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Survey Shows Faculty Satisfied

Faculty members generally feel satisfied working at NC State, citing the quality of their colleagues, overarching support for academic freedom and the campus’ geographic location.

NC State faculty members also reported satisfaction with their academic departments and would recommend their units to job candidates.

But they weren’t shy about sharing their dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits.

Those were the big-picture findings from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey, developed and administered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The survey was administered in late 2011 to faculty members at 75 higher education institutions across the nation.

The survey captures information deemed to be critical to recruiting and retaining faculty. Survey topics include the nature of work to fulfill a faculty member’s tripartite mission of teaching, research and service; the resources available to support faculty; benefits, compensation and work/life balance; tenure and promotion practices, and a host of others.

By the Numbers

About two-thirds of faculty respondents reported being “very satisfied” (19 percent) or “somewhat satisfied” (46 percent) with NC State as a place to work and agreed either “strongly” (36 percent) or “somewhat” (31 percent) that they would choose to work at NC State if starting their careers over.

About three quarters of faculty respondents reported being “very satisfied” (30 percent) or “satisfied” (44 percent) with their department as a place to work. More than 90 percent would recommend their department to a same-rank candidate, with 51 percent doing so “strongly” and 42 percent “with reservations.”

For a laundry list of “best things” about working at NC State, a majority selected geographic location and the quality of colleagues. Rounding out the top five were “academic freedom,” “support of colleagues” and “my sense of fit here.”

Money Matters

Faculty members were far and away most dissatisfied with compensation – about 40 percent of those surveyed selected it from among a list of about 30 items as the “worst thing” about working at NC State. “Lack of support for research/creative work,” “quality of graduate students” and “quality of facilities” rounded out the areas of dissatisfaction.

In response to a question about possible reasons for leaving NC State, the most common answers were “to retire” (23 percent) and “to improve salary/benefits” (22 percent).

When asked about changes that could be made to strengthen the workplace, faculty again mentioned compensation and benefits, followed by “general leadership” and improved “facilities and resources for work.” Other areas that received generally lower ratings from faculty related to support and recognition for interdisciplinary work and for mentoring.

“The survey results suggest that faculty members are, for the most part, satisfied with their work at NC State,” says Betsy Brown, vice provost for faculty affairs. “We can glean important information from the survey results to help enhance faculty recruitment and retention efforts.”

Strategic Steps

Recent initiatives stemming from the new strategic plan may help mitigate some of the dissatisfaction reported in the survey. The new University Faculty Scholars program provides $50,000 in additional salary to top faculty, while the new Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program will hire more than three dozen faculty in interdisciplinary areas.

All full-time tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members hired prior to July 1, 2011, excluding those in their terminal year if denied tenure, were invited to complete the COACHE survey. Almost 60 percent of NC State faculty responded.

Complete results from the COACHE survey will be available on the University Planning and Analysis website early this semester.

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