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With faculty recruitment underway across the country, Penn's School of Arts and Sciences is actively searching for professors to fill holes in multiple departments. SAS is looking to fill 40 senior and junior faculty positions before the beginning of the next semester. At the top of the list for senior hirings are the Economics, English, History, Political Science and Psychology departments. SAS Dean Samuel Preston said he is optimistic that 25 of those 40 spots will be filled by the summer. "I think we're on schedule," Preston said. "We certainly have a lot of irons on the fire." Last March, Preston authorized searches for 40 senior and junior faculty members. The University filled 28 of these positions before Preston opened the 40 most recent searches. Preston said that seven professors have already accepted assistant positions in various departments, including Psychology, Sociology -- which was only targeted for junior hirings -- and the embattled Political Science Department. The Political Science Department, which has suffered numerous losses over the past few years and has struggled with recruitment, has already hired a junior professor in comparative politics. Department Chairman Jack Nagel said that searches are also underway for senior professors in American politics and international relations. "We're cautiously optimistic," Nagel said. "It's very active. There are a lot of possibilities." Ideally, Nagel added, the department will know whether the two positions will be filled for the fall by the end of next month. Nagel credited the deans of the school with jump-starting the recruitment process. "They've been magnificently supportive," he said. "They've done everything we've asked of them and more." Preston said that the hiring process for all departments would not be finalized until the summer, but that he hopes to have two-thirds of the positions filled by the end of April. "I think the market has broken later and later," he said. "I don't think we've seen any unexpected roadblocks." English Department Chairman John Richetti said the recruitment of junior faculty is a much simpler undertaking. "We always get our first choice when we hire junior faculty," Richetti said. "It's easier to hire young assistant professors because it's a very competitive market." The English Department has found an assistant professor in South Asian literature for the fall, but the appointment is currently pending approval by several committees and the Provost's Staff Conference. Richetti said that searches are underway for senior professors in Renaissance and American literature as well. "The department is actively recruiting because we had a lot of losses lately," Richetti said, referring to recent retirements and the death of Professor Lynda Hart. "We're going to need a lot more professors in the next few years." Richetti said he would be pleased if two out of the three positions are filled by the fall, considering the difficulty involved in recruiting senior faculty. "You're going after people who have jobs elsewhere," Richetti said. "People want to come to Penn, but they want to go to our peer schools just as much." But Preston said he believes that Penn is on equal footing with other Ivy League schools when it comes to senior faculty recruitment. "I think we're competitive with anybody in the country," Preston said. "There's no university in the country who I could name who would have a better shot than Penn at hiring faculty." While many departments struggle to find senior faculty, the current focus of the History Department has been on locating assistant professors to fill posts left by faculty on leave. "It's going extremely well," History Department Chairwoman Lynn Lees said of the recruiting process. "I think that all of the candidates have been very excited about coming to Penn." Lees, who is stepping down from her post this summer, said the department is targeting one senior faculty member in U.S. women's and gender History. In addition, searches have begun for assistant professors in U.S. and 20th century European history. "I think that the assistant professor positions will certainly be filled, and I have high hopes for the senior position," Lees said.

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