Outcomes and Insights from the Inaugural COACHE Faculty Satisfaction Survey

Dear Colleagues,

The faculty are foundational to every aspect of our university's mission and your concerns are integral to realizing the ideals and impacts of Rutgers. On December 4, I shared with you a "Vision for Faculty Excellence", which referred to our ongoing assessment of our faculty academic climate. Last Spring, we partnered with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to engage in an inaugural survey of our full-time tenured, tenure track, and non-tenure track faculty. The survey assessed faculty views on a range of important areas critical to faculty support including university policies, practices, and working environment. The input and perspective measured by the survey is of substantial importance as we strive to attract, retain and support a diverse faculty of outstanding scholars and teachers.

As the first conducted survey of its kind at Rutgers, this survey's benchmark data establishes the baseline for our institution. This information can help us to identify areas of deficit and undertake projects that implement improvements; every three years, we can measure change on future survey administrations through our continued partnership with COACHE.

The responses captured in our survey represent feedback of 779 respondents at Rutgers. This is a strong initial response and we hope to encourage greater participation in the future. The survey was structured around nine themes consisting of 25 benchmarks. Survey questions are rated along a five-point Likert scale, which yields hundreds of thousands of data points. This data captures the faculty experience with teaching, research, and service; tenure and promotion; engagement and collegiality; appreciation and recognition; faculty and administrative leadership; diversity and inclusion; and other drivers of faculty satisfaction. Additional customized questions for Rutgers were also summarized and quantified. The data produced by the survey serves as our guide to identifying key areas of institutional strengths and gaps.

We encourage you to review the survey results on the Office of the Provost website where you can access additional resources, submit feedback, and review our survey data in an interactive platform created by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. We also provide you with PDF highlights to capture the overall responses in different categories. The depth and breadth of the data is both extensive and nuanced. The summaries highlight the first-order trends of the feedback.

According to the COACHE survey data, the highest levels of satisfaction came in the areas of departmental quality, collegiality, and leadership; collaboration; teaching; tenure and promotion; and benefits. "Quality of colleagues" was selected as one of the best aspects of working at Rutgers and faculty are very satisfied with opportunities for collaboration within and beyond their department. About 67% of respondents are satisfied with their department as a place to work and 73% agree that their department climate is accepting and respectful of all faculty. More than 70% of faculty find the process and criteria for tenure and promotion to be clear and based on performance. Health and retirement benefits are favored highly, as well as work-life balance. Faculty are satisfied with their time spent on teaching, research, and service, and their ability to balance these responsibilities.

The areas with least levels of satisfaction are the quality of facilities and the overall category of governance and institutional leadership. Nearly one-third of faculty do not believe that our governance structures offer opportunities for input. Overall, and more so among those who are tenured, faculty do not feel that there is an open system of communication between faculty and administrators. The survey results also indicate that support for research is a key area for improvement, especially when it pertains to lab/research facilities, securing graduate assistance, and securing and maintaining grants.

I strongly believe that the COACHE survey provides us with a robust instrument through which the collective voice of the faculty is registered and an honest dialogue can be initiated to determine the priority areas where, and ways through which, we can best improve faculty satisfaction and success. I am encouraged by the clarity of the feedback via our survey outcomes and would like to seize this unique opportunity to work together to impact real change. Over the coming months, as we continue to analyze and process the survey results, I look forward to forming working groups to address areas of need, and am also looking forward to working with the New Brunswick Faculty Council and other governance groups to collaborate on meaningful improvements.

At the feedback portal on the survey site, please indicate your perspectives on the most urgent areas of institutional deficit identified via the survey: faculty development and support – especially the advancement of mid-career faculty and minority faculty of color, strategies for more effective communications and engagement, and research infrastructure and support. Please also write to me if you have any additional thoughts on other areas that may require a more intentional institutional response.

I remain grateful to you all for your engagement on the survey, and hope that working together, we can benefit from the opportunity to make Rutgers an even more fulfilling place to pursue our academic endeavors.

Sincerely,

Prabhas V. Moghe, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Research and Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor