Recruiting, Retaining & Developing Faculty

Higher Education  |  Support Institutional Priorities

Recruiting, retaining and developing a diverse group of faculty is critical to delivering a high-quality education and is an important priority at each Endowment-supported institution. As a result, over the past 20 years, The Duke Endowment has awarded more than $200 million to Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University to hire faculty, keep faculty salaries competitive and attract faculty who are experts in their fields, and provide professional and leadership development opportunities.


In an increasingly competitive global environment, colleges and universities are focused not only on recruiting but retaining faculty across a diverse set of disciplines to provide up-to-date and relevant educational experiences that prepare students to enter a global workforce. They are also providing faculty with training to help them develop leadership skills and enhance teaching and learning in an increasingly digital world. 

Attracting Excellent Faculty is Key

For colleges and universities, the ability to attract excellent faculty is key to meeting many of the other demands they face in educating students. Recruiting and retaining high quality faculty are objectives shared by the four schools the Endowment funds.

With the increased demand for excellent educators, it is becoming even more important for institutions of higher learning to keep valued faculty members and attract new prospects. Funding from The Duke Endowment is helping Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University provide for faculty growth at a time when many institutions are challenged to do so.

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Recruiting New Talent

The Duke Endowment awarded more than $200 million to help the college and universities it funds strengthen and support their faculties. Duke University received $40 million to help create 32 new faculty positions. Of the grant, $25 million is for 10 new assistant and 10 new associate professorships, while another $15 million matches additional funding to establish 12 new endowed full professorships. The Endowment has also supported the launch of a 10-year partnership between Duke University and Duke Health to recruit and retain 35 – 40 outstanding faculty in the sciences, with $100 million across two grants.

The support allows Duke University to launch a first-rate faculty recruitment campaign while ensuring that the financial commitment of hiring more faculty is not passed on to students via higher tuition. As part of its efforts to recruit faculty that reflects the diversity of students, the university is committed to recruiting underrepresented faculty across diverse academic disciplines. In 2019, the Endowment provided $4 million to support the university’s Global Perspectives Faculty Initiative to recruit and retain faculty in Asian American, Latinx and African studies. In addition, in 2020, the Endowment provided $10.5 million for faculty recruitment and retention as part of the university’s diversity, inclusion and anti-racism initiative.

Retaining and Developing Valued Faculty

The Endowment awarded $12 million to Davidson College to support efforts to diversify faculty, expand opportunities for faculty development, increase transdisciplinary teaching and emphasize connections between the classroom and societal issues. The Endowment also granted $1.5 million to Davidson College to support its effort to retain valued faculty members.

At Furman University, a $3 million grant from the Endowment is helping the school establish endowed professorships in Asian studies. The new positions will support the work of existing faculty and expand the reach of this nationally prominent program. The program provides an interdisciplinary approach to learning since faculty members hold joint appointments in economics, religion, philosophy, political science, history, modern languages and literature, business and accounting.

The Endowment has also supported participation in the National Humanities Center’s summer residency program for faculty at Davidson College, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University.

Developing Faculty Leaders

While faculty are trained in the complexities of research, teaching and the service missions of their schools, many who are recruited into leadership positions (such as department chairs) have minimal training in the skills needed for these roles. In 2018, the Endowment provided $600,000 to the four schools to support the development of faculty leaders.


Through its faculty support grants, the Endowment is strengthening the educational experience for students in the Carolinas. As Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University use this funding to hire, retain and develop faculty, the schools continue to stress innovative, interdisciplinary, service-oriented learning to help prepare students for life.

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Lessons Learned

Three key insights drive our approach to supporting college and university faculty. We invite others to use these findings as a starting point for their own efforts.

  1. Supporting faculty ultimately benefits students. By offering competitive compensation to professors and other instructors who are passionate about teaching, the educational experience is enriched.
  2. As the cost of a college education rises and funding from traditional sources — including state governments — shrinks, philanthropic resources are needed to support education and help keep costs down for students.
  3. The best teachers remain students throughout their lives and careers. Competitive salaries allow them to continue their research and learning while passing on their knowledge and experience to students. Investing in faculty professional development has a broad impact on students and across campuses.


In North Carolina and South Carolina

  • Davidson College, an independent liberal arts college near Charlotte, N.C., is among four schools supported by The Duke Endowment.
  • Duke University, a private research university in Durham, N.C., is one of the four schools supported by The Duke Endowment.
  • Furman University, a national liberal arts university in Greenville, S.C., is among the four schools supported by The Duke Endowment. The website includes information on the Asian studies program, for which the Endowment granted $3 million to provide endowed professorships.

In the United States and Abroad

  • The American Association of University Professors promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, shared governance and standards of quality in higher education. The website includes events and higher education news.
  • The Association of Colleges and Universities is a national association that strives to offer the advantage of a quality undergraduate liberal education for all college students national association that strives to offer the advantage of a quality undergraduate liberal education for all college students regardless of academic focus or intended career. The website includes information on its commitment to faculty, publications, meetings, public advocacy and programs.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the occupational outlook for postsecondary teachers. The website provides an overview of the profession.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education is a news source for college and university faculty and administrators. The website includes facts and figures on the average faculty salaries at 1,300 institutions in the United States.

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