National Survey Shows U of A Faculty with High Level of Job Satisfaction

University ranked in Top 30 percent for many faculty categories

Friday, August 01, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Tenured and tenure-track faculty at the University of Arkansas expressed a relatively high level of satisfaction in teaching, research, personal and family policies, facilities and work resources, departmental quality and senior leadership, among other areas, in their responses to the 2013-2014 Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) survey, conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The preliminary results place the University of Arkansas in the top 30 percent of participating institutions in nine broad categories. U of A faculty satisfaction levels also compare favorably — ranked first or second in seven broad categories — with five peer institutions.

 “These results are encouraging, especially when you factor in the tremendous enrollment increases the U of A has experienced in the past five years,” said Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We have made a concerted effort during this time to increase our teaching resources, keep the teaching load in line with our peer schools, improve salaries, upgrade and increase our teaching facilities and faculty support — while at the same time maintaining the high quality of our student body. The survey results tell us these efforts have been appreciated. The survey also confirms that we still have more to do.”

The broad category of “teaching” was a main area in which the U of A faculty satisfaction levels ranked in the top 30 percent of institutions. In response to specific questions related to the effects of enrollment growth, 81 percent of the faculty reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with “the portion of your time spent on teaching;” 79 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with “the number of courses you teach;” and 69 percent responded that they were satisfied or very satisfied with “the number of students in the classes you teach.” U of A faculty also expressed satisfaction with the university’s senior leadership, again placing in the top 30 percent of of the participating universities in this area.

“Chancellor Gearhart has focused his efforts on identifying and communicating a vision and developing a consensus on the goals for this institution, including the goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by the year 2021,” said Gaber. “This has clearly made a difference to our faculty. Along the same lines, Academic Affairs has emphasized communicating these campus priorities to our faculty, while explaining how our decisions and policy actions will help achieve our goals.”

The survey results compared faculty responses from nearly 100 colleges and universities nationwide. The results also included a comparison of faculty satisfaction levels at the U of A and five peer institutions: Auburn University, the University of Alabama, the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri and the University of Tennessee. These institutions are similar in size, geography, student quality and curriculum to the University of Arkansas. The preliminary results of the survey only compare the responses from tenured and tenure-track faculty in regards to the peer institutions.

U of A faculty showed lower satisfaction in other areas of the survey, including tenure and promotion clarity. However, these results still showed improvement over the satisfaction levels reported in the 2008-2009 COACHE survey, in which only pre-tenure U of A faculty participated. The current survey also showed a significant increase from the earlier survey in the level of satisfaction with salary as well as “reasonable tenure expectations in performance” as a colleague, campus citizen and community member.

“These results help us to recognize the need to do more to clarify the tenure process at both the college and institutional level,” said Gaber. “It is widely known in higher education that the faculty’s success and work climate depend greatly on their department leaders. This survey makes it clear we need to find more ways to support our department chairs. It is also obvious that we need to continue our efforts to improve our communication across campus to provide our faculty the information they want and need.

“To a degree this survey shows that the University of Arkansas is in transition — moving from a teaching institution with research to an institution committed to both research and teaching. Our job now is to make that transition as positive as possible.”

The COACHE survey was conducted among tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty, with a 48 percent response rate among U of A faculty. The average response rate among all institutions in the survey was 49 percent.  

The analysis of the preliminary report on tenured and tenure-track faculty is the first step in the university’s response to the COACHE survey. There is a wealth of information available through the full COACHE report, and in the coming months the university will evaluate the results, communicate information to faculty and administrators who can prioritize steps to actively work to improve the faculty experience.

A summary of the preliminary COACHE results will be posted as soon as available: http://oir.uark.edu/surveys/coache.html

Contacts:

Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor
Academic Affairs
479-575-5459, sgaber@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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