Dear Colleagues –
Most of you have been invited by Provost Chilton and the Harvard COACHE organization to participate in a COACHE faculty satisfaction survey that runs from early February to early April. The last COACHE survey was conducted in 2022, and results and proposed actions in response to that survey can be found at this link: https://provost.wsu.edu/coache/.
A colleague recently asked me why they should spend time with another survey because they felt nothing was done based on the last one. I concede that no sweeping changes have resulted from what we learned from the 2022 survey, but activities to address faculty concerns are ongoing or have been recently implemented as outlined in the action plan (e.g., see section 4 of the action report; link above).
Some of you know that I served on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee between 2020 and 2023, including as chair for the 2021-2022 academic year. I recently accepted the position of Senior Vice Provost for WSU precisely because of my experience with senate leadership and our collective interest in making WSU a better place for our faculty. In this position, I am at the table to help shape policy that affects faculty experiences and careers. These discussions are informed with data. Without data, I’m hamstrung in my ability to represent your interests.
Tools like the COACHE survey and the HRS Faculty and Staff Employee Engagement provide an opportunity to collect anonymous data with a potentially unbiased and representative sampling frame. Why do I call this potentially unbiased? Bias enters the equation when specific groups of faculty choose not to participate. We have no control over this bias but if, for example, career-track clinical faculty as a group choose to not participate, while career-track scholarly faculty choose to participate, the resulting concerns will necessarily be biased towards those of career-track scholarly faculty. Similarly, if women faculty respond disproportionately compared to men, then men’s voices will be disproportionately absent from the discussion. If underrepresented faculty choose not to participate, then their voices are similarly diminished. Take a look at the 2022 COACHE findings, and you can judge for yourself…we had clear signs of a bias in our last sampling frame.
The best outcome of any survey is to have a representative sample that reflects the sentiments of all our faculty. Importantly, the 2024 version of the COACHE survey provides us with considerably greater power to examine granular relationships within and between variables so that we can tease apart specific group concerns from the aggregate, but only if those groups participate.
At the end of the day, I can only do my job well if we have everyone’s voices at the table. The COACHE survey is not the only way to collect feedback, but it has the merit of providing equality to our voices. The key, however, is that if you choose not to participate, you are choosing not to have your voice heard.
Please participate in the ongoing COACHE survey and make sure that your voice is heard. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Senior Vice Provost