2020 Annual Report


2020 Year in Review

The Collaborative on Academic Careers
in Higher Education

Reflections on the Year

“Don’t forget what you came here for.”

This is the advice one longtime provost and COACHE partner offers other chief academic officers who are in a tough spot.

Facing a new crisis everyday – and a pandemic all year, and racial injustice over a lifetime – a leader, indeed any citizen of the academy can lose their way, perhaps their hope. 

Like everyone in 2020, we at COACHE were challenged to stay the course and at the same time to reexamine our past. What did COACHE come here for? 

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Our founders’ sentiment that faculty diversity has been “too little for too long” is as frustratingly relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Whiteness still reigns a generation later, soothed by the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism” that is higher education’s hallmark. We have certainly made progress, but race is the inexorable force of American history; its gravity is inescapable. Last year, we recognized that however well-meaning, COACHE has often been complicit in sharing the deficit narrative that leads to faculty policies and programs designed to “fix” minoritized faculty, not the broken structures that exclude so many of them. We implored our partners and prospective partners to enlist COACHE data and engage white faculty in becoming aware of and exercising their privilege to reform recruitment, workloads, rewards, recognitions, and departures.

In our 2019 Year in Review, we promised to sharpen our faculty welfare and equity work. “We are more emboldened than ever,” we wrote, “to spotlight uncomfortable insights about the ways in which our colleges and universities preserve the status quo.” Despite a year of calamities—some felt very personally—our team delivered on this promise across all four domains of COACHE’s research practice partnership.

This Year in Review captures how COACHE is reclaiming what we came here for. But are we satisfied? Of course not. As we listen to, learn from, and lift up our most marginalized partners, scholars, and allies, we will lean on higher education’s interests to expose and eliminate inequities, to interrogate parochial definitions of excellence, and to advance a more just and inclusive academy. We are unwilling to postpone these goals, and we choose to do these things together “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Kiernan Mathews, Ed.D
Former Executive Director & Principal Investigator




Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey


faculty across 39 institutions


response rate

25 minutes

average time to complete the survey

In COACHE’s 2019 Year in Review, we laid out our intention to focus the next year’s analysis on equity in the academy. Little did we know that the events of 2020 would make the subject more urgent than ever.  

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The quantitative and qualitative data from our Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey demonstrate that faculty can share disciplines, departments, and institutions—yet have divergent, and often inequitable, experiences depending on their identities.

As institutions face waves of change in the wake of COVID-19, the work of the academy will be in making sure that those changes do not further disadvantage faculty members from underrepresented groups.

Our data can be a useful tool in helping institutions take thoughtful action to reduce harm to these faculty members.


In 2020, our analysis around equity focused on three main areas:

The Illusion of Inclusion

Survey results illuminate and demonstrate disparities in perceptions around workplace diversity and inclusion efforts and progress.

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Our analysis shows that white faculty are much more likely to agree (73 percent) than Black faculty (55 percent) that there is visible leadership for the support and promotion of diversity on their campus. By an even wider margin, more white faculty (78 percent) than Black faculty (58 precent) agree that their department colleagues are committed to supporting and promoting diversity and inclusion in the department.

Read the full analysis

Faculty with Disabilities

Over the past two years, the survey has incorporated questions about disability status and disclosure.

Read more

The answers of those diagnosed with a disability exposed a divide between the attitudes and experiences of those who disclosed their disability status and those who did not.

One in ten faculty members with a visible disability reported that they had not disclosed their disability to anyone on campus. Meanwhile, one in three faculty members with invisible disabilities said the same. These two groups also had differing responses to questions about workload, work/life balance, and departmental fit.

View the full infographic

Childcare for Faculty 

52.6% of survey respondents are parents. These faculty have faced particular challenges during the pandemic as they’ve navigated childcare alongside their professional responsibilities. 

Read more

We found a patchwork of responses among institution and individual faculty, from summer “Zoomcare” for faculty members’ children at the University of Chicago to a suggestion that faculty note opportunities declined due to COVID on their CVs. We will be keeping an eye on responses to questions about institutional support for balancing work and family responsibilities in the 2021 Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey.

Read the blog post


Technical Report

Examining the Impacts of COVID-19 on Survey Data

During 2020’s survey administration period, many of our partners made the difficult decision to transition to online instruction, leaving their faculty scrambling to re-work their pedagogy and adapt to new technologies. This naturally raised questions about the impacts of COVID-19 on the year’s survey data. To address these concerns, COACHE commissioned a study to analyze the impact of the pandemic on each of the survey benchmarks. 

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The study divided faculty into three groups: those who participated in the survey occurred before March 9, 2020 (pre-transition), those who did not participate until after March 23 (post-transition), and those “in-transition” faculty who participated between March 9 and March 23.

The analysis found that differences in pre-transition and overall benchmark scores for the 2020 cohort ranged from 0.024 to 0.065. The findings showed that any differences in the scores due to disruptions from the pandemic are not significant enough to be taken into account in strategic planning.

Read the full analysis


Expanding Reporting for Deans

In 2020, we launched Deans’ Comparative Reports, a set of data tables for Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey partners that provides school or college leadership insight into their own faculty compared to other faculty within their institution and at similar institutions. 

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Partners can choose among three tiers of reporting. The first tier compares faculty at one school to faculty at the other schools within the partner institution. The second tier builds on that, comparing that institution to the full cohort of similar schools, and the third tier compares the partner school to the faculty of five other institutions of their choice. Institutions can choose to receive reports for any or all of their schools and can select a different tier of reporting for each school.

Read more about the reporting updates


Faculty Retention & Exit Survey

Our Faculty Retention and Exit Survey asks departing, non-retiring faculty about how they are treated by their institutions during the exit process.

Fully 19% of survey respondents, who are leaving voluntarily, reported being treated somewhat or much worse after their decision to accept the outside offer.

Overall, faculty departures are more likely to be treated worse by their department chairs than by anyone else (dean, colleagues, or administrative staff) once their departure intentions are known. 

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When faculty departures are involuntary, the situation requires particular thoughtfulness. We mined our Faculty Retention and Exit Survey data for best practices on conducting faculty departures with an ethic of care.

Our recommendations, published in Inside Higher Ed, argue that administrators must make the departure process clear, must humanize the transition, and must put community before bureaucracy.

Exit and Retention Survey Results

How were you treated by your department chair after your decision to accept the external offer?
(Compared to how you were treated beforehand)


How were you treated by colleagues in your department after your decision to accept the external offer?
(Compared to how you were treated beforehand)


  • Partner Spotlight: Brooklyn College

    When Brooklyn College received its Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey results, administrators knew that faculty wouldn’t be satisfied with a top-down rollout of the data. Instead, the college devised an approach that incorporated faculty into the data-sharing process. 

    Administrators set up a task force of 12 people—eight faculty members, three administrators, and one staff person. The task force members came from different schools within the institution and brought different approaches to interpreting and communicating data.
    When the task force members brought the data back to their own schools, they did so through their preferred lenses. The college-wide town hall to discuss the survey results emphasized both the numbers and the story they told.
    When the pandemic hit, administrators were just beginning to collect faculty feedback on the survey experience. As Brooklyn College continues to share, interpret, and make use of its survey results, faculty will remain an integral part of the conversation. 


The selective sharing of COACHE survey data with scholars of higher education is critical to our impact as a research practice partnership. 

In 2020, these research partners saw their COACHE analyses appear in several new, peer-reviewed publications.

Faculty Perceptions of Work-Life Balance: The Role of Marital/Relationship and Family Status

Higher Education 

Nida Denson, Western Sydney University
Katalin Szelényi, University of Massachusetts, Boston 

This study uses Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey data to look at the experiences of single faculty members. The researchers found that single faculty members report lower levels of work-life balance than married or partnered faculty. These findings call for colleges and universities to directly address the work-life struggles of single faculty members with and without children. The findings also underscore the importance of institutional support for making personal/family obligations and an academic career compatible for all faculty.

Read the full paper

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Women Faculty in STEM Disciplines: Experiences with the Tenure Process and Departmental Practices

Humanity & Society

Rodica Lisnic, University of Arkansas
Anna Zajicek, University of Arkansas
Brinck Kerr, University of Arkansas

Using Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey data, this study explores predictors of perceptions of tenure clarity for faculty in STEM and non-STEM fields. The study examines  whether assessment of fairness in tenure decisions and evaluations, messages about tenure requirements, mentoring, and relationships with peers have a similar effect on assessment of tenure clarity across four groups (women and men in STEM and women and men in non-STEM).

The results indicate that women in STEM fields are less likely to perceive the expectations for tenure as clear or to assess tenure decisions and evaluations as fair, mentoring as effective, and relationships with peers as satisfactory.

Read the paper

Press & Media

Chronicle of Higher Education,

April 9, 2020

Faculty Members Fear Pandemic Will Weaken Their Ranks

Inside Higher Ed,

April 21, 2020

No Room of One’s Own

Inside Higher Ed,

October 20, 2020

How They Leave


Inside Higher Ed,

August 11, 2020

Babar in the Room

The Chronicle of Higher Education,

November 18, 2020

The Long Tail of an Unprecedented Crisis

Looking Ahead

Each year COACHE reflects on the best approaches to serving our partner institutions and their faculty. More than any year before, we have a great deal to consider.

After nearly two decades as a founding member, Kiernan Mathews has moved on to another opportunity. This presents us with an opportunity to reimagine our work. As we do that, you can expect two things. First, our team will be working diligently to improve processes so we can scale the high-quality research and support that you’ve come to expect. More importantly, we plan to spend more time listening to our partner institutions and our research community about the opportunities that lie ahead. As we look to the future, we look forward to continuing to work in tandem with practitioners, researchers, and partners to address the pressing issues facing the faculty. 

  • Kiernan Mathews
    Kiernan Mathews

    Executive Director and Principal Investigator, Emeritus
  • Todd Benson
    R. Todd Benson

    Executive Director and Principal Investigator
  • Obie Azubuike
    Nduka Obinna (“Obie”) Azubuike

    Application Developer 
  • Amal Kumar
    Amal Kumar

    Doctoral Fellow 

  • Giang Pham

    Financial and Operations Associate 

  • Lauren Scungio

    Assistant Director of Marketing and Engagement 

2020 Student Support Staff

  • Dominic Amaral
    B.S. Candidate, Wentworth Institute of Technology 
  • Dominique Foster
    Ph.D. Candidate, North Carolina State University 
  • Chris Harrop
    Ed.M. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Sara Polsky
    Ed.M. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Mai Hu Vang
    Ph.D. Candidate, University of Massachusetts Boston

COACHE Leadership

National Advisory Council

  • Susan Carlson 
    Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Programs 
    University of California Office of The President 
  • Debasish Dutta 
    University of Michigan-Flint 
  • Patrick Farrell 
    Former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 
    Lehigh University 
  • Tracey Hucks 
    Provost and Dean of the Faculty 
    Colgate University 
  • Joseph Klesner 
    Senior Adviser to the President for Strategic Planning 
    Kenyon College 
  • Maurie McInnis 
    Stony Brook University 
  • Maria Pallavicini 
    Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs 
    University of the Pacific 
  • Vita Rabinowitz 
    Former Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs 
    Hunter College 

Faculty Steering Committee

  • Monica Higgins
    Kathleen McCartney Professor of Education Leadership 
    Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Richard Light 
    Carl H. Pforzheimer, Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning 
    Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Judith McLaughlin 
    Senior Lecturer on Education 
    Educational Chair, Harvard Seminar for New Presidents 
    Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Joseph Zolner 
    Adjunct Lecturer on Education 
    Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Keith Collar
    (Ex Officio) 
    Associate Dean for Strategic Partnerships 
    Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Kiernan Mathews 
    (Ex Officio) 
    Executive Director and Principal Investigator, COACHE 
    Educational Chair, Seminar on Leadership of the Faculty 

National Advisory Council Emeriti

  • Beverly Davenport 
    Former Chancellor 
    University of Tennessee at Knoxville 
  • Gertrude Fraser 
    Former Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment and Retention 
    Associate Professor of Anthropology 
    University of Virginia 
  • Junius Gonzales 
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 
    New York Institute of Technology 
  • Robert Groves 
    Executive Vice President and Provost 
    Georgetown University 
  • Jeremy Haefner 
    University of Denver 
  • Mark McNamee 
    Senior Vice President and Provost Emeritus 
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 
  • Suzanne Ortega 
    Council of Graduate Schools 
  • Muriel Poston 
    Former Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs 
    Professor of Environmental Analysis 
    Pitzer College 
  • Andrew Shennan 
    Provost and Dean of the College 
    Wellesley College 

Our Partners

Current Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey Partners 


  • Auburn University 
    2019; 2016; 2013; 2010; 2008; 2005 
  • Baylor University 
  • Bowling Green State University 
    2018; 2014; 2012 
  • Central Michigan University 
  • CUNY Graduate School and University Center 
    2018; 2014 
  • Florida International University 
    2019; 2016; 2013; 2010 
  • Florida State University 
    2020; 2017; 2013 
  • George Mason University 
  • Georgetown University 
    2019; 2017; 2015; 2013 
  • Georgia State University 
    2019; 2010 
  • Indiana University 
    2018; 2015; 2012; 2009; 2005 
  • Iowa State University 
    2020; 2016; 2013; 2009; 2005
  • Louisiana State University 
  • Missouri University of Science & Technology 
    2019; 2015; 2008 
  • North Carolina State University 
    2020; 2017; 2014; 2011; 2008; 2005 
  • Old Dominion University 
    2018; 2015; 2012; 2009 
  • Rochester Institute of Technology 
    2018; 2015; 2012 
  • Rutgers University 
  • Texas Tech University 
    2018; 2016; 2005 
  • University of California–Davis
    2020; 2016; 2012
  • University of Central Florida 
    20; 2017; 2014 
  • University of Connecticut 
    2019; 2014; 2010; 2006 
  • University of Denver 
  • University of Louisville 
  • University of Maryland 
  • University of Massachusetts–Amherst 
  • University of Missouri–Columbia 
    2018; 2015; 2012; 2008 
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
    2020; 2017; 2014; 2011; 2008; 2005 
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte 
    2020; 2017; 2014; 2011; 2008; 2005 
  • University of North Texas 
    2020; 2017; 2010; 2008 
  • University of Pittsburgh 
    2018; 2015 
  • University of South Carolina 
    2018; 2007 
  • University of South Florida 
  • University of Tennessee Knoxville 
    2020; 2017; 2014; 2011; 2009; 2006 
  • University of Texas at Arlington 
  • University of Texas at Austin 
    2019; 2016 
  • University of Texas at El Paso 
  • University of the Pacific 
    2019; 2014 
  • University of Virginia 
    2019; 2015; 2012; 2008; 2005 
  • Vanderbilt University 
    2019; 2015 
  • Virginia Commonwealth University 
    2018; 2014; 2008; 2006 
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 
    2019; 2016; 2012; 2009; 2006 
  • Wichita State University 
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute 
    2020; 2016; 2013 


  • Bernard M. Baruch College 
    2018; 2014; 2009 
  • Brooklyn College 
    2018; 2014; 2009 
  • City College of New York 
    2018; 2014; 2009 
  • College of Staten Island 
    2018; 2014; 2011; 2009 
  • CUNY Graduate School of Journalism 
    2018; 2014 
  • CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy 
  • CUNY School of Law at Queens College 
    2018; 2014 
  • Hunter College 
    2018; 2014; 2011; 2009 
  • James Madison University 
    2019; 2015; 2011; 2008 
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    2018; 2014; 2011; 2009 
  • Lehman College 
    2018; 2014; 2011; 2009 
  • Manhattan College 
  • North Carolina Central University 
    2020; 2014; 2011; 2008; 2005
  • Queens College 
    2018; 2014; 2011; 2009; 2007 
  • Radford University 
    2018; 2015; 2012 
  • San José State University 
  • University of Houston–Clear Lake 
    2019; 2015 


  • Agnes Scott College 
  • Amherst College 
    2019; 2016; 2012; 2006 
  • Babson College 
  • Centre College 
  • College of the Holy Cross
    2020; 2014; 2011; 2006 
  • Davidson College 
    2019; 2005 
  • Fisk University 
  • Harvey Mudd College 
    2019; 2016 
  • Juniata College 
  • Kenyon College 
    2020; 2017; 2014; 2011; 2008; 2005 
  • Medgar Evers College 
    2018; 2014; 2009 
  • Mills College 
  • Mount Holyoke College 
    2019; 2014; 2011; 2008 
  • Muhlenberg College 
  • New York City College of Technology 
    2018; 2014; 2011; 2008 
  • Ohio Wesleyan University 
  • Rollins College 
  • University of Richmond 
    2018; 2015; 2012; 2009; 2006  
  • Ursinus College 
  • Washington and Lee University 
  • Wellesley College 
    2019; 2012; 2007 
  • Wofford College 
  • York College 
    2018; 2014; 2009 

Community Colleges

  • Amarillo College 
  • Borough of Manhattan Community College 
    2018; 2014 
  • Bronx Community College 
    2018; 2014 
  • Hostos Community College 
    2018; 2014 
  • Kingsborough Community College 
    2018; 2014 
  • LaGuardia Community College 
    2018; 2014 
  • Queensborough Community College 
    2018; 2014 
  • Stella and Charles Guttman Community College 

Current Faculty Retention and Exit Survey Partners

  • Auburn University 
    2020; 2019; 2018; 2017; 2016 
  • Baylor University 
  • Emory University 
    2020; 2019 
  • George Mason University 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • Iowa State University 
  • Rochester Institute of Technology 
    2020; 2019 
  • Tufts University 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • University of California–Berkeley
  • University of California–Davis
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–Irvine
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–Los Angeles
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–Merced
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–Riverside
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–San Diego
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–San Francisco
  • University of California–Santa Barbara
    2020; 2018, 2017; 2016
  • University of California–Santa Cruz
  • University of Cincinnati 
    2020; 2019; 2018; 2017; 2016 
  • University of Connecticut 
    2020; 2019 
  • University of Denver 
    2020; 2019 
  • University of Nebraska–Kearney 
    2020; 2019; 2018
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • University of Nebraska–Omaha 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • University of South Carolina 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • University of Tennessee–Knoxville 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • University of Texas–Austin 
    2020; 2019; 2018; 2017 
  • University of Texas–San Antonio 
    2020; 2019; 2018 
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison 
    2020; 2019 
  • Virginia Commonwealth University 
    2020; 2019; 2018; 2017 
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 
    2020; 2019; 2018 

For more information on enrolling your institution in either of our faculty surveys, please email coache@gse.harvard.edu