Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Over the last 30 years continued decline in state appropriations for public institutions has been accompanied by an increase in the use of part-time instruction. Community colleges have been particularly susceptible to both of these problems. Two-year institutions have less freedom than their larger counterparts to raise tuition rates and part time instructors constitute a larger percentage of their workforce. Less revenue has resulted in fewer resources to devote to instruction and student support. Part-time time instruction, on the whole, results in lower student retention and graduation rates.

This analysis intended to establish a connection between cuts to state appropriations and increases in part-time labor at community colleges in the post-Great Recession time period. Data was gathered for the years 2010, 2011, and 2012 on employment, finances, and enrollment for 464 institutions. Two analyses were conducted to better understand how these factors influenced the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty. A fixed-effects model was used to understand how changes in these variables influenced the ratio within institutions. A between-effects model was used to estimate the differences between institutions. Neither model showed state appropriations as being a statistically significant influence upon the part-time to full-time ratio. The fixed effects model indicated increases in tuition, local appropriations, and private grant or contract revenues could increase the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty. The between-effects model included state and urbanization-level variables. There were many significant state level effects, but of the variables previously tested in the fixed-effects model, only investments in instruction were found significant.

Policy suggestions can be drawn from this study despite the lack of a connection between state appropriations and the part-time to full-time instructor ratio. The significance of instruction expenditures in the second model highlights the importance of investment in an academic labor force. Substantial state-level effects provide opportunities for administrators and legislators to seek out best practices and policies from more successful states. Finally, increases in reliance on local appropriations and private grants may indicate mission creep and distraction from the importance of investing in instruction.