UNK Faculty Senate, administration studying faculty morale survey

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Faculty Senate circulated results today of a first-of-its-kind UNK faculty morale survey conducted last fall by the Faculty Welfare Committee.

In an email to faculty, Faculty Senate President Ross Taylor provided an overview of results and said faculty and administration are using those results “to guide efforts to improve the workplace environment on the UNK campus.”

Ross-Taylor-web
Ross Taylor

Administration and Faculty Senate are already collaborating to address themes that received the most attention among survey respondents by identifying ways to improve communication and to clarify expectations and procedures for performance evaluation.

“These areas are challenging areas for organizations of all kinds and require focused and ongoing attention,” said Chancellor Doug Kristensen.

In all, 168 faculty responded to the survey, which is the equivalent of 51 percent of all full-time (330), and 38 percent of all full-time and part-time (442) instructional faculty at UNK.

Faculty responses overall were positive regarding the adequacy of resources for instructional materials and library collections. Responses also indicate that the current climate at UNK supports and promotes academic freedom and that senior administration is looking out for the best interests of students and the university.

Faculty at the rank of associate and assistant professor responded more positively about the faculty’s role in academic decisions than full professors. They were also more positive about whether service on committees is valued, and recommendations listened to, by administration. Non-tenured faculty members were more positive than tenured faculty when asked if administration is looking out for their best interests and respects faculty participation in university governance.

Non-tenured faculty were more positive relative to the adequacy of resources for research and faculty development and whether conditions at UNK are conducive to hiring and retaining high quality faculty.  They also reported higher personal morale. Overall, in terms of morale, 49 total respondents disagreed/strongly disagreed that their personal morale is good and 47 indicated their morale is worse than five years ago.

“One area that is a strength is that most faculty are neutral, agree, or strongly agree that expectations regarding their performance in the teaching and research areas are clearly defined,” said Taylor, Faculty Senate president. “However, when faculty were asked about service and about the relative importance of teaching, scholarship and service the expectations are not as well understood.”

While compensation and workload issues received significant feedback in the survey, Taylor indicated these are the responsibility of the UNK Education Association rather than the Faculty Senate.

“The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will be looking for opportunities to engage the faculty to develop an action plan based on these results,” Taylor said. “Some possible venues to discuss action items are the Faculty Senate Welfare committee as well as appropriate committees at the individual college level.”

Taylor thanked the welfare committee for designing, implementing, and initial analysis of the survey, which he said was a year and a half in the making. A copy of the survey can be obtained from Faculty Senate members, Taylor said.

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Contact: Ross Taylor, president, Faculty Senate, 308-865-8347, taylorar1@unk.edu
Contact: Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor, Communications and Community Relations, 308-865-8455, bartlingkh@unk.edu

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