Faculty writing retreats and group writing grants, clarity around expectations for promotion and tenure, and active engagement in university governance were just a few of the outcomes from Virginia Tech faculty participation in the 2017 Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) survey.

COACHE provides an instrument for faculty at colleges and universities nationwide to assess their experiences regarding promotion and tenure; the nature of their work; institutional policies and practices; and the climate, culture, and level of collegiality on their campuses. The objective of the survey is to provide university administrators with actionable information to improve faculty recruitment and retention efforts.

Several programs, initiatives, and efforts developed for Virginia Tech faculty have been influenced by the results of the 2017 COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey. Faculty writing retreats, sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, provide an opportunity for faculty to focus on specific productivity goals in a supportive environment and to develop a network of peers outside of their departments or colleges.

In partnership with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), the provost’s office also developed a new faculty writing group grant program to support tenured or continued appointment faculty in their career development. The primary goal of the initiative is to encourage faculty to form collaborative support networks outside of their home departments and colleges and to encourage research and writing productivity in support of career advancement at Virginia Tech beyond tenure.

The 2017 COACHE survey helped Faculty Affairs identify a need and opportunity to work closely with the faculty community to better explain and define expectations for promotion and tenure. While most pre-tenure faculty find the expectations of them as a scholar in order to achieve tenure and promotion to be somewhat or very clear, Virginia Tech was ranked in the bottom 30 percent of universities in overall clarity of tenure expectations.

Faculty also expressed the need to have a voice and be more engaged and involved in university governance. As a result of the feedback, in part, from the COACHE survey, the Office of the President and the provost’s office created a University Governance Task Force. Members include faculty as well as representatives of the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, university staff, and administrators to advance holistic processes and institutional excellence.

These examples, in addition to other programs and initiatives, demonstrate the value of faculty participating in the COACHE survey. The results are used in practical and applicable ways to effect change at the institution. Virginia Tech will once again participate in the COACHE survey program in early 2020 and will communicate timelines and opportunities to engage later this fall.

Visit the Virginia Tech’s COACHE website for more information on the program and to view results of the 2017 faculty job satisfaction survey. Results of earlier studies are also available.

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