Career Path

Clear as Mud: Promotion Clarity by Gender and BIPOC Status Across the Associate Professor Lifespan
Kulp, A. M., Pascale, A. B., & Wolf-Wendel, L. (2021). Clear as Mud: Promotion Clarity by Gender and BIPOC Status Across the Associate Professor Lifespan. Innovative Higher Education. Read the full articleAbstract
Mid-career faculty members often seek to advance to the highest faculty rank of full professor, but research suggests women and Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color (BIPOC) faculty face inequitable patterns in advancement to the full professor rank. This study focuses on associate professors’ perceptions of promotion clarity, or the degree to which they are clear about the processes and criteria for advancing to the full professor rank.
Non-Tenure Track Faculty Satisfaction: A Self-Determination Model
Crick, K. A., Larson, L. M., & Seipel, M. T. (2019). Non-Tenure Track Faculty Satisfaction: A Self-Determination Model. Journal of Career Assessment , 28 (3), 425-445. Read the articleAbstract
Full-time non-tenure track faculty, commonly referred to as NTT faculty, shoulder much of the teaching load within academic institutions. Self-determination theory (SDT) has shown promise as a conceptual frame for characterizing the relationship between environmental support factors and NTT faculty satisfaction. Full-time NTT faculty were sampled nationwide to investigate an SDT-based model positing basic psychological needs (i.e., volitional autonomy and relatedness) as mediators between six environmental support indices and NTT faculty satisfaction. Structural equation model results showed volitional autonomy and relatedness fully mediated the relationships between the six environmental supports and both indices of faculty satisfaction. 
(2019). Assessing the Needs of Part-Time Faculty: Lessons Learned from the University at Buffalo. View the webinar recordingAbstract

According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), approximately 40% of all faculty across all institutional types are now part-time. This subset of adjunct faculty is fulfilling a critical role in the higher education landscape, yet the variability of these appointments makes it exceedingly difficult to assess their needs and, ultimately, provide adequate support.

In 2017, COACHE partners at the University at Buffalo set out to address this knowledge gap by adapting the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey to suit the needs of their part-time faculty. In this webinar, Robert Granfield and Tilman Baumstark will share the challenges faced and lessons learned, both from their methodology and from their faculty, throughout this endeavor.

Work–Family Balance and Tenure Reasonableness: Gender Differences in Faculty Assessment
Lisnic, R., Zajicek, A., & Kerr, B. (2019). Work–Family Balance and Tenure Reasonableness: Gender Differences in Faculty Assessment. Sociological Spectrum , 39 (5), 340-358. Read the full articleAbstract

Perceptions of work–family balance and of the reasonableness of tenure expectations are key faculty retention factors. Using the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey, which includes data from 2,438 tenure-track assistant professors, Rodica Lisnic, Anna Zajicek, and Brinck Kerr explore whether faculty assessment of departmental and institutional support for family influences their perceptions of the reasonableness of tenure expectations.

Results reveal that women are less likely than men to report tenure expectations as scholars are reasonable and that departments and institutions are supportive of family-work balance. Departmental support for family-work balance, caring for an ill family member, satisfaction with family-friendly policies, and workload have the strongest association with reasonableness. Satisfaction with family-friendly policies has a significant relationship with reasonableness of tenure expectations only for faculty with family care responsibilities. These results have implications for family-friendly policies and practices in academia.

The possibility of promotion: How race and gender predict promotion clarity for associate professors
Kulp, A., Wolf-Wendel, L., & Smith, D. (2019). The possibility of promotion: How race and gender predict promotion clarity for associate professors. Teachers College Record , 121 (5). Read the full studyAbstract

Past studies have strongly suggested that equity issues affect advancement through the academic pipeline. This study uses cross-institutional results from the 2010 through 2012 Faculty Job Satisfaction Surveys to offer analysis and potential solutions for the problem.

The study asks whether cultural taxation in the form of heavy service and advising—often associated with underrepresented minority faculty and women faculty—is a factor in advancement through the academic pipeline, and also examines the influence of ideal-worker norms and work/family demands on perceptions of promotion clarity. The analysis suggests that the factors associated with lack of clarity about promotion are more structural than individual.

Gender and Race Differences in Faculty Assessment of Tenure Clarity: The Influence of Departmental Relationships and Practices
Lisnic, R., Zajicek, A., & Morimoto, S. (2018). Gender and Race Differences in Faculty Assessment of Tenure Clarity: The Influence of Departmental Relationships and Practices. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. Read the articleAbstract
The authors look at how the intersection of gender and race influences pre-tenure faculty members’ perceptions of the clarity of tenure expectations. The authors also seek to identify potential predictors (assessment of mentoring, relationships with peers, feedback on progress toward tenure, and fairness in tenure decision making and evaluation) of perceptions of tenure clarity for four intersectionally defined groups, including historically underrepresented minority women (URMW). The authors use an intersectional perspective and the gendered and racialized organizations’ theoretical lens to interpret the results. The data set comes from the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey. Findings show that compared with white men, URMW are less satisfied with their relationships with peers and with the fairness in the evaluation of their work. They are also less likely to agree that mentoring is effective, that tenure decisions are fair, and that messages about tenure are consistent.
Benchmark Best Practices: Tenure and Promotion
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Tenure and Promotion. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing the general thrust of faculty satisfaction along key themes. This white paper discusses the themes of tenure policies, tenure clarity, and promotion.

Administrators and faculty alike acknowledge that, at most institutions, the bar to achieve tenure has risen over time. While it is impossible to eliminate anxiety from the minds of all pre-tenure faculty members, or the pressures exerted on their lives en route to tenure, academic leaders can improve the clarity of tenure policies and expectations without sacrificing rigor. And while the academy has recently improved many policies for assistant professors (e.g., research leave; stop-the-tenure-clock; part-time tenure-track options), it has done far less for associate professors. Ideas have emerged from COACHE research on tenured faculty.

Perspectives on Midcareer Faculty and Advice for Supporting Them
Mathews, K. (2014). Perspectives on Midcareer Faculty and Advice for Supporting Them . Cambridge, Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. Download the full textAbstract
This 8-page white paper was produced for an invited presentation at the Association of Public Land-grant Universities' (APLU) Council on Academic Affairs Summer Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The paper examines the experiences of midcareer faculty, who face an increased teaching load, greater expectations for service and advising, a more competitive market for grants, and the disappearance of mentoring programs that supported them as early-career faculty. The toll of these obligations is heavier on women and faculty of color. Institutions can address the challenges midcareer faculty face by designing orientations that cover the entire career, implementing career re-visioning programs, providing opportunities for re-engagement, and mentoring associate professors.
Is the Tenure Process Fair? What Faculty Think
Lawrence, J. H., Celis, S., & Ott, M. (2014). Is the Tenure Process Fair? What Faculty Think. The Journal of Higher Education , 85 (2), 155-188. Read the full articleAbstract

A conceptual framework grounded on procedural justice theory was created to explain how judgments about the fairness of tenure decision-making evolved among faculty who had not yet undergone the review. The framework posits that faculty beliefs about fairness are influenced directly by their workplace experiences and both directly and indirectly by their socio-demographic characteristics.

Structural equation modeling was used to assess the proposed effects with data from 2,247 pre-tenure assistant professors at 21 research universities. The results substantiate the importance of perceived campus and department conditions.

Equitable treatment of junior faculty at the department level and effectiveness of feedback have the strongest relationships with beliefs about the equity of tenure decision-making. An individual’s sense of control during the process of constructing the tenure dossier predicts his or her judgments about the fairness of tenure reviews. Practical suggestions for campus leaders and implications for future research are discussed.


Perry, M. (2013). An analysis of job satisfaction among Millennial faculty at southeastern colleges and universities. University of Florida. Read the dissertationAbstract

Millennials will dominate the global workplace as the prominent generational cohort by 2020. This projection surfaces considerations for recruitment and succession planning within higher education.

This study investigated how Millennials’ workplace preferences impact faculty job satisfaction. The research inquiry was launched utilizing institutional data from four-year public and private institutions in the Southeast to assess the relationship between overall job satisfaction and mentoring satisfaction, and to compare Millennial faculty job satisfaction to senior generations. The study uses Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey data.

From the analysis of 9,496 faculty responses, the study produced statistically significant outcomes that addressed the research inquiry. The outcome of the investigation signals a strong correlation between the impacts of mentoring satisfaction and the overall job satisfaction of Millennial faculty. Pragmatic talent management and organizational development strategies are recommended to assist institutions in leveraging the power of the multi-generational workforce to attract and retain Millennial faculty.

McCullough, E. E. (2013). Effects of generation on tenure-track faculty satisfaction. Western Carolina University. Read the dissertationAbstract

The academy is generationally diversifying as Baby Boomer faculty members move into retirement and younger faculty enter the workforce. Understanding and addressing generational differences is increasingly important, as employees across a broad age range will be working together.

This quantitative study explored the effects of generation on tenure-track faculty job satisfaction. Aside from obtaining a generational snapshot of tenure-track faculty, this study sought to determine if generation could predict job satisfaction indices. Multiple regression analyses were conducted on variables obtained from a pre-existing aggregated Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey dataset. Statistically significant demographic effects emerged in seven job satisfaction indices, but multiple regression results provided little evidence to suggest demographic variables, which have frequently been used to explain differences between groups, are strong predictors of tenure-track faculty satisfaction. These findings raise questions about the credibility of claims by generational practitioners and consultants and signify that more research is needed.

Gen X Meets Theory X: What New Scholars Want
Trower, C. A. (2012). Gen X Meets Theory X: What New Scholars Want. Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. Read the full articleAbstract


“If they can’t understand that I want a kick-ass career and a kick-ass life, then I don’t want to work here,” sums up how many Generation X’ers (born between 1965 and 1980) view their workplace, according to Lancaster and Stillman. As a group, Gen X’ers are willing to work hard but want to decide when, where, and how. As this generation enters the professoriate in large numbers, some institutions may be wondering what hit them.

This study measured the importance of 19 job factors to recent graduates of doctoral degree programs. The primary considerations of recent graduates when choosing a job were: finding a situation in which they could do meaningful work and strike a balance between teaching and research; quality of living conditions, e.g., affordability of housing, commute, good K-12 schools, community feeling and safety, and job opportunities for spouse or partner; and balance between work and home life.


Toward a Greater Understanding of the Tenure Track for Minorities
Trower, C. (2009). Toward a Greater Understanding of the Tenure Track for Minorities. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning , 41 (5), 38-45. Read the articleAbstract

To understand life on the tenure track, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) conducts an annual Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey. Through surveys and in focus groups and interviews, hundreds of tenure-track faculty members share what affects their workplace satisfaction and, ultimately, their success. The clarity and reasonableness of the criteria and standards for achieving tenure, institutional and support for teaching and research, the effectiveness of workplace policies and practices, departmental climate and collegiality, and work/life balance are among the issues addressed. In 2009, for the first time, COACHE collected enough faculty respondents who self-identified in each racial and ethnic category, in proportions similar to their representation in the faculty population nationally, to look at each group separately. An examination of the different groups' experiences of faculty life is important to the welfare of students. This article presents a series of commonly asked questions about the COACHE research.