Wake Forest University Colonial Group Faculty Survey 2019

Faculty at WFU in 2019 responded most favorably to the Colonial Group Faculty Survey items on areas of Tenure and Promotion as well as Professional Support and Faculty Input. Within Wake, female and racial/ethnic minority faculty trended negatively on Overall Atmosphere, while Tenure-track and primarily undergraduate faculty scored lower on Workload and Flexibility. Wake faculty responded more positively on administrative support compared to faculty at peer institutions but more negatively on their compensation packages.

The Colonial Group Faculty Survey (CGFS) is a peer survey developed by institutional representatives to the Colonial Group, a consortium of national, private universities. The survey focused on institutional climate, workload, tenure/promotion process, mentoring, job satisfaction, benefits and services satisfaction. CGFS was first administered in Spring of 2013, and first administered to Wake Forest faculty in 2019. Seven institutions (Boston College, Brandeis University, George Washington University, Northeastern University, University of Notre Dame, Southern Methodist University, and Wake Forest University) participated in the current year’s study.

CGFS was distributed online by Wake Forest’s Office of Institutional Research (IR) in April 2019 to 891 faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Divinity, School of Law, and University Library. A total of 363 faculty submitted responses (41% response rate, 4.0% margin of error). The respondents were fairly representative of the faculty population by gender and race, although overrepresented by tenured or on tenure track faculty (62% respondents vs 50% of the population). In order to correct the nonresponse bias, all analyses were performed with post-stratification weights. (See here for more on survey analysis methodology.)

Due to the large quantity of individual questions asked and the complexity of assessing specific areas of potential concern, IR developed five constructs which grouped information gathered from numerous items into aggregate measures. These construct scores, which provide a way of looking at overall trends among survey responses, have a sample mean of 50 and a standard deviation of approximately 9 within the WFU sample.
Compared to a simulated average respondent (i.e. a hypothetical respondent who selected the midpoint on low-to-high Likert scale all items) WFU respondents scored positively on all constructs:

  • Tenure and Promotion (WFU 50.0 vs Simulation 38.2; asked only of tenured/tenure-track faculty)
  • Professional Support and Faculty Input (WFU 50.0 vs Simulation 39.0)
  • Overall Atmosphere (WFU 50.0 vs Simulation 41.2)
  • Workload and Flexibility (WFU 50.0 vs Simulation 43.7)
  • Equity and Inclusion (WFU 50.0 vs Simulation 45.6)

WFU faculty in 2019 scored differently by gender on four of the five constructs. Compared to female faculty, male faculty gave higher marks on Equity and Belonging (Men 52.2 vs Women 47.4), Workload and Flexibility (Men 51.9 vs Women 49.3), Overall Atmosphere (Men 51.6 vs Women 49.1), and Professional Support and Faculty Input (Men 51.5 vs Women 49.3).

Under-Represented Minority (URM) faculty on average issued lower scores on Overall Atmosphere when compared to White faculty (URM 48.1 vs White 50.9). However, the two groups had similar scores on the remaining constructs.

Compared to faculty who are not on tenure track, tenured/tenure-track faculty scored lower on Workload and Flexibility (Tenured/tenure-track 49.2 vs Not tenure track 52.2).

WFU faculty who primarily teach undergraduates (i.e., teach more undergraduate-level classes than graduate or professional-level classes during the current academic year) provided lower marks than faculty who primarily teach graduate or professional students on Workload and Flexibility (Primarily undergraduate 49.5 vs Primarily graduate 53.3), and on Professional Support and Faculty Input (Primarily undergraduate 49.3 vs Primarily graduate 53.6).

Individual Items of Note

Although often challenged on reliability, individual questions provide a closer look at notable differences across groups. The following links report by sub-groups those questions where the differences in percent responding between the groups exceed the 95% confidence interval.

WFU 2019 Faculty Compared to Peer Institutions’ Faculty
More WFU 2019 faculty compared to peers reported (to have):

  • Been very satisfied with administrative support and library resources
  • Had problems finding an appropriate job for their spouse/domestic partner in this area

Fewer WFU 2019 faculty compared to peers reported (to have):

  • Been satisfied with their compensation package (including salary, health benefits, and retirement benefits)
  • Agreed that the university creates support structures (e.g., childcare, benefits) to make personal/ family obligations and academic career obligations compatible
  • Considered research funding/grants as overvalued in the tenure process in their department

More men compared to women reported (to have):

  • Reported “research, scholarly, or creative work in your discipline” as undervalued in the tenure process in their department

More women compared to men reported (to have):

  • Had formal mentors through programs administered by the university or department by their own choice

More white faculty compared to URM faculty reported (to have):

  • Been satisfied being a faculty member at WFU

Fewer URM faculty compared to white faculty reported (to have):

  • Agreed that improving the climate for racial and ethnic minority faculty is supported by leadership at the university and school levels
  • Agreed that their department/unit is a place where individual faculty may comfortably raise personal and/or family responsibilities when scheduling department/unit obligations

More tenured/tenure-track faculty compared to non-tenure track faculty reported (to have):

  • Agreed that they have an appropriate voice in the decision-making that affects the direction of their department/ unit
  • Rated their workload as too heavy

WFU 2019 Primarily Undergraduate Teaching Faculty Compared to Primarily Graduate Teaching Faculty

More primarily graduate teaching faculty compared to undergraduate faculty reported (to have):

  • Agreed that their colleagues value their research/ scholarship and teaching
  • Been satisfied with their office space and classroom space
  • Been satisfied with institutional support in improving teaching and student learning

See responses to all survey items here.