How to Improve Faculty Satisfaction at uw tacoma coache fellows’ Report to uw tacoma Faculty Assembly July 2014



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B) Leadership Quality


The COACHE survey presented three categories for leadership quality: senior (2.84), divisional (2.72), and departmental (3.12). Among these items, UW Tacoma’s scores are low compared to comparison institutions and all participating institutions.

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Each of the leadership qualities (senior, divisional, and departmental) are measured by faculty’s responses to questions related to leadership’s ability in following:

As included in COACHE Provost’s Report which provides within UW Tacoma comparison, the data shows that tenured faculty were particularly dissatisfied in this area: 45% of UW Tacoma faculty “reported that institutional priorities have changed in ways that negatively affect their work.” The great majority of the faculty also indicated that the university leadership did not “provide sufficient support in [faculty’s] adapting to these changes.”

In a separate question, the survey asked faculty to select 2 out of 29 possible attributes that they thought were the worst two aspects of working at UW Tacoma. The quality of leadership was one of five the most-often selected attributes by UW Tacoma faculty (the others were: teaching load, service load, pay, and lack of support for research).

Since its founding, UW Tacoma has been growing tremendously. Over the last ten years, its growth has been under changing leadership. In the last 10 years, UW Tacoma had four Chancellors, two of whom were interim. Similarly, the VCAA’s office has been occupied by three different VCAAs. Similar levels of turnover can be seen at the unit level as well. The largest unit on the campus, IAS, had four directors in the last 10 years, two of them have been interim. With each change in the leadership, faculty face issues with regard to adopting and changing expectations. We believe that frequent changes, along with a new vision, mission, and varying leadership styles, inevitably result in changing agendas, expectations, standards, procedures. In short, a lack of continuity is at the root of this issue.

The rapid expansion of the campus, hiring at junior level, and especially from 2008-2011 at the lecturer level, have made UW Tacoma a bottom heavy institution. These conditions created the conditions in which a relatively small group of senior faculty were asked to shoulder a significant amount of service. For example, in 2013-14, 10 out 11 leadership positions in IAS are occupied by associate professors. We believe that the demand for associate professors for unit level leadership has resulted in two consequences for faculty satisfaction. First, loaded with service and administrative responsibilities, associate professors have delayed their research and thus promotion to Full Professor. Second, associate professors’ leadership has provided faculty only an unproven and sometimes inexperienced leadership. The quality of leadership is intimately tied with most of UW Tacoma’s core values and also many of the items faculty revealed their dissatisfaction.

[Action Plan]


Regularly Assess Leadership Quality [In a year]

  • Implement annual self-evaluations of division and senior leadership.

  • Conduct annual surveys in the units to assess directors and deans.

Allocate Resources [In 1-3 years]

  • Develop leadership mentoring and development programs for division and senior leadership.

  • Allocate resources for leaders to attend leadership development workshops and conferences.

  • Ask senior leaders to mentor division and unit leaders through programs such as “shadowing.”

  • Commit to a certain percentage of future hires at the senior level with leadership experience.


[Best Practices from UWT and Other Universities]


  • How to Be a Good Academic Leader, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024119/


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