Old professors never quit, they just hang around

What’s a manager to do when an expensive and not-so-productive 73-year-old worker can’t be released or reassigned? The obvious answer is to stop the process before it starts, and use more nontenured instructors.

In 1969, tenured and tenure-track faculty amounted to 78 percent of the higher education workforce. By 2009, that rate had slipped to 33 percent, even as the number of professors over 65 doubled from 2000 to 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Faculty leaders complain about the trend, citing the bad wages and benefits in nontenured employment. But the Fidelity survey explains why administrators have no choice.

Tenure started 100 years ago as a way to preserve academic freedom, not to keep employees in place 10 years past customary retirement age. The continued resistance to reform shows arrogant disregard for rising college costs for students, for meritocratic decision-making and for academic innovation.