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Office of the Provost

Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey

Spring 2019 Administration

In Spring 2019, the University of South Carolina participated in the COACHE Faculty Satisfaction Survey. During the Spring 2020 semester, we will share results of the survey to faculty groups including several town hall meetings on various topics. The discussions at these meetings will lead to development of initiatives to enhance existing strengths and address challenges and barriers identified in the survey.  In addition, results and recommendations will also be considered in context of the Fall 2019 ModernThink Climate Survey (Community Insights) and the APLU/CIERTL Institutional Change network to increase diversity and inclusion among underrepresented STEM faculty.

Nature of Work (and the Resources to Get It Done) [pdf]

Comments and Questions

 COACHE 2019 Executive Summary [pdf]

COACHE 2019 Executive Summary Infographic [pdf]

Eligible faculty included all full-time faculty at USC Columbia, including all tracks and ranks.  Faculty in administrative positions (associate dean and above) or on notice of non-reappointment were excluded.  About 1700 faculty were invited to participate in the survey, which required 20-30 minutes to complete.  Our response rate was 36%, compared to 40% for our peer institutions and 46% for all participating institutions.  Response rates in faculty subgroups ranged from 27% for Asian/Asian-American faculty to 39% for tenured faculty to 44% for underrepresented minority faculty.

In evaluating the responses, we can consider all faculty or aggregate by tenure status, rank, gender, race, and disciplinary group.  We can also compare ourselves to a peer group of five COACHE institutions (comparison group) that were identified earlier as our peer or peer aspirant institutions or to the aggregate of all COACHE institutions (cohort). From a list of COACHE-participating R1 institutions, we chose Auburn, Missouri and Tennessee (from our current peer institution list) and North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Virginia (from our peer aspirant institution list) for our peer comparisons.

For most questions, respondents were asked to respond on a five-point scale ranging from very dissatisfied (1) to very satisfied (5).  Average for individual items and for groups of related items are reported.  For comparative analyses, average responses across all participating institutions are grouped into lower 30%, middle 40%, and top 30%. 

  • Areas of strength include collaboration, promotion to full, and tenure policies.
  • Areas of concern included facilities and work resources; governance: productivity; governance: shared sense of purpose; governance: trust; governance: understanding the issue at hand; health and retirement benefits; leadership: college; leadership: faculty.
  • The evaluation of our campus leadership varied significantly by level.  Our department chairs received the highest ratings, while deans and faculty leadership were somewhat lower.
  • Items concerning faculty governance were consistently rated lower than institutions in our comparison group and all COACHE institutions.
  • For many areas, women faculty provided more positive responses than male faculty at USC, women faculty at institutions in our comparison group and at all COACHE institutions.
  • For many areas, URM faculty (not white or Asian) provided more positive responses than white faculty at USC, URM faculty at institutions in our comparison group and at all COACHE institutions.

As shorthand, COACHE defines as an “area of strength” any benchmark where the institution scores first or second among our selected comparison group and in the top 30 percent of the cohort. Conversely, an “area of concern” is where our faculty rating of a benchmark falls fifth or sixth among our comparison group and in the bottom 30 percent of the cohort.  Note there is substantial variation in areas of strength and areas of concern by faculty subgroup.

Area of Strength All Faculty Pre-Tenure Faculty Associate Professors Women Faculty Faculty of Color
Nature of Work: Research   x x x x
Nature of Work: Service   x   x  
Collaboration     x    x  x  x
Tenure policies  x  x    x  x
Tenure Expectations: Clarity        x  x
Promotion to Full  x    x  x  x
Leadership: Departmental        x  
Department Collegiality    x      
Department Quality    x    x  
Appreciation and Recognition        x  

Area of Weaknesses All Faculty Pre-Tenure Faculty Associate Professors Women Faculty Faculty of Color
Facilities and Work 
 x   x    
Health and Retirement 
x x x
Interdisciplinary Work   x      
Leadership: Senior   x      
Leadership: Divisional    
Leadership: Faculty x x x  
Governance: Trust x     x  
Governance: Shared Sense 
of Purpose
x   x x  
Governance: Understanding 
the Issue at Hand
Governance: Adaptability    x      
Governance: Productivity x x x x x

Near the end of the survey, faculty respondents are asked to think about the institution as a whole and to identify those issues (both good and bad) that are most on their minds. Here, faculty are given the opportunity to select the two best aspects of working at USC and the two worst aspects from lists of 25 each.  In the tables below, we show those aspects most frequently cited by all faculty and by subgroups (four most common responses, plus ties).

Best Aspect All 


Faculty of 
Quality of 
33% 26% 33% 33%   25%
Support of 
19% 26%   22% 21%
Cost of living 21% 25% 23%  19%   20%
Teaching load   21% 20%     
17% 21% 20%  14%  17% 


Worst Aspect All Faculty Pre-Tenure Faculty Associate Professors Women Faculty Faculty of Color
Quality of graduate 
  16% 15%    
Quality of facilities 20% 20% 19% 18% 19%
Compensation 30% 26% 32% 34% 24%
Lack of diversity          13%
Geographic location   25%   9% 19%
Too much service/too 
many assignments
11%   17% 13%  
Quality of leadership 12%        

 The final survey item is an open-text response to the prompt “What is the one thing your institution could do to improve the workplace for faculty?” The table below lists the most common themes of these comments as categorized by the COACHE project staff.  Additional insights about the open ended responses will be shared as we further explore the survey results over the next few weeks.

Most common themes Percent
Compensation and benefits 31% 
Nature of work: Teaching 21% 
Nature of work: Research 18% 
Facilities and resources for faculty 16% 
Leadership: General 12% 
 COACHE Graphic
March 2020:
  • Release report on How We Work:  Advancement, Collaboration, and Governance
  • Town Hall meetings on March 30 (2:30-4:00 pm, Currell 107) and March 31 (10:00-11:30 am, Russell House 229).  At least one session will be live-streamed and recorded.  Otherwise the meetings are identical.  Faculty will be invited to submit questions prior to the meeting.
Academic Year 2020-2021
  • Create workgroups to develop specific recommendations to address strengths and concerns in the survey results
  • Present recommendation to Provost, other administrators or Faculty Senate Leadership as appropriate.

If you would like to send us comments or submit a question about the COACHE initiatives, please use this form.  Comments and questions will be used to inform town hall presentations and discussions.   Planning activities, beginning in the fall, will incorporate aggregate comments and questions received both through this website and town hall meetings.


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