Innovation and entrepreneurship faculty among new cluster hires

James Fathers

Syracuse University has approved the creation of seven multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary themes for the first round of its Cluster Hires Initiative, along with funding for 53 faculty positions. Academic cluster creation and cluster hires are an effective approach to strengthening research activity, enhancing faculty diversity and developing new opportunities for student research and learning—all key elements of the Academic Strategic Plan.

“After six months of hard work by hundreds of faculty, staff and administrators across all schools and colleges, we have a completed road map for our first round of cluster hiring, which is supplemental to our traditional department hiring process,” says Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Michele Wheatly. “Cluster hiring is fundamental to our commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and to strengthening our university’s research focus on areas of relevance to our students. The best way to prepare students for professional success is to offer them options in scholarship and research that cross disciplines to address complex problems facing the global community.”

Vice President for Research John Liu notes that the University is following best practices in academia in pursuing cluster hires and leveraging strengths across schools and colleges to advance the research enterprise. “Many societal challenges cannot be resolved by traditional disciplinary research, but rather require interdisciplinary collaborations. In today’s competitive job market, we need scholar educators who provide relevant education for our students in interdisciplinary areas, preparing our students for success.”

The cluster hires initiative was a faculty-led process. The initial request for cluster hire proposals was met with great enthusiasm from the University’s schools and colleges, with proposals from 19 clusters involving more than 200 faculty. The clusters were evaluated by selected faculty and administrators from all schools and colleges, and 13 were recommended for further consideration. Those recommended clusters were refined and merged into seven clusters:

  • Aging, Behavioral Health and Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Autonomous Systems and Policy
  • Big Data and Data Analytics
  • Bio-enabled Science and Technology
  • Energy and Environment
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Social Differences, Social Justice

Request for Proposals of Round Two cluster hires will be issued in the near future. For Round Two, newly created clusters, as well as new positions within existing clusters, will be considered.

“This process is encouraging our deans and faculty to work beyond the walls of their schools and colleges, to appreciate the niche strengths of their individual programs and their colleagues’ offerings, and to think broadly and creatively about ways to combine those strengths for the benefit of our students,” says Wheatly. “We are certain that this approach will help us attract extraordinary students looking for distinctive educational experiences and talented, diverse and creative faculty researchers interested in breaking new ground.”

Story by SU News Staff

Photo:  Dr. James Fathers, Iris Magidson Endowed Chair of Design Leadership, Syracuse University School of Design, VPA.  Fathers led a task force comprised of staff from SU Libraries and the Blackstone LaunchPad, and faculty from the iSchool, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Whitman and VPA that crafted the Innovation and Entrepreneurship cluster proposal.  The cluster will include new innovation and entrepreneurship focused faculty in those four academic disciplines who will work collaboratively, and a new entrepreneurship research librarian position as part of SU Libraries.  All will work closely with the Blackstone LaunchPad as part of a connected innovation ecosystem.