Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Turmoil Raises Specter of Faculty Exodus From Public Colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Lee Gardner
June 19, 2016

State budget crunches and political turmoil have set off rumblings about a mass faculty exodus from public colleges in some states. High-profile defections stoke the rumors. But have professors really fled in droves?

It appears they haven’t. But the threat of departures has led to plenty of maneuvering behind the scenes, and to other consequences as well.

Many public colleges in Wisconsin, where legislators stripped tenure protection and $250 million in support, and in Illinois, where a state-budget impasse has left campuses in the lurch, didn’t lose substantially more faculty members to other institutions than in previous years.

But even if most professors are staying put, many have considered leaving. Some have quietly entered the job market, and others may soon follow. Meanwhile, universities elsewhere have escalated efforts to lure top scholars away from besieged competitors.

Faculty turnover is a fact of academic life, but the forces squeezing public colleges in several states make the jockeying for jobs a little more charged this time. Departures have further dimmed already low morale, even at prestigious flagships. And with budgets trimmed to the quick, especially at regional universities, the loss of professors who may not be replaced is felt deeply.

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