Forty Years

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I graduated from high school and began college forty years ago, in 1976. So one of the constructions of the new book is to examine what’s different across those four decades.

US Population

  • 1976: 218M
  • 2016: 319M (+46%)

US Undergraduate Population

  • 1976: 9,419,000
  • 2016: 17,490,000 (+86%)

US Grad Student Population

  • 1976: 1,567,000
  • 2016: 3,025,000 (+93%)

Number of PhDs Awarded:

  • 1976: 32,923
  • 2015: 54,070 (+64%)

Percentage of Faculty Tenured or Tenure Track (according to the AAUP):

  • 1976: 28.6% tenured, 15.9% pre-tenured, 44.5% total
  • 2011: 16.6% tenured, 6.9% pre-tenured, 23.5% total (note that five years later, it’s probably even worse)

Percentage of Faculty Full-Time and Part-Time Non-TT (also according to AAUP)

  • 1976: 10.2% FT, 25.1% PT, 35.3% total
  • 2011: 15.7% FT, 41.5% PT, 57.2% total

Note that in 1976, the TT and NTT total comes to 44.5 + 35.3, or 79.8%; in 2011, it’s 23.5 + 57.2, or 80.7%. In both eras, the remaining ~20% is grad students.

So the number of undergrads, number of grad students, and number of successful PhDs have all grown more rapidly than the population as a whole, at the same time that we’ve reversed the proportion of our teaching population from permanent to contingent faculty. As we saw a few days ago (“Fifty Years of Mustangs), colleges employ the same number of people per thousand students they did twenty-five years ago; they’re just different kinds of people.

Tomorrow… commodity economics.