Faculty morale on the fence

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Faculty is overburdened by myriad new initiatives.

By Austin P. Taylor

ataylor160@student.alamo.edu

Thirty-five percent of the 275 faculty members surveyed by this college’s Faculty Senate do not think their contributions to this college are appreciated.

During the spring 2017 semester, the Faculty Senate distributed a survey to this college’s faculty, both full-time professors and adjuncts.

This survey was the main topic of the Faculty Senate roundtable Sept. 29, in the visual arts center.

There are 20 questions listed throughout the survey, across five fields of focus.

Of the 437 surveys distributed, 275 were returned completed.

Of the 275 who responded, 165 were permanent faculty, 18 full-time adjuncts and 92 part-time adjuncts.

Of the faculty members who think their contributions at this college are not appreciated, 41.3 percent are permanent faculty and 25.5 percent are adjuncts.

The survey also had a series of open-ended questions. 

After accumulating the responses, three common themes emerged: initiative overload, a sense of powerlessness to respond to competing demands, and insufficient support from the administration.

The new demands of faculty are made in addition to standard requirements made of faculty:

• Teaching, class preparation, grading and office hours

• Service on departmental and college committees 

• Service to the profession 

• Professional organization membership

• Service to community

• Work on program review

“I feel this college and our instruction as faculty members is becoming an afterthought at best and a joke at worst,” said an anonymous survey respondent. “No longer are we given resources or encouragement to teach.”

Productive grade rate win-win agreements also were discussed in the survey.

Seventy-six percent of the permanent faculty respondents think PGR win-win agreements have had a negative impact on faculty morale and academic standards.

Survey respondents believe the PGR win-win agreements to be punitive. 

“The win-win is a sugar-coated write-up. It makes it sound like it’s not a big deal, when actually it is,” an anonymous respondent said. 

“If it’s going to be used as a punitive tool, then call it that,” the respondent continued.

Another area of some dissent is the faculty’s view on the Faculty Senate.

The majority of respondents either had negative or neutral views of the senate and its performance.

One of the reasons given for faculty members not being confident in the senate is a perceived

 lack of transparency.

“I’m not sure how to find out what is going on in Faculty Senate since a faculty member from my discipline is not on the senate,” an anonymous respondent said.

“The web page isn’t maintained, and we no longer have liaisons who report to the disciplines that aren’t represented.”

Respondents want the senate website to be regularly updated with senate business, and they want to easily access information on their senators.

The survey also asked for the faculty’s thoughts on student drops and withdrawals as well as the four-day class schedule.

Most of the faculty noted that they have not experienced any change when dropping students before or after the census date.

The four-day class schedule has not had a significant impact on classes, according to the survey. 

Topics commented on but not discussed in the survey were the issues of adjunct compensation and the autonomy of this college.

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