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Faculty members in the School of Engineering are the most satisfied with their work and their pay. That’s according to a survey of faculty members in fall 2013. The results of the survey have been released after a careful analysis of results by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Faculty members in the College of Education were least satisfied, with their teaching loads, salaries and the lack of opportunity for advancement. Since the survey was taken a new dean has been hired and changes are being made to improve morale.

The survey was initially undertaken by the Office of Academic Affairs, in preparation for a grant application to the National Science Foundation. It was led by Associate Provost for Faculty Development Virginia Scharff and Academic Leadership Fellow Melissa Bokovoy, and based on a similar survey done at the University of Wisconsin.

The 69 question survey was extensive and explored everything from the UNM hiring process to the tenure process and asked a number of questions about the balance required for teaching, research, public service, and personal considerations.

The Office of Academic Affairs is looking for ways to help faculty members to derive satisfaction from their work life and to help them feel that they are doing a good job. “It’s really clear that for many faculty, particularly faculty with young children and school age children that dealing with child care responsibilities is a real challenge for them,” said Scharff.

UNM has a children’s campus that offers child care, but students receive priority slots and faculty members are sometimes put on a waiting list for child care slots. “People also have elder relatives to take care of," Scharff said, "This is true for our mid-career faculty, and particularly true for female faculty who feel they are in a squeeze between taking care of kids and taking care of parents.”

Survey Findings

  • Faculty members who have had or currently have dependent children - 59 percent
  • Faculty members who currently use or need day care services for a dependent child - 28 percent
  • Faculty members who have provided care for an aging relative in the last 3 years - 59 percent

Scharff says she will begin to research what other universities offer their faculty members in terms of child and elder care services. The survey shows this is an issue of concern for many faculty members.

Faculty members spend most of their time on teaching and research. On average the survey analysis says faculty members at UNM would like to spend more time on research and less time on public service, administrative and teaching duties.

The analysis of the survey concludes that 90 percent of respondents had adequate office space, but only about 60 percent of respondents have adequate laboratory space. About two thirds of faculty members say they have the equipment required for their research, but only 40 percent say the equipment is modernized or maintained adequately. The problem is particularly acute in Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Engineering.

Another eye opening area of the survey are the questions asked about whether the faculty member and their spouse are satisfied with their employment opportunities in New Mexico. Nearly 60 percent said they had seriously considered leaving New Mexico to enhance the careers of the faculty member and their spouse.

Scharff says her office will look for ways to make improvements for the work environment for all faculty members.

She considers this survey a baseline for understanding faculty concerns. The survey was done initially as a requirement for a National Science Foundation advance grant to try to increase the number of women and minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. UNM did not receive the grant but Scharff says the university now has a basic data set it can use when the next grant possibility opens.