The European Humanities University (EHU) has completed its core faculty hiring process, the goal of which is to strengthen the quality of teaching and research at the University and provide better working conditions for faculty.
The process began earlier this year with an open competition for full-time faculty positions with 5-year labor contracts. It was completed this week by the Rector’s decision to offer 61 teachers one-year labor contracts. Decisions regarding the extensions of the contracts for a second year will be made following upon a review of all academic programs, including EHU’s core curriculum and the University’s budget.
Of the 61 faculty selected for one-year contracts, 22 will teach in the Department of Media, 20 in the Department of History, 13 in the Department of Law, and 6 in the Department of Social and Political Sciences. They join those selected earlier this year in an open competition by a Hiring Commission composed of EHU faculty and administration members, and independent international scholars.
“Both Hiring Commissions functioned beautifully and in a professional and collegial fashion. The newly-selected core faculty will begin work this fall at the start of Academic Year 2014-15,” says Chair of the Commissions, Prof. David Pollick.
The outcome of the process, conducted in accordance with the requirements of Lithuanian law and the University’s Statutes, strengthens the commitment of the University to its faculty and of the faculty to the University by moving teachers from service contracts to labor contracts. Many EHU faculty were previously working on the basis of service contracts—a temporary measure implemented given the expectation that EHU could return soon to its home in Minsk and in light of the desire of many faculty to maintain residency in Belarus.
“While we tried to accommodate these wishes, we realized that the arrangement was inadequate for both students and faculty; therefore, we decided that, given the lack of improvement in conditions in Belarus, we need to establish a more solid presence in our temporary home—Lithuania,” notes EHU Founding Rector Anatoli Mikhailov.
The new contracts offer improved working conditions for faculty, including social benefits in Lithuania, and bring the University into closer alignment with Lithuanian labor practices. To fulfil its new commitments, the University will additionally invest approximately EUR 900,000 into faculty compensation per year.
The Internal Faculty Hiring Commission was composed of the heads of EHU’s four academic departments, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Aliaksandr Kalbaska, and Prof. David Pollick. The President of the Student Union was invited to participate in the work of the Commission.
In accordance with guidelines established by the University’s Governing Board, heads of departments identified their needs and made proposals to the Commission, which then reviewed them and made recommendations to the Rector, who has the authority, according to Lithuanian law, to offer labor contracts of up to two years’ duration to selected faculty.
The process was not without challenges. Several members of EHU’s Academic Senate expressed their objections. The University’s Governing Board approved the hiring process in accordance with the University’s Statutes.
“Change is never easy, especially when we have to change ourselves; but despite the difficulties, I am confident that the outcome of this hiring process sets EHU on a new, more solid footing and prepares it for the challenges of providing a quality education steeped in the humanities to our students,” says Prof. Mikhailov.
The European Humanities University is a private, nonprofit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. The University has been headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania since it was forcibly closed by Belarusian authorities in 2004. As the only Belarusian university operating in an environment of academic freedom, it serves approximately 1,500 mostly Belarusian students, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and promoting research in the humanities and social sciences.