Report: ASU faculty morale worse than 5 years ago
by Anna Oakes
A faculty committee at Appalachian State University has concluded that faculty morale is in need of improvement after a survey found that nearly half of faculty report an overall negative morale, and two-thirds report morale has worsened compared to five years ago.
The Faculty Senate's Welfare and Morale Committee conducted a survey to assess faculty morale from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12. The survey was sent to 1,408 faculty, and 675 faculty members responded for a response rate of 47.9 percent. Respondents included full professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors and adjunct professors.
A report of survey results was released Monday.
"The findings from this survey clearly indicate that there is a morale problem at ASU," the report states. "This survey has highlighted some of those negative influences on morale in the hope that recognition is the first step toward rehabilitation. The institution has some areas where it needs to improve."
According to the survey report, 45 percent of respondents said their overall morale is negative, slightly less than that reported it as positive and the rest viewed their morale as neutral.
Sixty-seven percent of faculty who have worked at ASU for more than five years stated they felt worse or much worse about their morale compared to five years ago, the report said.
Nearly a third -- 30 percent -- of tenure-track faculty said they are currently seeking employment at other institutions.
"Every institution would expect some movement by faculty, especially assistant professors, as they find the right mix of conditions to develop their careers," the report states. "However, such a large number suggests widespread discontent with the institution on a broader level."
The issue mentioned most often in response to an open-ended question asking respondents to identify what aspect of working at ASU has the most negative impact on their morale was dissatisfaction with the administration, which was mentioned 171 times, the report stated.
When asked about administrators' responsiveness to faculty concerns, 42 percent disagreed that the chancellor is responsive to faculty concerns, while 44 percent disagreed that the provost is responsive and 21 percent disagreed that deans are unresponsive.
Approximately 42 percent of respondents agreed that "the climate at ASU supports and promotes academic freedom," while only 33 percent of full professors agreed with this statement.
A majority of ASU faculty reported being satisfied with resources for teaching, but three-fifths are dissatisfied with resources supporting faculty research.
Salaries were the second most-mentioned contributing factor to low morale. A 76 percent-portion of tenure line faculty respondents report salary and benefits at ASU are insufficient to attract and retain a high-quality faculty.
The report does not include results of any previous faculty morale surveys at ASU or survey results from peer institutions for comparison.
James Madison University, a public institution in Virginia with a total enrollment of about 20,000 students, conducted a faculty morale survey in November 2007 through its Office of Institutional Research.
JMU faculty members were asked to rank their satisfaction with aspects of the university on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the greatest satisfaction. The average overall satisfaction as a faculty member ranking was 3.78, while satisfaction with academic freedom ranked an average 4.35.
Provost Lori Gonzalez, head of the Office of Academic Affairs at ASU, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.