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Analysis of U’s instructional faculty shows full-time non-tenure track up 40% since 1999; tenured/track down 7%

Tenure is not dead yet but it’s definitely on the decline for instructional staff at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, according to an analysis of statistics from the U’s Office of Institutional Research.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with The Next Degree this week, I’ve been trying to find out how the number of full- and part-time tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty has changed over time. The July 4 “Tenure, RIP” article in the Chronicle of Higher Education made me wonder if that’s the story in Minnesota as well.

I asked the U for statistics dating as far back as possible. The Office of Institutional Research compiled statistics on instructional staff including the medical school from fall 1999 to fall 2009. I’m told that a software change makes it difficult to track numbers before 1999. Nonetheless, the stats reveal some significant shifts in 10 years. I’ll direct you to the spreadsheet in a few more paragraphs.

Also, these stats represent only instructional staff. The U has an additional 5,216 positions that are classified as “primarily research.”

31% of total instructional staff is tenured/on track
The U’s spreadsheet points out that the total number of instructional staff — full- and part-time tenured, tenure track, non-tenured and teaching assistants — is down 1 percent to 5,154 while student enrollment has climbed 14 percent to 51,659. According to the U’s calculations, 31 percent of the total instructional staff was tenured or on the tenure track in 2009 compared with 33 percent in 1999. But take out those teaching assistants and 51 percent of the staff was tenured/on track vs. 60 percent in 1999.

The U did not provide separate counts for tenured and tenure-track faculty, but a Minnesota Daily database analysis found that the number of tenure-track faculty declined 20 percent from 2003 to 2009 while the number of non-tenure track faculty increased 15 percent.

According to my calculations, the number of full-time tenured/on track instructional faculty declined 7 percent to 1,599 in 2009 from 1,715 in 1999. I also looked at the change from peak staffing of 1,815 in 2001: down 12 percent by 2009.

The shift to non-tenure track instructors
Meanwhile, there’s a pronounced shift to full- and part-time non-tenure track instructional staff. (The terminology is a mouthful.) The full-time category jumped 40 percent to 521 and part-time 31 percent to 852. Add those numbers up and they come close to the full-time tenured/on track contingent. Still, it’s important to point out that the full-time non-tenured count declined 22 percent from a peak of 665 in 2007. Part-time was down 8 percent from its peak. These categories are among the easiest to cut in tough budget times. 

I also looked at how instructional staffing changed between 1999 and peak years in the period, which you will see at the far right of this spreadsheet [xls]. The second tab of the spreadsheet is the U’s rundown of total “employees by assigned position” as of Nov. 1, 2009. The U employed nearly 23,000 people on the Twin Cities campus last November.

I had hoped to interview Vice Provost Arlene Carney for this post but she was out of town and unavailable Thursday. I’d still like to see the instructional staff sliced and diced by college and school. But this spreadsheet is a start.

I’d also like to hear what readers take away from these statistics. Am I overlooking anything? Share your thoughts in Comments below or email me at cselix[at]minnpost[dot]com.

Related content:

Is tenure dying in Minnesota, too? July 7, 2010

U journalism student points the way to tenure analysis July 8, 2010

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 07/09/2010 - 09:31 am.

    Chickens, coming home to roost…

    These numbers are yet another sign of the obvious decline in the quality of education at the U of M.

    As the Minnesota Daily put it last Fall:

    “As for commitment to quality education at an affordable cost? Meaningless drivel. The administration has flatly failed on its promises of excellence and affordability.” Daily (13 Oct 2009)

    And this decline cannot be blamed solely on the financial collapse of revenues from the State of Minnesota. It was in progress long before the so-called “new normal” and is the result of the poor priorities of the current U administration. See, e.g., “Can BigU become GreatBigU?”

    which in 2007 made the connection between our plight today and the hubris of Morrill Hall.

    Let us hope, as Jane Wellman [Delta Cost Project, a nonprofit group in Washington that advocates for controlling costs to keep college affordable] put it today in the New York Times “… policymakers as well as university presidents and boards must learn to be better stewards of tuition and taxpayer dollars.”

    Thanks to MinnPost and the Minnesota Daily for pursuing this important index of educational quality.

    W. B. Gleason, U of M faculty and alum (’73)

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