A graph showing results of a survey concerning UD's parental and family leave policy.

Faculty climate survey

Findings shed light on UD worklife issues and satisfaction


1:28 p.m., Oct. 28, 2014--The University of Delaware recently announced that it had been awarded $3.3 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a program that will serve as a national model for diversifying and strengthening the academic workforce.

UD’s five-year Institutional Transformation grant is aimed at supporting University administrators as change agents, improving transparency in policies and procedures, and mentoring women faculty to advance through the ranks and into senior leadership positions.

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As a precursor to the ADVANCE grant, a faculty climate survey was run to collect data on topics including promotion and tenure, evaluation, merit, workload, family-friendly policies, mentoring, and career satisfaction, with the aim of understanding campus climate for all full-time faculty at UD.

Over half the faculty responded to the survey, and the team noted that the profile of the respondents corresponded roughly with the demographics of the University population as a whole.

The following provides highlights of the survey results in five categories. (Note that “clarity of communication” of five policies and procedures—workload, merit pay, sabbatical leave, stop-the-clock, and parental and family leave—was measured on a four-point scale: not clear; somewhat clear; moderately clear; very clear.)

Promotion, Tenure, and Evaluation

  • Continuing Non-Tenure Track (CNTT) faculty, on average, rate communication of promotion policies as only “somewhat clear,” and 40 percent report the promotion process is “not clear.” 
  • For Tenured/Tenure-Track (T/TT) faculty, those who have already been promoted (either to associate or full professor) indicate a higher level of satisfaction with the promotion process than those who have yet to be promoted. 
  • Many faculty expressed, through write-in comments, a desire for greater clarity in promotion criteria and more consistent interpretation and implementation of promotion and tenure policies.

Policies and Procedures

  • Nearly 40 percent of faculty reported “I don’t know” about UD’s family-leave policies. 
  • Almost one-third of faculty rated UD’s stop-the-tenure-clock policy as “not clear.”
  • Over half of faculty rate clarity of parental and family leave policies (by department chair) as not clear, and 50 percent of those eligible for parental and family leave were not encouraged by their chairs to take it (see pie charts). 

Work Satisfaction and Climate

  • Aggregated over all respondents, faculty are satisfied with their professional lives at UD.
  • CNTT faculty have lower satisfaction than T/TT faculty.
  • Black faculty indicated less satisfaction than non-black faculty in several categories — for example, with experiences within their departments; with department chair leadership and respectfulness; and with their voice in departmental affairs.
  • Many faculty commented, through write-in comments, on a lack of community on campus and feelings of isolation and being “siloed.” They would like increased communication between faculty and administrators. 


  • Women rated the climate for women as lower than men rated the climate for women. 
  • Faculty of color rated the climate for faculty of color as lower than white faculty rated the climate for faculty of color. 


  • Assistant (TT) professors report receiving more mentoring than tenured faculty do.
  • Women and faculty of color rely on mentors outside of UD more so than do men and non-faculty of color.


Aggregate results of the climate survey overall trended toward neutral, indicating that faculty as a whole are neither extremely satisfied nor extremely dissatisfied with their professional lives at UD. However, disaggregated data indicated that some groups are more satisfied than others. The UD ADVANCE team will take a closer look over the coming months at the data and follow up with faculty interviews to help discern causes for some of the racial and gender differences observed. 

Activities that are already planned under the NSF ADVANCE IT grant that are anticipated to address faculty concerns include the following:

  • Bi-annual faculty satisfaction survey.
  • Networking and educational support for department chairs and upper administrators.
  • Research conference on “Women of Color in the Academy.”
  • Provost walkabouts, which will bring the provost to all colleges during the grant years.
  • Development of a formal mentoring program for associate professors.
  • Development of an “Ally Mentoring Program” for faculty of color.
  • Annual “Promotion and Tenure” workshops for TT faculty; “Promotion to Full” workshops for associate professors; and “Advancing to Leadership” workshops for full professors.
  • Mini-grants for faculty development.
  • Policies and procedures review.
  • Collection and enhanced presentation and dissemination of faculty-demographics data.

These ADVANCE activities will be carried out with the support, collaboration and involvement of the faculty, the chairs, the deans and the Provost’s Office.

About the Survey

The survey was run and the results analyzed by the leaders of the UD-ADVANCE Program:

  • Pam Cook, principal investigator, Unidel Professor of Mathematical Sciences and associate dean of engineering.
  • Robin Andreasen, co-principal investigator, associate professor of linguistics and cognitive science.
  • Heather Doty, co-principal investigator, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
  • John Sawyer, co-principal investigator, professor of management and associate provost for institutional research and effectiveness.

An executive summary of the findings is available on the Institutional Research website.

A more extensive report is also available on the Institutional Research website.

Article by Diane Kukich

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