Tenure-Stream Faculty: Very Satisfied with U of T and Value Autonomy
In 2012, all tenured and tenure-stream faculty were invited to participate in the online survey conducted by the Harvard-based Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE). The results are in, and they tell us a great deal about what tenure stream faculty like about working at the University. In this article, we’ll look at some of the highlights of the survey as well as some of the areas where we’ll be trying to make some improvements.
Faculty are very satisfied with the University as a place to work with a score of 78.6 per cent. COACHE offers the opportunity to compare our results to a number of peer institutions and on this question we were 10 per cent ahead of all our peers who scored 68.7 per cent satisfaction with their institutions. U of T faculty were also ahead of the top peer mean of 3.95 (based on a maximum score of 5).
Seventy-eight point nine per cent of faculty also indicated that they would choose U of T if they had to do it over again. This result is also well ahead of all our peers who scored 70.6 per cent. We have a satisfied group of faculty who enjoy being at the University of Toronto.
Throughout the results, it is clear how important autonomy is to our tenure-stream faculty. This was indicated in a number of ways. For instance, 94.5 per cent of our faculty were satisfied with their influence over the focus of their research and scholarly work.
In addition, 91.9 per cent of faculty indicated a high level of satisfaction with the degree of discretion they exercise over course content. Faculty appreciate and value the degree of autonomy afforded them as important components of how they view the nature of their work.
“The University of Toronto has been able to maintain its status as one of the top 20 universities in the world as a result of the ground-breaking research and outstanding teaching of our faculty,” states Cheryl Regehr, vice president and provost. “We need to continue to ensure that faculty have the autonomy and freedom to innovate and excel.”
“I expect most people would assume that questions related to salary and benefits would come under the ‘needs improvement’ section – but when you compare our results to our peers, we can see that U of T scores extremely well when it comes to tenure stream faculty’s satisfaction with their compensation,” states Edith Hillan, vice provost, faculty & academic life.
Faculty expressed satisfaction with compensation and benefits; on both measures, U of T far exceeded the average for all our peers. In addition, with a mean of 3.98, we exceeded the top peer mean of 3.31 on compensation and tied with our top peer at a mean of 4.03 for benefits. Also of note, far fewer U of T tenure-stream faculty – only 7 per cent – stated that salary was the one thing they would change at U of T compared to 20 per cent for our peers.
Areas for Improvement
While our tenure stream faculty expressed satisfaction with their compensation and benefits, many felt they needed more resources to support their work – a result that was found at our peer institutions as well. There was less satisfaction with respect to resources such as lab/studio space, equipment, IT support and clerical/administrative support.
Overall, when tenure-stream faculty were asked the one thing that could be changed to improve their workplace, the most frequently mentioned response was better facilities and resources with 23 per cent of faculty noting this. More positively, faculty are very satisfied with library resources (87.1 per cent compared to 79.8 per cent for our peers).
Finally, we received one message loud and clear – we need to do a better job at communicating with faculty regarding institutional priorities.
The benchmarks indicate that levels of satisfaction with communication are highest the closer the faculty member is to the source of the message – something COACHE found at other institutions our size. As Kiernan Matthews, director at COACHE notes, “larger institutions tend to have faculty who are less satisfied with these leadership benchmarks than do smaller institutions.” The difference between senior leadership, decanal and chair scores is consistent with other institutions where faculty are most satisfied with their direct departmental leadership, then divisional, then senior.
“As leaders at the University, we have received a clear message that faculty are seeking a well articulated vision for the University that is broadly and consistently communicated,” says Regehr. “We will seize the opportunity to improve communications and engage our faculty colleagues in helping shape the vision through wider and more frequent consultation.”
The COACHE survey was conducted in October of 2012 by the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Almost 50 per cent of our tenured and pre-tenure faculty participated in this round (pre-tenure faculty had been invited to participate in 2007). “While our employee surveys give us a good idea of the work experience for faculty at the University, the COACHE Survey gives us a much more detailed understanding of the priorities for faculty in their academic careers,” says Hillan.
A unique feature of COACHE is the provision of comparative data that allows us to rank our results against five peer institutions of our choosing. These were University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, University of California – Davis, Indiana University – Bloomington, and the State University of New York – Stony Brook.
In February and March, we’ll be providing reports on different themes from the survey. Next week we’ll examine the departmental culture results.
Article: Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life
Graphics: NATIONAL Public Relations