Survey offers mixed reviews on faculty member satisfaction
- A new study from the TIAA Institute that surveyed more than 30,900 faculty members nationwide provides insights on their level of satisfaction within the campus work environment at a variety of institution types. The survey revealed that most faculty members are satisfied with their work, and that most employed at baccalaureate or master's level institutions have better work-life balance than professors at intensive research institutions.
- The survey attempted to account for the impact of race, gender, age and other factors in its assessment, but largely found that most of faculty members' dissatisfaction comes from increased bureaucracy on campus and increasing workloads across all types of institutions.
- Women earned less money than men working in higher education, but that women did not have a lower level of professional satisfaction, the survey showed.
Some of the respondents' responses may have been shaped by the consistent trends in higher education, such as increasing opportunities for faculty members to participate in industrial or social advocacy or innovations that may make their jobs easier or more flexible for research and service, but also budget cuts and the difficulty they create for finding full-time work at other campuses.
The TIAA Institute survey may be a blueprint for what faculty members are seeking, and what could help in shaping their teaching, research and service expectations. As financial constraints force institutions to rely more on instructors outside the full-time or tenured ranks, faculty-member satisfaction may be a key component to how colleges can to build programmatic strengths, academic branding in social spaces, and support from lawmakers and donors.
To build satisfaction, academic leaders could use surveying or faculty institute and senate meetings to more openly discuss strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as viewed by professors, and to encourage them to offer solutions to problems. Creating incentives for scalable solutions that work across departments could be another tool for building goodwill among professors.