TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WSJ:  Universities, Facing Budget Cuts, Target Tenure

Wall Street Journal, Universities, Facing Budget Cuts, Target Tenure:

For decades, tenured professors held some of the most prestigious and secure jobs in the U.S. Now, their status is under attack at public and private colleges alike.

In states facing budget pressures such as Missouri, North Dakota and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills for the current legislative sessions to eliminate tenure, cut back its protections or create added hoops that tenured faculty at public colleges must jump through to keep their jobs. University administrators, struggling to shave their costs, are trying to limit the ranks of tenured professors or make it easier to fire them. ...

In 1975, 45% of faculty at public and private schools was tenured or tenure-track; the 2014 figure is 29%. The balance of the jobs are now filled by part-time adjunct professors who make, on average, less than half the salary of tenured professors, enjoying few of their benefits, and are excused from much of the administrative work. While the average salary of a full professor is $142,141, according to the American Association of University Professors, adjuncts are typically paid between $1,500 and $5,000 a course.

Schools across the country, mostly small, private colleges like Wartburg College in Iowa and the College of Saint Rose in New York, have been offering buyouts to cull their ranks of longtime faculty. Other schools have eliminated entire academic departments. ...

For professors, all of this means more demands, less respect and declining job satisfaction, said Kiernan Mathews, executive director of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which surveys faculty at public and private colleges on job satisfaction. ...

Professors contend they are already working harder than ever. “We’re under a lot more pressure to be more productive,” said John Ziker, an anthropologist at Boise State University who conducted a time-use survey on his mostly tenured peers that found on average they work 51 hours during the week and 10 more over the weekend. “It’s a long way from walking around in robes debating philosophical points,” Dr. Ziker said.

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The theme of the 2020's decade will be Broken Promises. Social Security, Medicare, government pensions, and any sort of employment-for-life, including tenure. If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. Expect one abrupt stop after another.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Feb 15, 2017 5:16:12 PM