A Playbook for Effective Cluster Hiring

16 Imperatives for Planning and Implementation

This white paper walks through the six stages of cluster hiring, for which there are a number of recommended imperatives for executing and avoiding common pitfalls.

Addressing Increasingly Complex Deferred Maintenance Decisions

Who should read this?
  • Chief research officers (CROs)
  • Presidents and provosts
  • Deans and department chairs
  • Cluster leaders and hiring committees
  • Cluster faculty

Five ways to use this toolkit
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of cluster hiring prior to launching initiatives
  • Garner support and resources for cluster hiring initiatives
  • Create a plan for avoiding common pitfalls
  • Prepare institutional stakeholders for the implementation process
  • Identify opportunities to improve the effectiveness of current initiatives

In response to declining federal funding and intensified grant competition, universities are increasingly turning to other funding sources such as businesses and donors. These investors care about research that impacts lives and addresses global problems.

This type of research requires institutions to build interdisciplinary research teams. However, current departmental hiring strategies that focus on disciplinary coverage do not always align with these institutional objectives.

Many universities have therefore started simultaneously hiring several faculty members across multiple colleges and departments around interdisciplinary research topics. This “cluster hiring” allows them to create larger, multidisciplinary research teams and bring in faculty who advance institutional rather than just departmental priorities.

Administrators agree that cluster hiring can serve as a valuable strategy for growing the research enterprise and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. But despite growing interest in cluster initiatives, far too many fail due to a lack of appropriate planning.

This white paper walks through the six stages of cluster hiring, for which there are a number of recommended imperatives for executing and avoiding common pitfalls. Explore a few or all of the stages and imperatives below.

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