Monday, February 22, 2010

Trends Impacting Millersville University

Based on Millersville University Fact Book data from Fall 2000-Fall 2008, Millersville has increased the number of students faster than it is hiring faculty to teach (1). Student-Faculty ratios have increased, yet due to the significant increase in temporary part-time faculty, the rate of increase in “published” student-faculty ratios is small (6,7). There is a much larger increase in student-faculty ratios when one looks at the number of students relative to full-time permanent faculty and a significant increase in the likelihood that students will be taught by temporary instructors (8,9). In contrast to published statements on Millersville's website, the MU Fact Books indicate that the number of full-time permanent faculty has decreased (2,4).

In order to keep pace with increases in enrollment, the university has hired more temporary instructor rank faculty (3,4). Relatively to tenured and tenure track faculty, temporary instructor rank faculty are generally less credentialed and experienced. Although there are competent temporary instructors teaching on campus, temporary instructors have little to no incentive to invest additional time in university service, scholarship, or student advisement beyond teaching their contracted courses.

In addition, data from the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE) indicate that today's students are bearing significantly more of the cost of their education than students of just a few years ago. Hence, while paying more and being taught, advised, and mentored by fewer permanent full-time faculty, students are complaining more about crowded classrooms, computer labs and facilities, more students per faculty academic advisor, and increased difficulty finding classes during registration.

Despite hiring less expensive faculty labor resources, there is no evidence of any reduction in costs passed on to students. One explanation is that the number of executive and professional staff has increased faster than enrollment (5,11). During this 8 year period, the university hired 41 additional faculty members, all of which, on net, were temporary instructor faculty (most part-time)(4). Also during this period, the university hired 39 additional executive and professional personnel.

Combine all of these trends and the outlook for Millersville University to maintain its reputation as a competitive, quality, public higher education institution is in jeopardy.

Fall 2000-Fall 2008:

  1. Enrollment at MU is up 14.2% on an FTE basis.
  2. Full Time Permanent Faculty are down 4%
  3. Temporary Faculty are up 66%
  4. 41 new faculty employees were added over this 8 year period. On net, 100% are temporary faculty and temporary employees replaced an additional 21 positions that were full time or part time permanent in Fall 2000
  5. Executive and Professional staff increased 20.5%
  6. Fall 2000: Student-to-Faculty ratio = 16.8 to 1; the Student-to-Exec&Prof staff ratio = 36.1 to 1
  7. Fall 2008: Student-to-Faculty ratio = 18.4 to 1; the Student-to-Exec&Prof staff ratio = 34.2 to 1 (more students per faculty member while more executive and professional staff per student)
  8. Fall 2000: Student-to-Full Time Permanent Faculty member ratio = 20.8; Fall 2008: Student-to-Full Time Permanent Faculty member ratio = 24.0 (15.6% increase which may be a better measure of the actual impact of increasing student/faculty ratios)
  9. Fall 2000: Student-to-Temporary Faculty member ratio = 73.0; Fall 2008: Student-to-Temporary Faculty member ratio = 50.2 (31.2% decrease which translates into a significant increase in the likelihood that a student is taught by temporary faculty members).
  10. In Fall 2000, there were 3 temporary faculty to every 10 tenured or tenure track faculty. In Fall 2008, there were 5 temporary faculty to every 10 tenured or tenure track faculty, an increase of 71%.
  11. In Fall 2000, the percentage of executive and professional staff to tenured or tenure track faculty was 59% and in Fall 2008 it was 73.4%, a 24% in 8 years.

The statistics above are from the Millersville University Fact Books published online at  This site is accessible without login if you are on the university network.  If outside the university network, you will have to request login credentials from Institutional Research.  This is public information.  Most of the statistics reflect the period Fall 2000-Fall 2008.  I encourage all readers to review the data themselves and report any errors or suggest alternative interpretations.


FTE: "full time equivalent" students measures enrollment at the university based on counting the number of full time students (30 credit hours in an academic year for undergrad and 24 hrs for graduate students). Therefore, two students, each attending the university for 15 credit hours over an academic year are counted as 1 FTE.

Full Time Permanent Faculty: 99% of these faculty are either tenured or tenure track. These faculty are eligible for promotion subject to review of their qualifications in a competitive process. These faculty are expected to engage in scholarship and university service.

Temporary Faculty: 85% of temporary faculty are part time. These faculty are are generally less likely to have a terminal degree, are generally less experienced teachers, have little or no expectation of scholarship, and are less likely to be involved in university service. Temporary faculty do not receive benefits.

Executive and Professional staff: These employees include executive management, deans, and professional employees of, for example, the Registrar, Bursar, Finance and Administration, Personnel, Human Resources, Admissions, and Financial Aid.

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