroad. In each of the four years more than one half of the hires were Canadian citizens, a reflection of our ability to repatriate some of our best talent from abroad. Of the new hires, 35 per cent are women and 25 per cent are visible minorities.
One measure of the quality of our new professors has been their success in garnering prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships, which support and recognize young academics, many of whom are holding their first university appointments, in fields such as economics, computer science and physics. When averaged over the past four years, the University of Toronto stands 13th among North American universities, both public and private, in the number of new Sloan Fellows.
Our goal in hiring is to have a university where every single department in every faculty competes effectively internationally. Clearly, this is an effort worth making, and one that will guarantee our students the very best education possible and improve Ontario’s position in the knowledge-based world of the 21st century.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre