I spent most of Tuesday trying to find a faculty member or administrator at the University of Minnesota who has a comparison of the U’s tenured, tenure-track and part-time faculty over time. I came up empty-handed — possibly because this is a big vacation week and I didn’t hunt in the best cyber-places.
A few of the answers arrived Wednesday in an email from a U journalism student who’s an intern this summer at the Wichita Eagle in Kansas.
Readers of Wednesday’s post — “Is tenure dying in Minnesota, too?” — know that I’ve requested the data from the university. Update at 9 a.m.: I’ve just received a spreadsheet from the U and will write about it after eyeballing it and interviewing a key administrator.
Meanwhile, it turns out that the Minnesota Daily, recently named the best college daily in the nation, published in May a solid database analysis that answers some of my questions. (Note to self: Search the Daily’s archives in the future; read the Daily daily.)
Conor Shine, the intern in Wichita, and Brad Perlich found that the number of tenure-track faculty dropped 20 percent between 2003 and 2009 while the number of non-tenure track faculty increased 15 percent. Their analysis also found that while the U hired 409 faculty in the seven-year period, there are “only 510 tenure-track faculty now, compared to 559 in 2003.”
“We were only able to analyze faculty data from 2003-2009 due to limitations in the database,” Shine wrote in his email, “but we found that while tenured faculty numbers remained relatively steady, there was a stark decline in the number of tenure-tracked professors.”
Shine and Perlich worked on the project for a computer-assisted reporting class in the School of Journalism. Interestingly, the class was taught by an adjunct — MaryJo Webster, the CAR editor and a reporter at the Pioneer Press. Webster “shepherded” the pair through the crunching of data, Shine said.
Thanks to Shine for alerting me to the analysis and to those readers who responded to other questions I posed in Wednesday’s post. Check out this comment from Howard Miller:
“Tenure is akin to the immune system for the higher education body — it fights off the political and monetary infections that distort the integrity of scholarship. It keeps the academy free and healthy.”
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