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Survey reveals happy faculty

Provost Peter Lange shared the results of the 2010 Faculty Survey Report at the Academic Council meeting.
Provost Peter Lange shared the results of the 2010 Faculty Survey Report at the Academic Council meeting.

Duke faculty satisfaction is relatively high compared to that of its peer institutions, Academic Council members learned at their meeting Thursday.

At the meeting, Provost Peter Lange shared the results of the 2010 Faculty Survey Report, a survey administered to faculty members last Spring. The report detailed survey results in terms of school and department within the University as well as faculty rank, gender, race and ethnicity. The report also included comparisons to a similar 2005 Duke survey and a 2010 survey of faculty satisfaction at other highly-ranked colleges and universities.

According to the 2010 report, female faculty at Duke are less satisfied with salaries and access to teaching assistants than their male counterparts, though men and women are both highly satisfied with most other aspects of their professional lives. Women also found it more difficult to balance career and family life. Also, more women than men found scheduling and “scholarly productivity” to be stressful. Lange noted that these patterns can also be found at other schools.

“In general, the differences that show up at Duke between genders show up as well at our peer institutions,” he said.

Lange added that overall satisfaction of professional life is similar among faculty members from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. He noted, however, that black and Hispanic faculty members believe that they have to work harder than their colleagues to convince people that they are equally qualified as scholars.

Some of the results, when compared to the 2005 findings, reflect how faculty response has changed due to both the economic downturn and changes within the University, Lange said. For example, almost all faculty members indicated higher satisfaction with their office space in 2010 than in 2005, particularly those who work in buildings that have recently undergone renovations. Also, the results showed lower satisfaction with technology and research staff in 2010, which could reflect cuts made due to financial constraints, Lange said.

The results shared in the meeting were just an overview of the full report, Lange said, noting the importance of analyzing the findings within individual academic departments to create small-scale action plans.

In other business:

James Siedow, vice provost for research and professor of biology, and Vice Dean for Research Sally Kornbluth shared administrative plans for addressing budget concerns that are affecting University research. Kornbluth explained that costs, particularly in the School of Medicine, are increasing—due to the loss of some very large projects—while federal funding is decreasing. She added that the best ways to overcome these challenges are reducing expenses, using reserve finances, investing in promising research ventures and increasing additional revenue sources.

“Whether we can find people who are creative in getting revenue is important,” Kornbluth said, adding that the School of Medicine has recently been approached by large pharmaceutical companies interested in financing research.

Although the costs of research are increasing, Siedow noted that the number of grant proposals coming from the University are increasing, particularly from the Pratt School of Engineering.

The council also elected five new members to the body’s executive committee—Peter Burian, professor of classical and comparative literature; Philip Costanzo, professor of psychology and neuroscience; Warren Grill, chair of the University Priorities Committee and Addy professor of biomedical engineering; Cynthia Kuhn, professor of pharmacology and cancer biology, and John Payne, Joseph R. Ruvane Jr. Professor at the Fuqua School of Business. They also reelected John Staddon, James B. Duke professor emeritus of biology and neuroscience, as faculty secretary of the council.

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