Feeling left behind in college is normal. It’s most likely the first time you’re away from home, and life seems to be moving on full steam ahead without you. Old friends find new friends, and habits seem to fade. But the last place you’d ever think of feeling left behind in college is by your professors.

Over the last few years, UE, and colleges around the country have been struggling with the retention of their professors and other staff members. At UE alone, almost every single department has lost at least one professor over the last 2 years, and for some, almost everyone has left leaving a single department chair. Turnover in any job is fairly normal, but in an article by Micheal Fried of Ithaka S&R titled The Great Resignation, he explains that studies from the summer of 2022 showed that turnover in higher education is 10% higher than turnover in any other career in the United States. This jump in resignation from professors and staff at universities seems to be giving some insight into how the higher education system really treats those within.

With just a quick Indeed search, you can find job postings for openings at the University of Evansville. According to the salaries section of the website, made up of the public salary knowledge and reported salaries, the average associate professor is making a mere $26.59 per hour, or just under $62,000 per year. This is 33% below the national average for this position. Being a professor is no easy task. Dealing with hundreds of students, countless meetings, and never truly having a day off due to grading and correspondence with students, and then being unfairly compensated for it, there’s no wonder why turnover seems to be so high.

In that same article by Micheal Fried, it was stated that, “many employees are leaving roles for potentially greener pastures, whether with another employer or temporarily leaving the workforce for anticipated future opportunities.” The communications department here at The University of Evansville is one of many suffering from the loss of professors. Joe Atkinson, who has worked at the university for 15+ years, recently left to work for newly elected Evansville mayor Stephanie Terry. When asked about why he chose to leave the university and pursue a career in local politics, Atkinson commented that, “I just thought it was a good opportunity,” very much following the national trend.

No one blames these professors for leaving; it’s obvious they’re doing what’s best for them. But where does it leave the students? Many students from across the university have stated their disappointment and dissatisfaction with the turnover rate here at UE. Junior Exercise Science major Tasha Wiseman said, “I’m only here for four years of undergrad, and I kind of feel like I am being left behind and with all of my professors leaving and having to start fresh each semester.” Building trust with your professors, especially at as small of a school as UE, is a major part of academic success.

Having to start over each semester doesn’t make for the best college experience, and when students are paying tuition that is upwards of what an associate professor makes yearly, it really doesn’t seem fair. Benton Simpson, Student Government Association President at UE, commented that he understands the frustration, but that students have a voice that they should use when it comes to hiring new staff. Simpson urges students to get involved in the searches for the openings on our campus, and to do this he suggests going to SGA meetings and joining the committees so your voice can be heard.

Feeling left behind in any aspect isn’t easy, especially when it comes to such a vulnerable subject as academia. Despite the urge to feel like it’s your fault, or like you and your peers weren’t good enough to keep your beloved professors, this is a national institutional problem and not your fault. Higher education is broken in so many ways, and until it’s fixed even the slightest, this problem is going to continue, and students are going to continue struggling.



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