The results of a survey for faculty members show a need to enhance interaction among colleagues, especially in their own departments.
The main goals of the survey are to improve the ability of the University to retain a talented and diverse faculty and to enhance the quality of work life, said Kiernan Mathews, director of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education at Harvard University.
“Ultimately, we want to know what changes we can make that will yield the greatest improvements in faculty satisfaction, retention and engagement,” Mathews said.
Beverly Davenport Sypher, vice provost for faculty affairs, said prior to the survey, work had already begun on some issues. This included personal and family policies, promotion and tenure; the results of the survey confirmed the need to improve in these areas.
However, one aspect of faculty work life has not yet been fully addressed: The issue of collegiality, or the cooperative interaction among colleagues. Mathews said the importance of this part of faculty satisfaction should not be overlooked.
“We hear time and time again that just a little bit of investment of a colleague’s time, even if they just stop in and say, ‘Hey, how are things going around here?’ makes a difference,” Mathews said. “That little gesture can really go a long way. These connections, these expressions of care and interest, are really what can help sustain faculty through those tough times.”