Community colleges gearing up for major hiring spree

FILE: Professor David Thomas helps a student in a Fullerton College architecture class.
FILE: Professor David Thomas helps a student in a Fullerton College architecture class.
Linda Briney/Courtesy of Fullerton College

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Campuses across the state are speeding up the process to use $62.3 million in additional state funding in this year's budget to hire more faculty for the coming school year.

Gov. Jerry Brown's office estimates that California community colleges will hire 670 new professors with the funds.

“It’s a huge deal,” said Albert Roman, a vice-chancellor at the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District. “It’s probably the largest number of full-time faculty positions that we’ve hired in the history of this district.”

This year and next, Roman said, the campuses in his district will hire 242 faculty through new hires and replacement of retiring instructors.

Officials at East Los Angeles College, the campus with the most students in the L.A. district, said the hiring spree will transform the campus. The college expects to have 60 new full-time professors in place by fall 2016.

“We have an endless, bottomless pit of need in English and math,” said Academic Affairs Dean Kerrin McMahan.

The college has about 400 full-time instructors and more than twice as many part-time faculty, known as adjuncts. McMahan said more full-time faculty will mean students will get instruction from those who can offer more time and support to students.

Campus officials are meeting with the academic departments to find out what each needs.

McMahan said she wants to do most of the hiring within the next six months.

“We need to move quickly so that we can get folks hired because it is a long process and we’re competing with other colleges for the cream of the crop in full-time faculty,” she said.

The hiring spree has already put a premium on office space. East Los Angeles College tries to give each full-time professor about 100 square feet of office space, which isn’t that much room, she said. As the campus is clearing out office space, it has begun to ask faculty to share their offices with new hires.