The Duck of Minerva

No (tt) Job for You


12 May 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.