There is renewed interest in shared governance in American higher education. This evidence-based, exploratory study of faculty leadership identifies indicators of health and promising practices for shared stewardship. It also provides follow up questions for senior leaders to assess the state of faculty leadership and shared governance on their own campuses. The findings are based on interviews with chief academic officers or faculty officers and chief elected faculty leaders at exemplar institutions of various types (baccalaureate, masters, research). These institutions were identified as exemplars through a national faculty satisfaction survey by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE). The author argues for an expansive view of faculty leadership as a key component of institutional resilience and the aim of shared stewardship.
If faculty are dissatisfied with their work, colleges and universities can experience educational and organizational repercussions that include contentious departmental climates and stagnant work productivity. Researchers have studied the workplace satisfaction of faculty during three traditional career stages: the tenure-track, middle-career, and late-career. However, a recently-proposed stage referred to as "newly-tenured" that falls after the tenure-track stage but before the middle-career stage, may be particularly important to the well-being of an institution. Newly-tenured faculty face unique transitional circumstances immediately following the award of tenure. Since they are typically beginning a long career at one institution, their dissatisfaction could have major negative consequences, including ineffective teaching and advising of students, apathetic service, stagnant research activity, and contentious interactions with faculty and staff.
In this dissertation, I use faculty survey data from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) and employ ordinal logistic regression to estimate the strongest predictors of newly-tenured faculty workplace satisfaction at the institutional and departmental levels. I also interview 12 newly-tenured faculty members to provide deeper insight into my quantitative findings. My results indicate that, more so than other factors, newly-tenured faculty tend to be satisfied with their institutions when they have communicative senior leaders, fair and reasonable compensation, and a sense of belonging in their departments. At the departmental level and relative to other factors, newly-tenured faculty are more likely to be satisfied when norms and behaviors promote inclusion and diversity, colleagues are respectful, and departmental leaders are caring and supportive. I find weak evidence that the predictors of departmental satisfaction differ by race or gender, and further research is necessary to better understand these potentially important distinctions. The results of this study can stimulate thinking about new tailored policies and practices to maximize the satisfaction and performance of faculty during this transformative period in their careers.