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.
This dissertation studies how higher education policies and practices can affect faculty retention and proposes changes that higher education institutions need to make to retain their faculty. Faculty assessment of reasonableness of tenure expectations is explored in the first manuscript and faculty perceptions of clarity of tenure expectations are explored in the second and third manuscripts. Job satisfaction data from a sample of 2438 tenure-track assistant professors at research universities is used.
The first manuscript investigates the reasonableness of tenure expectations as it relates to work-life balance. The focus is on whether women’s and men’s appraisal of departmental and institutional support for family-work balance and satisfaction with family-friendly policies influence their perceptions of reasonableness of tenure expectations. Bivariate results reveal that women are less likely than men to report that tenure expectations are reasonable. Multivariate results show that for both women and men assessment of departmental and institutional support for family-work balance and satisfaction with family-friendly policies have a positive influence on their perceptions of reasonableness of tenure expectations.
The second manuscript explores whether women’s and men’s assessment of tenure related departmental practices influence their perceptions of clarity of tenure expectations. Findings reveal that women are less likely than men to perceive the expectations for getting tenure as clear. Other results show that for both men and women assessment of fairness in tenure decision- making and in tenure evaluation, and assessment of received messages about the requirements for tenure have a significant and positive effect on their perceptions of clarity of tenure expectations.
The third manuscript looks at how the intersection of gender and race influences faculty perceptions of clarity of tenure expectations. The study also seeks to identify predictors of perceptions of clarity for the intersectionality defined groups (minority women, minority men, white women, and white men). Bivariate results reveal no significant differences in minority women’s perceptions of clarity compared to all other faculty. The multivariate results show that the model does not explain minority women’s perceptions of clarity of tenure expectations as well as it explains white women’s and white men’s perceptions of clarity of tenure expectations.
Non-tenure track faculty are a growing majority in American higher education, but research examining their work lives is limited. Moreover, the theoretical frameworks commonly used by scholars have been critiqued for reliance on ideologically charged assumptions. Using a conceptual model developed from Hackman and Oldham’s (1980) Job Characteristics Model (JCM) and prior research on faculty workplace experiences, this study considers the extent to which full-time non-tenure track and tenure line faculty share a professionalized approach to their jobs, working conditions, and how this is associated with their organizational commitment. Findings demonstrate important consistencies in full-time faculty views of their workplaces and jobs across appointment type. Satisfaction with resources, rewards, autonomy and feedback had a significant positive relationship with odds of organizational commitment for all faculty groups. Overall, the results suggest being removed from the tenure track is not associated with faculty viewing their jobs in a substantially different way than those in tenure line positions, which underscores the importance of conceptualizing full-time faculty work as an integrated whole.