Changing Faculty Demographics and the Need for New Policies

Robert L. Clark, North Carolina State University

April 2004 |

The academic labor market is defined by the supply of and demand for tenure-track and contract faculty. The existing faculty is a function of past patterns of recruiting, retention, and retirement. The future size and age structure of university faculties will depend on a variety of factors including the student enrollment rates, university budgets, national economic trends and retirement policies, and university human resource policies. The primary objectives of this paper are (1) to provide a baseline for analysis for recruitment, retention, and retirement policies in the twenty first century and (2) to review the key concepts that will be considered throughout the conference.

To understand the future development of the academic labor market, we must have a basic knowledge of present faculty characteristics. The paper will present national data on trends in hiring and retirement rates and the changing age structure of university faculties. The analysis will show how the past hiring patterns and changes in personnel policies have altered faculty characteristics. Several key concepts will be explored including the ending of mandatory retirement and its effect on age specific retirement rates and the emergence of contract faculty. Data from the University of North Carolina will be used to illustrate the changing nature of faculty appointments, the changing faculty age structure, and the shift in retirement ages. Both the national data and that from UNC will illustrate the fundamental issues confronting colleges and universities in the coming decades.

How will universities respond to these challenges? The second portion of the paper will provide a basic roadmap for the conference. It will describe potential human resource policies that universities will be confront in the coming years. These include hiring options besides tenure track positions, the need to provide health care to active faculty and retirees and the rapidly rising cost of these programs, and the desire to alter retention and retirement rates through the use of phased and early retirement programs. The discussion will highlight the need for careful consideration of the diversity of educational institutions and their different environments. Areas of interest and concern include differences between research and teaching institutions, public and private institutes, and those institutions that are covered by collectively bargained contracts. Recruiting, retention, and retirement decisions take place within the context of the national economic conditions and key public policies. The future of Social Security, Medicare, health insurance, equity returns, growth in annual salaries, and pension policies will determine, in part, career choices by faculty and their transition from full time employment to full time retirement. While each of these issues will be examined in more detail throughout the conference, this paper will provide an overview of their importance and highlight the need for a new examination of their implications.

© 2014 and prior years, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), New York, NY 10017