Anderson, Karen W. "Staff on Tenure Track Is Teaching Less at Yale, a Study Says," New York

 

Anderson, Karen W. "Staff on Tenure Track Is Teaching Less at Yale, a Study Says," New York
Times, 30 March 1999, p. B4.

Universities across the country are increasingly using graduate students and adjunct faculty to
replace more expensive tenure-track professors, and a new study by graduate students at Yale
suggests that better-endowed universities are no exception.

The study by Yale University's graduate student leachers' union, released yesterday, says that
Yale has made growing use of both graduate students and nontenure-track faculty in educating its
undergraduates.

"Everyone knows a lot of faculty are not putting in a lot of face time with undergraduates, and
this confirms it," said Antony Dugdale, a graduate student in religion and a member of the
Graduate Employees and Students Organization at Yale that produced the study. He said the
study "shows that the problem is much deeper than we thought."

Any shrinkage in tenure-track positions reduces the chance that graduate students like Mr.
Dugdale will be able to find permanent teaching jobs with tenure after they earn their Ph.D.'s.

A Yale official said yesterday that he could not immediately say whether the conclusions in the
study were correct. But the official, Tom Conroy, deputy director of public affairs, said Yale did
not think the study was a fair portrayal.

Still, James Richardson, the president of the American Association of University Professors, said
the study confirmed his sense that elite universities are part of a "very disturbing" national trend
away from using tenure-track professors.

"It is odd that Yale sits on such a huge endowment and yet chooses not to increase the number of
faculty," said Mr. Richardson, who is also a professor of sociology and judicial studies at the
University of Nevada at Reno.

The graduate students' study concluded that full-time tenure-track faculty taught only 30 percent
of Yale's classes, while adjunct instructors and graduate students taught the other 70 percent, if
all classes were counted equally: large lectures, discussion sections of lectures, regular classes
and small seminars. The union said it did not have the data to measure what portion of an
average undergraduate's classes is taught by tenure-track faculty. Although graduate students
teach large numbers of discussion groups that are attached to lecture classes, each student takes
only one of those discussion courses.

The number of graduate-student teachers jumped to more than 1,000 in 1997 from 778 in 1980,
even as the number of tenure-track faculty dipped slightly, to 653 from 688, according to the
study. The number of undergraduates was roughly constant during this period.

Mr. Conroy faulted the study for grouping graduate students with nontenure-track faculty, who,
he said, typically have Ph.D.'s and may be retired Yale professors or distinguished visiting
faculty. But John Mack Faragher, a Yale history professor, said that the study accurately captured
the decline in the role of tenure-track faculty and Yale's growing reliance on others to fill the
gap. "We have allowed ourselves as an institution to get into terrible trouble," he said.