Climate Survey Brings Attention to Faculty Satisfaction

In Nov. 2016, a survey was sent out to the faculty concerning satisfaction, workload, and stress levels. With over 250 responses, the 2016 Faculty Climate Survey attempted to answer 27 questions pertaining to different aspects of being a professor at Mines. While the results show that faculty satisfaction has increased since the last time the survey was sent out in 2014, there are concerning changes from the previous survey and overall worrisome responses.

According to the Fall 2016 Faculty Climate Survey Summary Report, teacher satisfaction has greatly increased from the 2014 results. In regards to his satisfaction, Dr. Robert Amaro, a teaching associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering department, said, “When I can get a subset of a class excited about a topic I’m teaching, it is very gratifying. I see it when they ask very hard questions that I can’t answer or when there’s the ‘aha’ moments on their faces.”

Interestingly, while the satisfaction has reportedly increased, two-thirds of the faculty that responded reported that their workload has increased significantly over the past two years.

The level of stress professors face ranges beyond those of their teaching responsibilities. About a third find their department politics to be an extensive stressor and about 18% of respondents said that the campus politics serve as an extensive stressor. Amaro shared, “A lot of my stressors come from the teaching loads and the general loads placed upon me. It appears as though general support for the undergraduate curriculum has leveled off but the student body is still increasing.”

Though satisfaction is said to have increased, Amaro has found his satisfaction decreasing. Amaro said, “I am here primarily to teach the undergraduates and it is my perception that, outside of the professors and the immediate department folks, there is a lack of understanding that the undergraduates are the primary clientele.”

Amaro  believes the undergraduate students need improved support. “For example, reasonable class sizes, laboratories that reflect the curriculum we would like our students to experience, and administrative departments that understand that one of our primary clientele is the undergraduate population, and that our job is to serve our clientele,” said Amaro.

The survey indicates that job satisfaction amongst professors at Mines in generally low.  A little over a third of the respondents disclosed that they are at least somewhat likely to leave Mines within the next three years. The concerns brought to light in the Faculty Senate Climate represent a large range of improvements that need to be made on campus.


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