More Faculty at State Colleges? Maybe Just More Adjuncts

  • Joe Wertz

JobyOne / Flickr

Faculty growth has outpaced student enrollment at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities over the last 15 years, The Oklahoman reports.

But faculty doesn’t necessarily mean tenured professors, and some of the observed growth could be an increase in adjunct faculty — untenured, temporary, cheaper instructors.

Since the 1996-1997 academic year: Student enrollment is up about 24 percent, while the number of full-time faculty members has increased almost 33 percent, writes the paper’s Silas Allen.

The trend reversed after the recession and the 2007-2008 academic year, after which student enrollment grew by about 10 percent, while the number of full-time equivalent faculty grew less than 7 percent.

It’s easier and faster for colleges and universities to hire adjuncts, which are often used to bolster instruction in popular courses and programs. But tenure-track faculty are considered more valuable to research, long-term program development and in mentoring students.

But making those hires means a major financial commitment from the university at a time of fiscal uncertainty, The Oklahoman reports.