Last year, through the leadership of Vice Provost Adrianna Kugler, we participated in a survey of the faculty conducted on many campuses across the country. The purpose of the survey was to measure satisfaction and clarity on several important domains of life as an academic. These include the role of teaching, research, and service; satisfaction with work resources, personnel policies, and staff benefits; support for interdisciplinary work and collaboration; the utility of mentoring, clarity, and effectiveness of the tenure and promotion processes; attitudes toward leadership; feelings about one’s department; and finally, reactions to degree of appreciation and recognition for accomplishments.
Most of the campuses attained response rates in the 40% range; Georgetown faculty achieved an overall 73% response rate. (Great support from faculty leaders and an incentive for a drawing for a new IPad probably helped achieve a high rate.)
The value of the survey for all of us is that we can learn how Georgetown faculty’s answers compare to those from other campuses.
First, we can look at what faculty on other campuses like and dislike about their campuses. U.S. faculty on surveyed campuses appear most satisfied with the reasonableness of the tenure process, with departmental collegiality, with their roles as teachers, with departmental leadership, and with the processes in place for promotion from associate to full professor. In contrast, faculty throughout the country appear less satisfied with support for interdisciplinary work, university personal and family policies, the adequacy of mentoring, the nature of research support, leadership from the president and provost, and salary levels.
On some issues Georgetown faculty are similar to those on other campuses. On a few we seem more satisfied than others–on personal and family policies, on health and retirement benefits, on satisfaction with the teaching role, and on departmental leadership and collegiality. On a few we report lower satisfaction than is typical–lower satisfaction with the tenure and promotion process, lower perceived support for interdisciplinary work, and less satisfaction with divisional leaders.
We’re analyzing the data now to check on variation across different types of faculty on their satisfaction toward different domains. For example, there seems to be evidence that non-tenure-line faculty report feeling less integrated with their colleagues than tenure-line faculty. There’s evidence that associate professors have distinctive concerns worth understanding further.
I’d like to present the findings to faculty throughout the campus to discuss in more detail sources of discontent and sources of satisfaction. We’ll set up different opportunities to have such dialogues. I’m sure there will be ideas forthcoming on how to make things better.
Being the survey geek that I am, I’m attracted to conducting such a survey repeatedly, as a way to monitor how we’re doing and to keep the administration accountable to doing all that it can to build a better place to do one’s work as a faculty member.