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Academic pay cuts vs job cuts

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Hopefully the financial situation for universities next year will turn out to be less dire than many fear. And hopefully what cost-cutting measures are needed can largely be achieved by cutting down on non-academic "bloat" together with temporary reductions to discretionary budgets (turning research "travel" virtual, etc.).  But suppose that this isn't enough, and your department needs to spend less on academic salaries.  How should this be done, to minimize harm?Most universities appear to have already implemented a "hiring freeze" as a first step.  Contingent faculty may be the next to go.  This is all incredibly damaging, both for the individuals directly affected and for our academic disciplines more broadly.  It would seem far less damaging, and much more efficient, to look first for savings from the "haves" rather than the "have-nots".Immense gains are possible from encouraging retirement, as the most senior professors may earn several times what their more junior counterparts do (let alone contingent faculty).  But a hiring freeze is a major obstacle to this, at least if departments aren't assured that the tenure line will be promptly returned to them once the present crisis is past.My previous post set out the general case for beneficent retirement (with replacement). The strength of this general argument is magnified immensely in a financial crisis.  Next year is expected to have approximately zero academic jobs available.  The potential loss of philosophical talent for our discipline is heartbreaking (as will be the personal circumstances for many of those job-seekers). But, to put a slightly mercenary spin on it, this tragedy presents an incredible opportunity for some forward-looking university to invest in hiring their "pick of the crop".By offering 'academic successorships' in exchange for immediate retirements, universities would save far more money than they would with a hiring freeze, help to. . .

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