Graduate Student - Sociology and Statistics - University of Pennsylvania
Unlike in earlier decades, most faculty today do not work full-time for one college or university. Instead, they work part-time, often complementing the position by teaching courses at another institution or by working in the private sector. Some, no doubt, commit more time to their families. Who are these part-time employees and what kinds of institutions employ them?
One of the great changes to postsecondary staffing since the 1990s has been the hiring of full-time faculty off the tenure track. These professionals are often referred to as visiting professors, full-time instructors or lecturers. While commiting extensive time and effort to their employers, these faculty have no contractual guarenteers or protections. Who are these contingent faculty members?
Each year, over 170,000 graduate students earn a Ph.D. in the United States and begin their participation in the national labor force. But what is the economic value of a doctorate these days and what kind of access and security does the degree offer on the job market?
Over the last four decades, the proportion of faculty who hold tenure or are on the tenure track has fallen precipitously. Today, most professors work under fixed-term contracts and may not be around when the next semester begins. However, there is reason to believe that STEM faculty may deviate from this trend. How do tenure/track and non-tenured faculty compare in STEM? What differences exist in their work and institutions?
Postsecondary faculty have many job responsibilites. They teach, participate on committees, grade papers, publish research, and more. Given the increased role of contingent faculty in higher education and the sometimes precarious nature of their employment, how satisfied are these faculty with their jobs? Job satisfaction is important in order to continue to attract talent to the profession.
Hiring faculty is very complicated. In addition to replacing retiring faculty, administrators must accomodate the increasing number of today's undergraduates while planning for the needs of future cohorts. Considering demographic fluctuations in the United States, how many graduate students should ideally be trained in order to replace tenured faculty leaving the profession?
People have many different motivations for adjuncting and their work experiences vary extensively as well. Are there recognizeable subgroups of contingent laborers working in academia? What components of adjunct labor may be useful in typologizing contingent faculty?
There are a large number of datasets available for examining non-tenure track faculty. Click here for a comprehensive list of data sources.
Many doctorate recipients begin their academic careers off the tenure track. While this is not uncommon, we know very little about those who begin their careers in this fashion. In the following section, I use longitudinal data to examine attrition and promotion rates of these faculty. I also examine what is believed to be a volatile period among young faculty.