New Survey Points to Extreme Dissatisfaction Among CCNY Profs by Tiffany McKay
City College isn’t the happiest place on earth, at least for its faculty. According to a new study conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, many of our professors are dissatisfied, to say the least.
It isn’t because of the student body: Most faculty members say that they teach at City College because they care about the diverse student body and prefer to be in New York City. Their dissatisfaction stems from a lack of resources, benefits, quality of work life, appreciation and recognition, and other important aspects of a fulfilling workplace.
The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) surveyed 520 faculty members, of whom nearly 90 percent said that they have not received formal feedback on their progress toward being promoted to full professors. In addition, nearly half of the respondents believe that in the last five years City College’s priorities have changed in ways that negatively affect their work. Approximately 50 percent of pre-tenure, associate, and full-time professors say that their chief academic officer does not care about the quality of life for faculty of their rank. Click here to view all the results.
COACHE researchers developed this survey as a way for colleges to assess whether the institution provides the right environment for “research productivity.” Schools can use this analysis to determine whether faculty members are satisfied with their work environment and feel supported by their institutions.
By nearly every measure, City College scored lower than most colleges surveyed, including comparable schools such as SUNY – Buffalo State College, University of Baltimore, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Still, most respondents said that, given the choice, they would still pick City College.
At a recent faculty senate meeting, members discussed the COACHE results. Professor Fred Moshary described the low faculty morale at City College as “alarming and pervasive.” According to Moshary: “From research to teaching to service to facilities, City College didn’t do very well compared to our peer institutions or to other CUNY schools.”
“We have serious problems here,” Moshary added. “This study has raised the red flag.”
Another faculty member at the meeting was even more direct, nothing that a faculty survey taken in 2009 reported similar results, and wondered why so little has changed. “I would suggest that the results from this COACHE survey are much more grave,” he said. “Faculty morale has not changed in six years and we need to know why. Faculty morale is an expression of disappointment. Are we going to just let this rot for another five or six years? I hope not.”
The current budget crisis has only added to faculty stress and distress, as Professor Václav Paris points to City College’s financial crisis as a problem: “I suppose I feel a mild dissatisfaction with the way the university is being run at the moment – mainly at the ascendancy of upper administration, and how it’s actually just made education worse – in no way better or more accessible,” he says. “Arts and the Humanities at City College [is] in fiscal crisis this year. While there’s a billion dollar surplus on the New York state budget this year, nobody higher up is offering a penny.”
Still, Paris – an assistant professor – says that he feels satisfied with his job at City College. “My department is very supportive,” he explains. “I get to teach and research what I want; I get paid, quite generously I think; the tenure guidelines are clear and not utterly ridiculous, and, backache aside, I enjoy it.”
Dario Orta, a senior says that he isn’t shocked by the results of the COACHE survey, since students also face the same issues. “It’s not the best news to hear that professors aren’t happy with CCNY, but I could sense it; it’s no surprise,” he says. “My Ad/PR group recently surveyed City College students, and we found out they’re pretty stressed about school and other aspects of life. If the students are stressed by their academic career, then professors are probably stressed out by their careers and demands, too.”
In light of the survey’s results, President Lisa Coico has held meetings to discuss its findings and workshop solutions. “The 2015 COACHE study results for City College show there are numerous opportunities to improve and strengthen our institution in many areas,” Coico says. “One of the most visible signs of this is the faculty-driven strategic planning process, which focuses on student success; research, scholarships, and creativity; new academic initiatives; diversity; financial health; and campus and community. Implementation of the new strategic direction for the college will launch during the spring 2016 semester.”