Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

Values, Policies, and Practices Affecting the Hiring Process for Full-Time Arts and Sciences Faculty in Community Colleges

Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

Values, Policies, and Practices Affecting the Hiring Process for Full-Time Arts and Sciences Faculty in Community Colleges

Article excerpt


Community colleges employ over 100,000 full-time faculty members, or one fifth of all faculty members in U.S. post-secondary education (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2001; Huber, 1998). These faculty members provide instruction in a wide range of programs for approximately 37% of all postsecondary students in the U.S., including over half of all Hispanic and American Indian students and approximately 40% of African American and Asian students (Chronicle, 2002; NCES, 2001). Thus, community colleges and their faculties play an extremely important function in U.S. higher education.

Over the next 5 to 10 years, between 30% and 44% percent of community college full-time faculty members are expected to retire (Evelyn, 2001, p. A82; Gahn & Twombly, 2001; Huber, 1998). If these estimates are accurate, community colleges will need to replace large numbers of full-time faculty (Poth, Sterns, Sugarman, & Veloz, 1994) to maintain what has been a normative 60:40 ratio of part-time to full-time faculty and to maintain high standards of service (Cohen & Brawer, 1996). Indeed, the floodgates may have already opened. In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jamilah Evelyn (2001) reported that 40% of Maricopa Community College District's faculty would be eligible to retire between 2001 and 2005. Even taking into account difficulties in accurately calculating faculty vacancies and retirement rates, community colleges face a demand for faculty not seen since the community college growth spurt of the 1960s and 1970s (Poth et al., 1994).

Faculty recruiting, hiring, and departure occur in the context of a labor market that shapes and even defines how and where positions are advertised and filled, with what kinds of people and at what price. Academic labor markets consist of a supply of potential faculty members, colleges and universities that employ them, and various practices that govern the allocation of faculty to jobs. In order for academic labor markets to function effectively and efficiently, employing institutions and potential faculty members need information about how those institutions (in this case, community colleges) define quality faculty and how and where they find them.

From an institutional point of view, two broad perspectives have shaped current thinking about academic labor markets. Researchers operating from the structuralist perspective suggest that there may be several noncompetitive markets sectors within academe, each seeking specific kinds of faculty qualifications depending on, among other things, whether the primary organizational task is teaching or research (Clark, 1987; Finnegan, 1993; Youn, 1988). Two ideas are fundamental to the structuralist perspective. One is that ascriptive characteristics--such as social background, sponsorship, and institutional status--and individual achievement cannot fully explain allocation of people to jobs or career outcomes. Rather, mechanisms such as the existence of internal and external labor markets help to explain career outcomes. Kerr (1954) was one of the first to note that noncompeting groups of workers form institutional markets. As he noted:

   Their dimensions [institutional markets] are set not by the whims of
   workers and employers but by rules, both formal and informal. These
   rules state which workers are preferred in the market or even which
   ones may operate in it at all. Institutional rules take the place of
   individuals' preferences in setting the boundaries. (Kerr, 1954, p.

Sociologists have extended the concept of institutional markets by defining internal and external labor markets at the macro level and by further identifying occupational internal labor markets and firm internal labor markets (e.g., Althauser & Kalleberg, 1981; Kalleberg & Sorensen, 1979; Youn, 1988). In particular, internal labor markets have structural features and rules, such as defined career ladders and fixed entry points, that determine who is hired. …

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