University Faculty Take Part in Harvard 'Satisfaction' Survey

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas faculty members took part in the 2009-10 edition of Harvard University’s national study, “Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education.” This is the first time that University of Arkansas faculty participated in this study, which is a survey examining job satisfaction among tenure-track faculty members.

“A survey like this is an important tool for the university,” said Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The information it provides shows us our strengths and identifies areas where we need to improve. In the long run it will help us in recruiting and retaining top faculty.”

Gaber said the university was able to compare its survey results to the data from five peer institutions that also participated in the study: Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Clemson University, the University of Kansas and the University of Tennessee.

A highlight of the survey was that University of Arkansas faculty who responded to the survey perceived strong teaching support on the campus. They rated the importance of professional assistance for improving teaching higher than at the five peer institutions and rated the effectiveness of professional assistance for improving teaching higher than two of the peers. Faculty members were also more satisfied with the quality of university facilities than at some of the peer institutions.

Gaber said this satisfaction level can in part be attributed to the university’s Teaching and Faculty Support Center, a faculty-led resource that is often viewed as a model for enhancing faculty teaching skills.

The survey showed that faculty members were less satisfied with research services and their ability to obtain externally funded grants than faculty at some of the peer institutions. Before the survey results were announced the university took steps to address that issue, by commissioning an external review panel to audit the university’s research services and make recommendations on how to improve performance. Additionally, the university hired James Rankin in July 2010 to fill the newly created position of vice provost for research and economic development.

The survey also showed that female faculty members at the University of Arkansas tend to have higher satisfaction with student quality and course discretion than their male colleagues, but less clarity in some of the criteria surrounding tenure. Racially and ethnically diverse faculty members tend to have more favorable impressions about collegiality and support for family issues than their non-diverse colleagues.

Contacts

Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor
Academic Affairs
479-575-5459, sgaber@uark.edu

Kathy Van Laningham, vice provost for planning
Academic Affairs
479-575-5910, kvl@uark.edu

Yvonne Kirby, assistant director
Institutional Research
479-575-4652, ykirby@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu


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