by AAUP National
This year’s Annual Report on the Economic Profession outlines how years of unstable funding, combined with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have created an existential threat to shared governance and academic freedom in higher education that severely weakens our nation’s ability to effectively educate our communities. The report presents findings from three related studies conducted by the AAUP Research Department: the AAUP’s annual Faculty Compensation Survey, a follow-up COVID-19 survey, and secondary data analyses of faculty and staff employment and institutional finance data. The Faculty Compensation Survey findings indicate that real wages for full-time faculty members decreased, on average; a majority of institutions reported decreases in average real wages for full-time faculty members and in the numbers of them employed. Findings from the COVID-19 survey document institutional responses to the pandemic that included salary freezes or reductions, elimination or reduction of fringe benefits, and terminations or nonrenewals of faculty appointments. Finally, the secondary data analyses characterize long-standing economic crises in higher education—declining fiscal support, over-reliance on contingent faculty, growth of administrations, and spiraling institutional debt—and highlight the need for a New Deal for Higher Education, as called for by the AAUP, the American Federation of Teachers, and other allies.