Both the mountains and the recruitment package brought Giovanni to the U of C.
Vivian Leung/the Gauntlet

U of C uses housing to lure profs

New recruitment packages include funding for housing

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The University of Calgary has introduced housing perks to recruit new faculty in order to remain competitive in the market for researchers and professors.

New hiring packages traditionally include a negotiated starting salary, funds to set up an office and a lab and money for research. However, the competition of Calgary's housing market has prompted university administration to organize ways for new recruits to get and manage a mortgage in Calgary. Schools in areas where housing prices are similar--like the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia--already offer similar packages.

"As we were hiring new faculty, they were asking questions about how we could help with housing," said U of C provost and vice-president academic Alan Harrison. "The reason is, they looked at Calgary, [and] if you got an offer from the University of Waterloo, where the average house price may be half what they are here then that is going to be a big factor in your choice. It's not the only one, but it's one."

Harrison noted that despite the university administration's best efforts to entice prospective faculty, candidates look for colleagues who are working within their areas of research.

"There is no doubt in my mind the thing that really tips the scales for anyone coming to a university is 'how good are the colleagues I'm going to be working with?'" said Harrison. "'How easily can I interact with graduate students? What's my teaching schedule like? What are the expectations in regards to teaching? Will I get to teach courses I am particularly well-prepared for?'"

Recently hired geology professor Melissa Giovanni explained that because she studies mountains, the proximity of Calgary to the Canadian Rockies was the biggest factor in choosing the U of C, but not the only one.

"The opportunity to be a professor but not have the research pressure that other big universities have [was a factor]," said Giovanni. "I get to spend more of my time on teaching, which I'm really passionate about. That was really big in the decision to come here."

Giovanni was also offered a housing loan, moving expenses, a competitive salary and money to get her research started.

"Even in its original form, [the U of C's offer] was the best offer I'd gotten," she said. "Then I was able to negotiate and get a little bit more."

Harrison explained starting salaries depend on which faculty a recruit is hired into.

"[In] business, you tend to pay higher salaries starting than you do in classics," said Harrison. "It's just the nature of the market. There are other opportunities in business that there aren't in some of the other areas and it tends to push the salaries up."

Hiring decisions are recommended to the dean from an academic cluster and then forwarded on to Harrison, he explained.

The University of Calgary Faculty Association does not play a role in the hiring process, but was consulted about adding housing perks to recruitment packages. TUCFA president Anne Stalker explained they suggested that rental should also be covered, because not every one is in a position to buy a house.

"We also suggested that the deans should be permitted to offer it to people who've been hired in the last couple of years because they may have been in the same kind of position and got nothing," said Stalker.

The recruitment packages will be fin- alized for the next round of hiring, which will take place Jul. 2008.