Education: Academia's New Gypsies

With tenure logjammed, colleges turn to part-time faculty

For generations, membership in a college faculty has implied the enviable prospect of lifetime job security through the granting of tenure. Not anymore. Since the late 1970s, academe has suffered a Ph.D. glut as baby-boom enrollments leveled off while universities continued to churn out fledgling professors, particularly in the humanities, faster than the shrinking job market could absorb them.

Today the prospect of even steeper declines in enrollment further reduces the need for new permanent professorships. Tightened university budgets and lowered federal spending make salary money scarcer, and recessions in some states have brought budget cuts at public universities (Utah, for...

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