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Higher Education at a Crossroads: AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2015-16

AAUP

According to The American Association of University Professors (AAUP):

Although inflation-adjusted full-time continuing faculty salaries increased by 2.7 percent between the 2014–15 and 2015–16 academic years, there are at least two reasons why this number may be misleading. The first is methodological: as a result of categorical revisions to the AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey, visiting faculty salaries are now being reported in the “instructor” category, and this change has had a one-time effect of making the salaries of full-time ranked faculty members (assistant, associate, and full professors) appear higher or lower than they otherwise would, depending on the institution. The second reason underlines a systemic threat to higher education: full-time ranked faculty positions are in decline.

Over the past four decades, the proportion of the academic labor force holding full-time tenured positions has declined by 26 percent and the share holding full-time tenure-track positions has dropped by 50 percent. The increasing reliance on faculty members in part-time positions has destabilized the faculty by creating an exploitative, two-tiered system; it has also eroded student retention and graduation rates at many institutions.

In many respects, higher education is at a crossroads. We can continue down the current path of increasing reliance on contingent faculty positions and accept the negative consequences, or we can take bold steps to rebuild the tenure system that made American colleges and universities the best in the world. There are clear economic benefits to expanding academic tenure. Greater job security allows faculty members to mentor students and junior colleagues more effectively. It also enables them to take greater risks in instruction and research, which often yield improved educational experiences and outcomes. Breakthroughs in research benefit the broader society as well. These claims are supported by the results of a survey conducted by the AAUP Research Office and by interviews conducted with tenured faculty members across the nation, including a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and a Nobel Prize winner.

If institutions of higher education are to excel over the coming decade, colleges and universities must develop plans to convert part-time non-tenure-track positions to full-time tenure-track positions. The AAUP hopes to lead the way in helping institutions develop these plans, which can be undertaken at an additional average cost of 2 percent of institutional expenditures per year.

The decline of the tenure system did not occur overnight. Changing course will not be easy, but this year’s report identifies opportunities for savings that can help defray or offset the cost of conversion. Over the long term, efforts to improve the security of the faculty can yield benefits for students, communities, and our nation—and, ultimately, strengthen the economic status of the profession.

The report and supplementary data are available for download as .pdfs:

Higher Education at a Crossroads: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2015-16

List of Tables and Figures

Facilitating Institutional Improvement through Enhanced Benchmarking

Online-Only Feature: Innovative Faculty Research

Explanation of Statistical Data

Survey Report Tables 

Appendices to the Report (contain salary listings for individual institutions)

You can also purchase a print copy of the compensation survey report.

An corrections or additions to the 2016 report will be published in the Bulletin of the AAUP, the July-August issue of Academe.

 

Source: AAUP (http://www.aaup.org/report/higher-education-crossroads-annual-report-economic-status-profession-2015-16)

Justice has No Champion in University of Wisconsin Regents

Bascom Hall at Dusk in Winter

By Bruce Thomadsen and the Wisconsin University Union Board.

Of all the ways the Wisconsin State Legislature is working to demolish the University, such as starting to send it into a financial free-fall and deletion of meaningful tenure, the elimination of due process and just cause for firing faculty flies in the face of our national culture’s love of justice and individual rights. For that matter, most cultures in the free world would consider this a major step toward tyrannical totalitarianism.

The University of Wisconsin Regents had the opportunity to stand for justice, protect the employees and students who are victimized by this action and slow the gutting of what is still, but not destined to remain, a major, world-class University. As a body, the Regents chose not to oppose this travesty. By delegation to a committee looking into the issue, they yielded to the abuser (the Legislature). It is unlikely that the committee can report back to the Regents in time to send a message to the Legislature before the budgetary process is complete. The Regents have to know that. They also have to have been thinking about this, assuming that they take their charge seriously. They have thought about it enough in the past to make bold statements that they will maintain the rights currently (perhaps for only a few more days) in State statute. Apparently empty bold statements.

The Wisconsin State Legislature has apparently silenced the UW-Madison Chancellor, probably with the threat that things could get much worse for her hostage children if she does not play nice. If the Regents are under the same pressure, the University has lost its champion and last protector. Civilization has taken a hit. The Empire has total control.

Quality? What potential faculty hire would want to come to a university that could fire without cause and without due process? Few faculty members of quality would stay at such a university except for personal reasons. Stay for the high quality ice cream? These changes will bring the biggest sucking sound since Ross Perot warned of the effects of NAFTA. Why would the top students want to come to study with the remnant of the faculty?

Kudos to Regents Evers, Vásquez, and Bradley who stood against the changes. They stared the dragon in the eye and did not flinch.

UW-Madison Faculty, Staff, and Students Gather on Valentines Day to Stop the Cuts, Save UW!

JoeElder_SaveUW_by Rebecca Kemble

On the 4th anniversary of the February 14th rally and march that sparked the Wisconsin Uprising, hundreds braved the cold to protest the proposed $300 million in budget cuts and the threats to democratic governance and public benefit posed by the “public” authority. WUU members Joe Elder and Bruce Tomadsen spoke to the freezing but spirited crowd.

The Cap Times Reported:

“UW students, faculty, staff and community members gathered, chanting, “No ifs, no buts, no budget cuts” and carrying signs with slogans like “I (heart) UW” and “Be like Minnesota, not Kansas” on them.

Some faculty are already leaving as a result of the cuts, said Joe Elder, professor of sociology at UW-Madison.

“And more faculty will leave,” he said.

“If the budget cuts affected football, we’d have nine players on the field instead of 11,” said Bruce Tomadsen, another UW-Madison faculty member and representative of the Wisconsin University Union. “No problem, says Walker, players can just cover other positions.””

Photo by Rebecca Kemble