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COACHE survey paves the way to best practices for faculty compensation
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When the Collaborative Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) faculty satisfaction survey launches again in February 2023, Emory faculty will have the opportunity to anonymously share their thoughts on a range of topics, including compensation. When survey results are delivered in August 2023, the Office of the Provost, the COACHE steering committee and school leaders will look carefully at that data to determine the impact of recent efforts to improve transparency and adopt best practices related to compensation — a response to one of the primary recommendations stemming from Emory’s first COACHE survey, administered in 2020.

After COACHE 2020 findings identified opportunities for improvement, the Office of the Provost initiated in 2021 a university-wide review of faculty compensation, which would take place within each school. These school-led reviews, according to Christa Acampora, former deputy provost for academic affairs, would advance Emory’s goal of ensuring clarity and consistency in its compensation practices and rewarding faculty merit.

“Data collected through the COACHE survey helps us determine strategic priorities based on input from the faculty community,” says Ravi Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “The schools’ evaluation of compensation practices is an important part of our commitment to foster a supportive academic environment, and I’m grateful to the deans and associate deans who have led this process.”

The School of Medicine began its comprehensive look at faculty compensation in 2016, giving other schools an example of how their own processes might work. 

According to Heather Hamby, who serves as executive associate dean andchief business officer, the School of Medicine’s plan was created after early work to establish a compensation philosophy, guiding principles and a compensation committee. Transparency, consistency, flexibility and communication “are core goals in the development of the School of Medicine’s department plans,” says Hamby, who explains that departments work with their faculty to implement and monitor plans to facilitate these goals. 

Hamby emphasizes a key component to the school’s approach to compensation — that the work is ongoing and there is value in continually tracking compensation by race, gender and rank and making adjustments as needed.

Schools across Emory have followed suit in evaluating their compensation practices in light of input from the 2020 COACHE survey. 

Just a couple of examples are Oxford College and Emory College of Arts and Sciences, which approach their analyses similarly. In Emory College’s recent review, senior associate dean for faculty Deboleena Roy notes that the College also closely examined the compensation of women in STEM fields, the compression of midcareer compensation due to changes in the market, and the compensation of teaching track faculty.

Likewise, benchmarking by discipline and specialty was important to both colleges and the School of Medicine, given their wide ranges of faculty expertise. Advice from department chairs was critical to Emory College’s process, says Roy. “We work with chairs who advise us about compensation practices in their fields as well as give us a sense of the hiring market. For example, economics has its own market compared to biology,” she says. 

Adds Hamby, “The School of Medicine’s plan had to be market-competitive in order recruit and retain outstanding and highly desirable faculty.”

Rollins School of Public Health also worked to address results from the previous survey through the development and implementation of a school-level faculty compensation plan supported by the dean’s office and departmental leadership and built on the guiding principles of alignment, transparency, equity, inclusivity, flexibility, professional development and financial stability, while optimizing faculty recognition and growth. The plan will be incorporated into the faculty handbook and includes descriptions of the governance around faculty compensation, the benchmarks used, considerations in hiring and promotion, and faculty development and recognition.

“We strive to attract and retain outstanding faculty and to foster an academic community where our people feel supported and valued. This plan is an integral component of that,” says M. Daniele Fallin, James W. Curran Dean of Public Health.

The university-wide reviews aligned with opportunities afforded by transitions within Oxford College. Both Kristin Bonnie, senior associate dean of academic affairs, and current interim dean Kenneth Carter are new to their roles, which they assumed this past summer, priming them for inquiry in service to Oxford’s growth. Carter’s priorities for the year include supporting faculty flourishing and taking stock of Oxford’s programs and community. Bonnie sees the review process “as an additional opportunity to center diversity, equity and inclusion in our practices, and to enhance transparency of process.” 

Addressing compensation is only one part of Emory’s response to the COACHE survey. The new parental leave policy is another step the university has taken to create a work environment in which faculty can thrive. 

“Examining faculty compensation is a valuable step in our pursuit of eminence,” says Bellamkonda. “Faculty are at the heart of what we do as a university, and we want our faculty to be supported in every way possible. This work is ongoing and underlines our commitment to their success.”

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