Survey Shows Troubled Campus Climate

By Sam Phillips

The results of a survey administered to faculty and staff show that there is a disconnect between faculty members and university leadership. While employees approve of their supervisors and chairs, many respondents feel that the president, provost and the Board of Trustees do not respect or value faculty, staff and students.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” Campus Climate Survey was conducted in the spring, and the results of the survey were presented by Assessment Director Hillary Fuhrman at Wednesday’s Academic Senate meeting.

According to a handout, the survey “reflects significant challenges to the quality of the workplace experience”. A similar survey was conducted in 2007, but the questions were different so it’s hard to compare the results, Fuhrman said.

Although the responses listed as the faculty and staff’s relationship with their chairs and supervisors, job benefits and professional development as strengths, the amount of positive responses still fell in“fair or mediocre” when compared to other colleges in the region.

Administration Asks for Feedback

YSU Provost Martin Abraham said they plan on conducting another survey next spring. They need feedback from faculty and staff on how senior leadership can improve, he said, so they will be presenting the research data at several meetings and at an open forum this month.

“This is not a problem that senior leadership can fix, in fact this identifies senior leadership as a significant part of the problem.” Abraham said. “We accept that; we have to fix that.”

Once the specific problems are identified through discussions and the forum, he said they will create task forces to solve the issues.

Chet Cooper, chair of Academic Senate, gave the audience a chance to voice their opinions and concerns.

Keith Lepak, professor in the department of politics and international relations, said perhaps only people who were angry about their jobs took the time to respond and that there were low response rates. But Fuhrman said other universities had similar response rates and sample size.

Adam Earnheart, chair of the department of communication, agreed with others that there needs to be more dialogue between groups on campus.

“The thing that resonated throughout the survey is the lack of communication,” he said. “We need an external body to study communications within the university and improve them.”