AERA Issues Recommendations for Supporting Non-Tenure-Track Faculty
AERA Issues Recommendations for Supporting Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

For Immediate Release
November 1, 2013

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AERA Issues Recommendations for Supporting Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2013 ─ With a focus on the dramatic increase in non-tenure-track faculty (NTTF) in schools, colleges, and departments of education – and on the working conditions they encounter – the American Educational Research Association (AERA) has issued a statement and background report on advancing the professional circumstances for these faculty members. In the statement and report, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in U.S. Universities, AERA builds upon its strength as a research organization in support of the field of education and continues providing leadership concerning employment of NTTF.

Tenured and tenure-track faculty constituted more than three quarters of faculty positions 40 years ago, but today two-thirds of all instructional faculty, and three out of every four hires, are off the tenure track. Part-time NTTF is the fastest growing segment of the professoriate. The discipline of education has one of the highest proportions of NTTF, with 48.7 percent of faculty in schools, colleges, and departments of education neither tenured nor on a tenure track. The reasons for the rise in NTTF are complex and not uniformly understood, but contributing factors include  the huge increase in U.S. postsecondary enrollment, the emergence of new sectors such as community colleges, dwindling support for tenure, shrinking state budgets, and disruptions in the traditional higher education financial and delivery models.

AERA’s statement, which stems from the work of AERA’s Task Force on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty and input from a subgroup of AERA Council and AERA leaders, provides four recommendations.

Recommendation 1:
Schools, colleges, and departments of education should be judicious in their decisions concerning the employment and expansion of NTTF. In cases where non-tenure-track faculty are employed, academic institutions should provide appropriate conditions of employment and professional support.

Recommendation 2:
AERA should develop a statement of principles about the appropriate employment and support of NTTF within the education field. This statement of principles could be useful to schools, colleges, and departments of education to guide discussions and decisions concerning faculty employment.

Recommendation 3:
More research should be undertaken on NTTF working in schools, colleges, or departments of education and/or working in other fields. AERA could continue to develop its own research program on faculty, students, and the education research profession; encourage the National Center for Education Statistics to develop a new postsecondary faculty survey; and encourage other studies of the working conditions of NTTF and collection of sample policies that provide exemplary support for NTTF.

Recommendation 4:
AERA should examine its own operations to ensure that NTTF who are education researchers or faculty in schools, colleges, and departments of education are appropriately supported and recognized in association activities. This may include adjusting membership fees and reviewing conference opportunities to ensure that NTTF are welcomed and included.

These measures would contribute to ensuring the future health of the non-tenure-track professoriate. The AERA Task Force on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty included Adrianna Kezar, University of Southern California (chair); Benjamin Baez, Florida International University; Susan Finley, Washington State University; Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin; Esther Merves, George Washington University; Stanton Wortham, University of Pennsylvania; and Mary Yakimowski, University of Connecticut.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.