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State of the Union

December 30, 2009

[T]he [job market] outlook was not desperate [in the late 1990s], just very bleak: At the time, there was, perhaps a 50 percent chance of a candidate ever joining the tenure-track after ten years or so of preparation.

It was like a golden age, the late-90s.

There are some variations based on field, but now I would guess the chances of any one candidate finding a tenure-track position are probably about 10 to 20 percent.  (You can find some arguments about the probabilities in the Chronicle Forums.)

The Worst MLA Ever,” William Pannapacker,
Chronicle of Higher Education (Dec. 27/09).

According to the AAUP [American Assn. of University Professors], between 1975 and 2007, the percentage of full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty declined from 56.8 percent to 31.2 percent, while the number of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty rose from 43.2% to 68.8%.  Essentially, there has been no population growth among the tenured; nearly all of the growth in the numbers of students has been met by non-tenured faculty. (For more information, see the most recent issue of Profession, “Education in the Balance: A Report on the Academic Workforce in English,” prepared by the MLA’s [Modern Language Association’s] Ad Hoc Committee on Staffing.)

At that same session, Paul Lauter, a longtime activist on academic labor issues-observed, “The image of the privileged professor is out of date.”  When one speaker mentioned that the MLA recommends that faculty members should be paid $6,000-$9,000 per course, one member of the audience said she was paid $2,000, which, on an hourly basis, is less than the minimum wage.

The MLA and Academic Labor: From Marginality to Leadership,” William Pannapacker,
Chronicle of Higher Education (Dec. 30/09).

Questioning administrators on university policies is a matter of public interest that deserves First Amendment protection and has traditionally been seen that way, Levinson said. The shift in thinking by some courts, post-Garcetti, is why the AAUP has been urging faculty members to bolster their free speech rights in university documents or contracts.

Faculty Speech Rights Rejected,” Scott Jaschik,
Inside Higher Ed (Dec. 23/09).

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