Recruitment and Retention

(2021). Examining the Impacts of COVID-19 on Faculty Retention & Exit. Watch the WebinarAbstract

For the last five years, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) has been conducting the Faculty Retention and Exit Survey to gain a deeper understanding of the academic work environment by examining faculty mobility. In spring 2020, we added three COVID-19-related questions to the survey to capture the early effects of the pandemic.

In this webinar, Doctoral Fellow, Mai H. Vang, presents findings from the responses to those questions, which captured nine themes, including disruption of research, disconnection due to remote work, and inequities in the pandemic’s impact on particular faculty.

Download the full report of our findings and presentation slides

Faculty Departure and Retention at Small Liberal Arts Colleges
Reynolds, P. D. (2021). Faculty Departure and Retention at Small Liberal Arts Colleges. Download the whitepaperAbstract

Voluntary faculty departures can often be prevented, but a lack of common exit procedures have hindered institutions’ ability to create proactive practices of faculty retention and instead harbor reactive tendencies with little positive outcome. Through interviews with 22 CAOs at liberal arts colleges, Patrick D. Reynolds, former Visiting Practitioner to COACHE, discovered partner employment and career choice were the two most prominent reasons for departures. Outliers also revealed that work and social environments, especially for faculty members of minority groups, often played a role in dissatisfaction.

(2018). Success After Tenure: Lessons in Engaging Midcareer Faculty. Watch the webinarAbstract

Mid-career faculty actively seek professional satisfaction and personal well-being in their careers at the departmental and institutional level. However, a growing body of research tells us that the policies and practices in place at colleges and universities do not always support this goal. This webinar, “Success After Tenure: Lessons in Engaging Mid-Career Faculty,” offers an inside take on the themes of the book Success After Tenure: Supporting Mid-Career Faculty and provide real-world best practices from practitioners in the field.

(2017). Building a Better Exit Study: A National Effort to Understand Faculty Retention & Turnover. Watch the webinarAbstract

In 2016, COACHE partnered with the University of California System to pilot our newest undertaking -- the Faculty Retenion and Exit Survey. This survey is the only multi-institutional study of faculty retention and exit, and examines the costs, conduct, and causes of faculty turnover. 

In this webinar, Kiernan Mathews and Todd Benson describe how the survey came to be, and outline some of the initial findings from the pilot study along with some practical recommendations for Academic Affairs administrators. 

Revealing Data on Faculty Retention & Departure
(2017). Revealing Data on Faculty Retention & Departure. Learn more about the dataAbstract

In 2017, after a successful pilot with several campuses of a large public university system, COACHE launched the Faculty Retention and Exit Survey nationwide. This study represents the first multi-institutional survey of faculty retentions (among those with outside offers) and departures. Until now, there was no coordinated effort for universities to develop a common understanding of the causes, costs, and conduct of faculty mobility.

Among the takeaways: More than half of faculty ranked salary as a secondary factor or not a factor in their decision to stay or leave. But 67% selected quality of colleagues as a compelling factor. The study also found that faculty are expected to cultivate outside offers before they can ask for a better deal at home, and that this requirement pushes them out the door: nearly 1 in 3 faculty who left originally sought the offer only to renegotiate the terms of their employment.

College nursing faculty job satisfaction and retention: A national perspective
Lee, P., Miller, M. T., Kippenbrock, T. A., Rosen, C., & Emory, J. (2017). College nursing faculty job satisfaction and retention: A national perspective. Journal of Professional Nursing , 33 (4), 261-266. Read the articleAbstract

The need for registered nurses in the United States continues to grow. To meet this need for increased numbers of nurses, recruitment and retention of qualified nurse educators has become a priority, and job satisfaction and nursing faculties’ intent to stay have emerged as important considerations for administrators.

The purpose of this study is to analyze variables of relationships with nurse faculty job satisfaction and intent to stay from data collected throughout the United States. The Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey was employed for the purposes of this study. Over 1,350 nurse educators were included in the survey. The findings support a variety of modifiable variables that are viewed as important by nursing faculty. The strongest relationship was found to be institutional leadership. The implications can inform academic administrators seeking to retain nursing faculty.

Academic nursing administrators' workplace satisfaction and intent to stay
Emory, J., Lee, P., Miller, M. T., Kippenbrock, T., & Rosen, C. (2017). Academic nursing administrators' workplace satisfaction and intent to stay. Nursing Outlook , 65 (1), 77-83. Read the full studyAbstract
In nursing education, the academic administrator is critical given the multitude of challenges associated with program delivery (e.g., shortages of faculty, strict and changing regulations for program accreditation, and the sheer demand for more nurses). Unfortunately, with the focus on recruiting and retaining new novice faculty to teach students, academic nursing administrators have been overlooked in recent studies. As such, this study, which uses data from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, aims to explore the workplace satisfaction and intent to stay of academic nursing administrators by considering their relation to a variety of demographic and work related variables. Results indicate that several modifiable work factors positively relate to both job satisfaction and intent to stay.
Benchmark Best Practices: Appreciation & Recognition
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Appreciation & Recognition . The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. 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 faculty satisfaction. This white paper examines appreciation and recognition for faculty teaching efforts, student advising, scholarly/creative work, service contributions, and outreach.

Focus group research conducted by COACHE showed that while many tenured faculty members feel valued by undergraduate and graduate students, they do not receive much recognition from other faculty and upper-level administrators. The degree to which appreciation/recognition themes appeared in our 2010 study of tenured faculty far surpassed their appearance in our pre-tenure faculty research. In our recent study, tenured faculty felt that extramural service that increases the reputation of their colleges, while expected of them, is not recognized and goes unrewarded. This gap between expectations and appreciation discouraged many faculty from serving their institutions in this way.

To stay or not to stay: retention of Asian international faculty in STEM fields
Lawrence, J. H., Celis, S., Kim, H. S., Lipson, S. K., & Tong, X. (2014). To stay or not to stay: retention of Asian international faculty in STEM fields. Higher Education , 67 (5), 511-531. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The present study identifies characteristics of individuals and work settings that influence Asian international faculty members’ intentions to continue their employment in US research universities. Given the demand for researchers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM), the higher rate of turnover among untenured faculty, and the replacement costs associated with turnover in STEM, the sample is limited to assistant professors employed in these areas. Multinomial regression analyses identified variables that “pull” and “push” uncertain faculty toward intentions to stay and leave their current institutions. The results suggest that faculty who are more satisfied with time available for research and those who express stronger organizational commitment are more likely to say they will stay. Those dissatisfied with the fairness of work evaluations and those who believe tenure decisions are not merit-based are more likely to say they will leave.

Russell, B. C. (2013). The workplace satisfaction of newly-tenured faculty members at research universities. Harvard University. Read the dissertationAbstract

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. The dissatisfaction of newly tenured faculty, who face unique transitional circumstances, could have particularly negative consequences. 

This dissertation uses Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey data, along with interviews of 12 newly tenured faculty members, to estimate the predictors of newly tenured faculty workplace satisfaction. The results indicate that 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, newly-tenured faculty are more likely to be satisfied when norms and behaviors promote inclusion and diversity, colleagues are respectful, and departmental leaders are supportive. The results of this study can stimulate thinking about new policies and practices to maximize the satisfaction and performance of faculty during this transformative period in their careers.


The role of citizenship status in intent to leave for pre-tenure faculty
Kim, D., Wolf-Wendel, L., & Twombly, S. B. (2013). The role of citizenship status in intent to leave for pre-tenure faculty. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education , 6 (4), 245-260. Read the articleAbstract

Using a national database, this study uses discriminant analysis to explore the role of citizenship status in determining intent to leave for pre-tenure faculty members at 4-year research universities. Of the three possible responses (intend to stay, intend to leave, and undecided), two functions emerged. The first function differentiates those who intend to stay from those who intend to leave and those who are undecided. The second function differentiates between those who intend to leave and those who are undecided.

Measures of satisfaction with workplace serve as the primary indicators of function one. Race and citizenship status are the only variables significant for function two. Demographic variables, discipline, salary, and institutional variables are not significant in either function. The variables that are significant for the entire sample are similar to those significant just for non-U.S. citizen faculty. Implications of this study for institutions include attending to departmental and institutional fit, recognition of diversity among non-U.S. citizen faculty, and working toward improving various components of satisfaction.

Victorino, C. A. (2012). Examining faculty satisfaction, productivity, and collegiality in higher education: Contemporary contexts and modern methods. University of California, Santa Barbara. Read the dissertationAbstract

In response to discourse surrounding faculty accountability and diversity, this dissertation describes three studies of faculty satisfaction, productivity, and collegiality in higher education. The studies employed advanced quantitative methods to analyze and interpret faculty data at four-year colleges and universities.

The first study revealed a strong, positive, and highly significant relationship between campus racial climate and faculty satisfaction at the individual level, regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, and tenure status. The second study identified five classes of faculty productivity with respect to gender, race, institutional type, and levels of faculty satisfaction.

The third study examined the relationships among faculty collegiality, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. Significant findings indicated that faculty collegiality was strongly and positively related to job satisfaction and negatively related to turnover intentions, regardless of gender and race/ethnicity. Women faculty and faculty of color indicated lower levels of collegiality, and faculty of color reported lower job satisfaction and higher turnover intentions.


Success on the Tenure Track: Five Keys to Faculty Job Satisfaction
Trower, C. (2012). Success on the Tenure Track: Five Keys to Faculty Job Satisfaction (pp. 288) . Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press. Read the full textAbstract

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? What makes an institution a great place to work?

In 2005–2006, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education surveyed more than 15,000 tenure-track faculty at 200 institutions. The survey was designed around five key themes: 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. 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 increasing employee satisfaction. Additional chapters discuss faculty demographics, trends in employment practices, creating a great workplace for faculty, and the future of tenure.


Data, Leadership, and Catalyzing Culture Change
Benson, T., & Trower, C. (2012). Data, Leadership, and Catalyzing Culture Change. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning , 44 (4), 27-34. Read the articleAbstract

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 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. But several differences between the past and present affect these faculty dramatically.


Bruce, D. S. (2011). Intent to leave the professoriate: The relationship between race/ethnicity and job satisfaction for pre-tenured professors in doctorate-granting universities. University of Kansas. Read the dissertationAbstract

This study investigated pre-tenure faculty satisfaction and intent to leave their institution using 2005–2008 data from the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey. The purpose of this study is to identify salient variables influencing faculty of color retention and to explain the lack of progress in diversifying the professoriate by exploring the relationship between racial/ethnic group membership and pre-tenure faculty job satisfaction and the relationship these variables have with departure intentions. The study was limited to faculty working at doctorate-granting U.S. universities.

Results of the study suggest faculty of color are more likely to intend to leave their institutions than their White (non-Hispanic) counterparts. Specifically, the study's findings suggest satisfaction with tenure processes and procedures, teaching, advising, service, and research expectations, and collegiality negatively influenced departure intentions of pre-tenure faculty overall and for specific racial/ethnic groups. The study offers ideas for expanded research on pre-tenure faculty job satisfaction and intent to leave.

Career Stage Differences in Pre-Tenure Track Faculty Perceptions of Professional and Personal Relationships with Colleagues
Ponjuan, L., Conley, V. M., & Trower, C. (2011). Career Stage Differences in Pre-Tenure Track Faculty Perceptions of Professional and Personal Relationships with Colleagues. The Journal of Higher Education , 82 (3), 319-346. Read the articleAbstract

Despite a steady decline in available faculty tenure-track positions, future vacancies in tenure-track positions provide opportunities to diversify faculty ranks with new female faculty and faculty of color. This impending employment shift in faculty demographics may change departmental climates, pre-tenure faculty socialization processes, and professional and personal relationships between pre-tenure female faculty and faculty of color and their colleagues.

This study examines pre-tenure faculty members' perception of collegial relationships with colleagues. We primarily focus on the organizational socialization of female faculty and faculty of color, and faculty in different pre-tenure career stages. We found differences in satisfaction with collegial relationships between faculty by gender, race, and pre-tenure career stages.


New Challenges, New Priorities: The Experience of Generation X Faculty
Helms, R. (2010). New Challenges, New Priorities: The Experience of Generation X Faculty . Cambridge, Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. Read the studyAbstract

This study explores how Generation X (born 1964-1980) faculty are approaching their jobs, long-term careers, and work-life balance, and examines if and how the generational “clashes” reportedly arising in the workforce are being manifested in the academic environment. The study was designed to complement and build upon the coache Tenure-Track Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey by using qualitative interviews to explore many of the same themes in greater depth with a limited number of participants, and provide insights into how those themes play out in the day-to-day lives of individual faculty members. While the survey provides a snapshot of how tenure-track faculty are feeling about their current job situation, this study examines the broader context of faculty members’ long-term careers, and the interplay between their work and non-work lives.

A New Generation of Faculty: Similar Core Values in a Different World
Trower, C. (2010). A New Generation of Faculty: Similar Core Values in a Different World. Peer Review , 12 (3), 27-30. Read the articleAbstract

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.

Stress in senior faculty careers
Russell, B. C. (2010). Stress in senior faculty careers. New Directions For Higher Education , 151, 61-70. Read the articleAbstract

According to the Carnegie Foundation, faculty job satisfaction has declined drastically over the past few decades at institutions of higher education (Shuster and Finkelstein, 2006). Researchers have also found that faculty satisfaction is critical to the vitality of colleges and universities (Clark, Corcoran, and Lewis, 1986; Farrell, 1983). Senior faculty members, defined here as those who have tenure, can significantly impact institutional vitality because they make up 50 percent of the professoriate (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). In addition, a recent study suggests that one disengaged senior faculty member can significantly damage an entire academic unit (Huston, Norman, and Ambrose, 2007). What factors affect senior faculty retention and attrition at institutions of higher education? I begin the following chapter by analyzing the most common factors presented in the literature. I then argue that institutions must consider the particular needs of their senior faculty members and be willing to make change(s) to retain them.

Perspectives on What Pre-Tenure Faculty Want and What Six Research Universities Provide
Gallagher, A., & Trower, C. (2008). Perspectives on What Pre-Tenure Faculty Want and What Six Research Universities Provide . Cambridge, Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. View the reportAbstract
COACHE released this report in conjunction with the Harvard University Office for Faculty Diversity & Development. It is the result of many months of mining and synthesizing the information collected from nearly 80 interviews with pre-tenure and tenured faculty, department chairs, and senior administrators at six COACHE member campuses. Much of what is contained in this report may be all too familiar to an experienced academic administrator, but it is the first time the experiences of early-career faculty and the faculty development policies of top-tier research universities have been assembled in one place.