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Flying Coache At John Jay, With Better Results

posted Mar 3, 2017, 9:50 PM by Emily Tai   [ updated Apr 2, 2017, 10:35 PM by Jay Weiser ]
By Angela Crossman

The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) survey was administered to all full-time faculty across CUNY in the spring of 2015. John Jay College participated in the survey twice before (2009-10, pre-tenure faculty; 2011-12, tenured faculty).

Findings were not encouraging from any of the surveys. However, John Jay’s response to the most recent survey was different than in the past. Faculty are beginning to see changes on our campus as a result.

Understanding the results

We created a transparent, faculty-led process to understand the results. John Jay’s Provost (Jane Bowers), Faculty Senate President (Karen Kaplowitz) and Chair of the Council of Chairs (Jay Hamilton) created a Working Group on the Faculty (Working Group) that included two faculty members from each full time faculty category: Assistant Professor; Associate Professor; Full Professor; Lecturer/Instructor; and two administrative liaison members. The Working Group:
  • Studied the COACHE data; 
  • Talked with individuals about the findings (including faculty members, Office of Institutional Research (OIR), COACHE Associate Director, and representatives from other CUNY campuses); 
  • Made recommendations to the College community; 
  • Took appropriate action in response; 
  • Tracked progress in the implementation of its recommendations to maintain accountability. 
Making the survey results transparent was our primary responsibility. The Provost had disseminated the initial findings to all members of the campus community, including raw data, the COACHE reports, and additional College OIR analyses. The Working Group then began its analysis. I suspect this also helped drive greater transparency at other campuses and allowed the UFS to create a document comparing benchmark results across CUNY campuses. This data was invaluable to our campus. 

Action goals

Given the breadth of topics addressed in the survey, the Working Group sought to focus on the most salient issues. Our discussions identified a number of areas that reflected a high degree of relative dissatisfaction among respondents and were highlighted as “areas of concern” by COACHE. The Working Group decided to focus on three of these areas:
  • Tenure/Promotion;
  • Subgroups (Associate Professors, Faculty of Color (FOC), Women);
  • Workload (which encompassed consideration of service, compensation/benefits, and work-life balance issues). 
We also introduced a discussion of leadership priorities in our follow-up survey and focus group discussions. The Working Group created three sub-committees to probe, analyze and report on all of the findings and key concerns in these domains. We administered two additional brief surveys addressing these areas further and held numerous focus groups to discuss these targeted areas with faculty and seek ideas for addressing some of the issues raised. Toward the end of Spring 2016, the Working Group created a report analyzing the COACHE findings and making concrete, assessable recommendations for the College to address many of the concerns we had heard.

While the report itself was helpful in providing context for faculty concerns, the most vital part of the report was a task list with eight goals we recommended the college seek to improve faculty satisfaction, alongside measurable short- and long-term outcomes that would mark progress toward those goals. One important outcome was the creation of an Associate to the Provost for Faculty position. This faculty member is focused on faculty affairs and, along with the Provost, is using the Working Group’s report as a template for action. Of the eight goals, the campus has seen real progress on six already this year. The Working Group will continue to monitor progress.

#coache #johnjaycollege

Angela Crossman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a member of the University Faculty Senate.

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Image credit: Airplane & Stagecoach, public domain