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AAUP: Ross Posits a Model of Tenure for the 21st Century

Clark Ross
Clark Ross

From its initial adoption around 1940 and high water mark as standard practice in higher ed by 1970, the institution of academic tenure is now being rolled back at a rapid rate. Johnston Economics Professor and former VP for Academic Affairs Clark Ross says in an essay in the AAUP flagship publication that "As higher education evolves, a more diverse range of faculty employment practices is likely to emerge."

Institutions are doing away with tenure because of its significant cost. With no mandatory retirement age, many faculty members are choosing to teach longer to increase earnings, retain health care insurance and restore the value of retirement accounts hurt during the recession. At the same time, institutional endowments have been battered by the recession.

Ross concludes that the future will not be a simplistic, binary choice between senior tenured faculty over the age of 70 and per-course, poorly paid adjuncts. Rather, "There will not be a standard model of faculty employment, but different ones tailored to institutional objectives... The most successful institutions will match institutional purpose with course and curricular offerings and with corresponding types of faculty appointments."