Internal Report Reveals Harvard Uses An Army of Non-Tenured Faculty To Teach One-Third Of All Courses

By Radhika Jain, Matthew T. Lowe, and Kevin J. Wu

David J. Malan ’99 (far right in the photo below), whose introductory computer course CS50 has seen enrollment more than triple since he took over four years ago, epitomizes Harvard’s recent emphasis on good teaching.

But that hasn’t guaranteed him a permanent job.

Even as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences embarks on a renewed effort to prioritize undergraduate education, it continues to operate under a system that looks beyond performance in the classroom to reward its faculty with academia’s ultimate form of job security: tenure.

Professors must demonstrate a combination of research and teaching to enter the tenure track, so for many instructors who, like Malan, spend most of their time teaching, tenure is not an option.

But these instructors also play an integral role in undergraduate education: according to an internal 2009 report on non-ladder faculty, this segment teaches nearly one-third of enrollments.

The document states that 61 percent of enrollments across FAS were taught by ladder faculty in 2008. Non-ladder faculty—which the report defines as lecturers, preceptors, and professors of the practice—taught 29 percent of enrollments, while the remaining 10 percent were taught by visiting faculty, professors

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