Survey says: faculty displeased

By Campus Editor. Connor Carynski

Results from a new full-time faculty survey reveal that a majority of faculty members are dissatisfied with Columbia’s professional development funding, administrative leadership and current salaries.

The survey, administered April 14–25 and completed by 72 percent of all faculty members, was designed with help from former Faculty Liaison for the Board of Trustees Pan Papacosta, Senior Associate Provost Suzanne Blum Malley and members of both the Faculty Affairs Committee and Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.

Joan Giroux, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee and associate professor in the Art and Art History Department, said the survey, which was conducted for the first time this year, is considered a pilot program that will be refined and administered again in the Spring 2018 Semester. Although the updated survey is expected to yield better data, the information received this year is still useful to faculty members, she added.

The survey—which consisted of 63 questions regarding salary, college resources, leadership, direction and more—was designed to provide information about the average experience of college faculty members, as reported Sept. 14 by The Chronicle.

Results from the survey are expected to be shared with members of the Office of the Provost and the Board of Trustees by current Faculty Representative for the Board Andrew Causey.

“I hope the administration and the board of trustees pay careful attention and listen to the kinds of concerns that are raised about issues that faculty are concerned about,” Giroux said.

Results of the survey state 71 percent of faculty members, 225 of 309, are dissatisfied with funding for professional development, such as conventions and workshops, while 23 percent are satisfied and 6 percent are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. The survey also shows about 67 percent of faculty members are pleased with leadership at the chair level while about 35 percent are satisfied with leadership at the administrative level.

The survey also inquired into whether faculty members intend to leave the college in the near future and if they are currently looking for academic positions elsewhere. Eighty-five members stated they plan on staying with the college and are not looking for other positions and 38 stated they are actively looking for other positions and plan to leave the college soon. Thirteen faculty members indicated they were looking for other positions but had no intention of leaving, nine said they plan on leaving the college but are not looking at other positions, and remaining faculty declined to answer the questions.

Papacosta recommended in the 2016–2017 academic year that a faculty survey be created to identify trends of concern or satisfaction among faculty members and how they change overtime, according to Giroux.

Greg Foster-Rice, associate professor in the Photography Department and former Faculty Senate president, said faculty surveys have been conducted at the college in the past, but they contained information that was difficult to compare year to year because the questions were either too broad or narrow. The new survey was designed to contain questions on topics that would remain relevant and could be asked every year, he added.

“I fully anticipate that it will be used in subsequent years,” Foster-Rice said. “I anticipate that there is the potential for additional questions to it, but one of the aspects of it is that for it to have value longitudinally the questions have to stay more or less the same.”

Foster-Rice said 72 percent is an extremely high response rate and is representative of faculty members’ interest in having an outlet to voice their concerns.

Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden said in a Sept. 29 emailed statement to The Chronicle via the News Office

that his office will continue to work with faculty to improve the survey and explore ways to enhance faculty experiences at the college.

“The pilot survey provides valuable, preliminary input from full-time faculty members and reflects our yearlong conversations with the Faculty Senate,” Wearden said in the statement. “I am pleased that, in many ways, we anticipated our faculty’s needs ahead of the survey’s findings, and have already taken significant steps toward establishing programs that enhance professional development, and recognize scholarly andcreative endeavors.”

Giroux said the survey lacked a list of action items for the Board of Trustees and the provost to accomplish.

“[Providing action items] is actually a next step that we, as Faculty Senate, should try to do,” Giroux said. “We should try to look at the results of the surveys that we’re getting, the next time we do it and [ask] what would be recommendations of actionable items that we could express to the administration and to the Board of Trustees that we would like to see as a result of this.”

Hilary Sarat-St. Peter, assistant professor in the English and Creative Writing Department and member of the Faculty Senate’s Executive Committee, who contributed to drafting the survey, said faculty members were interested in creating a survey to identify faculty satisfaction and morale.

“Members of faculty were saying [they] want to know how everybody is doing [and that they] would like a survey,” Sarat-St. Peter said. “The faculty themselves were interested in surveying faculty regarding a variety of issues and then the executive committee, in our conversations with each other and the provost’s office, realized that the survey was a good opportunity to determine how faculty are doing in respect to the Strategic Plan so the institution is making these changes.”