The Journal of Higher Education 73.6 (2002) 784-786
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Teaching Without Tenure:
Policies and Practices for a New Era
Teaching Without Tenure: Policies and Practices for a New Era, by Roger G. Baldwin and Jay L. Chronister. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. 224pp. $32.50
Higher education is in the midst of a great transformation. The modernist ideal of the university and its ivory towers bound by tradition and isolated from the fickle world of boom and bust has died an unfortunate death. What has emerged from the ashes is a new university that no longer wonders and winces from afar but is at the center of the information economy, subject to the ebb and flow of supply and demand, sensitive to the new ideals of customer service, and ultimately forced to shed its anachronistic ways to mirror the corporate world to which it feeds workers. As universities become more like corporations, the industry of higher education must appropriate many of the labor practices that characterize the ever changing economy. At the heart of this shift taking place in the division of labor in higher education is what many perceive to be a threat to the staple of tenure. The tenure system, legitimated by the American Association of University Professors in 1940, has afforded those who have satisfied the requirements set forth in the standard six-year probationary period, an insurance of long-term employment not rivaled in any other profession. Significant changes in the larger economy in addition to demographic shifts in the professoriate as well as in the student body have prompted universities and colleges to recruit instructional staff that will not ride the tenure-track. Teaching Without Tenure explores this new development in depth and raises many interesting questions about the future of the division of labor in higher education.
Teaching Without Tenure is in many ways a companion book to Gappa & Leslie's (1993) superb The Invisible Faculty,which focuses exclusively on the use of part-time faculty primarily as a means of supplementing the teaching needs of a department, whereas Teaching Without Tenure considers the use of full-time faculty and administrators who are not eligible for tenure. Colleges and universities have become increasingly dependent on part-time faculty and full-time nontenure-track faculty over the past thirty years. Part-time faculty comprised 22% of instructional staff in 1969, and by 1992 that figure had risen to 40% (Finkelstein & Schuster, 1992). According to Baldwin and Chronister at least one-fifth of full-time faculty today are not on the tenure track. This influx of faculty not eligible for tenure has drawn criticism from a number of varied sources. Hickman (1998) argues that such hiring practices have negative outcomes for both professors and students. Others have argued that the tenuous nature of these faculty appointments devalues education and that students suffer from a less than satisfactory product. Teaching Without Tenure echoes The Invisible Faculty in attempting to deconstruct some of the stigmas that afflict those who have non-tenured appointments. Baldwin and Chronister are able to offer convincing anecdotal evidence, collected from numerous site visits, that highlights the valuable contributions made by non-tenured faculty. [End Page 784]
Teaching Without Tenure employs a secondary data analysis culled from the National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty (1988) and the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (1993), and an original research project that includes a survey of universities and colleges in the United States regarding policies that regulate the use of full-time nontenure-track faculty, an analysis of policy documents, and interviews with faculty and administrators at twelve institutions in an attempt to represent all manner of colleges and universities in the country. In addition to the attributions of faculty in nontenure-track appointments, Baldwin and Chronister are also interested in understanding the rationales employed by administrators in their use of such faculty. The authors are quick to point out that full-time nontenure-track faculty are not homogeneous. Some of these folks are tenure-track hopefuls and...