UCF faculty expansion puts emphasis on SVAD programs
The ongoing university-wide faculty expansion will welcome 200 new professors, lecturers and instructors by this fall in each of UCF's 12 colleges and in more than sixty departments.
The new positions will be concentrated in areas of strategic importance for the university, inlcuding the School of Visual Arts and Design, as identified by Provost Dale Whittaker in the spring issue of Pegasus magazine.
Following state-granted performance funding, the provost's office awarded SVAD four new faculty positions in digital media and graphic design.
"Any time you add new talented faculty, it boosts unit-level morale and helps lower student-teacher ratios and expand offerings, which contribute to enhanced student recruitment, retention efforts and student learning outcomes," said Byron Clercx, director of SVAD.
So far this year, Clercx said he has run 11 searches for new faculty positions, four of which were new while the other seven filled existing needs.
Clercx said the opportunity will allow the school to further align its efforts with the College of Arts and Humanities' shift toward interdisciplinary studies.
"SVAD targets uniquely skilled arts educators and practitioners who are experts in their field, emphasize critical thinking and excel at working with the industry, the local community and between traditional academic silos," Clercx said.
Whittaker also placed an emphasis on the potential for interdisciplinary growth in his Pegasus announcement.
"These new faculty members will help enhance the university's areas of strategic emphasis, such as emerging media, big data and sensor networks," he wrote. "They may help us lead newly created faculty clusters — interdisciplinary teams of faculty members that we are developing to research and teach issues of local, national and international relevance."
Aside from the undergraduate digital media and graphic design programs, Clercx said he sees potential for qualitative and quantitative growth in all degree tracks within the school.
"One rapidly evolving area is 'tangible media' which, among other things, responds to new technologies and the growing demand for computer-aided 'high touch' design output that consumers desire and creative fields are good at producing," Clercx said. "We also plan to grow our graduate program enrollment and visibility by revising curricular offerings to respond to the current marketplace and anticipated futures."
But even within the undergraduate tracks that are also expanding, including film, photography and game design, students can look forward to new faculty members with fresh industry experience.
"The one thing I would like to see in the new assistant professors would be years of real-world experience," said Tyler Marino, a junior BFA film major. "I want to be able to learn from someone who has seen the ups and downs of the industry."
Christine Dellert, Whittaker's office's senior communications director, said the expansion will provide the greatest benefit to students by offering new opportunities.
"Many of the faculty hired also will be able to offer students new research opportunities and provide expertise in new areas," she said.
Pending additional performance-funding, the school anticipates opening more positions in the coming year.
"This will have a positive impact on students in the energy and synergy these new hires will bring to the classrooms, labs and campus, and will also result in additional sections of high-demand courses and some new course offerings," Clercx said.
Marino said he looks forward to the positive growth within SVAD.
"Each professor in the program comes from a different upbringing in their respective industry," he said. "With that, each professor is going to have a unique quality to add to our education."
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Coordinator for the Central Florida Future.