NC State faculty move the university forward through their dedication to teaching, research and innovation. In turn, NC State seeks to support faculty through continual improvement of recruitment, retention and professional development initiatives. The university’s participation in the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) survey reinforces a strong commitment to faculty success.
A Collaborative Relationship
Part of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, COACHE is a “research-practice partnership and network of peer institutions dedicated to improving outcomes in faculty recruitment, development, and retention.” This group of more than 300 higher education institutions helps improve faculty success through a variety of methods, including the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey.
The Office of Institutional Research and Planning’s Survey Research unit coordinates the university’s participation in the survey every three years to better understand faculty needs and improve the overall faculty experience. The survey is sent to all faculty, and consists of 200 items covering everything from overall job satisfaction to transparency in communications, achieving tenure, professional development and more.
University faculty last took the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey in spring 2018, with 49% of tenure track and professional track faculty participating. For nearly half of the survey items, NC State ranked in the top third among all participating universities nationally for faculty satisfaction.
NC State received the most favorable overall ratings on topics related to teaching, department collegiality, leadership and quality, and promotion and tenure clarity (pre-tenure only). Additionally, 84% of university faculty taking the survey reported being “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the intellectual vitality of pre-tenure faculty in the department.
Compared to peer institutions — Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Purdue, UC Davis and Virginia Tech — NC State ranked favorably on university leadership, classrooms and library resources.
“We’re very encouraged by the feedback our faculty gave in the COACHE survey,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden. “What we’re hearing is that faculty generally see the university as a great place to work, and they’re excited about their new faculty colleagues as well.”
Opportunities for Growth
Of course, the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey also uncovers opportunities for the university to grow and better serve faculty.
In their survey responses, faculty showed high interest in interdisciplinary work, but felt that the university could do more to support and reward interdisciplinary faculty. Faculty also expressed a strong desire for NC State to provide more resources and support for faculty mentoring other faculty.
“We take the COACHE survey, and other opportunities to hear from our faculty, very seriously,” said Katharine Stewart, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. “We are open to ideas from all faculty on how NC State can improve satisfaction with mentoring and interdisciplinary work. The strategic planning effort is a great way to share those as well.”
Faculty Moving Forward
The COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey results revealed that many NC State faculty have questions about where to go to ask questions, give feedback and raise concerns about policy-related issues. Faculty and the university can work together to answer those questions — NC State’s Office of Faculty Affairs and Faculty Senate are good places to start. NC State also maintains a policy manual with details on every university policy that impacts faculty and their career trajectory.
The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost recently addressed the issue of providing more support for faculty recognition through the hiring of Maria Almanza as the Director of External Faculty Awards and Recognition. Almanza supports NC State faculty as they apply to regional, state, national and international awards, and to further celebrate and promote the excellent work of NC State faculty.
Faculty will have an opportunity to shape their future — and focus on aspects of faculty life that were highlighted by the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey results — in the upcoming strategic planning process. Through this process, faculty can give feedback to university leadership to shape NC State’s future through faculty senate meetings, department head meetings and more.
Faculty can also contact their designated campus representative to submit ideas for the upcoming strategic plan. The next major survey initiative in which faculty will have an opportunity to participate is the UNC System’s Employee Engagement Survey in February 2020, then the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey in 2021. Through a process of asking questions, giving feedback and collaborating with leaders and colleagues, faculty can build a better future for themselves and for NC State.