Skidmore College, a liberal arts college in upstate New York, wanted to understand climate and leadership challenges within their academic departments. As faculty groups rarely had the opportunity to collaborate, it became increasingly difficult for faculty and administrators to address shared challenges in a unified manner and arrive at meaningful, campus-wide solutions. In an absence of a common group that could bridge this gap, Skidmore College partnered with the COACHE to conduct the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey on their campus.
After the survey was completed, the college decided to use the data to identify critical concerns and faculty issues. The leaders at Skidmore College recruited a team of full-time faculty members from every department and rank across campus to discuss the data. The team, who became known as the “COACHE Collaborators,” identified three areas that needed immediate attention. They then followed up by gathering feedback from their respective departments and colleagues.
The COACHE Collaborators met three times during the academic year for an open dialogue and honest communication during the process. Through these interactions, everyone had an opportunity to voice their opinion, and decisions were made collectively. The discussions indicated that every department had a different way of functioning – some encouraged open and free discussions while others had more competitive environments. This feedback was helpful in pinpointing critical on-campus and faculty issues, and creating policy solutions for tangible issues.
The survey started as a way of improving departmental climates, however, Skidmore College used this opportunity to create a lasting cultural shift and build effectual policies.