DH Hill Library (Erdahl-Cloyd Theater)
1. Remarks by the Chair of the Faculty
Welcome to everyone and we look forward to a productive discussion today.
In today’s meeting we must deal with details of faculty governance…at times scorned as busywork, yet like the foundation of our American system of government, …governance of, for and by the faculty is critical for the health of the academy.
In regard to the health of the academy, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate recommended that the faculty forum for this general faculty meeting focus on the related issues of Faculty Workloads and Faculty Wellbeing. One could argue that these in fact are issues of Energy and Sustainability of human resources…a fitting tie to a major theme introduced last week in the Chancellor’s State of NC State address.
I would like to offer a few thoughts on this Workload/Wellbeing---Energy/Sustainability theme to stimulate our thinking on the topic so that we will be ready for good discussion in the last part of this meeting.
The issue of faculty workload frequently emerges in discussions of accountability. And it is important that we are good stewards of the investments in us by the greater community. This year the North Carolina Legislature has called upon the Board of Governors to conduct another study of faculty workloads. While we do not yet have details as to the intent of this workload study, it is likely in part related to a check-and-balance to requests to bring our salaries up to the 80th percentile of our peers.
That said, as faculty we often wonder if such a workload study will in fact recognize the extent and actual nature of our work. Unlike a normal business, we hire the ‘inexperienced’ and “fire” the ‘experienced’ employees…it’s called graduation. Each of our research programs is like a small business, but there are few ways to build any equity that can sustain a program through the ebbs and flows of the funding/business cycles, and that 46% tax rate would send most entrepreneurs running. In the Faculty Wellbeing survey conducted last year faculty reported working an average of about 55 hours per week. Will these factors be recognized in the BOG workload study?
We should also ask, is this a workload that stimulates creativity and scholarship? At times---absolutely yes. I suspect most of us share a distaste of writing another grant…but also find that the very exercise of trying to articulate a new idea in a manner such that reviewers get it, results in a refining of our idea making it even more interesting to study. But then, more often than not, the money available are not really sufficient to carry out the work required for a fundable proposal…thus putting a heavy damper on that creativity and scholarship.
These clearly are issues of Human Resource Energy.
Directly tied to discussions of Energy are questions of sustainability. And we must consider sustainability throughout each individual’s career, as well as the impact on the sustainability of the institution and the academy.
Referring again to last year’s Faculty Well Being survey, three themes seem to emerge as critical factors that relate to individual Faculty workload and wellbeing -- Personal issues, Infrastructure and Communication/Participation.
- Personal issues include flexible work hours, family and medical leave options, child and elder care issues, dual career issues, and tuition for children. Not surprisingly, the wellbeing survey shows a direct correlation between the stress levels in these and the number of hours worked. Those experiencing “a great deal of stress” in this area report averaging 59 h/week while those who experience such stress “not at all” report averaging 48 h/week.
We find the answer to these problems in the September 7 N&O Sports Page (similar comments by Donna Shalala discussion her NSF-GAO report on women’s participation in science) on Roy Williams entry into Hall of Fame…A private partnership…[(paraphrased) wife] has handled life, while husband has handled workload.
“I don’t think I would have been able to be in the stress, be in the pressure, if I didn’t have that confidence that things were all right at home.” Roy Williams
So we just need to provide everyone…male/female/dual career/single…a wife!
- Infrastructure issues at times seem as intractable as getting every faculty member a “wife.” But quality laboratories, classrooms, start-up packages, grant writing support, other support staff, and the distribution of overhead are all issues that directly affect faculty wellbeing, and thus their productivity and creativity. Stresses in this area are also directly correlated to the reported hours worked.
- Communication and Participation in decision-making rank highly in the wellbeing surveys. Good communication between colleagues and a sense that one’s voice is heard seems have a high correlation to wellbeing, and, conversely, where communication and participation are not effective there you seem to find the most negative sense of wellbeing. Globally our surveys suggest that we have good communication and interaction with our immediate colleagues. But the level of satisfaction breaks down significantly above the departmental level. Faculty-administration relationships – and, yes, that includes the Faculty Senate -- didn’t score too highly. The good news is that improving communication and inclusion of faculty in significant decision making do not require major financial resources, but they do require some culture shifts.
Do these issues of individual faculty sustainability have an institutional impact? This should go without saying. Sadly the faculty wellbeing survey indicated that 50-60% of us (depending on rank) have considered leaving academe since coming to NCSU. In the recent report prepared by the vice-provost for faculty and staff diversity’s office, it is found that there is a 37% higher probability that women will not be promoted and leave NCSU than for men. And how many of us who regularly have students that we mentor, men and women, indicate that while they love teaching and research, they “would never want our jobs.” This comes at a time when 41.6% of our tenured faculty are over the age of 56. Apparently about 400 faculty will be eligible for retirement in the next five or so years. These are matters that must be addressed if the academy is to be sustainable.
The challenges are great, and the competition is fierce…
I was reminded the other day of the alleged African parable of the lion and the gazelle.
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
Thus, it doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up you better be running.
A great parable for motivational speeches, almost a morality play instilling motivational fear of the global economy.
The problem is that this parable really doesn’t reflect the behavior on the Serengeti Plain.
About the only ones running near daybreak (lions or gazelles) are the young and inexperienced…and most often they are chasing after each other. They, like the elders of the species, often are not be able to run when the time comes to hunt or be hunted.
The experienced members of the community (both lion and gazelle) actually spend the majority of their time eating, resting, and nurturing their young so that when the need arises, hunting or being hunted, they are ready to run.
I can’t help but also note it is the experienced female lions that make the kill. And further that the hunt brings nutrition to the community, not just the individual.
Workload and Wellbeing…Energy and Sustainability…So I leave us here, temporarily, with the question “How do we achieve an appropriate balance that fosters creativity and scholarship…and the Health of the Academy?”
2. Approval of the Minutes of the March 13, 2007 General Faculty Meeting
The motion passed to adopt the minutes.
Chancellor Oblinger introduced the Executive Officers of the University.
4. Revision to the General Faculty Bylaws
Jim Martin, Chair of the Faculty
The bylaws have been sent to you by Email and they have been posted on the web.
The reasons for the change in the bylaws are first of all to clarify the definition of voting membership.
The major reason for changes here is since the bylaws were revised last we have created a category called “Special Faculty” and prior to that we had a lot of special faculty called instructors, lecturers, research faculty, clinical, etc. We had quite a laundry list of faculty positions and the title “Special Faculty” was meant to cover this group so that we didn’t have to have a laundry list of everybody.
Among the issues that have come up is why do we say “except field faculty”, and the reason for that is because field faculty were never on that laundry list and so the statement here “except field faculty” retains that group of votes that were previously on the voter roster and is making no change for that. We further simplified it by saying the .75 FTE or higher, benefits eligible, and that deals with people who might come in and teach one course.
The voter roster is to be for the full fledged benefit eligible faculty, special faculty except the field faculty but that is not excluding anybody; it’s absolutely no change. Dr. Zuiches and I are in conversation about the field faculty. Some field faculty have requested voting membership on the Faculty Senate. There are a variety of discussions going on about that, but this is not the time to make that decision.
The second issue with respect to faculty voting status has to do with the Emeritus faculty. We are going to have to come back to that issue because the Governance Committee has talked about this a little more and we will be offering an amendment to the proposed bylaws, assuming there is a motion to go forward with the bylaws.
The second major change is that in the past we had a Government Committee. The Government Committee’s primary responsibility was to define who serves on the voting roster, particularly those people who were in the General Constituency. The people who are on that Government Committee are largely the people who are on the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate effectively is the Government Committee with a recommendation last year to abolish the Government Committee and transfer such functions to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. Again, it’s a change in name and virtually no change in function.
The third change is to recognize the role of the Chair-Elect and Immediate Past Chair of the Faculty. A decade ago we changed from having there be a Chair of the Faculty Senate to having a Chair of the Faculty. At that time the Chair of the Faculty Senate was a one-year term. The Chair of the Faculty is a two-year term. When it was a one-year term we always had a chair and a chair-elect. Under the current system where the chair serves two years we have one year where we don’t have a chair-elect and for the revision that we are proposing for the bylaws are to enact what we have been doing and that is to consider the past chair in the role where the chair-elect would have been in those alternate years, so now that alternate position is the chair-elect or immediate past chair instead of having one year where there is a vacancy.
The fourth change that is being recommended is with respect to the membership on the committee on committees. It is one of the most reasonable committees that we have on campus and it actually does some worthwhile things, making sure that we do have committees to deal with important issues and that we remove committees that deal with frivolous stuff. On that committee we have always invited the Staff Senate and Student Government to sit in on and participate. Part of the reason for that is because they too have to make assignments to a number of university standing committees. The group on that committee on committees is the Provost, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Chair and Chair-elect of the faculty, and the Student Senate President. Given that these people also have to make appointments to the committee, it seemed a bit odd that just a subset of us were making votes, and so on the committee we decided to open it up so that they too would be able to vote on the decisions, not realizing that the change required changing the faculty bylaws. Going back to the bylaws it was decided by both the Governance Committee and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate that it was best to not give both the Chair and Chair-elect of the Staff Senate a vote, but just the Chair. It was also decided not to give the Student Body President and the Student Senate President a vote but just the Student Body President and now the staff and the students each have one vote. There are two faculty votes and three administrative votes and a recommendation of one student and one staff, and having sat on the committee and immediate Past Chair Allen also having sat on the committee, we generally feel that is a reasonable balance. Those are the changes in the bylaws that are being recommended at this time. With that said I would like to entertain a motion to accept the proposed revisions.
A motion was moved and seconded to accept the revisions.
Issue on Emeritus Faculty
Chair Martin stated there was an issue of concern that the wording completely removed emeritus faculty so the Governance Committee would like to suggest an amendment to address that issue.
Senator Gary Moore proposed amending Article 2, Section 2 of the bylaws by adding the following sentence at the end of the section.
Emeritus faculty may retain voting membership in the general faculty.
The motion passed to accept the proposed amendment to Article 2, Section 2 of the General Faculty Bylaws.
5. Forum: Faculty Workload and/vs. Wellbeing
What we can learn from our Faculty Wellbeing Surveys?…and be done about it?
Provost Larry Nielsen
This topic of faculty well-being and faculty satisfaction, I think, is a crucially important topic to the university perhaps the most important topic that you as a faculty and we as an administration can deal with.
Faculty are the fuel of the university, and being someone from the Natural Resource field I think it is important in this case that we have a fuel source that is sustainable. Without sustainable fuel source with faculty, creativity, quality, and commitment we are just not going to be a very good university. The question of how we all work together to keep all of us a sustainable fuel source for the university is very important.
Although we have these ten investment priorities in an order that we do not say necessarily is in a priority order, it was a very explicit decision to make the first investment priority listed in the strategic plan the one about development of faculty and staff in the highest quality. Let me read a few sentences out of that investment priority.
Development of faculty and staff of the highest quality:
Committed and creative people are vital to our vision. The foundation of knowledge-based engagement in the twenty-first century depends on attracting, developing, and retaining excellent scholars, teachers, and researchers as well as creative staff members, so it is our responsibility and our commitment to do what we can to get the best people here and keep you happy and productive while you are here. We also know that the future holds issues related to this topic, two of which I will mention.
First our Human Resources people are warning us constantly about major retirement events out there in the future when people like me say good-bye. We are getting to be short timers, and so what are we going to do about that? We are going to be growing as an institution and we have to have new faculty but we also are going to have to replace a bunch of really high quality, highly experienced gazelles and lions in our midst. I’m not yet convinced; I am skeptical that this major retirement event is going to happen. For twenty years I have been hearing various scenarios. I have not seen this big loss of people and this major recruitment event but that is what the data people tell us.
The question is, what the interests of faculty are these days and what the interest of faculty will be ten years from now in terms of what motivate them, what drives them, and what they care about. We are also told that the new professional in today’s world, and more so in the future, is one that has a different mix of motivations and a different set of characteristics. They are concerned about both in their work life and their personal life, so this whole question of work life balance is very important. The whole definition of family and community as it relates to what we are going to have to be looking for to satisfy faculty in the future. I do not think that we can rely on our own experience as a guide to what we have to have in place to make faculty happy, satisfied, productive, in the future, and that is why in the statements of mutual expectation that we ask faculty and department heads to write are so important because getting down those expectations into black and white in a way that everyone understands what is critically important because you and you and you may not be on the same page if you just do it. That is also why our faculty survey is so important and I thank Nancy for being the great professional she is in this work to make it happen.
What did we learn from the survey? Jim covered that pretty well but I want to mention one thing that I think is sort of compelling and that is that the conditions vary, depending on the unit in which people work, so it is important for us as we think about how to make faculty satisfied, to not look at it as just a university as a whole because that can mask some elements or places where there are things that are happening that really need to be changed or improved on a unit basis whether that is a college, position, or a department.
I have been concerned that our initial interest in this faculty survey came lying down. There are a lot of things in there that can be very useful to us and a lot of the administration feet to the fire on this so I am in the process of creating an Administrative Advisory Committee on faculty well being that Dean Toby Parcel will chair, and we are asking the Faculty Senate to appoint two faculty members to serve on it. The idea will be that the committee will work with Nancy Whelchel and others to continue to look at the results that are in that faculty well being survey to continue to bring ideas of what we might do better to the administration, faculty, and everyone.
I leave you with this point -- that I think the whole question of faculty satisfaction is a journey not a destination and the most important thing that we can do is be committed to paying attention to faculty interest and satisfaction every day as part of the university and not try to say that we are going to do it right now and get things fixed and then forget about it because it is something that we have to do all along. Thank you for listening.
- A Balanced Faculty Career: evolution from Assistant to Full Professor
- Panel of Four faculty members
Michael Escuti, Electrical & Computer Engineering
It is a delight to be here today. I am an Assistant Professor starting my fourth year. I think I’m building a program that I hope will last for decades. I have taught every year that I have been here, and I have taught roughly 100 undergraduate students and 20 graduate students every year since I’ve been here. I manage five PhDs. I have graduated one master’s thesis and the sort of things I deal with every day involve lift and electronic materials. Am I satisfied overall? I would say yes. Are there things that I wish would improve? Of course but I can say that I am glad and surprised that anyone in the university cares about my wellbeing. I came from two years at a European university doing a post doc, and there I noticed tremendous concern about our well being. It was institutionalized and now that honestly meant more than forty days of vacation that was pretty much enforced. The point is, I am glad to see a healthy concern with our well being over the long term. I applaud the leadership of everyone here and I’m glad to be a part of the discussion.
Jessica Jameson, Communications
I want to thank Jim and everyone here today for allowing us to have this opportunity to have some voice on this issue today.
I’m going to start with two quick anecdotes. The first is that I got an email forwarded to me today from a colleague in CHASS who saw that I was on this panel and said, “So are you there to tell them how not to be in balance?” and I said “yes.” The second quick anecdote is that I was actually serving as the local arrangement chair for a conference in Budapest over the summer and I overheard one of the people at the conference who publishes quite a bit say to our communications officer, “I’m so glad there are people like you so that people like me can publish”, and I was so angry but I retained my composure but that has really stuck with me, and I think that sort of underscores how I feel about balance and serving our system at NC State and how we think about the role that people take and what we say we reward and what we reward officially, and that underline theme that I want to share with you.
I am an Associate Professor. I have been here since 1999 and received tenure in 2004. I have what I think is a decent publication record. I think I have approximately ten peer review publications, two of them since I received tenure. I don’t think that my ability as a scholar has changed since I received tenure but I can tell you that since I received tenure I have become the Concentration Coordinator for my concentration. I became the faculty advisor for the Public Relations Seat of Society of America. I am now the Associate Head for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Communications. I serve as a mediator for our University Program and I have been on the steering committee for the Institute of non-profit and I’m currently on the academic committee. My research area is organizational conflict but as you might guess there are few people in the community who are aware of me and call on me every once in a while. So in addition to all of those formal roles that I just mentioned I do quite a bit of invisible or hidden work that there is no place on an end of year evaluation for that kind of work and that quite frankly, when Jim commented that the statistic was 37% of women are less likely to get promoted, I suspect part of that is because women are more likely to do that kind of invisible work. How do you say no when students come to you and they say, “I want to learn, isn’t that why we are here?"
I was reminded at a recent Faculty Senate meeting from a faculty member that we were here to serve our students. We are here to help our students become leaders of the next generation and I firmly believe in that and that is why I’m in this profession. At the same time I also believe that being a good teacher means being a good scholar and conducting research and being in the community so I see my role as a series of tensions; scholar, teacher, administrator, mentor, service to the university, service to the broader Raleigh and North Carolina community.
In terms of career growth as an Assistant Professor I was blessed to have been very protected. I was engaged in service that I wanted to be in but I was consistently told and I think we do a good job of at least I hope we do a good job of trying to protect our Assistant Professor so that they can get the publications they need to get the tenure but I have not seen any equivalent protection for Associate Professors so that they can go to full Professor.
I want to be a good departmental citizen. I think I have been but I think that the better departmental citizen, you are the more likely you are to get tapped for administrative positions and once again those administrative positions don’t always lend themselves easily to maintaining a strong research and publication record.
The challenges I want to pose are: How do we more equally value our teaching, research, and service expectations so that the people who are doing more research aren’t reaping all the rewards? How do we provide the best possible learning environment for our students and perhaps more importantly, how do we justify decisions when we know that we are not providing the best learning environment for our students? How do we prioritize our service related activities and those range from department, college, university, and community to disciplinary? How do we say no to our students? Do we answer our department and others who say don’t do that, you shouldn’t be doing that, you need to be doing other things, so when all of those other people are competing for your time and wanting your attention, how do you stay true to being a good departmental citizen, a good teacher, and a good scholar and saying no?
John Kessel, Creative Writing Program
I came here in 1982 and I think I was hired because I was cheap. They were looking to hire someone to replace a wonderful writer name Guy Owen who had been here and founded creative writing at NC State and he passed away in his early fifties. They interviewed a number of people and I was fortunate enough to get an on campus interview. I think at some point in the hiring process Dr. Larry Champion who was the head of the English Department figured out where he could hire both Lee Smith and me for the price that he had been paying Guy Owen so we were two creative writers for the price of one and what happened out of that was the development of creative writing here at NC State. There had been some courses here but not really an organized program. Over the last twenty-five years we have build up the undergraduate program and we initiated a concentration in creative writing within the masters degree in the late eighties, early nineties and that went along for a decade or more and produced some very good writers and then most recently starting in fall 2004 we organized a Master of Fine Art Degree in creative writing. I was one of the principle people who helped design that, although there was a lot of help from many others.
I would say that educating has been good as far as my own writing career has been and it was most good to me in my first six years here because my only committee responsibility was heading the building committee and I had no substantive or policy making role to fill in the department and I was able to get a lot of writing done. I appreciate the fact that you sort of looked out for me as a young professor.
In thinking about this topic I was thinking about what thing in my twenty-five years here have fostered my ability to be creative and successful as a scholar and then what things have made it difficult. I’ll talk about the things that have helped me. One is being in a university community where writing matters. It has been very helpful to me. I have other writer colleagues here. It’s really very stimulating to be in the environment.
Material Resources: In Computers, the library travel fund, office spaces, writers don’t need a lot, we don’t get grants. Those things that I have needed, I’ve gotten. Teaching has actually been a good thing. Teaching is a stimulant. I have always wanted to teach because it puts me in contact with other young writers. The teaching has been an essential thing to my experience.
Recognitions by my Colleagues and Administration: Pay raises and promotions—I have to say I would be writing anyway even if I was working for an electric company.
The greatest resource that has been given to me is time when I have been able to think and to write. It comes now to the point where the only time when I can write is during the summer. All the work I have done in developing creative writing has taken away a lot of time and energy from my own work and I don’t regret it. The idea of looking at a budget sheet is not something that I have ever had an interest in doing and yet I find that I have had to do that and try to accomplish the job.
Committee Meetings, annual review of colleagues, I know there is a reason for this but I have to say that in my twenty-five years here the culture has changed and that definitely was not a word that was spoken in the first decade that I was here but it seems to be spoken a lot now. A lot of time and energy goes into that and I know why although I have never been a high level administrator. It seems to me that we spend a lot more time than we used to on what I would call documentation of our achievements, of our time spent, of the money spent, of the students taught, planned professional development, statements of mutual expectations, and program assessments. These are all things that I have never done and I don’t think anybody ever did in 1986 because it was not a must. I think there are reasons for it and I do think it is a good idea, but I do feel that more and more in my teaching career what I would call a business model of the university has been applied and for that more and more universities are asked to be like large corporations. I think some of these things are problematic and so I don’t know what to say about that. I think most of these things probably must be done. I do question sometimes whether all of them need to be done or that doing must take so much time and energy. I don’t know any answers to this.
One other thing that I would say, is the teaching load which I think it is and I would say that my privileges, which I had many privileges being a professor here, are on the backs of non tenured faculty and in some ways I am aware of that every day that they are the ones who carry a huge amount, and the credit hours taught by people who are not tenured faculty is large and they don’t get paid so I don’t know what we can do about that. I think this is a huge problem and it is not an easily solved problem. I feel I have benefited from the privilege of the work that these people do every day.
I do enjoy working with students and now I am working with graduate students a lot. I spend a lot of time doing teacher directions, for which at least in the system we have, there is no way of counting.
Carla Mattos, Biochemistry
A lot of what has been said already resonates. I think we all have many things in common. I have been very happy here and I think I have done fairly well. I want to go back and give you a perspective of my career and how I got here and particularly in this balancing.
I got pregnant when I was twenty-two years old. It was totally planned and it was my first year of graduate school at MIT. I had three kids by the time I finished my PhD. My entire career I have had to balance. My older son is now twenty-one. I have a nineteen year old and a sixteen year old who is the only one left at home at this point. I have to say that there are three factors I think are very important and being able to achieve this balance and be here where I am today.
My husband has always shared at least fifty percent of the load. My husband is an organic chemist who works at Glaxo Smith Kline. It is a very intense career but he has never considered his career more important than mine because I also have a very intense career that I am very passionate about and that I consider very important.
I am a third generation scientist in my family. My grandmother and my mother is a physicist and I am a biophysicist so that has given me the confidence and the role models to be able to say that I can have a career and that doesn’t make me any less of a mother. Those are two facts that I’m not really sure that NC State can really do anything about except in talking to our students.
The third is being in a very supportive environment here at NC State, both in terms of infrastructure and my colleagues in the department. I have had great mentorship during my assistant professor years, a lot of support from the head of the department, a lot of infrastructure to get my research done and I think that has translated into my doing very well in terms of continued study for my research, publications, students and teaching and all the things that come with being in a tenured faculty position. I guess the rest of the conversation then for me would go around those three factors that have been very important in my getting where I am.
I am an Associate Professor now and in terms of talking about managing workload, which is very high, I don’t mind that at all because I absolutely love my job. I love my research. I love dealing with the students and as I mentioned I am in a very good environment in biochemistry. Sometimes its hard and its not that there haven’t been any issues, it’s that I really try to have this attitude of the rotating is less which is definitely a major part but also of having the confidence to say no to things when I think they are going to be completely overwhelming and perhaps not lead to the overall big picture of where I want to be. I remember in the very early stages being asked to do a mission thing and wanting to do them all. In my early tenure track years that was a huge challenge. As I progressed through to Associate Professor I really have learned to look back and try to optimize the collection of things that I’m going to do so that I can do them well because if I try to do everything that comes my way I find that I can’t do anything at all. I do get a lot of students talking to me. I have endless conversations with female students who know I have three kids and who want to know about how they can do those family balances. I think I had the support and environment to be able to and it feels really good to be at this stage and to be able to be more selective without feeling like the whole world is going to crumble if I don’t do millions of other things. The combination of a lot of support at home, the confidence from having really strong role models and a really supportive environment at NC State, and I don’t want to say that it has been all a sea of roses but that those three factors really have helped me deal and navigate through this.
A higher Ed. System perspective—Betsy Brown
We don’t do a very good job of helping each other manage our responsibilities so maybe we need to have a better sense of career planning and career mentoring and optimizing all the way through your career. I think doing some planning yourself and sharing that with the support of college that you have, positions you to say no in a way that is harder to say, that you have to sort of leave that out and I think we probably do need to plan on something in your cycle if you are going to be the head of a professional organization for a couple of years and then you get into something else. Often we do this in a superior fashion rather than a structured optimized fashion so what struck me in all of this is that we don’t do a very good job of helping each other manage our responsibilities.
When we talk about statement of mutual expectations -- I’ve only been here a year so I don’t dare say too much about mutual expectation because I don’t understand the whole variety of how these are handled in departments. It strikes me that all the things we tend to do aren’t necessarily laid out in the statement of mutual expectations -- that its what we do and what’s on the paper may be something that is totally different and in some departments that may be something to look at.
One thing that has struck me since I have been at NC State that I haven’t necessarily heard everywhere else that I’ve worked is paperwork. So I don’t know if that means there is more of that on the faculty here than there might be in other places but I do hear that a lot. I think maybe institutionally we need to look at are we asking faculty to do things that only faculty do and are we having other people do some of the things that faculty should be spending time on and I mean that in a general sense. I think any organization needs to look at that kind of laying out of responsibility and that is something that an institution can really look at and that may be something that comes out of our faculty well being.
Faculty Comments and Discussion
Faculty Member: I would like to say that the university has been very good to me and wonderful for my career and I have produced a lot of work and I have received a lot of recognition. It has been overall an extremely positive experience. It has been my whole life. I don’t think that it is broken but I do worry a little about a culture where you always have to be aware and have documents that will prove that you weren’t spending taxpayers’ money and I don’t think that culture was like that twenty-five years ago.
It comes down to time and I feel that I have been well compensated for my work here and I know that NC State doesn’t compare to some other universities when it comes to salaries, but salary has never really been my major complaint. I felt like money was never the object. Time was the object.
Senator Gary Moore asked Dr. Mattos for input on the mentoring she received, if the mentoring she received was planned or did it just happen. Does it have to be a female or a male?
Senator Mattos responded that it is planned. “ We have a mentor system in our department and Linda was actually one of my mentors. Whether or not it was planned, she was a woman and therefore she was assigned to me, I don’t know. I’m not sure that her being a woman was a critical part for me. For me it was her being willing to read my grants and commenting on them; for her being able to give me suggestions on how to distribute, to be able to talk to her about issues that came up in the department and I really don’t think that was the issue for me. ”
Response from another panel member
“In our department a formal mentor was assigned the first semester and I think we had a lot of influence as well on who to ask for but honestly it has been a good thing. What is important is getting advice, especially on teaching and students.”
Response from Jessica Jameson
“I also was assigned a mentor my first semester and he was really good on the research side and always gave me the advice not to do other things. I always had a really good reason for doing whatever I said yes to.”
A faculty member asked a question concerning wellbeing.
“I was a post doc there and it was a university in Holland and the thing that struck me was that my supervisor who was effectively the Professor was institutionally forced to yearly go through an eight page survey similar to the statement of mutual expectation in spirit but very different in format. It was very clear what was expected. That was one way that I thought was very valuable because in my goal as a post doc it was voiced, talked about and then evaluated and that happened for PhD students. It happened with their bosses and so on.
Another thing was that they valued going home at 5 o’clock. They valued time spent with your family. They realized that was important, that the balance was critical.
Literally, I had more than forty days of vacation and that is in excess I think. It is these kinds of things, respect for time away, balance institutionally that were remarkably different.”
Dr. Betsy Brown, Special Assistant to the Provost
Given the trend in doctoral recipients a higher percentage of the faculty is going to be female. This is based on data from several years ago. David Lesley did a study looking at various labor sectors including higher education. He started out by looking at the differential reporting by men and women. Women appear to make the greater personal sacrifice in keeping an academic career. More than three quarters of men under forty years old who have terminal degrees and positions at research or doctoral institutions are married while only 62% of women are married.
Career long tenure eligible full time women faculty at research and doctoral universities are far less likely to be married than male faculty in the same age cohort. Among younger women who have invested heavily in academic career success, 57% of them report having no dependents compared to thirty four percent of males. There are other studies that have shown surveys reporting how people say, women especially, they either defer or don’t have children because of the tough workload issue.
Question from a Faculty Member
When your childcare is going well everything is okay and when it’s not nothing is going okay. I would like to ask you if you have stories to tell and if there is anything the institution could have done to help.
Panel Member: I would like to make a comment about the flexibility and the fact that I had children so young and in a stage where I was doing my PhD I feel actually worked to my advantage because during my PhD I had a ton of work to do but I didn’t have anyone depending on me. I didn’t have students waiting on me. I didn’t have classes to teach. I could actually work from 12 until 2 in the morning if I needed to do childcare in the morning, much more flexibility. Now the caveat is that you can’t let the work fall through the crack, which is really one of the dangers. In order to have that flexibility my husband and I needed to be two of the most productive people in our group and that was incredibly stressful but there was flexibility and there was that room for childcare.
The advantage of having a child later in life is that you can afford daycare. Having three children as graduate students we could only afford minimal daycare so we had a ton of flexibility as long as we were very productive.
Panel Member: I found that one of the benefits of an academic career is some flexibility in your hours, which often as a faculty member you don’t always have to be here eight to five Monday through Friday and that has been helpful. I have a husband who travels a lot in his work so I am often the full caregiver for our son. That used to be easier to balance but now that I’m in administration I have to say that I do feel compelled to not leave the office before five. We do have flexible hours to a point but I can’t have a routine of working in the middle of the night and not showing up during the day.
Someone commented on salaries earlier and it’s very hard given the kind of salary range I have been in, to say no when someone offers the administrative position. It becomes very difficult to say no I’m not going to take that increase. I just wanted to throw that out there as another issue that I think might compel some people to take that administrative job even though they might not really want that or have not thought about that as a career goal.
Provost Nielsen stated that the personal choices that we make are part of it. “I really tried to listen to situational things that we might be able to work on and that’s really where we need your help. What can we do to make things better? I encourage all of you to think about things that we can actually do to make life better.”
6. Concluding Remarks
Jim Martin, Chair of the Faculty
This has been a very good discussion. How do we do? What do we do? Particularly on issues like this. There are many things. There is a lot that is cultural. How we treat each other, what expectations we have for each other. Are we going to recognize those things that are in our realms of expectation? Are we going to recognize those as valuable when it comes to tenure decisions, promotion decisions, etc.? A lot of these things very much are cultural and we need to both on the administrative and faculty side need to make sure that we create that environment where we can eat, we can rest, we nurture our young and our middle age so we can run when we need to.
I would like to thank our panelist and I thank all of you for coming.