Nearly Half of Surveyed Faculty Do Not Believe Harvard Provides Sufficient Departmental Support
This is the third installment in a five-part series analyzing the results of The Crimson’s survey of the more than 1,000 members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard’s flagship faculty. Read the first installment here, the second installment here, and the fourth installment here, and the fifth installment here.
Roughly half of surveyed members of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences do not believe the University provides enough support for their department as a whole, according to a survey conducted by The Harvard Crimson.
The survey also revealed that a majority of respondents believe University President Drew G. Faust, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, and Dean of FAS Michael D. Smith are doing “good” or “very good” jobs. A plurality of respondents—42 percent—moreover believe the University’s current initiatives meant to improve diversity are sufficient, according to the survey.
The Crimson conducted a survey of Harvard’s flagship faculty over the course of two weeks in mid-April 2018. The results paint a picture of how the more than 1,000 members of FAS think about key University policies, life at Harvard, the national political climate, and pressing issues of sexual harassment both on campus and nationwide.
The 54-question survey garnered roughly 500 responses, representing more than 40 percent of the Faculty, though not all respondents answered each question. The survey, emailed to nearly every member of the FAS, was open from April 17 to April 30 and was anonymous.
The third installment of The Crimson’s faculty survey series delves into the on-campus lives of Harvard professors, examining issues including departmental climate, faculty demographics, and perceptions of how well key administrators represent FAS members’ interests.
The Crimson reweighted data reported in this installment by ladder status and divisional affiliation (see below for methodology).
Nearly half of survey respondents reported they believe their respective departments lack sufficient support from the University.
Asked whether Harvard provides enough support for their department as a whole, 36 percent of respondents indicated they “disagree” while 14 percent indicated they “strongly disagree.” Twenty-seven percent of respondents indicated they “agree”—but just 4 percent indicated they “strongly agree.” Nineteen percent reported they feel “neutral” about the issue.
Respondents who indicated they are affiliated with the Arts and Humanities were more likely to indicate dissatisfaction than were respondents hailing from any other division. Forty-six percent of Arts and Humanities respondents indicated they “disagree” with the notion Harvard provides adequate departmental support while 14 percent selected “strongly disagree.”
Overall, respondents reported mixed feelings on whether their departments’ atmospheres are conducive to a healthy division between work and personal life.
Thirty percent of respondents indicated they “agreed” and 7 percent indicated they “strongly agreed” with the suggestion their department culture reflects a good work-life balance.
By contrast, 28 percent of respondents indicated they “disagreed” and 11 percent indicated they “strongly disagreed” with that assertion. Twenty-four percent reported feeling “neutral.”
A majority of respondents—59.6 percent—feel valued as scholars, according to the survey. When asked to evaluate the statement “I feel valued as a scholar,” 19 percent of respondents answered they “strongly agree” and 40 percent answered they “agree,” though another 17 percent responded they feel “neutral.” Seventeen percent, however, indicated they “disagree” and 8 percent indicated they “strongly disagree.”
These numbers were largely consistent across divisions with the exception of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in which 34 percent of which faculty answered “disagree.”
The University has taken several steps in recent years to improve diversity on campus. University President Drew G. Faust assembled a committee of professors, staff, and alumni in 2016 to study issues of diversity at Harvard. The group, dubbed the Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, released its final report in March.
“Achieving excellence across these pursuits requires bringing a broad diversity of perspectives, methods, and experiences to bear on any given area of study or discovery. In other words, academic excellence requires diversity and inclusion,” the report reads.
The survey—which comes on the heels of this report—indicated a plurality of FAS faculty believe the University’s efforts to make Harvard more diverse are sufficient. Forty-two percent of respondents indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “FAS/the University is doing enough to diversity Harvard,” while 26 percent chose “neutral,” and 32 percent answered “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”
Responses differed along gender lines. Among respondents who identified as male, around half—49 percent—said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that the University’s current diversity initiatives are adequate. Twenty-six percent of female respondents indicated the same.
Harvard has seen a number of challenges and controversies across the past decade—ranging from the 2008 financial crisis to the 2012 Government 1310 cheating scandal to the more recent, convoluted debut of the College’s social group sanctions. Forty-six percent of respondents to the survey indicated they believe Harvard handled the rollout of the penalties “poorly” or “very poorly.”
Nonetheless, a majority of respondents reported they think three of Harvard’s top administrators—Faust, Smith, and Khurana—are performing their jobs well.
In total, a majority of respondents—61 percent—indicated they believe Faust’s job performance in office has been “very good” or “good”; 23 percent selected the former while 38 percent selected the latter. Twenty-six percent labeled her job performance “okay.”
Just 8 percent reported they believe Faust has done a “poor” job, while 5 percent indicated they believe she has done a “very poor” job.
Asked whether Faust has represented their interests as FAS members well, a plurality of respondents—41 percent—indicated they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with that statement. By comparison, 17 percent of respondents indicated they “disagreed” and just 8 percent indicated they “strongly disagreed.” Thirty-four percent reported feeling neutral.
Like Faust, Khurana garnered relatively high approval ratings. A majority of respondents—60 percent—reported they believe Khurana’s job performance has been “very good” or “good.” Twenty-two percent of respondents selected the first option and 38 percent selected the second. Of remaining respondents, 25 percent indicated they believe Khurana’s performance has been “okay,” 10 percent evaluated his performance as “poor,” and 5 percent selected “very poor.”
Approval ratings were slightly lower for Smith. A smaller number—13 percent—of respondents indicated they believe the dean’s job performance has been “very good,” while 32 percent indicated they believe his performance has been “good”—meaning 45 percent of respondents in total reported holding a positive view of the FAS dean’s tenure.
Thirty-six percent of respondents indicated they believe Smith’s job performance has been “okay.” Eleven percent reported they believe Smith has done a “poor job” and 9 percent reported they believe he has done a “very poor” job.
Asked how well Smith has represented faculty members’ interests, a plurality of respondents—39 percent—reported feeling neutral. Roughly equal percentages reported agreement and disagreement; 32 percent indicated they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” while 29 percent indicated they “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed.”
Respondents who reported attending at least one FAS faculty meeting in the past six months were marginally more likely to believe Smith had represented professors’ interests well. Sixty percent of those who answered “strongly agree” and 51 percent of those who answered “agree” also indicated they had attended a faculty meeting.
By contrast, 81 percent of those who answered “strongly disagree” and 52 percent of those who answered “agree” indicated they had not attended a recent faculty meeting.
In general, less than half of survey respondents—41 percent—reported they had attended an FAS faculty meeting in the past six months. FAS holds these meetings monthly.
The Crimson’s survey asked respondents about their age, sexual orientation, and annual income. The survey also asked about gender and race—but, given the University already tracks and publicizes demographic information on the gender and race of FAS ladder faculty that is likely more accurate, The Crimson is not reporting that data in this article.
The majority of survey respondents—55 percent—reported their ages as falling between between 25 and 45 years of age. Of the people within this age range, 49 percent identified as female or genderqueer/nonbinary.
Among respondents who reported they fall in the 46 and over age bracket, 35 percent of respondents indicated they identify as non-male.
The overwhelming majority of survey respondents—81 percent—reported identifying as straight. Six percent indicated they identify as gay/lesbian and 5 percent indicated they identify as bisexual.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the average salaries of tenured professors and associate professors at Harvard in 2016 were $221,382 and $124,965, respectively. FAS salaries increased by only 1.5 percent for fiscal year 2018.
A plurality of respondents who indicated they are tenured professors—41 percent—reported that their annual income falls between $121,000 and $250,000. The vast majority—69 percent—indicated their income amounts to at least $121,000.
The majority of respondents who indicated they are tenure-track—59 percent—reported an income falling between $66,000 and $120,000. By comparison, the majority of respondents who indicated they are non-ladder faculty—68 percent—reported their incomes fall between $41,000 and $90,000.
The Harvard Crimson collected electronic responses through the Qualtrics survey platform from April 17 to April 30, 2018. A link to the anonymous survey was sent to 1,173 FAS and SEAS faculty members through emails sourced from Harvard directory information and departmental websites.
Of those faculty who received emails, 516 accessed the link to the survey. A total of 498 participants answered at least one question, and 296 participants completed every question in the survey. To prevent participants from accidentally taking the survey more than once, The Crimson enabled Qualtrics’ browser cookie functionality to register unique survey sessions on each device. This device data is controlled by Qualtrics, and The Crimson does not retain information that could identify devices accessing the survey with anonymous responses.
In an effort to check for response bias, The Crimson compared respondent demographics with publicly available information on faculty demographics provided by the University—information regarding gender, minority background, divisional affiliation, and ladder versus non-ladder status. Overall, respondent demographics tracked with faculty demographics.
Of survey respondents who identified themselves as ladder faculty, 34.5 percent were women and 16.2 percent were minorities. Based on data in the 2017 FAS Dean’s Annual report, women and minorities make up 29.9 percent and 21.9 percent of FAS ladder faculty, respectively.
The Crimson previously reported that, in May 2015, 28.9 percent of the FAS were non-ladder faculty. By contrast, 42 percent of respondents to The Crimson’s survey identified themselves as non-ladder faculty.
Of faculty with known divisional affiliations who were sent links to the survey, 317—or 28.5 percent—are affiliated with the Arts and Humanities, 341—or 30.6 percent—with the Social Sciences, 316—or 28.4 percent—with the Sciences, and 140—or 12.6 percent—with SEAS. In comparison, of respondents who indicated their divisional affiliation on the survey, 39.9 percent reported an affiliation with the Arts and Humanities, 27.8 with the Social Sciences, 28.26 percent with the Sciences, and 7 percent with SEAS.
The Crimson reweighted all response percentages mentioned in this story by ladder status and divisional affiliation, the two demographic categories which saw the most significant areas of response discrepancy in the main story.
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