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From the Desk: Vice Provost Pavalko details progress after 2016 faculty satisfaction survey

Nov 27, 2018

In 2016, faculty at Indiana University Bloomington completed the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education faculty satisfaction survey. Faculty will once again receive the COACHE survey this spring, and we hope they take the time to tell us what they think.

The COACHE survey is the most important survey for shaping faculty life on our campus. Previous COACHE surveys have informed much of the work of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and initiatives spanning the campus.

Faculty told us where IU Bloomington is doing well, and we have used that information to build on those strengths. The COACHE survey told us, for example, that junior faculty here generally feel supported in their work. Separately, many told us that campus programs such as faculty writing groups and the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s Faculty Success Program are particularly valuable. Thanks to that feedback, the campus has expanded these initiatives so we can meet the needs of even more faculty.

Equally valuable to us is the feedback provided on areas needing improvement. Following the survey, a committee reviewed all of the COACHE data and reported on three areas of faculty concern. Then we got to work on addressing those issues.

Faculty told us they were concerned about diversity and inclusion. IU Bloomington faculty felt that the campus lacked visible support for diversity on campus, and it was clear that majority and minority faculty experience life on our campus differently. The Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion was formed to expand and coordinate these efforts, and jointly our offices have expanded faculty and departmental outreach and intensified both retention and recruitment efforts for faculty from underrepresented groups.

Faculty members in each school have developed diversity plans, search committees participate in anti-bias training before conducting faculty searches, and hires of faculty from underrepresented groups have increased. Increased support for intellectual communities such as the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society and other efforts have helped connect underrepresented faculty to campus communities.

Variation in satisfaction across faculty ranks was also a concern. We aspire to the satisfaction reported by our pre-tenure faculty for all faculty ranks, but the COACHE data made it clear that associate professors do not feel fully supported. Working closely with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Institute for Advanced Study, the campus has expanded support for associate professors.

This fall, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Office of the Vice President for Faculty and Academic Affairs launched a new yearlong working group program for newly tenured faculty, adding to an already robust set of Institute for Advanced Study programs for associate professors. Expansions of the Scholarly Writing Program and a campus workshop by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity for mid-career faculty are also designed to address unique challenges faculty face at this career stage. Finally, the COACHE data identified mentoring gaps for mid-career faculty within departments and schools, and we have been working with chairs to encourage more mid-career mentoring in departments.

The Bloomington Faculty Council’s Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Subcommittee also used COACHE and other data to identify several areas of concern for non-tenure-track faculty, and these have led to proposed changes in policy. Faculty responses also led our office to make promotion processes for non-tenure-track faculty more transparent and to encourage schools and departments to clarify their criteria for promotion for non-tenure-track ranks.

Data from the COACHE survey have also prompted many schools and departments to begin assessing their governance policies and practices to better take advantage of the breadth of contributions that our lecturers, clinicians, professors of practice, researchers and academic specialists make to our campus.

Finally, the COACHE survey identified small but consistent gender gaps in satisfaction. Particular concerns were more difficult to identify, so I have asked a committee of faculty to assess these issues in more depth. The Campus Assessment Committee on Gender and Faculty Satisfaction has been delving into COACHE and other data sources this fall to identify areas that either need further study or action. Their report, to be completed early in the spring semester, will be made available to the campus community.

We take the information you provide on the COACHE survey seriously, and that information guides the initiatives we pursue. This spring, faculty will once again have an opportunity to complete the COACHE Faculty Satisfaction survey. Tell us what you think; we will listen and we will act.

Eliza Pavalko is IU Bloomington vice provost for faculty and academic affairs.

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