The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Faculty Satisfaction Survey, administered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, allows for benchmarking the experiences of faculty members at the University of Delaware to those of colleagues at peer institutions. The survey measures a range of factors that are important to faculty, including support for research, teaching and service, the clarity of tenure and promotion processes, departmental engagement and collegiality, and shared governance.
The goal of the COACHE process is to improve faculty job satisfaction. The survey results provided a snapshot of faculty attitudes at a specific moment in time. We then explored those results, engaged stakeholders in conversations about them, and formulated actionable recommendations to build on our strengths and address concerns. Those recommendations are found on this page, grouped by these themes: Climate, Coaching, and Collaboration. The full report of the COACHE Committee contains the recommendations for action found on this page and also offers a discussion of the survey results and analysis that led to these recommendations.
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Climate is of primary importance. A poor climate is a chief reason for attrition, whereas a good climate promotes happiness and high achievement. We can do many things in response to the survey, but if we fail to improve the climate for faculty, we will not ultimately be successful.
Coaching is the key to improving and maintaining a good climate. For example, effective coaching can empower campus leaders, diversify the academic leadership, and promote faculty success. Effective coaching can also improve the climate by addressing issues of poor performance and uncollegial behavior. Building a culture of care and mentorship will promote and celebrate faculty success.
Collaboration is the foundation of both shared governance and working together to pursue a common mission in a complex organization. Honesty, candor, transparency, and consistency are the hallmarks of effective collaboration. It depends upon trust, clarity of roles, good communication, and a strong sense of a shared purpose. Collaboration also means both working together and equitably distributing and appropriately rewarding our work.
Outline of Recommendations: CLIMATE
1. Promote effective community-building and conflict resolution via bystander intervention and improvement of Ombuds functions.
a. Provide bystander intervention education and resources to all academic units (departments, schools, centers, and institutes).
b. Determine what roles an Ombuds could play to improve climate and assess how well the Ombuds function is currently being met.
c. Commit resources to ensure that the roles and offices fulfilling Ombuds function can effectively address complaints by University faculty and staff.
2. Audit current efforts aimed at improving climate (caucuses, Title IX, EthicsPoint reporting system, etc.)
a. Designate a committee, including faculty and staff, that will review these efforts annually.
b. Determine what efforts are being utilized, what efforts are effective, and what efforts need to be discontinued and/or revised
c. Create a fund to support department-level events and programming to increase departmental collegiality for informal mentoring, with specific emphasis on including women and underrepresented minorities.
d. Establish Professional Development Grants intended to support underrepresented minority faculty members’ professional development opportunities as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion or areas specific to the expertise of the faculty member.
3. Hold accountable faculty and staff whose conduct violates University policies as a clear signal that such behavior will not be tolerated.
a. Require periodic training to faculty regarding University policies pertaining to professional ethics, gender-based discrimination, and anti-discrimination.
b. Establish a practice of progressive discipline to enforce University policies.
c. Improve training and resources for department chairs and other academic administrators to effectively address workplace bullying and other forms of unprofessional and discriminatory conduct.
a. Develop a university-wide annual event to formally recognize faculty achievements.
b. Promote faculty nominations for prestigious honors and awards.
a. Conduct a focus group of new faculty hires towards the end of their first semester- Ask them
b. Continued investment in services/workshops and/or trainings geared towards increasing knowledge on hiring and retaining diverse faculty
c. Use a cohort hiring process to recruit and retain excellent and diverse faculty.
d. Improve HR support to assist faculty search committees to hire and retain under-represented minority faculty.
a. Establish a Work/Life Resource Center to assist faculty at all stages of their career to connect to policies and resources that promote sustainable wellbeing.
b. Benchmark services and policies against peer institutions to identify opportunities to better support faculty with caregiver responsibilities.
a. Chairs and deans review salary data annually to ensure equity in pay.
b. Review the process for allocating special salary increases.
c. Regularly monitor special salary awards to ensure equitable outcomes.
Outline of Recommendations: COACHING
a. Provide campus-wide guidance to chairs and directors on how to evaluate and reward faculty members who serve as mentors.
b. Offer annual workshops and other resources to promote best practices in faculty mentoring.
c. Streamline and promote current campus-wide mentoring opportunities in order to serve more faculty.
a. Develop a formal, campus-wide mentoring program for the transition from Associate to Full.
b. Provide Chairs with the tools necessary to effectively counsel faculty on what is needed for advancement beyond the Associate level.
c. Review departmental P&T policies for clarity on the criteria for advancement beyond the Associate level.
a. Create explicit linkages between annual appraisals, periodic peer reviews, and post-tenure reviews so that they ensure consistency with criteria for promotion and create strong and honest feedback loops as faculty move through their career paths.
b. Improve the peer review process for contract renewals and post-tenure review, including establishment of a common university timetable and a revision of 4.3.5 of the Faculty Handbook to clarify the goals and expectations of the process.
c. Offer better policy guidance for evaluating faculty members who fall outside the “traditional” profile of a discipline specific scholar-teacher who produces research while teaching a limited number of classes and students. Examples: Faculty whose workload consists of high levels of teaching, advising, clinical, administrative, or service work. And faculty whose scholarship expectations fall outside the traditional outlets and disciplinary boundaries.
d. Develop a template for department P&T policy documents in order to make P&T guidance more accessible, internally consistent, and streamlined (i.e., lower levels should specify those elements that are discipline/field/unit specific without repeating guidelines from higher levels).
e. Continue to develop more effective and equitable assessments of teaching quality.
f. Identify best practices for the assessment and valuation of service by instituting a working group (at the university or college level) to develop ideas for how this can be done.
g. Review and update promotion and tenure criteria with an emphasis on qualitative impact and non-traditional metrics of achievement.
a. Assess current model of cohort training for new department chairs for efficacy.
b. Provide regular annual programming for department chairs focused on successful leadership, including navigating issues of equity and inclusion, properly serving as evaluative mentors for faculty, and managing difficult conversations that address conflict in a constructive way.
c. Revive the Chair’s Handbook as a resource for guidance on policies and practice.
5. Promote greater opportunities and inclusiveness for leadership development and roles among all faculty.
a. Diversify the leadership pipeline by providing leadership training and focused mentoring for groups of faculty who have historically been underrepresented in positions of leadership.
b. Revive the proposal for the President’s Leadership Academy to build institutional knowledge and cultivate future academic leaders.
c. Offer short-term appointments embedded in senior leadership offices to allow faculty to explore opportunities.
d. Promote internal and external opportunities to develop leadership capacities.
Outline of Recommendations: COLLABORATION
1. Define and reward faculty service, including consideration of extra compensation for extraordinary service.
a. Require departments to develop dashboards to make service work by each faculty member visible to promote equity in workloads.
b. Explore the options of overload compensation and service sabbaticals for faculty who do a disproportionate amount of service.
c. Training: Faculty may need to be coached on how to describe their service in their appraisals/dossiers. If you want “credit” for service, do more than list committee membership. Describe your involvement, especially any specific outcomes/products/achievements that have resulted from the committee or project.
a. Establish a university-level working group to develop a template for updated workload policy documents, drawing from best practices developed through the Faculty Workload and Rewards Project at the University of Maryland.
b. Support department chairs in implementing metrics for tracking and quantifying faculty workload, including strategies for ensuring transparency such as faculty work activity dashboards.
a. Review administrative support for functions such as purchasing, Concur, and grant preparation and management to ensure quality and consistency of services across all academic units.
b. Identify opportunities for staff support and operational efficiencies for labor-intensive committees such as faculty and staff hiring processes and promotion and tenure review.
4. Ensure clarity, consistency and communication of institutional priorities from senior leadership.
a. Align decision making with the stated vision of the university and communicate and clarify how key decisions align with that vision.
b. Create decision-making structures and a budget model to empower leaders at all levels to make resourcing decisions that align with the needs of their units.
c. Maintain commitments to decisions made – around budget allocations in order to ensure trust and stability of how leaders can allocate decisions.
a. Review administrative processes to better align decision-making authority with responsibilities.
b. Improve visible support among senior administration (deans, provost, and president) for efforts chairs make to address climate issues, especially bullying and harassing conduct.