U.S. higher education hiring rates decline
Despite nationwide decreases University sees more tenured, tenure-track instructors hired for 2011-2012 academic year
Hiring rates at U.S. higher-education institutions have decreased in response to the economic downturn, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education.
The University’s own hiring rates have also decreased in the last two academic years, said Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty recruitment and retention. The University saw an increase, however, in the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty members hired for the 2011-2012 academic year.
“My sense is that numbers are going up,” Fraser said.
Unofficial figures from the vice provost’s office indicate the University hired 79 new faculty members this past year, up from 47 during the 2010-2011 year — a 40.5 percent rate increase in faculty hiring.
Enrollment growth and impending faculty retirement may account for the University’s increased faculty hiring, Fraser said.
“At some point if you are going to enroll more students, you have to have more faculty to teach them,” she said.
The report released Tuesday, which surveyed all 7,398 institutions eligible for federal student aid, found that the increase in post-secondary institution employment in the 2010-2011 was the smallest it has ever been since 2003. The number of employees grew by .07 percent from fall 2010 to fall 2011.
Whereas employment grew by 2.6 percent at private nonprofit institutions, public universities and colleges saw only a small shift in employment figures — from 2,500,796 in fall 2010 to 2,508,820 in fall 2011.For public schools, a decline in executive and administrative hiring offset the increased number of employees hired for academic instruction.
Only private for-profit schools witnessed a decrease in the total number of faculty hired in 2011 compared to 2010, according to the report.
Center spokesperson Sabrina Ratchford declined to comment on the implications of the report.
The University is currently clamoring for donor investments to support faculty hiring, faculty salaries and a growing student base.
“President Sullivan has made it a priority … to increase the number of faculty, calling on the community as a whole, especially donors, to think about investing in faculty,” Fraser said.
Fraser said hiring rates would increase nationally in the next five to 10 years because of a tenured faculty advancing in age. She predicted an increase in retirements as senior faculty members begin to leave the workforce.
“Because of the economy, people have been waiting on hiring,” Fraser said. “But at some point, you can’t wait any longer.”