UWL Academic Staff Survey Results

The Faculty Senate Instructional Academic Staff Task Force

February, 2005

 

Participants

            A total of 383 surveys were sent to all Instructional and Non-Instructional academic staff currently employed at UWL as indicated by a mailing list provided by Human Resources.  Respondents were 143 Instructional (n = 54) and Non-Instructional (n = 88) academic staff (one participant did not indicate classification) yielding an overall response rate of 37%.  Instructional academic staff (IAS) responded at a rate of 40% and non-instructional academic staff (NIAS) responded at a rate of 35%.  Thirty-one percent of respondents were men, 61% were women, and 8% preferred not to indicate gender.  To preserve the anonymity of respondents, only the most basic demographic information is provided for the total sample.  Eighty-seven percent of the respondents were white, while the remaining 13% were people of color or preferred not to indicate ethnicity.  All other data were analyzed separately for instructional and NIAS.  

 

Current Employment

            The large majority of IAS has a 100% employment (69%).  The remaining respondents have appointments ranging from 25% to 93%.  Years of employment range from less than one to 29 (median = 8).  Most have worked continuously since they were first hired; however 16% have had breaks in their employment over the years. 

            The characteristics of the currently employment of NIAS is very similar to that of IAS.  The majority of non-academic staff respondents hold a 100% appointment (76%), while the remaining employments range from 25% to 92%.  Years of employment range from less than one to 22 (median = 8).  Again, most NIAS respondents (70%) have held continuous appointments, but 30% have had breaks in their employment. 

            One difference between instructional and NIAS is type of position.  All IAS respondents have fixed term contracts of some form.  Most respondents (54%) currently hold one-year fixed term contracts, although a substantial minority (26%) has single-semester fixed term contracts.  Thirty-one percent held rolling horizon contracts in the past. 

            Similarly, the large majority of NIAS (81%) hold some form of a fixed term contract, with the most common type being the one-year fixed term contract.  None of the respondents reported single semester contract, and 15% hold indefinite contracts.  Twenty-eight percent held rolling horizon contracts in the past.

 

Satisfaction with Employment

            We asked several questions to assess respondents’ level of satisfaction with their current employment, and more specifically, their sense of security in the current positions.  First, we asked respondents if they had ever considered seeking employment elsewhere and if so to list their reasons.

            The large majority of academic staff has considered seeking employment elsewhere, IAS somewhat more frequently than NIAS (see Table 1).  When asked about their reasons for doing so, most people reported dissatisfaction with compensation and job security.  Other common reasons included (in order of frequency of reporting):  1) lack of promotion opportunities, 2) lack of feeling respected and appreciated, 3) increasing workload demands, and 4) personal or family reasons.

 


 

Table 1

Responses to “Have you considered seeking employment elsewhere?”

 

Instructional

Non-Instructional

I have not considered seeking employment elsewhere

19%

33%

I have occasionally considered seeking employment elsewhere

34%

35%

I have seriously considered seeking employment elsewhere

30%

17%

I am currently seeking employment elsewhere

9%

8%

I have sought employment elsewhere in the past, but am not currently doing so

15%

8%

Note:  Respondents were asked to check every statement that applied to them.  Numbers represent the percent of respondents who checked each response.  Some people checked more than one statement; therefore total percent may be greater than 100.

 

            Among IAS, 30% have sought a tenure track position elsewhere in the past.  IAS were asked if they had plans to seek a tenure track position elsewhere on a scale from 1(“not at all”) to 7 (“most definitely”).  Most do not have such plans as the mean is below the midpoint of the scale (scale midpoint = 4, mean = 3.21, standard deviation = 2.25).  Finally, we asked respondents to rate their perceptions of their job security and level of concern about the elimination of the rolling horizon contracts.  IAS feel significantly less secure in their positions than NIAS.  Ratings of concern about the elimination of rolling horizon contracts did not differ between groups.  Both groups are concerned about the change of policy.  See Table 2 for group means.

 

Academic Staff Governance

            Interestingly, most academic staff (69% of IAS and 68% of NIAS) were unaware of the policy regulating the governance of instructional and NIAS.[1]  Both groups were fairly neutral in their assessment of the appropriateness of this policy (see Table 2).  Seventy-five percent of IAS reported their governing group was Faculty senate, and 94% of NIAS reported their governing group was Academic Staff Council.  The groups differed in how well they felt their concerns were represented by their specified governance group.  Specifically, IAS feel less well represented than NIAS (see Table 2). 

            Finally, we asked IAS to indicate their preference of a governing body for academic staff with faculty status.  Only 16% indicated Academic Staff Council; the remaining 84% were equally divided between Faculty Senate (44%) and “no preference” (40%). 

 


 

Table 2

Differences in Mean Ratings about Job Security and Academic Staff Governance between Instructional and Non-Instructional Academic Staff

 

Rating Scale

IASa

NIAS

t b

Perceptions of job security               

1 = very secure

7 = not at all secure

4.66

(1.97)

3.31

(1.70)

4.31**

Concern about elimination of rolling horizon contracts

1 = not at all concerned

7 = very concerned

5.74

(2.04)

5.08

(1.84)

1.84

Appropriateness of academic staff governance policy

1 = very appropriate

7 = not at all appropriate

4.36

(1.55)

3.93

(1.73)

1.23

How well respondent concerns are represented by their given governance group

1 = very well represented

7 = not at all well represented

4.55

(1.55)

3.59

(1.60)

3.23**

a Standard deviations are presented in parentheses.

b  t values marked with ** are significant at p < .01.  Degrees of freedom range from 111 to 139. 

 

Value of Academic Staff

            We asked IAS about their teaching loads as well as any other duties they perform.  IAS have contact with all levels of students, from freshmen through graduate students and are involved in much more than only teaching.  First, we asked IAS to indicate the following about their teaching load for the fall 2004 semester:   1) number of course preps, 2) number of sections, 3) number of contact hours, and 4) and number of students.  IAS who responded to the survey had anywhere from one to eight course preps during the fall 2004 semester (median = 3), with one to nine sections (median = 4).  Finally, the range of students taught by each IAS ranged from 11 to 300 (median = 91).  Second, we asked IAS to indicate all duties that they perform as requested by their department or to improve their current job security or competitiveness for another position.  Fully 84% of IAS perform duties other than teaching to fulfill departmental expectations.  Of those who reported departmental expectations of duties other than teaching, the number of such duties ranged from 1 to 15 (median = 5).  A majority of IAS reported their department expected them to serve on departmental committees and advise students.   Additionally, 86% reported performing duties other than teaching to improve their own job security or competitiveness for another position.  Of those who reported they engaged in extra activities, the number of such activities ranged from 1 to 12 (median = 4).  Again, the most commonly reported duties were serving on a departmental committee and advising students.  See Table 3 for a complete list of activities. 

 


 

Table 3.

Percent of IAS Who Engage in Extra Duties

 

Extra Duties

Departmental Expectations

Job Security/ Competitiveness

 

Advising undergraduate students

58

54

Advising graduate students

16

6

Serving on departmental committees

64

50

Serving on college committees

38

28

Serving on university committees

32

36

Serving on community committees/boards/etc.

14

30

Serving on a search and screen committee

34

32

Chairing a committee

28

20

Supervising undergraduate research

6

8

Supervising graduate research

4

4

Conducting individual research

16

26

 

Supervising undergraduate internships/clinicals/etc.

24

12

 

Supervising graduate internships/clinicals/etc.

18

6

 

Directing a program

14

16

 

Coordinating a course

40

29

 

Laboratory preparation

18

12

 

Other

34

38

 

Note:  Respondents were asked to check every statement that applied to them.  Numbers represent the percent of respondents who checked each response.  Some people checked more than one statement, therefore total percent may be greater than 100.

 

Qualitative Analyses

            We asked all respondents to answer three open-ended questions:  1) What do you enjoy/appreciate most about working at UWL?, 2) What concerns you most about working at UWL?, and 3) Please describe anything else you want the Task Force to be aware of.  We grouped similar responses and have reported all responses given by at least 10% of the people who chose to respond to each question.

 

What do you enjoy/appreciate most about working at UWL?

Instructional Academic staff (49 people responding)

% Reporting

  • Working with students

61%

  • Relationships with colleagues

55%

  • Flexibility in schedule

12%

  • Campus atmosphere, intellectual stimulation

14%

  • Feel respected by others

10%

Non-Instructional Academic staff (87 people responding)

% Reporting

  • Relationships with colleagues

44%

  • Working with students

40%

  • Health benefits

18%

  • Campus atmosphere, intellectual stimulation

17%

  • Flexibility in schedule

14%

  • Enjoy job responsibilities

14%

 

What concerns you most about working at UWL?

Instructional Academic staff (50 people responding)

% Reporting

  • Job instability/inconsistency

42%

  • Feeling like “second class citizen”/lack of respect

30%

  • Lower pay for same work

20%

  • Lack of career progression opportunities

12%

  • Increased workload expectations

12%

  • No/inadequate raises in pay

10%

Non-Instructional Academic staff (87 people responding)

% Reporting

  • Job instability/inconsistency

30%

  • Budget cuts

23%

  • Feeling like “second class citizen”/lack of respect

13%

  • Poor relationships with/communication from administration

11%

 

Please describe anything else you want the Task Force to be aware of below

Instructional Academic staff (29 people responding)

% Reporting

  • Angry about administration violating policies about contracts and titling

10%

Non-Instructional Academic staff (29 people responding)

% Reporting

  • Lack of consistent review policies for academic staff

14%

 

 

 

 

 


 

[1] The survey included the following passage to explain the current policy about academic staff governance:  “As you may know, non-instructional academic staff and instructional academic staff with less than a 50% appointment are governed by the Academic Staff Council.  Instructional academic staff with an appointment of at least 50% are governed by Academic Staff Council for the first three semesters of employment.  As of the fourth semester, instructional academic staff with an appointment of at least 50% have faculty status, and are thus governed by Faculty Senate.  Faculty status is not dependent upon continuous appointment.  In other words, even if an academic staff member might take a break from teaching, that person would continue to have faculty status upon return to the university.”