COACHE has completed the pilot phase of the first multi-institutional survey of faculty retention and departure. Until now, there has been no systematic, coordinated effort for like-minded universities to collaborate in research design or data analysis to develop a common understanding of faculty mobility. Beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, COACHE partner institutions are poised to make significant improvements in faculty exit management through a sustained commitment to this applied research.
In expanding the Collaborative, COACHE seeks new partners who share our goals: (a) to standardize, as much as possible across many institutions, the data collected and stored about faculty upon their departure; and (b) to understand the causes and patterns of faculty mobility.
Together, we will develop the data capacity and deploy a survey instrument to capture the experiences of faculty who face the prospect of leaving their universities. While administrative databases will help us to capture some of the costs of faculty exit and retention, the survey ties these data to important aspects of the exit and retention process, including:
- the factors influencing faculty decisions to stay or to accept external offers;
- the duration, progression, and observations of the job search and transition; and
- the qualities and importance of external offers and counteroffers.
With the guidance of subject matter experts and an advisory group of campus administrators, COACHE created the Faculty Retention and Exit Survey (FR&E) for full-time faculty who, in the prior academic year, had been involved in a retention or voluntary separation action. When partners agree to participate, we invite all of their faculty members who had an offer to work elsewhere to take part in this survey, regardless of their decision to stay or leave.
The survey’s themes span:
- the search for a new position;
- the nature of the outside offer;
- the compelling factors in a decision to depart or stay;
- the influence of spouses’ and partners’ careers;
- the counteroffer process;
- the transition to a new institution;
- the work environment; and of course,
- the demographics characteristics of our population.
We will administer this survey again in the winter/spring of 2016-17. With a shareable, adaptive, and validated instrument to replace the individual efforts of universities to date, COACHE and its partners will better understand how to succeed at retention actions, how to prevent retention cases in the first place, and how to make smarter investments in faculty development and success. In addition, we have learned that there is value in simply asking faculty about their experiences: doing so imparts a sense, even as faculty are leaving, that their university cares about them.