As I described recently during break-out sessions on All College Day, I am interested in reviewing and discussing our results in the 2013 Chronicle of Higher Education's Great Colleges to Work for Survey. You'll recall that we participated in this survey for the first time this year. Our summarized results may be found at this link:
You may also recall that I had indicated when we engaged in this survey for the first time that my interest was in having a sense of where we would fare well and where we would show room for improvement. Our results reveal both, as I had hoped.
One point of pride for us collectively ought to be that we received no rankings in the bottom two categories of "Warrants Attention" and "Poor." Another out to be that we received rankings in 9 of 15 categories in the range of "Good" to "Very Good/Excellent" and that we compared quite favorably in all categories to our 2013 Carnegie Classification peers.
To summarize the positive rankings, we scored from "Good" to "Very Good/Excellent" in these areas assessed by the survey: facilities; pride; job satisfaction/support; professional development; compensation, benefits & work/life balance; supervisors/department chairs; teaching environment; respect & appreciation; and senior leadership.
We did less well - in the "Fair" range - in the following categories: shared governance; faculty, administration & staff relations, policies, resources & efficiency; fairness; collaboration; and communication. These are survey outcomes worthy of our attention, particularly in light of the relational aspect of several of these categories and given the emphasis that I have attempted to place on the relational aspects of our shared work during my time as president.
As a still relatively new president, I often hear sentiments about communication, collaboration, and shared governance that go like this - "we're doing better," "it takes time to change the culture," or "people have learned not to trust administration; you have to give it time for this to change." Fair enough. Any leader could take from these comments a certain satisfaction that we are on the right track and that time will tip the scales. But that's not good enough, or maybe its just a little too complacent a conclusion to draw.
Sometimes we also run into definitional differences or ambiguities about just what constitutes, for example, shared governance or collaboration. Just what do these look like in their best form and in our particular setting? Is my definition the same as yours, and how would we know without an explicit conversation about these terms? This is the conversation that we need to be having.
The link below is, perhaps, a good conversation starter for us. While focused specifically on the term shared governance and its historical evolution and current definitions in higher education, the linked article gets at the conversation of what collaborative decision-making should look like and who is responsible for what aspects of governance and decision-making in higher education from the perspective of the author. I encourage you to take a look.
As you will have seen in the agenda for the next meeting of the President's Advisory Team (PAT), we will be discussing the Chronicle survey results and what they mean to us and for us in those areas we self-assessed well and in those where we show room for improvement. I have asked members of that team, as always, to seek feedback from those colleagues whom they represent on the PAT to add to and inform our conversation.
I look forward to that conversation and to ongoing conversations about how best to celebrate our strengths as a culture - as revealed by this survey and otherwise - and how to continue our growth and development as a communicating and collaborative culture.
Happy Holiday Season 2013
2 weeks ago