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May 7, 2014


“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

-Theodore Roosevelt


There are few people on campus who have not heard about our efforts to disseminate the information and data we collected from the 2012-2013 COACHE survey administration. I'm using this post to summarize our activities and provide an update.

We began the year with an aggressive and comprehensive communication approach to disseminating the results of the COACHE survey. There were town hall meetings, college discussions, presentations for chairs and directors as well as many, many planning and preparatory efforts. We devoted an entire task force to help us roll out a message across campus and we completed this effort for the tenure-track faculty in February. You can see all this information on the FCDS COACHE website

What was missing was the data for the non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty.  RIT was one of just twelve institutions that opted to administer the COACHE survey to NTT faculty and COACHE did not provide the analysis for this data as they did for the TT faculty. Subsequently, we had to do the analysis ourselves and I recently shared this data at our May Town Hall meeting. You can see this data and the presentation online. I am proud that RIT is a pioneer with using the COACHE instrument to measure the satisfaction level of our NTT faculty. 

Along the way, we discussed the areas we could celebrate but spent most of our time talking about the areas of improvement. Three areas stood out: promotion, tenure, and recognition and we tackled these areas with earnest. The Academic Senate was already deeply engaged in providing greater clarity to our tenure policies and practices; I am pleased to say this effort was culminated recently when President Destler approved the completely revised policy E5.0

Independently the deans and I tackled the challenges and issues of promotion, particularly the promotion of associate professors to the rank of full professor but also how lecturers seek promotion. We distributed a thought paper on minimal expectations for promotion to professor and led discussions across the campus on the ideas of these minimal expectations. You can read this paper on my website under Academic Priorities: Tenure and Promotion. While not a policy change, it is my hope that this work will influence changes to the promotion policy E6.0 that is currently under revision by the senate. 

The deans and I also wanted to make sure that faculty knew of the support systems. Providing guidance for faculty as they seek promotion is an expectation we have of our colleges and I asked each dean to report out to me what these support systems look like in each of the colleges. This process is almost complete. 

This brings us to appreciation and recognition. We need to make material progress in this area and so we have been hosting focus groups and discussions to understand how we might get a handle on how we might improve our efforts to recognize the great variety of work and effort faculty do on behalf of RIT. There are some clear take-aways; many faculty would like to see more resources to support their research and teaching - labs, time to devote to their work, and travel are a few examples. Others want our annual evaluation process to do a better job at recognizing the contributions faculty are making. Still others prefer more genuine appreciation and thanks. We can, must, and will make a difference with this area. We don't have all the strategies and tactics yet but we will continue to focus on this area in the future. In the meantime, I recommend you read the excellent report on developing a culture of appreciation assembled by our crackerjack team in Faculty Career Development Services.

The COACHE survey will again be administered in 2015-2016. In the meantime, we will continue to make faculty and staff satisfaction a priority for academic affairs. Over the summer, the deans and I will be discussing next steps and we will spend next academic year tackling not only promotion, tenure and recognition improvements but other issues such as resources and space. 

One final comment: we have the ADVANCE grant to thank for the renewed emphasis on faculty satisfaction and the COACHE survey. It was the leadership of Dr. Margaret Bailey that helped push us to invest time and resources to become a COACHE member and to use this tool to celebrate what we do well and to make improvements to those areas of concern. I’d also like to acknowledge the work of the COACHE Task Force who helped us make sense of the data and developed the plans for communication and dissemination: Ms. Renee Baker, Dr. Robert Barbato, Dr. Laurie Clayton, Dr. Paul Craig, Ms. Julia Lisuzzo, Ms. Ellen Rosen, Dr. Patrick Scanlon, Ms. Maureen Valentine, Dr. Lynn Wild, and Ms. Teresa Wolcott. Thank you for sharing your time and skills for this important project.