Monday, March 14, 2016
Mobility Looks Different From Here
A friend of mine, who was a tenured faculty member teaching math at Research Intensive Technological Institute, remarked to me that he wanted out. He felt that the administration was simply waiting for him to die, so that they could get him off their rolls and save a whole bunch of money. He quit teaching and got into administration.
One might think that the administration might want to try and persuade a departing faculty member to stay on. But the administration is probably thinking: “Oh, goodie! We can replace him or her with a couple of adjunct part timers, where we won’t have to pay for benefits.”
I taught in a school of business (AACSB-accredited, so it was fairly difficult to indiscriminately replace FT with PT faculty). As noted in the previous comment as well, salaries aren't exactly rising at a blistering pace for FT faculty. (In my last dozen years as a FT faculty member, my inflation-adjusted salary *fell* by nearly 15%.) Replacing a retiring--or moving-on FT faculty member can frequently mean paying more for an early-career hire than a school is currently paying a late-career incumbent. (Not in my case, although it was close--my replacement got paid about 15% less than I was making; the last time we hired an accounting professor, however, we paid nearly 15% *more* than the retiring incumbent had been earning). (All of this is likely to be more characteristic of the sort of institution at which I taught, obviously, than at an R-1. However, I have a good friend who recently retired from an R-1 who taught business law. Their new hire was paid about 10% more than she had been earning as a tenured full.)
So whatever the downside lack of mobility might have for faculty, increased mobility could have some unfortunate budgetary consequences for institutions as well.
I've seen very few instances where a superstar got poached. You don't have head hunters on the academic side (although they are common even in CC admin searches), so that only happens when a university wants to create a new program and goes looking for faculty to create it. As you noted, that is only in the R1 world.
It is more common that top faculty put themselves on the market because they are unhappy with the level of pay or support they are getting. That has to be the concern of the Cal State system, and it is what you left out on the CC side. My college has lost faculty who were unhappy with the way the institution is being run or the distance from family or friends, and some even got multiple offers for a similar position at a CC or a regional (teaching emphasis) university.
There are good reasons why a college should have some truly neutral exit interview system so they can get an earful on why someone retired early and then took a job at a local private college.