Magazine article Workforce Management

Succession in Jeopardy at Universities

Magazine article Workforce Management

Succession in Jeopardy at Universities

Article excerpt


Three thousand dollars per course per semester, without benefits, job security or hope of tenure. That was the adjunct professor job description for about 936,000 Gen X and Y doctorate holders in 2007, according to the most recent statistics compiled by John Curtis, director of research and niblic policy for the American Association of University Professors, an advocacy organization for faculty in higher education.

Meanwhile, baby boomer faculty in their 50s and 60s tenaciously hold on to tenured positions.

"It's not that |older faculty] don't want younger colleagues," says Jacqueline E. King, assistant vice president of the American Council of Education's Center tor Policy Analysis. "They just don't want to give up their jobs." Plus, the recession didn't spare tenured faculty's retirement savings.

"It's not just a generational issue, although this is one of the ways it evidences itself," Curtis says. His research shows that tenured and tenure-track faculty numbers dropped from approximately 5 1 percent of all college and university teachers in 1975 to less than 20 percent in 2007. During the same period, contingent faculty increased from about 43 percent to almost 69 percent of the total.

"The underlying causes are financial." Curtis says. Funding for public colleges and universities has declined for decades. "Contingent faculty are cheaper because they don't get benefits and never become senior faculty.

The situation isn't bad only for Generations X and Y. Institutions suffer too.

Between longer times to complete doctoral programs and fewer tenuretrack jobs, there are far fewer permanent faculty under 45 than there were 20 or 30 years ago. "Over the last 20 years, college presidents have become much older," King says. "If people aren't starting at the bottom rung of the ladder as associate professors until they're 40, how will they ever be able to touch all the rungs and amass the experience needed for the presidency? …

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