The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

No (tt) Job for You


May 12, 2009

As if there wasn’t enough depressing evidence about the poor state of the academy, Inside Higher Ed covers a new report documenting the disappearance of tenure track jobs. (H/T to Craig)

Take home point: Only 27% of all higher education faculty jobs are tenure or tenure-tracked positions.

The overall number of faculty and instructor slots grew from 1997 to 2007, but nearly two-thirds of that growth was in “contingent” positions — meaning those off of the tenure track. Over all, those jobs increased from two-thirds to nearly three-quarters of instructional positions.

The growth in these jobs — and the decline in tenure-track positions — was found in all sectors of higher education, but was most apparent at community colleges. However, one of the most notable shifts was at public four-year colleges and universities, where over the period studied, tenured and tenure-track faculty members went from being a slight majority to less than 40 percent of faculty members. At the end point of the AFT study, tenured and tenure-track faculty members do not make a majority of faculties in any sector.

“What was shocking to me, even though I think about this all the time, was that the percentage of tenure and tenure-track faculty has shrunk to almost a quarter,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the AFT chapter at the City University of New York. “The deterioration of staffing has reached a crisis point when only a quarter are tenured or tenure-track.”

Not to continue my embittered rants, but the jobs you may have been promised going into grad school simply may not exist by the time you finish. Moreover, we as a profession need to reconsider how we treat the vast majority of practicing professionals not in the cushy TT jobs, and appreciate more ‘non-traditional’ career paths. To marginalize someone because they spend time slumming with the rest of the non-tenure track crowd does a disservice to your future student will will end up there through no fault of their own.

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Dr. Peter Howard focuses on US foreign policy and international security. He studies how the implementation of foreign policy programs produces rule-based regional security regimes, conducting research in Estonia on NATO Expansion and US Military Exchange programs and South Korea on nuclear negotiations with North Korea.