Since 2013, every two years, we mount a survey of full-time faculty on the main campus and the Qatar campus, using a web-based questionnaire organized by the Harvard School of Education. In doing this, we join Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, Tulane University, University of Rochester, University of Arizona, and University of Virginia, among others.
The survey is called the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Survey. The areas covered by the survey include the research environment and institutional support; teaching load and student quality; nature and distribution of service responsibilities; facilities and work resources; personal and family policies; health and retirement benefits; interdisciplinary work and collaboration; mentoring; tenure and promotion opportunities, clarity and reasonableness; recruitment and retention, and institutional governance and leadership.
I view this as a bit of a report card on the provost’s office. It has told us which aspects of faculty life are getting better and which are not. When concerns of faculty were evident in the statistical results, we assembled faculty task forces to ameliorate the problems. We mounted focus groups to get richer, qualitative information about important domains. We designed and implemented improvements in areas where we saw major problems. While there is always more work to do, we’ve made some progress on the clarity of tenure and promotion criteria, support for interdisciplinary scholarship, and mentoring for associate professors.
We’ve found the systematic measurement very useful. Use of the Harvard team to conduct the survey allowed us to assure faculty that administrators, like the provost, would never be able to associate answers with individual faculty members. Only statistical summaries of data are available to the provost’s office, deans, or unit heads. We sought transparency by giving presentations on the results of the survey to faculty throughout campus.
We want to continue using feedback directly from faculty, based on these measures, to hold ourselves accountable for the responsibilities of the provost’s office. We want to see whether things are getting better, staying the same, or getting worse.
Surveys become most useful with widespread participation by the faculty.
Please take a few moments to complete the web survey if you receive a request to do so. You can be assured that the many of your colleagues are participating; the results will be used, not just filed away. This is your chance to have a voice in the future of Georgetown.