Faculty Senate to Implement University-Wide Faculty Survey in Spring

December 09, 2011

December 8, 2011 — The University of Virginia's Faculty Senate will deploy a survey this spring designed to measure faculty opinion, satisfaction and productivity, according to a presentation during a senate meeting Wednesday.

It'll be the first such survey since 2007 and will go to all faculty members, said Dr. Christopher Holstege, an associate professor in the School of Medicine [link: http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/] and chairman of the Faculty Recruitment, Retention, Retirement and Welfare Committee, who updated the senate on the survey progress.

"The Center for Survey Research right now is putting together questions and will have a draft for us to review on the committee on December 15th," Holstege said during his presentation.

For benchmarking purposes, the survey will retain about half the questions used in the 2007 survey, which included questions on work/life balance and student interaction. A fourth of the survey will be new questions on issues not addressed in the previous survey, and the remaining fourth will pertain to how faculty members utilize their time, he said.

Robert Kemp, the Faculty Senate chair and the Ramon W. Breeden, Sr., Research Professor in the McIntire School of Commerce, characterized the productivity questions as a way to educate external constituencies on faculty work done outside the classroom.

"Not a lot of people understand what we do," Kemp said during the meeting. "They don't understand a faculty member sitting there at 10:30 at night grading a paper, or doing class prep or research work."

President Teresa A. Sullivan, who was on hand to update the Faculty Senate on the recent Board of Visitors meeting, echoed those sentiments during a question-and-answer session after the survey presentation.

"I think having more information can only be helpful," she said. "In absence of that information, people could take the number of hours you are in class as the maximum number of hours you work, whereas it's more like the minimum."

She added, "Many of you are interacting with students in many ways outside the classroom, not to mention your service obligations, the research you do, the administrations of your departments and centers and so on."

Holstege said his committee analyzed several other surveys in preparation, including the 2007 faculty survey, a recent University staff survey, a 1991 statewide faculty productivity survey and several faculty surveys conducted at the school level by University deans.

"It's going to be anonymous, and it's very important that get across to the faculty," Holstege said of the new survey. "The data will be very tightly controlled by the Center for Survey Research."

The results will go directly to the center, which will analyze and report the data with built-in safeguards to ensure that respondents cannot be identified, he said.

The committee will meet in the third week of January to discuss the draft questions with the aim of conducting a pilot survey by Feb. 1. The full survey is scheduled to be sent to faculty in March.

Holstege said the response rate to the 2007 faculty survey was very high and said he hopes faculty senators will encourage their colleagues to participate.

In other business:

Sullivan updated the faculty on a recent Board of Visitors meeting that included several presentations related to faculty, including two examples of recent research and a presentation on plans to improve teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – fields.

"The board members were fully engaged and supportive of the work faculty are doing," she said.

•    The Faculty Senate voted unanimously to close five degree programs in the Curry School of Education. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia identified those programs as candidates for closure during a 2008-09 review, and the University agreed to close them. However, due to a missing procedural step, the Faculty Senate was not able to vote on the closures during a February 2010 meeting. No students have been accepted to the programs since the SCHEV review. The programs were: the M.Ed. in Educational Policy Studies and Ed.D. programs in Educational Policy Studies, Educational Psychology, Kinesiology and Special Education.

Vice President and Chief Information Officer James Hilton and University Librarian Karin Wittenborg gave a joint presentation on the need for academic institutions to digitally preserve scholarship.

"The scholarship that is being produced today, both print and digital, is at serious risk of being lost forever," Hilton said.

The pair urged interested faculty to contact them for consultation on how best to implement practices through which the University could obtain and store copies of faculty-generated research for long-term preservation. 

•    Billy Cannaday, dean of the School of Continuing & Professional Studies, gave a presentation on the school's history, mission and plans to continue upholding a standard of excellence.

— By Rob Seal

Media Contact

Rob Seal

Director of Media Management and Managing Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications