While the majority of junior faculty at America’s colleges and universities are satisfied at work, some institutions are doing particularly well in this regard. The Tenure-Track Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey, administered by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) in 2005 and 2006, determined that some colleges and universities are “exemplary” on certain key dimensions of faculty work/life. The COACHE Survey considered the following categories in its assessment: tenure practices, clarity, and reasonableness; effectiveness of key policies (e.g., mentoring, childcare, and leaves); nature of work: teaching, research and support services; work and family balance; satisfaction with compensation; climate, culture, and collegiality; and global satisfaction.
“We are again recognizing those colleges and universities that are succeeding in their efforts to improve the quality of work/life for their junior faculty,” said Dr. Cathy Trower, COACHE Director. “By earning and maintaining the distinction of being a great place for new scholars to work, these exemplary institutions will be most able to attract and retain top academic talent in an increasingly competitive faculty labor market.”
In order to qualify as an “exemplar,” a college or university needed scores that were notably higher than similar institutions. Two universities (Brown and Stanford) achieved exemplary status in eight out of 12 categories, while one university (Duke) was outstanding in seven categories, and another (Dartmouth) in six categories. Three colleges (Bowdoin, Davidson and Kenyon) achieved exemplary status in five categories, while three colleges (Carleton, Goucher and Trinity) and two universities (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Notre Dame) were named exemplars in four categories. A total of 38 institutions were named an exemplar in at least one category.
Beyond the institutions named exemplary, the COACHE Survey gave insight into the satisfaction of junior faculty with America’s colleges and universities. The average score for overall satisfaction with one’s institution, comprised of responses from nearly 7,000 faculty members from 78 institutions, was 3.65 out of 5.00. The survey results also indicated some thought-provoking similarities and differences in satisfaction based on gender, race, and type of institution. For instance, on average across all participating institutions, women were only slightly less satisfied than men (3.63 v. 3.66) with their institutions as places to work, faculty of color were about as satisfied as white faculty (3.64 v. 3.65), university faculty were significantly less satisfied than college faculty (3.60 v. 4.06), and faculty at public universities were significantly less satisfied than their counterparts at private institutions (3.60 v. 3.79). A complete summary report of the COACHE findings can be downloaded from coache.gse.harvard.edu.
Based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and supported by member institutions, COACHE is committed to gathering the peer diagnostic data academic administrators need to recruit, retain, and develop the cohort most critical to the long-term future of their institutions. For more information on the Collaborative, please visit www.coache.org.