[Excerpt] The last two decades of the twentieth century saw a significant growth in the share of faculty members in American colleges and universities that are part-time or are full-time without tenure-track status. Growing student enrollments faced by academic institutions during tight financial times and growing differentials between the salaries of part-time and non-tenure track faculty on the one hand, and tenured and tenure-track faculty on the other hand, are among the explanations given for these trends. However, surprisingly, there has been no recent econometric evidence to test whether these hypotheses are true.
Our study uses institutional level data provided to us by the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis of the State University of New York (SUNY) System to begin to address these issues. In the next section, we present background data on how the ratios of full-time lecturers to full-time professorial faculty and of part-time faculty to full-time faculty changed at SUNY during the fall 1985 to fall 2001 period. Counts of faculty numbers tell one little about who is actually teaching undergraduate students and so we also show how the share of undergraduate credit hours taught by part-time and non-tenure track faculty members increased during the part of the period for which we had access to credit hour data.
Section III presents a simple conceptual framework that illustrates why an institution’s usage of part-time and non-tenure track faculty members should depend upon both the revenue per student received by the institution and the relative costs to the institution of the different types of faculty. While we have no data on the costs of part-time faculty members, we do have institutional level information for SUNY institutions for an eleven year period on the average salaries of tenured and tenure track faculty on the one hand, and of non-tenure track faculty on the other hand, as well as information on the revenue per student received by each institution each year. This enables us in section IV to estimate the roles that average salaries of both types of faculty members and revenues received by institutions play in explaining the observed changes in faculty composition.