Faculty service, engagement in faculty governance, professional outreach, and leadership are integral to the success of the university. The COACHE survey explores satisfaction with the quantity, quality, and equitable distribution of service work, primarily around advising and committee work. Relative to faculty at peer institutions, UMass faculty report greater satisfaction with their discretion to choose committees (58% satisfied), and with the attractiveness of committees (56% satisfied). Furthermore, over 70% of faculty were satisfied with the relevance of committees and 69% were satisfied with the number of advisees.
Faculty at UMass were more pleased with support for faculty in leadership roles (40%) than faculty at our peer institutions, although this is an area for lower satisfaction overall. A significant gender difference emerged on this item, with men reporting greater satisfaction with leadership support (47%) compared to women (35%), although both groups express more satisfaction than institutional peers. Non-tenure track (NTT) faculty were less satisfied than their NTT institutional peers, with only 34% finding support for faculty in leadership roles is sufficient.
* COACHE reports findings by gender for men and women, including transgender men and women, but not for non-binary individuals.
Compared to faculty at peer institutions, UMass faculty felt they spend too much time on service. Fifty-three percent of faculty were satisfied with the amount of time dedicated to service activities, with higher satisfaction for men (60%) relative to women (48%).
Service workload disparities were an important concern, with only 34% of faculty expressing satisfaction with the equitability of committee assignments. Women were less satisfied with workload equity compared to men, with 43% of men and only 27% of women being satisfied. Equity issues emerged with respect to advising: only 32% of faculty are satisfied with support for being a good advisor and 37% are satisfied with the equitability of advising assignments. As in other areas of workload distribution, men were more satisfied than women, with 45% of men and only 31% of women satisfied. Remarkably, in every single aspect of advising and committee service, a greater percentage of men than women indicated that they were satisfied.
Faculty belonging to under-represented minorities (URM)* are very concerned about workload disparity. Only 23% of URM faculty expressing satisfaction with equitability of committee assignments, compared to 36% of white faculty, and 21% were satisfied with the equitability of the distribution of advising responsibilities, compared to 40% of white faculty.
*Defined by COACHE as faculty who identified as non-white and non-Asian/Asian-American in the survey.
Institutions with consistently high faculty satisfaction ratings of service components reported to COACHE that “faculty are eager to participate not in more service, but in more meaningful service and institutions must do better to engage and to reward those contributions.”
Is there tension between the institutional expectations for service and the recognition of service when faculty are evaluated?
Department heads/chairs and personnel committees should communicate transparent and clear service expectations to faculty. Expectations can be conveyed—starting with the onboarding of new faculty—during AFR reviews and through other modes of communication such as handbooks, faculty meetings, and mentoring relationships.
For faculty to gladly devote time to service, their efforts should be valued by their colleagues and recognized by the institution. To further a departmental culture that embraces service as an important means to achieve the department’s mission, significant service contributions should be highlighted at faculty meetings, on the department’s website, in evaluative reviews, and celebrated at annual events. Excellence in service and advising may be recognized through departmental, college and institutional awards. Examples of such recognitions are the College Outstanding Advising and College Outstanding Service/Engagement Awards as well as the ADVANCE College Faculty Mentoring Awards.
Echoing concerns about the equitable distribution of teaching responsibilities, faculty are concerned about the equitable distribution of the service load among faculty in their department.
A recent study (O’Meara et al. 2020) finds that departmental faculty work activity dashboards demonstrate workloads and can help diagnose equity issues. According to the authors, dashboards promoted accountability, clarity, and reference points for expected contributions of faculty.
How to promote equitable faculty workloads is described in a report published by the American Council of Education (O’Meara et al. 2021). This report provides an audit tool and worksheets to support departments in their effort to develop activity dashboards.