The fall and rise of tenure-track

The New York Times recently published an interesting article on how the “Decline of the Tenure Track Raises Concerns“. In contrast to the general tone of past press coverage, this article speaks out in favor of tenure-track professors.

The shift from a tenured faculty results from financial pressures, administrators’ desire for more flexibility in hiring, firing and changing course offerings, and the growth of community colleges and regional public universities focused on teaching basics and preparing students for jobs.

It has become so extreme, however, that some universities are pulling back, concerned about the effect on educational quality. Rutgers University agreed in a labor settlement in August to add 100 tenure or tenure-track positions. Across the country, faculty unions are organizing part-timers. And the American Federation of Teachers is pushing legislation in 11 states to mandate that 75 percent of classes be taught by tenured or tenure-track teachers.

The pendulum is swinging back.

The article reports on some fascinating research as well.

Dr. Ehrenberg and a colleague analyzed 15 years of national data and found that graduation rates declined when public universities hired large numbers of contingent faculty.

Several studies of individual universities have determined that freshmen taught by many part-timers were more likely to drop out.

“Having an adjunct in a course is not necessarily bad for you, but having too many adjuncts might be,” said Eric P. Bettinger, an economics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

This news article is focused on the United States academic market. Are campuses elsewhere in the world seeing similar trends?

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