Harvard Survey Shows Trinity Among Top Institutions in Tenure-Track Faculty Job Satisfaction

HARTFORD, Conn. – The results of a comprehensive three-year survey conducted by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, show Trinity College as one of 10 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions with “exemplary” tenure-track faculty job satisfaction. The research confirms Trinity’s commitment to attracting and retaining junior faculty as part of its overall focus on maintaining and building the academic profile of the College.

The COACHE conclusions were drawn from a survey of 15,000 junior faculty members at 127 colleges and universities nationwide. The rating criteria included tenure practices; clarity of expectations for tenure; the nature of faculty work overall; the balance of work and home life; climate, culture and collegiality; and global satisfaction. In all, 32 schools scored at the top in at least one of the eight categories.

Of the 38 baccalaureate institutions whose faculty participated in the survey, Trinity was one of 10 that achieved “exemplar” status. The top schools in each category – doctoral/research, master’s and baccalaureate -- were not ranked but were listed in alphabetical order.

“This isn’t a beauty contest with dozens of runners-up, nor are we in the rankings business,” said COACHE Director Kiernan Mathews. “Academic leaders at our member institutions request these lists so that they can know to whom to turn about doing something – or several things – right in retaining faculty.”

Continuing, Mathews said, “We hope also that COACHE data will help those in the faculty job market to ask better questions of their prospective employers and to find the right fit.”

Trinity finished in the top pairing in two categories: climate, culture and collegiality, and global satisfaction. The former category includes such items as mentoring; peer review of teaching and/or research; fairness of supervisor’s evaluations; opportunities to collaborate with tenured faculty; professional and personal interaction with tenured colleagues; intellectual vitality of colleagues; and participation in the governance of an institution. Global satisfaction referred to the department and institution as a place to work, and the overall rating of an institution.

Gary Reger, co-director of Trinity’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), called the results “very gratifying.” Although the CTL “works to promote effectiveness in teaching in all its dimensions” and supports newly hired, untenured and tenured faculty with its workshops, resources and dissemination of information, Reger, a history professor, said two programs in particular are designed to help junior tenure-track faculty get oriented, explore best practices with their colleagues, learn how to balance teaching and research and, in general, get acclimated to academic life at Trinity.

The first program is a day-and-a-half workshop that takes place before classes begin. There are discussions on everything from syllabus and course design to student expectations. Reger co-directs the three-year-old CTL with Dina Anselmi, associate professor of psychology.

“The feedback we get is very good,” said Reger. “Faculty find [the sessions] useful, practical and helpful.”

In addition, the CTL offers junior tenure-track faculty a seminar that meets eight times a year. Generally, each is devoted to a different topic, ranging from efficient grading to talking about the prospects for a long and productive career at Trinity.

“We try to create a sense of community, a safe place, one that is confidential and where faculty can get advice and help,” he said.

The CTL also runs workshops from year to year, each exploring a different theme. The workshops are open to all faculty.

Trinity has taken other steps as well to make the College a welcoming and successful place to teach and do research. For example, there is a women’s faculty mentoring group. And new tenure-track faculty are given release time from teaching two courses over their first two years at Trinity so that they can concentrate on making the other eight courses that they teach rigorous and organized, according to Dean of Faculty Rena Fraden.

“There are, in addition, multiple centers and institutes and reading groups where faculty can come together to discuss their work,” said Fraden. “And for those interested in international subjects, there are opportunities for them to travel to [Trinity’s] global [learning] sites.”

Junior faculty members are also entitled to a seventh semester sabbatical, which allows them to continue to produce knowledge, not just transmit it, said Fraden.

Also, in terms of balancing work and family, Trinity has an on-site child-care center.

For more information about the COACHE study, please visit: www.coache.org.