The COACHE Survey: Be Informed about Faculty Satisfaction
Vanderbilt’s strength lies in its people, from our devoted world-class faculty to our outstanding students, to our highly skilled staff. I deeply appreciate the critical role all play in advancing the university’s mission. Now, as ever, it remains important for all of us to work together to move Vanderbilt forward.
Last week, the COACHE Faculty Working Group, which includes non-tenure track, tenure-track and tenured faculty members, released their preliminary findings on the faculty satisfaction survey. As a reminder, this survey was distributed in April 2016 to all tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty who are full-time and report to the provost. And, as you know, this evaluation of the survey results has been fully faculty-led.
To collect further feedback, the Faculty Working Group will host town halls (intended for only faculty, see sidebar). They have also set up a confidential web-based portal. This continued input will inform their final report and analysis. I am committed to all faculty being informed about the results and being able to engage with the faculty working group. I also look forward to working with the school and college deans and our faculty leaders to use the survey results to further advance our commitment to the faculty’s experiences and their lasting influence on our campus environment.
In higher education, how we share and collaborate in governance and decision making is unique in that we rely on various decentralized and consensus building mechanisms – from advisory committees to working groups – to make decisions that impact everything from strategic initiatives to standard business processes. While this is “business-as-usual” for us, we continue to identify more ways to ensure that the broadest cross-section of faculty, of every rank and status, are engaged at every step. I wrote about this essential “feedback loop” for the first time in my August 2015 Open Dore newsletter. I’m now extremely proud that Vanderbilt had one of the highest response rates of any university that has participated in the COACHE faculty satisfaction survey to date.
Thus far, the preliminary survey results give us richer, more informed insights about how to provide the best support and resources for all our faculty. The survey revealed that Vanderbilt faculty are very satisfied in a number of areas ranging from health and retirement benefits to work resources. Importantly, the survey illuminated some areas where additional efforts, support and innovations will be needed. One area where we know we can always do more is in faculty mentoring. Over the past year or more, we have expanded our mentoring resources to complement school and college based efforts. For example, through Vanderbilt University’s institutional membership, all faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars have access to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD), which provides professional development, training, and mentoring. We also launched the Provost Research Studios, which are designed to offer additional mentoring support to our faculty to advance their careers. I want to see these, as well as other relatively new programs and resources, become increasingly utilized and engrained into our culture as standard tools that all faculty tap into and benefit from.
Not surprisingly, the survey showed that faculty satisfaction varies by demographic sub-groups including tenure status, rank, gender, race and ethnicity. We are in the midst of a national search for the first Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion who will work to advance efforts across Academic Affairs. The COACHE final report recommendations will provide valuable input into the action plan that the new vice provost and I will develop together.
I encourage all faculty to attend the town halls hosted by the COACHE Faculty Working Group to become informed and ask questions. Although I will not be at the town halls due to respect for the faculty-driven process, I am fully available to all during my “Open Dore, On Location” sessions that are held across campus. This is a unique, “no-appointment-necessary” opportunity to share with me what is on your mind. The next one will be March 16 at 4pm in the Warren Center Conference room. Every spring, I also attend school/college faculty meetings for question/answer sessions. And lastly, as always, feel free to email Provost@Vanderbilt.edu to invite me to meet at other times and to share your feedback.
Susan R. Wente
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Previous Open Dore Issues
In case you missed it….
The January Jumpstart – January 2017
From 2016 to 2017: Next steps for Research and Scholarship at Vanderbilt – December 2016
Next Steps for Immersion Vanderbilt – November 2016
Adding 25 Endowed Chairs and Faculty Investments – October 2016
A uniquely Vanderbilt budget model – September 2016
All past issues