The number of faculty members shrank in the 2020-21 academic year compared with the year before, according to an annual survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, or CUPA-HR.
Pre-pandemic, in the 2019-20 academic year, there was an overall increase in all types of faculty members, with full-time non-tenure-track faculty up the most, at 3.36 percent. But the pandemic reversed the trend of a growing professoriate. Hardest hit, according to the report, were adjunct faculty. Over all, their ranks fell nearly 5 percent. And master’s, baccalaureate, and associate-granting institutions cut their adjunct work force by more than 6 percent. Tenure-track faculty fared the worst at associate colleges, with a 7.8-percent decrease among that group at those institutions.
The disciplines of library science and leisure and recreational activities had the largest percentage of job losses; each saw their numbers fall by more than 13 percent. The two disciplines with the largest number of faculty members whose jobs were cut over the 2020-21 academic year were business, management, and marketing, as well as and biological and biomedical sciences.
Meanwhile, the overall median salary increase for full-time faculty barely budged in 2020-21 from the year before — 0.69 percent. It was the lowest increase since 2010, the report said.
The association’s report is based on responses from 793 institutions regarding 263,721 full-time faculty positions, and, of those, 362 institutions provided data on adjunct positions.