Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) is an initiative of Harvard Graduate School of Education. A key part of this initiative is faculty job satisfaction surveys that the COACHE team administers throughout the United States University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) participated in the survey in autumn 2012. All full-time faculty with at least one year of work experience at UW Tacoma were invited to participate. UW Tacoma had high participation rate.
Table 1. Participation Rate of UW Tacoma in the COACHE Survey
One of the strongest aspects of the survey is that it provides three levels of comparison: 1) UW Tacoma versus all other participating institutions (a total of 77 institutions), 2) UW Tacoma versus five peer-institutions, 3) sub-group comparisons within UW Tacoma (across tenure-track ranks, gender, and race).
In terms of peer-institutions, a COACHE committee of faculty, staff and administration selected the following five institutions:
a. North Carolina Central University (http://www.nccu.edu/index.cfm)
b. The State University of New York (UNY) - Buffalo State (http://suny.buffalostate.edu/)
c. The University of Massachusetts (UMass) – Lowell (http://www.uml.edu/)
d. The University of North Carolina Greensboro (http://www.uncg.edu/)
e. The University of St. Thomas (MN, http://www.stthomas.edu/)
The chart below summarizes over a half million data points in benchmark results for UW Tacoma relative to these five peers and the full cohort of COACHE’s participating institutions. Each column represents the range of institutional means (not the distribution of individual respondents) along that dimension. The graph specifies the institution’s mean score on the benchmark (◆), the mean scores of the five peers (°), and the cohort mean within each chart (━).
The distribution of responses of the entire cohort of institutions are colored by red, grey, and green boxes. The red section of the column indicates the bottom 30, the green section, the top 30, and the gray section, the middle 40 percent of all institutions. A mark in the green section indicates that the faculty rated a benchmark in the top 30 percent of all institutions. A mark in the grey area indicates a “middle-of-the-road” result.
Overall the survey revealed widespread and deep dissatisfaction among the faculty. Among 20 dimensions from Nature of work: Research to Appreciation and Recognition, except two themes (Facilities and work resources, Health and retirement benefits), UW Tacoma ranked in the bottom 30 percent of all institutions.1 UW Tacoma senior administrative and faculty leadership decided to use the COACHE survey results to foster discussion and generate actionable items to improve faculty work conditions at UW Tacoma.
Following a call for application to entire faculty in fall 2013, in winter 2014, the Faculty Assembly established COACHE Fellows, Nicole Blair, Sam Chung, and Turan Kayaoglu (coordinator), to write a report that identifies “a prioritization of the areas for improvement,” suggests an “action plan for making improvements in the highest priority areas,” and proposes a “timetable for the action plan.” Throughout winter and spring quarters of 2014, the Fellows met weekly to prepare a report that would address these three items.