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Political Science departments across the country are shrinking their faculty, but this trend does not prove true at Penn.

The number of positions available for assistant professors in Political Science departments has been steadily decreasing over the past few years, according to an article in Inside Higher Education. In the 2006-2007 academic year, 730 spots were available across the country. By 2009-2010, the number dropped to 445.

Penn’s Political Science Department Chairman Edward Mansfield disagreed with the article, saying, “Actually this year our staff market looks quite good.”

In fact, Penn hired a new professor last year, Neil Malhotra, and has currently authorized two more searches for faculty — one to replace a faculty member and the other as an addition to the department.

Mansfield, along with other Penn professors, stated that the main reason job positions are decreasing in departments nationwide is because of the poor economy.

“Recent economic circumstances froze hiring, not just in our department but across others I am sure,” he said.

Political Science professor Rogers Smith agreed. “It is happening across the country as a part of the general financial crisis — not Political Science specific — but to a number of different faculties,” Smith said.

He suggested two possible reasons for these findings. The first is that Political Science is a department that has its faculty working on several programs which are some of the first to be cut in an economic recession. The second is that the American Political Science Association is quick to publish such data, while other national associations are not.

“Our association puts this information out there,” Smith said. He also said that there is the “question of institutions moving away from traditional tenure positions to more adjunct positions.” Though this is not the case at Penn, he said, some institutions have researchers doing less teaching.

Associate Dean of the Social Sciences and Political Science professor Jack Nagel confirmed that Penn is not decreasing its Political Science Department’s size.

“In fact, political science PhD students at Penn last year did very well,” he said, referencing job placement after graduation.

While Nagel believes that job opportunities in academia are decreasing, he does not think this trend is specific to political science.

Political Science assistant professor Tulia Falleti said she didn’t think it would be assistant professor positions decreasing since it is cheaper to hire them than more established political scientists.

“There are more ads for assistant professors than higher-ranking professors. However, there are less jobs in academia overall,” she said.

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Rebecca Bushnell wrote in an e-mail that she agreed that colleges and universities across the nation are hiring fewer faculty overall.

“In SAS, however, we are committed to maintaining the strength of our Political Science department,” she wrote.

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