“Leave-proofing” the faculty

by E Wayne Ross on April 16, 2009

Inside Higher Ed: ‘Leave-Proofing’ the Faculty

Tenure-track jobs are harder than ever to find, with the economic mess prompting many colleges to grow even more cautious about hiring anyone on the tenure track. Tenure-track openings are being put on hold. Searches are being called off every day. Many who worry that higher education has created a faculty of two tiers — the privileged tenured class and the overused and abused adjuncts — have been told that this year is simply not the year in which to promote change.

In this environment, Denison University might seem an unlikely institution to bolster the ranks of its tenure-track faculty. A liberal arts college in Ohio, Denison has never abandoned the centrality of tenure-track lines — and typically uses adjuncts only to replace those professors who are on leave. But now Denison is embarking a plan that will replace many of those adjunct hires with permanent, tenure-track lines, and as a result will soon be conducting searches for 12 tenure-track jobs in liberal arts disciplines — hiring that will lead to real faculty growth beyond the 200 tenure-track and tenured faculty members at the university today.