Workplace Policies, Resources, Facilities, and Compensation
Personal and Family Policies
UMass Amherst’s strong reputation for being a family-friendly institution is reflected in the high levels of satisfaction of our faculty with work-family policies. On almost every work-family policy and program measured, UMass faculty were more highly satisfied compared to faculty at our peer institutions. Fully 91% of UMass faculty were satisfied with the “stop-the-clock" policies for pre-tenure faculty. Faculty are eligible for tenure-year-delays for significant care responsibilities for a family and household member, their own health issues, and for the birth or adoption of a child. Related to this, 75% of UMass faculty were satisfied with parental leave policies, compared to 59% at peer institutions. There was variation in satisfaction with leave polices by rank, however, with around 81% satisfied among pre-tenure, associate, and URM* faculty, compared to 58% satisfied for non-tenure-track faculty. When it comes to satisfaction with institutional supports for family and career compatibility, 54% of UMass Amherst faculty were satisfied, compared to 45% of faculty at peer institutions. Notably, satisfaction on this compatibility measure was highest among assistant professors (67% satisfied) and lowest among full professors (48% satisfied) and women** (49% satisfied).
* URM is defined by COACHE as faculty who identified as Black, Hispanic, and/or Native American in the survey.
** COACHE reports findings by gender for men and women, including transgender men and women, but not for non-binary individuals.
While UMass compared favorably to peers on institutional supports for childcare, eldercare, and spouse/partner hiring programs, these are areas of low faculty satisfaction across all institutions. We note that the family benefits question series had a limited response rate, ranging from 15% to 32% of the sample responding to this series. The high levels of faculty choosing “not applicable” or “I don’t know” likely result from not having used these benefits, personally. Of those with valid responses, only 26% of UMass faculty reported being satisfied with childcare support. Thus, while faculty were broadly satisfied with leave policies that enable faculty care for their own children, they were less satisfied with institutional support for finding paid caregivers. Similarly, only 21% of UMass faculty reported satisfaction with eldercare support. Satisfaction was particularly low among full professors who may be engaged in supporting aging parents at higher rates: 8% of full professors were satisfied with eldercare support. With respect to the spouse/partner hiring program, 36% of UMass faculty reported satisfaction. Satisfaction with this measure varied by race: it was highest (65%) among Asian/Asian-American faculty and lowest (28%) among faculty from under-represented minorities, with white faculty falling in between at 45% satisfied. This suggests increased resources for spouse/partner employment opportunities may particularly improve the recruitment and retention of URM faculty.
Resources and Facilities
Support for teaching excellence and library resources were areas of strong satisfaction among UMass faculty. Relative to the high overall satisfaction with support for improving teaching (67%), satisfaction was even higher among non-tenure-track faculty (75% satisfied) and women faculty (73% satisfied).
Turning to facilities, the majority of faculty were satisfied with office space and equipment, at notably higher rates relative to peer institutions. 74% of faculty were satisfied with office space, while 53% were satisfied with laboratory, research, and studio space and equipment. Importantly, faculty of color had higher satisfaction, relative to faculty overall, with space and equipment: 69% of Asian/Asian-American faculty and 66% of URM faculty were satisfied with space and equipment.
In contrast to higher levels of satisfaction with office and research space, UMass Faculty were less satisfied with classroom space. Compared to faculty at peer institutions, only 42% of UMass faculty were satisfied with classroom space, and this was lower among women faculty (38%) and non-tenure-track faculty (34%). Similarly, UMass faculty were less satisfied with computing and technical support services compared to faculty at peer institutions. A majority (57%) were satisfied with IT supports, but this varied a great deal by rank, with non-tenure-track faculty reporting the highest satisfaction levels (70%) and full professors reporting the lowest satisfaction levels (50%). These differences in rank may be linked to time since degree, with more junior faculty having had more recent training in emergent technologies, particularly related to teaching tools.
Benefits and Pay
A majority of faculty were satisfied with salaries at UMass (58%); this was a significantly higher rate than at our peer institutions. This varied by rank, with 73% of full professors expressing satisfaction with faculty salaries, compared to 49% satisfied among non-tenure-track faculty.
With respect to benefits, UMass faculty were generally less satisfied than faculty at our peer institutions. While on average 85% of faculty at peer institutions were satisfied with their health benefits, just 63% of UMass faculty were satisfied. And whereas 66% of faculty at peer institutions were satisfied with tuition waivers, remission, or exchange, this applied to only 36% of UMass faculty. Parking was another area of low faculty satisfaction, with 33% of all faculty satisfied with parking benefits, and only 26% of non-tenure-track faculty. Finally, fewer than half (42%) of faculty were satisfied with phased retirement options, and this was lower (25% satisfied) among URM faculty.
The work and family policies assessed with the COACHE instrument are subject to collective bargaining at UMass Amherst. Together the MSP and administration have created a set of attractive policies and supports that enhance the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty body. Greater investment in dual-career hiring programs and support for faculty caregivers are continued needs of faculty that are not fully met and merit further attention from the bargaining teams.
In recent years, beautiful new buildings and classrooms have been created on campus, highlighting the challenges of less functional and outdated instructional spaces. Continuing the work of renovating and creating instructional spaces should remain a high priority and greatly contribute to making the campus facilities a destination of choice for students, faculty, and staff.
Health care and retirement options are benefits provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, tuition waivers are regulated by the Board of Trustees, and parking policies are established locally. Advocating for changes in these policies requires collective action and can be subject to collective bargaining. For faculty, working through MSP is the best place to start expressing needs and working for change.