ISU gets high marks in latest faculty survey

In a national survey of faculty satisfaction, Iowa State showed no broad areas of concern in comparison to its peer institutions. Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty, shared a summary of survey results at the Sept. 12 Faculty Senate meeting.

"We're really outperforming our peers in the area of faculty satisfaction, which I find to be a great success," Bratsch-Prince said.

The COACHE (Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education) survey is administered by Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Forty-nine percent of ISU faculty participated in 2016-17, outperforming the average response rate.

Compared to a small cohort of five peer institutions and a larger group of 112, ISU showed 10 areas of strength:

  • Appreciation and recognition
  • Collaboration
  • Departmental quality
  • Health and retirement benefits
  • Interdisciplinary work
  • Leadership: divisional (college level)
  • Leadership: senior (university level)
  • Mentoring
  • Nature of work: service
  • Personal and family policies

Participating faculty said the best aspects of working at ISU were:

  • Quality of colleagues
  • Support of colleagues
  • Academic freedom
  • Commute

The challenges of working at ISU were:

  • Sense of "fit"
  • Lack of research support
  • Cost of living
  • Lack of teaching support

Bratsch-Prince said detailed data, such as differences by subgroups (gender, race, rank, college, etc.), will be examined and shared with faculty groups and administrators. She said specific areas will be targeted for improvement efforts.

"We'll collaborate with the senate, provost's office and other administrative offices on targeted action," Bratsch-Prince said.

Diversity and inclusion update

Reg Stewart, vice president for diversity and inclusion, provided an update on seven initiatives he and his staff developed:

  • A "mindfulness room" in 297 Parks Library to serve as a quiet reflection area, free of electronic devices, for all campus members
  • Inclusive language in human resources materials to communicate ISU's commitment to the principles of community
  • A campus climate web portal to report bias incidents and find updates and resources
  • A campus climate survey that will be conducted Oct. 3-31
  • A community advisory board that works with the Ames city manager
  • The Big 12 Conference chief diversity officer consortium, to be hosted at Iowa State Sept. 26-27
  • A leadership imperative -- a set of recommendations to help the next ISU president

Canvas update

Sara Marcketti, interim director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), reported that 302 instructors are using the new Canvas learning management system this fall. Those instructors are teaching 947 sections with a total of 17,070 students.

Canvas replaces Blackboard and will be the only LMS available for spring courses. Marcketti reminded faculty that Canvas orientation resources and training opportunities are available. Mike Lohrbach, director in information technology (IT), said 24/7 live support is available online and by phone.

"All of that information does get funneled back to Iowa State so that CELT and IT knows what some of the potential problems are and address them," Marcketti said.

Other business

Senators will vote next month on two proposals:

  • Discontinuation of the master of science program in landscape architecture, which currently has no admitted students. The research-based degree was intended for professionals. A master in landscape architecture degree still is being offered by the department.
  • Language changes for the undergraduate U.S. diversity and international perspective requirements. Academic affairs council chair Tim Bigelow said the current version allows "too much flexibility" and needed changes to "make it more clear what is needed to satisfy the requirements."