Majority of Canisius faculty report low satisfaction with college, survey shows

A trend of low satisfaction among Canisius faculty in recent years has continued, according to a survey conducted last December by the Governance Committee of the Faculty Senate.

Canisius secured top marks all across the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 rankings of Best Colleges and Universities lists. (Griffin File Photo)

A majority of tenured and nontenured faculty at Canisius reported low satisfaction with several aspects of their jobs, including salary and administrative transparency, according to a survey conducted last December by the Faculty Governance Committee of the Faculty Senate. 

The committee surveyed 123 total faculty members across Canisius’ three schools, 98 tenured and 25 nontenured, using Likert-scale responses from one (“very low” satisfaction) to five (“very high” satisfaction) for six questions.

Respondents were asked about their satisfaction with several areas of their job, including salaries, faculty benefits, transparency of Canisius’ budgeting process, administrative transparency and trust in the administration’s judgement. 

Faculty reported the lowest satisfaction with their salaries, with 52% of respondents (64 faculty) reporting “very low” satisfaction for an overall average of 1.72 points, between “very low” and “low.”

Satisfaction with Canisius’ procurement of travel or social functions received the highest score on the survey with an average of 2.52 points, between “low” and “middle” satisfaction. 38.2% of faculty reported “middle” satisfaction with 14.7% reporting either “high” or “very high” satisfaction. 

Satisfaction with faculty benefits averaged 2.39 points, satisfaction with transparency of Canisius’ budget process averaged 2.03 points, satisfaction with administrative transparency averaged 2.14 points and satisfaction with the administration’s judgement scored 2.23 points. 

A letter obtained by The Griffin from Dr. Jennifer Desiderio and Dr. Amy Wolf on behalf of the Faculty Welfare Committee noted that the survey was conducted before the mass layoffs and program cuts that took place this summer. 

“58.5% of faculty had low or very low trust in the administration’s judgement; and 69.1% of the faculty had low or very low satisfaction in the transparency and clarity of the college’s budgeting process,” Desiderio and Wolf wrote in the letter. 

“These percentages are disturbingly high and show widespread distrust and dissatisfaction across the faculty, as the distribution of schools within the college shows.”

Reports of low satisfaction among faculty stretch back several years and two administrations, according to previous survey data that was included with the new survey report. 

For example, 60% of faculty in 2004 reported either “very low” or “low” satisfaction with the transparency of the college’s budgeting process. At the time, Canisius’ president was Rev. Vincent Cook, S.J.  

While reports of satisfaction have been consistently low dating back to Rev. Cook’s administration, average satisfaction under President John Hurley’s administration is slightly lower across the board in the most recent survey. 

For example, in 2004, 40% of faculty reported feeling “low” or “very low” levels of satisfaction with trust in the administration’s judgement, compared to 58.5% in the most recent survey. 

In the case of salary, 79% of faculty in 2004 reported “low” or “very low” levels of satisfaction against 82.1% in the new survey. 

The levels of satisfaction also ranged among Canisius’ three schools. For example, 64% of faculty at the Richard J. Wehle School of Business reported “very low” levels of satisfaction with the administration’s judgement while 29% of faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and 17% of faculty in the School of Education and Human Services reported “very low” satisfaction. 

President Hurley addressed faculty morale in an interview with The Griffin on Sept. 5, saying that it was a “concern.”

“Yes, that has been an issue we are trying to work on,” he said. “I subscribe to the notion that when we are able to stabilize the enrollment of the college and get into a predictable budget pattern in which people can feel they are being compensated for what they do and there is more security here, then morale would be better.”

The Faculty Senate hopes to complete another survey this year to gauge morale after the summer layoffs, according to the letter from Desiderio and Wolf. 

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