Administration hopes faculty participation in COACHE survey increases


The 2019 COACHE survey for full-time faculty launched last week, and Laurie Kirsch, vice provost for faculty affairs, development and diversity, hopes Pitt meets or exceeds the 45 percent participation rate it set in 2016.

The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has conducted the survey for more than 10 years, surveying faculty members at more than 250 colleges and universities to understand the themes associated with faculty satisfaction.

The last time the survey was done at Pitt in 2016 — 45 percent of the University’s non-clinical, full-time tenured, tenure-stream and non-tenure-stream faculty members completed the online survey, including 507 tenured faculty, 192 tenure-stream faculty and 608 non-tenure-stream faculty. Overall, 47 percent of faculty responded at the 88 institutions where the survey was offered that year.

For all the results and actions Pitt has taken in response to the 2016 survey, click here.

“The results of the 2016 survey were generally quite positive, … (and) pointed out a lot of strengths, I think, across the University, which was great,” Kirsch said.

But there were “a couple areas that suggested places that we wanted to put some effort,” she said.

Primary among those was a clarification of the tenure and promotion process, particularly for mid-career professors moving from associate to full professor.

In the 2016 survey, only 43 percent said they receive consistent messages about tenure requirements. In comparison to the five schools that Pitt benchmarked itself against, Pitt faculty were less satisfied in those areas than faculty at other institutions, Kirsch said.

Since then, the administration has worked to make sure every school and regional campus has promotion pathways for faculty outside the tenure stream and that the processes related to promotion and tenure have been reviewed and clarified.

The provost’s office also initiated workshops on the promotion and tenure process. The next one will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. April 2 at the University Club, third floor conference room A. Find out more here.

Focus on mentoring

Another area that was addressed after the 2016 survey was mentoring. The Center for Mentoring was set up in the Center for Teaching and Learning and recently there was a training session for mentoring trainers. The IMPACT (Institutional Mentoring Program Across a Community of Color) program, geared toward matching up early career faculty of color with mentors, also was a product of the survey results. The program debuted its first class in October.

Pitt also will be looking at questions associated with diversity and inclusion. In the last survey, Pitt added about a dozen questions in the area, and those questions will be on the new survey.

“The COACHE survey includes some questions, but this has been a priority at Pitt and there have been a lot of initiatives and so we want to have some additional questions so that we could gauge progress,” Kirsch said.

She hopes the new survey will measure how the University is doing in the areas that were highlighted as needing attention in 2016.

“I'm hoping that we do see some reflection of the efforts that we've been taking in these results,” she said. “But I also understand that sometimes, especially a large decentralized institution like Pitt, it takes time for these things to show up.”

But mostly Kirsch just wants faculty on all levels to fill out the survey, which takes about 20 to 25 minutes. The provost has sent out letters to faculty encouraging participation and University Senate President Chris Bonneau has been promoting the study’s benefits at various shared governance meetings.

“I really hope that faculty participate in this one,” she said. “The results really depend on having a robust participation.”

The COACHE survey will run through early April and Kirsch hopes to see results by August. The survey report will give a summary of results in two categories — large, research-oriented universities like Pitt and smaller, liberal arts colleges. Pitt then can pick the five schools it wants to be benchmarked against. In 2016, those schools were Indiana University–Bloomington, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, Purdue University, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and University of Virginia.

All full-time tenured, tenure-stream and non-tenure-stream faculty (excluding clinical faculty and those recently hired) should have received an email from COACHE ( with directions to the online survey.

If you have any questions about this survey, contact the Office of the Provost at Read more about the COACHE survey here.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.