We’re taking a look at the economic realities of trying to live out a theological vocation in the academy. In the last post, we focused on the shape of the academic job market, which is still rather bleak. Today’s post moves in a different direction: trying to make it as an adjunct.
An additional part of the economics of the theological vocation comes into play when we include the reality of the adjunct life. Although I was not able to locate statistics from ATS on the use of adjunct faculty, the trends in U.S. higher education as a whole are quite clear. In 1969, 78% of professors held tenure-track positions. By 2009, that number had dropped to 33.5%. And at private 4-year schools, over half were part-time, non-tenure (53%). I do not think we would find that these numbers reflect ATS schools as a whole, but they do suggest an industry-wide trend toward more “flexible” faculty.
Thus, even though full-time positions have grown scarce, plenty of part-time, non-tenured teaching opportunities await the new PhD. And students often use these positions as a way of staying near the unicorn, running alongside for a while, hoping to jump on its back when its not looking. My concern, though, is that too many are getting trampled in the process.