This post serves to offer some communications guidance for the COACHE partners with three weeks remaining in the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey period. We understand that many other priorities are in play right now: these points are offered strictly to reduce your cognitive load, not to add to it. As mentioned in Kiernan’s update last week, you do not have to do any more work.
With the sudden escalation in both public concern and genuine risk associated with COVID-19, COACHE’s team has been discussing the implications for faculty. As we discussed the issue, an important question that arose was, “Who might we be forgetting?” For us, the answer to that question was part-time faculty. As administrators grapple how to handle their institutions’ response to this global pandemic, here are some thoughts about why part-time faculty are an important consideration in these discussions and some questions that institutions might consider in their planning.... Read more about Considering Part-time Faculty in COVID-19 Response Planning
Several years ago, I observed here that the assistant, associate, and vice provosts and deans with institution-wide responsibility for faculty success (I call them “chief faculty affairs officers” or CFAOs) often find themselves alone on their campuses. Without a community of practice in academic personnel and faculty development, people in these roles “set sail to distant places” to find the professional advice and emotional support that fundraisers, admissions officers, and student affairs administrators (for example) find closer to home. At the time, there was no magnetic pole for faculty affairs professionals, so I offered links to several conferences and associations where they could piece together a peer network and learning agenda.
What leadership is required to help faculty do their very best work for our institutions?
That was the organizing question when, earlier this month, I served as Educational Chair to a second cohort of academic leaders in the Seminar on Leadership of the Faculty. The Seminar is a COACHE program I run with the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, with my disciplinary colleagues who are leading scholars of the professoriate, and with other outside-the-box thinkers. I started this institute because data I collect suggests that academic leaders struggle to be inventive, despite their training as faculty to be just that. One goal of the Seminar is to reconnect provosts and deans with that quality of inventiveness.
“What do the faculty think?” It's a question that governing boards and presidents ask routinely—or don't ask at their peril. It's also the question that, for nearly 15 years, has prompted nearly 300 colleges and universities to participate in the survey research project I direct to understand and assess the faculty experience.
But here's the problem: it's the wrong question. The seasoned college leader appreciates that there is no such thing as “a” faculty (“encamped just north of Armageddon,” according to Robert Zemsky) followed by a verb in the third-person singular. Rather, there are many faculties. Since Change's founding, the increasing diversity in the roles, demographics, and institutional homes of faculty is the most consequential factor bedeviling the leadership of the faculty enterprise and, therefore, any transformation of the academy.
2018 here at the Collaborative brought with it growth far surpassing our faculty surveys. We collaborated with the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education (HIHE) to launch the first ever Seminar on Leadership of the Faculty, a three-day workshop for academic leadership. An introduction between Harvard Club of New York, HIHE, and COACHE partners at the CUNY system led to a $100,000 grant for CUNY to invest in developing diverse faculty leadership. Data from the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey yielded an exploration of mid-career faculty, an going pursuit to prevent mid-career malaise and provide support. The Faculty Retention and Exit Survey revealed the risk that a “counteroffer culture” poses to faculties’ home institutions during salary negotiations. Finally, an overhaul of our data dissemination process has made it easier for researchers to access our data in order to implement institutional changes.
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.
The forthcoming book, Success After Tenure: Supporting Mid-Career Faculty, offers a unique perspective on how to support mid-career faculty. The book focuses on issues faced by mid-career faculty and examines innovative programs and models that can be used to support their professional development, as well as best practices for effective faculty engagement. COACHE recently hosted a webinar, “Success After Tenure: Lessons in Engaging Mid-Career Faculty”, which discussed the trends and themes around mid-career faculty that were unearthed in the book. Lead editor of the book, Vicki L. Baker; contributing author, Todd Benson; and COACHE partners and faculty development practitioners from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Anne Marie Canale and Cheryl Herdklotz, offered their own insights and perspectives on the issue.