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Preliminary faculty survey results presented to BOV

Overall faculty satisfaction at William & Mary has gone down since 2009, and salaries are a top concern, according to the latest faculty survey.

Rick Gressard, president of the Faculty Assembly, presented preliminary results of the 2013 survey to the William & Mary Board of Visitors on Thursday. According to the report, 74 percent of tenure-eligible faculty and 59 percent of non-tenure-eligible faculty responded. The last faculty survey took place in 2009. This year, non-tenure-eligible faculty were included for the first time.

According to the survey, 66 percent of faculty members responded that they were very or moderately satisfied overall with their position at the College, down from 83 percent in 2009. When sorted by tenure-eligibility, 66 percent of tenure-eligible faculty and 70 percent of non-tenure-eligible faculty reported that they were very satisfied or moderately satisfied.

That change in satisfaction rating is to be expected, given the nature of what’s been happening on a larger scale in the country over the last three years, said Gressard.

“We’ve been through a tough economic period,” he said.

As in the 2009 survey, the respondents identified increasing faculty salaries as a top priority.  According to the responses, 19 percent of tenure-eligible faculty are currently looking for a new job, with 86 percent of them citing dissatisfaction with their salary at William & Mary as the reason. Among the non-tenure-eligible faculty members, 34 percent reported being on the job market, with 59 percent also pointing to dissatisfaction with their salaries as the reason.

Along with increasing salaries, the faculty respondents named the following as priority goals: increasing support for faculty research, increasing support for faculty research presentations at professional conferences, increasing funding for graduate and professional student stipends, increasing funding for undergraduate student financial aid, providing additional support for facilities, and increasing funding to obtain technology and other equipment.

The importance of technology rated higher in the recent survey than in 2009, with more respondents rating course management systems (88 percent), multimedia presentation podiums (83 percent) and wireless connectivity in the classroom (73 percent) as important or very important.

“The faculty is embracing technology,” said Gressard.

Many teaching activities also saw an increase in the new survey. For instance, 71 percent – up from 64 percent in 2009 – said that they had substantially revised an existing course in the last three years.

The survey also revealed an increase in interdisciplinary teaching. Forty-eight percent (up from 39 percent) reported having taught a cross-listed course in the last three years. Also, 58 percent (up from 47) said that they had taught a course with an interdisciplinary focus, and 38 percent (up from 30) taught one as part of an established interdisciplinary program.

“We’re starting to see a change in the climate in terms of working together, breaking down the silos,” said Gressard.

There also appears to be an increased international focus, with 35 percent of respondents reporting having taught an internationally focused course in the last three years, up from 29 percent in 2009.

Scholarship activities also appear to be on the rise, according to the survey. More faculty reported receiving funding for their work, with 41 percent (up from 35) saying they had received it from one or more foundations, and 44 percent (up from 43) pointing to a state or federal government agency. Eleven percent of respondents also said that they had received funding from business or industry; that option was not included in the 2009 survey.

“I think what we see are faculty finding research funds where they can -- maintaining the state and government [funding] even though those resources have dropped, increasing the funding from foundations,” said Gressard.

More faculty also responded that they had advised or supervised students, from undergraduates to doctoral candidates, than in 2009. For instance, 66 percent of respondents (up from 55) reported advising or supervising an undergraduate student on an honors thesis and 75 percent (up from 69) reported doing the same for an undergraduate on a research project other than an honors thesis during the last three years.

“This shows, if nothing else, part of the attitude that undergraduate faculty in particular have in terms of their willingness and desire to work individually and spend times with their students,” said Gressard.

A full, final report on the 2013 survey is expected to be completed in May.