Yale Bulletin and Calendar

January 18, 2008|Volume 36, Number 15















Faculty survey to be starting
point for ‘self-evaluation’

Most members of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) say that having the freedom to choose the focus of their own research and the time they spend in the classroom are two of the most satisfying aspects of working at Yale, according to the results of a recently released report of a survey of that group.

The Provost’s Office commissioned the survey — the first of its kind to measure FAS work/life satisfaction — to elicit faculty opinion on a range of issues and determine where improvements could be made. The survey was conducted between October 2006 and January 2007.

The survey was sent to all 567 FAS ladder faculty who had been appointed as of July 1, 2006. The results of a separate survey of faculty at Yale School of Medicine will be released at a later date.

The faculty members were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with working at Yale as well as to rate their satisfaction with the University’s resources, departmental climate, the tenure process, elements of work-life balance and departmental mentoring practices. Many of the questions were drawn from a survey designed by the Association of American Universities; survey questions have been adapted for use by many other universities, including Harvard and Duke.

Provost Andrew Hamilton, in a message to FAS faculty accompanying the release of the report, thanked the 76% of eligible faculty who took the time to respond to the lengthy and comprehensive survey. Hamilton noted that, “as we plan resource allocation and policy in the coming years, this information will be most useful in establishing priorities.”

The full report — prepared by the Office of Institutional Research who administered the survey and analyzed the data — is available at: www.yale.edu/oir/FacultySurvey/FASReport.pdf. (A Yale NetID is required.)

Overall, 85% of the faculty reported being either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the experience of working at Yale. More senior faculty members rated themselves “very satisfied” (60%) than junior faculty (29%), although the majority of junior faculty members rated themselves as being at least “somewhat satisfied.” The higher rate of dissatisfaction among junior faculty members was reflected in responses that they gave later in the survey; the majority (58%) believed themselves to have received inadequate mentoring at Yale and over 70% expressed dissatisfaction with the tenure process.

The survey was undertaken prior to the adoption of the new Tenure and Appointments Procedures in the FAS in the spring of 2007. Thus, “we have reason to hope for improved satisfaction in these areas,” according to Hamilton. Anticipating the need for better junior faculty mentoring, the new system has built in more opportunities for non-tenured faculty to obtain feedback on their work. For example, as part of the enhanced research leave structure for non-tenured faculty members, faculty submit a research plan that must be discussed with and evaluated by a committee of tenured faculty in the department. The new system also requires departments to formulate mentoring plans for junior faculty. Jon Butler, dean of the Graduate School; Peter Salovey, dean of Yale College; and Judith Chevalier, deputy provost for faculty development, are working with departments to produce mentoring plans for each department.

Says Chevalier, “The survey reflects something that we already suspected. Many non-tenured faculty members believe that their scholarship would benefit from more regular feedback on their work. The mentoring plans create a framework for that feedback to occur.”

Work/life balance was another theme of the survey. The availability of childcare was one of the resources provided by Yale that was rated most poorly by faculty, particularly those with children under the age of five. Eighty percent of women with children reported that caregiving responsibilities for their children have slowed their career progression, compared to 57% of male respondents with children. Similarly, women in all ranks are more likely than their male counterparts to say that caregiving responsibilities for their parents or in-laws have slowed their career progression. Women were also less likely to report that their departments were “family friendly.” While Yale has, in recent years, adopted several policies that provide support, teaching relief and extensions of appointments for child rearing, Hamilton reported that “continuing our efforts to enhance access to childcare” is a high priority going forward.

The survey analysis showed differences between women and men and between members of racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the faculty of U.S. universities (URMs) and faculty members who are not members of those groups. For example, the survey showed disparities between women and men and URMs and non-URMs in the fraction reporting having received adequate mentoring (about 40% of URMs vs. about 20% of non-URMs). Asked if women had equal opportunities for career advancement at Yale, 46% of the women and 67% of the men said yes. However, 46% of women felt there were fewer opportunities for women versus only 11% of men. Similarly, 46% of the URM faculty and 64% of the non-URM faculty indicated there were equal opportunities for both majority and minority faculty within their departments, while 50% of URMs said there were not, versus 12% of non-URM faculty.

Hamilton cited concern over these differences and suggested that initiatives to improve the representation of minority and women faculty and investments in improved career development practices for all faculty members will help improve the climate for all faculty.

While Hamilton reiterated the University’s dedication to these efforts, he also called for the support of all FAS faculty in helping the measures to succeed, calling for the survey to be used as a starting point for “vigorous self-evaluation and discussion in every FAS department.”


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Yale Books in Brief

Campus Notes

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