ADVANCE FADO Internal Faculty Institutional Climate Survey

The ADVANCE FADO Office surveyed faculty in 2010 and 2013 to understand their perceptions of faculty climate. The results from these surveys are used by the institution to inform policies and practices aimed at improving the faculty experience at UNC Charlotte. The survey results are also shared with the Deans of the Colleges, so determinations around what is working and what needs to be addressed to facilitate an environment that promotes faculty job satisfaction. UNC Charlotte ADVANCE FADO uses the results to inform the development of new programming pertinent to the needs of faculty.

UNC Charlotte ADVANCE surveyed tenure-track faculty in April 2010 and 2013 on their perception of the institutional climate and job satisfaction at UNC Charlotte.

“We appreciate that tenure-track faculty took time to share their opinions,” said ADVANCE Faculty Director Yvette Huet. “It is important to understand the perceptions of faculty about the faculty experience.”

Results of the ADVANCE Climate Surveys

FAQ and Answers

Q. Who conducted the survey?
A. The UNC Charlotte ADVANCE Faculty Affairs Office is managing the survey. ADVANCE is largely funded by the National Science Foundation, with a focus on supporting the recruitment, retention and academic success of women faculty, especially those in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, and in increasing faculty success campus-wide.

Q. Why did ADVANCE conduct a climate survey?
A. Climate surveys are important tools to help organizations assess the “pulse” of their employees. UNC Charlotte has participated in national climate surveys for at least 10 years now. We wanted to customize and tailor our own survey to better address our questions about how staff and faculty feel about the university environment. The results can help many constituencies assess and advance their progress toward goals that are encompassed in the university’s Diversity Plan and the individual colleges’ plans.

Q. What will be done with the results?
A. Climate surveys can help organizations see their strengths and their areas for improvement. The survey is being used as a checkpoint; think of it as a wellness health check of our climate. With this survey, ADVANCE will analyze results for the university overall by university respondents, by college and by basic demographic information, not by individual responses.

Information was made available to deans and other administrators in the form of a scorecard that aggregates responses, to protect anonymity. Deans are encouraged to use this feedback to understand where their colleges are excelling and to see opportunities for improvement as they align with diversity plans.

Q. How was the survey developed?
A. The survey is a composite of several leading institutional climate surveys, including surveys from other ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant recipients and internal UNC Charlotte studies. Primary resources from which the survey is based upon are:

  • UNC Charlotte’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Diversity Committee, led by Art Blume
  • UNC Charlotte faculty climate survey 2005, led by the College of Education
  • UNC Charlotte’s Diversity Climate Survey Committee Recommendations, led by Cathy Sanders
  • University of Michigan faculty climate survey, widely used in ADVANCE institutions
  • UNC Chapel Hill faculty climate survey
  • COACHE: the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education faculty survey, Harvard University
  • The Higher Education Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Original items by ADVANCE Evaluation Team
  • Seminal work on Department Chair evaluations by faculty (Tucker, 1984, 1993) outlining department chair responsibilities

The survey was reviewed by 5 faculty with expertise in academic climate content areas, and item and construct validity determined.

Q. What does the survey measure?
A. The survey measured the overall dimensions of job satisfaction, intentions to stay at the university, work/life balance, diversity equity climate, department chair satisfaction, mentoring and sense of community. Job satisfaction sub-constructs include workload, salary and resources. Additional items address campus and departmental leadership perceptions, promotion and tenure policy clarity and overall demographics, such as gender, ethnicity and rank.

Q. Will the university continue participation in other faculty surveys and those of specific colleges and departments?
A. The university, its colleges and individual departments continually assess how to best obtain feedback from its constituencies. The goal is to obtain relevant and useful information that can provide guidance for improvement. That process will be ongoing, and ADVANCE will seek ways to provide useful data that is not duplicative. Plans call for overlapping the university survey with the survey done by COACHE.

Q. Why are only tenure-track faculty being surveyed?
A. Another survey with non-tenure-track faculty already was scheduled, and we did not want to duplicate those efforts. This survey can be considered a “pilot” with a goal of determining if a similar survey could be conducted with a wider audience, perhaps to include staff.

Q. How are you ensuring anonymity?
A. There is no link to faculty members’ email addresses or any other way for anyone to individually identify or link results to individuals. Only aggregate results – in the form of scorecards – were shared with administrators. The survey results were aggregated by large department unit areas, for example by colleges and divisions, rather than smaller subunits, to protect anonymity. The ADVANCE evaluator conducted the confidential analysis.

Q. How much did the survey cost?
A. We used the university’s Student Voice system to conduct the survey, so there were no additional expenses beyond what already is paid for that system. The cost for the coffee/tea coupons to thank participants was minimal. There are no additional expenses for the evaluator’s time, and she is a full-time university employee who worked on the survey as part of her regular duties. Others involved also are currently employed by the ADVANCE office, and they are working on this as part of their regular duties.

Q. What if a faculty member needed accommodations?
A. While the online survey was the primary method, if a faculty member needed to take the survey on paper or by some other method for some reason, they were invited to contact the ADVANCE Faculty Affairs Office to make alternate arrangements.