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.
While tenure-track faculty may want the same things as their predecessors, younger Boomers (born 1956-1963) and Gen X faculty live and work in a very different world than older Boomers (born 1946-1955) and Traditionalists (born before 1946). Because of this, Gen Xers, in particular, have been vocal about wanting increased flexibility, greater integration of their work and home lives, more transparency of tenure and promotion processes, a more welcoming, diverse, and supportive workplace/department, and more frequent and helpful feedback about progress.
Landing a tenure-track position is no easy task. Achieving tenure is even more difficult. Under what policies and practices do faculty find greater clarity about tenure and experience higher levels of job satisfaction? And what makes an institution a great place to work?
In 2005–2006, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education surveyed more than 15,000 tenure-track faculty at 200 participating institutions to assess their job satisfaction. The survey was designed around five key themes for faculty satisfaction: tenure clarity, work-life balance, support for research, collegiality, and leadership.
Success on the Tenure Track positions the survey data in the context of actual colleges and universities and real faculty and administrators who talk about what works and why. Best practices at the highest-rated institutions in the survey—Auburn, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina at Pembroke—give administrators practical, proven advice on how to increase their employee satisfaction. Additional chapters discuss faculty demographics, trends in employment practices, what leaders can do to create and sustain a great workplace for faculty, and what the future might hold for tenure.
An actively engaged faculty is crucial for American higher education to retain its global competitiveness. Cathy Ann Trower’s analysis provides colleges and universities a considerable inside advantage to get on the right track toward a happy, productive workforce.
As the national economy has worsened, a large cadre of tenured senior faculty is graying and staying at their institutions. This has left an older set of full professors who began their careers in a very different era, an overworked and underappreciated set of associate professors, and a group of assistant professors who are wondering, “What have I gotten myself into?”
By and large, tenure-track faculty want what they have always wanted: clear and reasonable tenure requirements; support for teaching and research; an environment that allows them to juggle responsibilities at work and home; and a set of colleagues to whom they can turn for mentoring, collaborations, intellectual stimulation, and friendship.