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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Harvard study gives UNCP ‘exemplary’ marks for faculty practices

A recently released Harvard University study of satisfaction of junior faculty with policies and practices regarding tenure and other workplace issues showed The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was rated “exemplary” in three important categories.

charles Harrington

Charles Harrington

Black Line

The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) study was released on November 5. The goal of the project was to highlight colleges and universities with successful practices in key areas of faculty relations.

The survey of 5,000 junior faculty at 42 institutions rated UNCP exemplary for “overall tenure practices,” “tenure reasonableness” and “work and family” issues. In order to qualify as an exemplar, a college or university scored notably higher than similar institutions.

Dr. Charles Harrington, UNCP’s provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, hailed the results.

“We fared exceedingly well,” Dr. Harrington said. “The results and the company it places us in speak for itself.

 “When I arrived here, I wanted to get a sense of how our faculty viewed various components of their work life. Our participation in the Harvard study was an opportunity to gain that important perspective”

The answers that UNCP’s chief academic officer received were a “testament to the teaching and learning environment created by our faculty and the relationship between our faculty and administration.”

Dr. Harrington said. “It is important for young faculty members to be in a nurturing and supportive environment when it comes to balancing work and home.”

“We have an attractive campus, but when we are recruiting prospective faculty, tenure and work life issues are the things they are looking for,” he said. “Our deans and department chairs have worked hard and successfully to increase the diversity of our faculty, and that work manifested itself last fall when 40 percent of our new faculty hires were minorities.”

The policy and environment surrounding tenure are also critical to the recruitment and retention of faculty, Dr. Harrington said.

“Our faculty’s view of the tenure process reflects a productive and healthy workplace,” he said. “It speaks to the trust placed in our peer evaluation system and that the guiding policies of the process are well conceived, reasonable and just.”

Like all workplace environments, UNCP’s is evolving, and Dr. Harrington will continue to build on the strength revealed in the Harvard study.

“We are increasing faculty development resources and opportunities for junior faculty to increase their expertise in the areas of teaching, scholarship and engagement,” he said. “We are also increasing our commitment to the ideal of shared faculty governance.”

Areas of technology in the classroom and employment opportunities for dual-career couples are also improving, Dr. Harrington said.

COACHE surveyed junior faculty across the nation in 12 categories from satisfaction on compensation, tenure, collegiality of faculty and overall satisfaction. Junior faculty is defined as faculty on a track for tenure.

  • Tenure clarity – This factor is the clarity of the tenure process, criteria, standards, body of evidence, and prospects for earning tenure, and the clarity of the tenure expectations for scholarship, teaching, advising, colleagueship, campus citizenship and community service.
  • Nature of workThis factor is an overall average of satisfaction with the way faculty spend their time, satisfaction with various aspects of teaching and quality of students and satisfaction with various support services.
  • Policy effectiveness - The policy effectiveness score is an overall average of the effectiveness ratings for 16 policies.
  • Compensation – The satisfaction with salary and benefits
  • Work and family - The work and family score was calculated by the respondents agreement with various statements about whether colleagues and the institution make having and raising children compatible with the tenure-track, satisfaction with being able to balance work and home.
  • Collegiality - The collegiality score is the satisfaction with the climate and collegiality of faculty as a whole.
  • Global satisfaction - The global satisfaction score answers the question: “would the faculty member accept this position if they had it to do over,” and a rating of the institution as a place to work on a “great” to “awful” scale.

The majority of junior faculty at America’s colleges and universities are satisfied at work, the report states, and some institutions are doing extraordinarily well in this area.

“While all COACHE participants are committed to a more fulfilling and productive work life for new faculty, the exemplars deserve special mention because they are already succeeding,” said Richard Chait, professor of higher education and co-director of COACHE at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “If they can sustain an earned reputation as a great place for junior faculty to work, they will enjoy a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining the next generation of faculty.”

Headquartered at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and supported by the Ford Foundation, COACHE is committed to gathering the peer diagnostic and comparative data academic administrators need to recruit, retain, and develop the cohort most critical to the long-term future of their institutions. Contact coache@gse.harvard.edu for more information.

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