Tenure, RIP?

A recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, Tenure RIP?  makes for interesting reading.  I’ve pasted it below.

Some time this fall, the U.S. Education Department will publish a report that documents the death of tenure. Innocuously titled “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009,” the report won’t say it’s about the demise of tenure. But that’s what it will show.Over just three decades, the proportion of college instructors who are tenured or on the tenure track plummeted: from 57 percent in 1975 to 31 percent in 2007. The new report is expected to show that that proportion fell even further in 2009, dropping below one-third. If you add graduate teaching assistants to the mix, those with some kind of tenure status represent a mere quarter of all instructors. Continue reading

The Job “Market:” Was it ever “Good?”

I’m not on the “market” this year, but to paraphrase one of the four questions: What makes this year any different from any other? An interesting discussion about this over at Mikhail’s favorite blog, The Leiter Reports (see here).  Answers?  From the IHE (here and here):

The main recruiting venue for the American Philosophical Association is its Eastern Division meeting, which takes place the last week of December and attracts departments nationwide that seek to recruit. David Schrader said he couldn’t tell how many departments had signed up, but that revenue from those departments was down 40 percent this year, and that the number of positions for which interviews would take place at the meeting was probably down by the same, large proportion.  He said he hoped that some departments were holding off and would recruit later in the academic year than is normal. But he said that he “can’t imagine that departments are being encouraging” about positions this year. “I hope this is just a one-year dip.”  At least six searches in philosophy that were started have been called off — according to the philosophy jobs wiki — and that doesn’t count other positions that had once been thought possible. Continue reading

Financial Crisis and Higher Education

A bit of a bombastic title for this post, but should do for now – so my university, a large private school with plenty of endowment money, is not going to proceed with any of the next year’s faculty searches. I don’t think it’s a matter of saving money, but simply a precaution, a sort of “let’s wait this one out” approach – merit-based salary raises are still scheduled to take place, promotions etc etc, it’s just new hires – I wonder what’s the situash out there where you might be? I should probably go read me some Chronicle of Higher Education, but I’m lazy. Not being an economist or good with numbers, I wonder how the present and looming crises might affect the higher education.  Does that mean that whoever’s going on the market this year is going to see the decrease in openings?

Things as They Are: A Rejoinder

Mikhail touches on some good points in his post, “Things as they Are: Academic Paysage,” and I have a few points to add. Mikhail suggests that

A book contract will always beat 10 years of teaching experience, publications in known journals (even though not many read those, including the authors themselves) will always beat a good record of students evaluations – why?

Yes, a good point about hiring practices and no doubt true, but it may be much worse then this given the often unacknowledged laws that govern the system. Not only is it possible to do everything “right,” e.g. finish the doctorate in a reasonable amount of time or quickly (and beating the 45% attrition rate), have some teaching experience, publish an article and/or write some reviews, participate in conferences etc., and not get placed into a tenure track position, it’s possible that this is exactly how the system of labor is structured. In his recent (and quite excellent ) book, How the University Works, Marc Bousquet discusses how earning the doctorate degree (however counterintuitive) actually serves to flush the degree holder out of the system:

Many degree holders have served as adjunct lecturers at other campuses, sometimes teaching master’s degree students and advising their theses en route to their own degrees. Some will have taught thirty to forty sections, or the equivalent of five to seven years’ full time teaching work. During this time, they have received frequent mentoring and regular evaluation; most will have a large portfolio of enthusiastic observations and warm student commendations. A large faction will have published essays and book reviews and authored their department web pages. Yet, at precicely the juncture that this “preparation” should end and regular employment begin–the acquisition of the Ph.D.–the system embarrasses itself and discloses a systematic truth that every recent degree holder knows and few administrators wish to acknowledge: in many diciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career (23). Continue reading