Higher Education at a Crossroads: The Economic Value of Tenure and the Security of the Profession
AAUP Releases Faculty Compensation Report
Washington, DC—The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2015–16: Higher Education at a Crossroads, released today, explores the economic value of tenure and looks at how the increasing reliance on faculty in part-time positions has destabilized the faculty by creating an exploitative, two-tiered system that erodes student retention and graduation rates. The report asserts that the tenure system, which protects academic freedom, facilitates shared governance, spurs pedagogical and research innovation, and bolsters student learning, has declined over decades and must be rebuilt if the United States is to remain a leader in higher education. Specifically, in order for higher education institutions to excel into the future, they must develop and implement plans to convert part-time non-tenure-track positions to full-time tenure-track positions.
The report notes that although inflation-adjusted full-time continuing faculty salaries increased by 2.7 percent between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, this improvement occurred against the backdrop of a four decade decline in full-time tenured positions (down 26 percent) and full-time tenure-track positions (down 50 percent).
This year, for the first time, the data collection includes part-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants, who together represent the majority of the academic workforce.
For decades, the AAUP’s Faculty Compensation Survey has been an authoritative source for information about the economic status of the profession. It is the premier tool for exploring full-time faculty salary and benefits at two- and four-year colleges and universities, with more than 1,000 institutions from all fifty states and Puerto Rico participating. The Faculty Compensation Survey includes the most current data on more than 385,000 faculty, making it the largest independent faculty compensation survey in the United States. Faculty, institutional planners, and administrators view this survey as the industry standard on faculty compensation and turn to it throughout the academic year.
The report is available to public on the AAUP’s website at www.aaup.org/report/FCS-2015-16 and is published in the March/April edition of Academe. Publishing, web posting, or redistributing substantial lists of institutional data without prior written permission from the AAUP is prohibited.
The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education's contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country's colleges and universities.