ERIC Number: EJ1095027
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Why Are We Hiring so Many Non-Tenure-Track Faculty?
Kezar, Adrianna; Gehrke, Sean
Liberal Education, v100 n1 Win 2014
Why are so many non-tenure-track faculty being hired? The answer may at first seem so obvious as to make the question itself seem absurd. Most department chairs, deans, and tenured or tenure-track faculty members would likely point to budget shortfalls, last-minute increases in enrollments, and the inability to win approval for new tenure-track faculty positions. Yet, these simple answers obscure a larger, systemic trend: the majority of the faculty at US colleges and universities has been moved off the tenure track. Non-tenure-track faculty now account for nearly 70 percent of all faculty members, and three out of four hires nationally are off the tenure track. Simple answers also hide the fact that hiring practices have changed in recent years; hiring decisions have become decentralized to departments, non-tenure-track faculty appointments are not tracked as tenure-track appointments are, larger strategic plans related to faculty hiring have been abandoned, and intentional and reflective hiring practices often are missing. These changes in hiring practices were first documented by John Cross and Edie Goldenberg, formerly dean and associate dean, respectively, of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. Cross and Goldenberg had noticed their own increasing reliance on non-tenure-track faculty in their college, but felt the reasons for this were not accurately reflected in claims that administrators were hiring more nontenure- track faculty in order to "intentionally save money by hiring less expensive teachers" and further exploit them by providing little pay and benefits for many hours worked. So they undertook a study of ten liberal arts colleges in elite research universities whose faculties had, like their own, devolved with little intentionality or even awareness to include large numbers of non-tenure-track members. Cross and Goldenberg wanted to understand how such a process could and did indeed take place. In fact, as they dug deeper into data from the ten campuses, they discovered that the hiring trends were worse than they had anticipated or understood. To expand on Cross and Goldenberg's work, the authors of this article designed a national study of deans that examined a much larger set of institutions in order to better understand and scrutinize the hiring trends occurring across American higher education. The results are presented here.
Descriptors: College Faculty, Nontenured Faculty, Tenure, Teacher Selection, Part Time Faculty, Decision Making, Educational Change, Administrative Organization, Strategic Planning, Trend Analysis, Retrenchment, Deans, Administrator Surveys, Influences, Administrator Responsibility
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
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