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COACHE Faculty Satisfaction Survey reveals strengths and opportunities
Asa Griggs Candler Library of Emory University

Nearly 40% of eligible faculty participated in the 2023 survey, which is used as part of Emory’s continuous efforts to elevate the faculty experience at both school and university levels. Results are now available online.

— Emory Photo/Video

From the transformational opportunities they create for students to the far-reaching impact of their research, faculty are the cornerstone of Emory’s excellence and power its future. Fostering faculty success is critical to the success of the university, and faculty voices are an essential resource in Emory’s pursuit of eminence. 

Since 2020, the Office of the Provost and its Faculty Affairs team have used the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Faculty Satisfaction Survey as an opportunity for faculty to provide feedback on every aspect of their academic life. Sharing input on facilities, mentoring, policies and the climate and culture of the university helps identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement at school, department and institutional levels.

COACHE, coordinated by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a nationwide collaboration of colleges and universities committed to gathering the peer diagnostic and comparative data academic leaders need to recruit, retain and support faculty members who are critical to the future of their institutions.

Nearly 40% of eligible full-time Emory faculty participated in the most recent survey, conducted in spring 2023. The results, now available online, show that Emory faculty are significantly more likely than faculty in national and benchmark institutions to say they are “very satisfied or satisfied” with their institution and department as places to work, according to the survey. Faculty also gave high marks to teaching; leadership support of diversity, equity and inclusion; the contributions of clinical, research and teaching faculty; and collegiality.

Areas where faculty were less satisfied included compensation; tenure and promotion; work/life balance; research support; service equity; and clinical, research and teaching faculty concerns about promotion and professional development. School and university leaders will continue to address these concerns as they develop action plans in response to survey findings.

“Emory is committed to cultivating a culture of faculty eminence and operational excellence through programs, policies and initiatives that empower all faculty to excel,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “I am encouraged by the overall high levels of satisfaction with Emory and look forward to working with our deans and faculty to translate their feedback into concrete improvements that continue raising the bar for faculty support.”

Putting feedback to work

COACHE is conducted every two to three years to allow time for school and university leaders to analyze survey results, develop actionable recommendations for school and university improvements, and implement plans for new policies, systems and resources in collaboration with faculty partners.

Following Emory’s first COACHE survey in 2020, school and university leaders:

  • created new opportunities for professional development;
  • enhanced mentoring and recognition;
  • launched a framework for compensation review within schools and at the university level;
  • expanded parental leave; and
  • made improvements to the tenure and promotion process, among other actions to support faculty.

“The success of the COACHE process relies on faculty feedback, and I’m grateful to all those who shared their voices,” says Pearl Dowe, vice provost for faculty affairs. “I encourage faculty to continue to engage as we turn to developing recommendations and action plans to improve in areas indicated by the survey, such as compensation and work-life balance.”

In the coming weeks, Dowe will convene the university-wide COACHE Steering Committee to guide broad responses, while visiting schools to discuss results and support their local planning efforts.

Increased faculty participation

COACHE is part of Emory’s longstanding commitment to faculty satisfaction, building on earlier efforts such as Toward Faculty Eminence, Class and Labor II and  Class and Labor I.

COACHE survey participation rose from 32% of Emory faculty in 2020 to 38% in 2023. Every school met or exceeded its previous rate, indicating investment in the COACHE survey process from faculty and leaders who encouraged participation as a way of building strong schools.

Now school leaders are eager to collaborate with faculty to develop recommendations and action plans beginning this spring.

“The most recent COACHE survey has provided the College administration with important insights about the issues we should address strategically and holistically to better serve the needs and interests of our stellar faculty,” says Barbara Krauthamer, dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences.

Gareth James, John H. Harland Dean of Goizueta Business School, an enthusiastic supporter of survey participation, appreciates the opportunity for dialogue that the survey creates. “As we work to shape Goizueta and become the best institution for our employees and students, faculty voices play a critical role in our decision-making process.

“Given the feedback we have received,” he says, “we plan to provide greater clarity surrounding the tenure and promotion process; improve balance in teaching, service and research workload; and continue to create a community where colleagues fully support each other.”

Advancing faculty success

When the COACHE Steering Committee and school leaders begin to analyze survey results in the coming weeks, they will consider them within the context provided by results of Emory’s 2020 survey and those of other institutions, including some 90 national universities that took the survey around the same time.

From that pool, Emory also selected five institutions to benchmark against. These were chosen based on similar selectivity, research activity and membership in the Association of American Universities and/or Consortium on Financing Higher Education.

In addition to findings of high faculty satisfaction overall, the survey reveals (click each item to read more):

The Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) supports teaching with a range of resources that include a Teaching Toolkit, Inclusive Pedagogy Handbook and Canvas Knowledge Hub in addition to events like the Summer Teaching Intensive, New Faculty Teaching Workshop and pre-semester prep sessions.

In response to 2020 survey recommendations for the expansion of mentorship opportunities, the Office of Faculty Affairs increased opportunities for faculty to engage in programs and workshops offered by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. CFDE’s Faculty Mentorship Network program matching mentors and mentees grew as well.

After COACHE 2020 findings identified opportunities to improve compensation practices, the Office of the Provost in 2021 initiated a university-wide review of faculty compensation in partnership with Emory schools and colleges. Each school was charged with conducting an internal examination to identify opportunities to improve the clarity, transparency and consistency of their compensation practices.

To help ensure competitive, fair compensation, each school conducts a detailed analysis of salaries by gender, rank, race, time in position and other factors as part of the annual budget process. In addition, schools compare salaries to external market data where available. The Office of the Provost conducts a concurrent independent review to help identify equity gaps.

This focus on compensation, which includes a standardized annual review process implemented in 2023, continues within the schools and the Office of the Provost.

In the 2020 survey, administered in the early months of the pandemic, faculty reported mixed satisfaction with leave policies, especially parental leave, which varied across schools. As a direct result of that feedback, in May 2022, Emory expanded its parental leave policy to offer faculty who experience the birth or adoption of a child a minimum of six weeks of paid leave. Emory faculty continue to express concerns about work/life balance, especially the availability of childcare.

Emory scores extremely high in leadership and peer support for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), exceeding its benchmarking group and the national average. This result follows the 2020 recommendation encouraging more university-wide and school-specific DEI faculty development opportunities.

Since then, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) has contributed to faculty eminence with its 2022 institutional strategic plan and the results of the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) survey, offered later the same year.

The Office of the Provost has supported two grant cycles, one focusing on social justice and socially engaged arts projects, and the second on racial justice and racial equity. Schools responded with new professional development opportunities, workshops and DEI-informed recruitment and retention efforts. Schools’ full range of responses are available in the end of year reports they share with ODEI.

Emory exceeds its peers and the national average in satisfaction with department collegiality, which faculty overwhelmingly rate as strong. Faculty also appreciate good-faith discussions and open communication with administrators.

Colleagues taking the 2023 survey recognize clinical, research and teaching faculty for their intellectual vitality, scholarly productivity and teaching effectiveness. In response to 2020 survey feedback, Emory instituted new, streamlined titles and ranks to create more defined career trajectories and progression for these faculty. However, faculty in these tracks continue to express lower satisfaction with opportunities for professional development and promotion and advising responsibilities.

Overall, faculty satisfaction with Emory’s research environment is strong. Like peers at other universities, however, Emory faculty see room for improvement in grant support and course releases. They also seek a workload that balances research, teaching and service.

Following the 2020 survey, Faculty Affairs made efforts to address tenure and promotion, which have resulted in a stronger understanding of the requirements of tenure and a clear sense of tenure outcomes. The clarity of the tenure process, identified as a concern in the 2020 survey, has improved. However, opportunity for improvement remains, especially regarding when and how faculty should approach promotion to full professor.

Since the 2020 survey, Emory has invested broadly in the recognition of faculty eminence, one of the pillars of the One Emory: Ambition and Heart strategic framework.The university has also prioritized support for faculty nominations and awards, including teaching awards.

As an example of progress, the number of faculty elected each year to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences increased 82% between 2016-19 and 2020-23 (from an average of 2.8 to an average of 5 annually).

Additionally, Emory identified faculty eminence as a key focus of the 2O36 capital campaign, which has generated more than 25 endowed chairs since 2022 thanks to generous donor support.

Moving forward

Valeda F. Dent, vice provost of libraries and museum, understands the significance of the work ahead.

“The COACHE survey provides deep insight into the areas where we meet and exceed faculty expectations and those areas where we must do better,” she says. “The results will inform our strategic and operational work over the coming year.”

Following the analysis of survey results, the steering committee and school leaders will craft recommendations to strengthen faculty support and address opportunities for improvement. School leaders and faculty will work together to determine a course of action and a timeline for implementation, which is expected to begin during the summer of 2024.

The Office of the Provost will follow schools’ progress and monitor the university’s efforts to continuously elevate the faculty experience.

“I am truly grateful to our faculty for their participation in the survey, and to those who supported the survey process,” says Bellamkonda. “Faculty voices matter at Emory, and this feedback will lead to action that advances the work we do together.”

Explore the results of the 2023 COACHE survey comprehensively with a full report that may be sorted by demographic. Results are also available by school and as findings by themea high-level view of areas of strength and opportunities for improvement across the survey. While high-level findings are publicly available, an Emory Net ID is required to access the full report.

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