I won't go into much detail, but I work at a young private university at a non-managerial position.

The uni has a strong need for better teachers and more adequate students. In my opinion, a viable strategy for quickly increasing the education quality level would be to focus on only 1 faculty/ department/ specialty first, because:

  1. It would be cheaper to focus on one department (i.e. program creation, teachers acquisition and salary, advertizing to students).

  2. Even if a lot of students drop out due to suddenly intensifying the program, students from other departments would continue to financially support the university.

  3. Being great at one thing while temporarily neglecting others is better than being below mediocre at everything.

Focusing on one department would mean:

  1. Intensifying the program.

  2. Attracting good teachers.

  3. Attracting better students (more willing to learn, with better background) (with the help of 1. and 2.).

I believe intensifying the program and attracting good teachers for one department (probably for CS) before attracting better students is the way to go.

I have a CS background and can help with creating the program (classes).

If I manage to convince the people in charge, how should we go about attracting good teachers (probably from other universities)? Adequate salaries would probably not be enough.

Thanks for the answers!

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    A warning: 90% of what you write has little or nothing to do with your actual question in the end. What this means is that you will get a lot of comments and answers from people who focus on that 90% instead of your actual question. – Sverre Jun 17 '15 at 19:07
  • Which country is your university at? – just-learning Jun 17 '15 at 19:18
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    My 2 cents: (1) Offer more money, (2) Offer more academic freedom, both in teaching and research, (3) Lessen the administrative burden, (4) Offer better facilities (better office, better labs, better classrooms), (5) Be more helpful in all practical matters (e.g. helping the person move, get settled, find housing, finding schools/kindergarten for their children). Put simply, the more you offer, the more likely you are to attract great minds. – Sverre Jun 17 '15 at 19:24
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    Who are your competitors? Are you trying to hire people currently working at other universities in your country, or do you want to attract academics from elsewhere in the world? I think this might change the answers quite a bit. – avid Jun 17 '15 at 23:19
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    "Being great at one thing while temporarily neglecting others is better than being below mediocre at everything.". It is probably better but that's not acceptable. There is no reason to teach every subject in every university. Teach only what you are an expert in. People go to university to learn from experts. Why would someone attend a university (and paying a non negligible amount of money) where professors are acknowledging they are bad? – Taladris Jun 18 '15 at 2:31

Adequate salaries would probably not be enough

That's true.

Superior salaries

Superior salaries are needed to attract superior staff. There are many examples of companies that pay (significantly) above-average salaries so they can attract the best. This is true in retail (The Container Store), tech (Google), and other industries. I see no reason why it would be different in academia. While salary is not the only thing that matters it does matter a great deal. Countless research on motivation (Herzberg, Ariely, Pink) shows that what is important is to pay enough that people stop thinking about money. If people are just "getting by" then they will be thinking about money rather than thinking about how to be the best in their field.


Once you get the money right, you need to give freedom (as written in the comment by Sverre). Hire the best and get out of their way. Yes, support them but do not "tie their hands" and make them do things because "it has always been that way." This is one point which it should be both easy for your university to do as well as to convince candidates that it is true. Your school is young and so has not been doing things the same way for 50 years. Let the candidates know they will have freedom to do as they see fit.


Giving freedom does not mean abandoning them. If your teachers want start producing videos, acquire the tools they will need. If they want to experiment and they need help, help them. If they are not from the area, help them transition. Be open and supportive.

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    This really is a good answer, I'll add a small thing for the support: in some countries the administrative burden is overwhelming, provide so much assistance that the administrative stuff will never be in the way. – Sylvain Peyronnet Jun 18 '15 at 11:43

In addition to earthling's answer and Sverre's comment, here is an approach that has worked in my field (math): Hire 1 outstanding person, and give them the reins. (Either to their own group/unit or the whole department.) Many talented people will be excited by the opportunity to hire the people they want, and run the department their way, while being handsomely rewarded. Moreover, once one great person is there, it will help attract more good people, faculty and students.

Here are some examples I know from math, where this sort of thing has happened: IISER - Pune (India) hired a well-respected person to run and design the department from the bottom up when they started up a few years ago, Emory University hired Ken Ono a few years ago from Wisconsin (I think he was allowed to choose people to hire in his area) which brought up their profile quite a bit (at least in number theory), University of Hawaii over half a century ago brought on Paul Halmos as the chair (I heard that he brought in good people, and made the department much stronger than it was before).

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The Best Strategy would be to first approach famous Professor in the field and get them associated with the department as external advisors. The second step would be to organise guest lectures for those Professors and If possible then convincing a few of them to join the department as emiritus Professors or suggest someone who could and would be interested in doing so. As soon as a renound person joins the department, hand over to him the charge of the department and his name and fame will attract quality faculty to the department. Though the main issue could be how to attract the first Professor, well for that stratagies like high pay and high position could be a solution.

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    I don't see how you can get someone to join the department as emeritus. – Kimball Jun 18 '15 at 8:36

how should we go about attracting good teachers

To attract good researchers you need to offer a high salary, a good location, lots of research funding and resources, and limited admin and teaching. If you provide funding so the researcher does not need to take on PhD students and can instead afford post docs and RAs, the reputation is less important. This is especially true if you can hire a couple of PIs at the same time.

Your question, though, is almost exclusively focused on teachers and students and never mentions research. People who are "academically famous", are almost exclusively famous for their research. Hiring good teachers will be extremely tough. The first problem is identifying good teachers. Publications will not tell you if a teacher is good. You could scrape ratemyprofessor.com for student views, but I would not advise making hiring decisions based on that information. The second issue is you need to offer them something. Salary and location will help, but hiring a good teacher and then telling them they do not have to teach (or only teach a little) seems counter productive.

Instead of hiring a few excellent teachers, I would suggest hiring lots of average teachers. I think the average teaching quality increases when the teaching load and class sizes are reduced.

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