Historiann asks her readers, "Is it really 'higher education' without tenured faculty?"  Read the essay, and the accompanying comments, and contemplate this.
Is higher education really higher education without faculty tenure?  I say no.  Just check out the loan default rates and unemployment rates of for-profit university alums, where tenure is non-existent, to public or private university graduates.  But our current generation of “leaders” suggest that they’re happy to follow Kaplan and Phoenix down the rabbit hole.  Like the failed leaders in our political life and financial sectors, it looks like today’s provosts are happy to chase fads and engage in an academic version of pump-and-dump:  “pump” up the adjunct rates and “dump” the tenured faculty while they run the clock out on their careers.

After all, they won’t be around when the price of a hollowed-out tenured faculty becomes clear.  They’re doing more with less now and reaping the rewards, so what do they care?
Yes, that's one of the effects of the all-administrative university.  And it's amusing to note those administrators responding to one of the incentives in the so-called Affordable Care Act.
Robert Balla, an adjunct professor of English at Stark State College, in North Canton, Ohio received a letter in which he was told that “in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.” He told the [Wall Street] Journal that the move cut his $40,000 salary by about $2,000 and that he cannot afford health insurance.
No doubt there is a deanlet or deanling in the personnel department anticipating a large bonus.

It is worth contemplating where the price of a hollowed-out tenured faculty will be paid first.

The more aggressive an institution of higher education is at doing more with less, the more intense the competition to get into the most highly regarded institutions becomes.  News flash: middling students, returning adults, and strivers without the credentials, connections, or good high school guidance will be hardest hit.


Historiann said...

Thanks for the link! You are right that the current generation of uni administrators are undoing the postwar democratiziation of higher education. They are not the only ones, of course--the federal and state governments were the prime movers of this as they steadily withdrew support for higher ed over the past twenty-five years. However, instead of mobilizing the public and using their positions to make the case that we all must support higher ed, they permitted the government to redefine education as a private commodity rather than a public good.

Sad, sad, sad.

Stephen Karlson said...

I'm not sure the public good argument or the related positive externality argument work well for higher education, as many of the benefits of a good degree are appropriable by its holder. I fear, also, that the faculty and administration are complicit in breaking the social compact that used to exist. Faddish radical curricula and misguided notions of access have consequences.

That said, there's something troubling about people working their way through college by holding three jobs during the school year. I was able to meet expenses with a part time school year job and a full time summer job. Yes, you could argue that taxpayers were devoting some of their income to helping me get rich. Under the current dispensation, taxpayers may not be as burdened, but it's harder for strivers from modest or poor backgrounds to get the human capital to get rich.