A study on the choice to accept a faculty position at a four-year, non-tenure granting university

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University of Alabama Libraries

Earning tenure is a prestigious, professional achievement for faculty in higher education. The number of tenured faculty, open tenure positions, and newly created tenure positions within higher-education has declined since the 1970’s. A reduction in governmental funding to higher education since the Great Recession of 2008 caused higher education tuition to rise in the decade since and put further constraints on institutions’ ability to pay the salaries of tenured and tenure-track professors. Because of the downturn, higher education institutions frequently hired contingent, non-tenured faculty to fill the departmental void of the depleted tenured faculty. Institutions in some states have completely eliminated the option of tenure for faculty. One state responded to the rising costs of education by creating a new academic institution (identified here as Mosaic University), which is a four-year, state university that does not offer tenure. Research suggests similar institutions may continue to open, but currently, there is no information regarding why faculty cease the search for tenured positions to work at a non-tenured institution. The study uses qualitative methods to answer the research question, why do credentialed faculty choose to take a position at a four-year, non-tenure granting, state university? The qualitative research is designed as an explanatory case study and uses semi-structured interviews with full-time faculty of Mosaic University. The researcher analyzed the response data using the descriptive coding method to identify themes related to faculty experiences which affected their choice to accept a position at a four-year, non-tenure granting, state university. Participants identified previous socialization experiences which instilled in them a passion for teaching and service to academic institutions as a professor, the lack of other job opportunities, and the opportunity to create the organizational foundations of the institution, as reasons to accept a position at a four-year, non-tenure granting university. The results of the study were used to craft recommendations for the policy makers of future, newly created, non-tenure institutions, which include suggestions to implement consistent contract renewal practices, establish structured plans for development of faculty within the institution, market the opportunity to work in a flat employment system, and develop a mentorship program between experienced and new faculty.

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Educational administration