Faculty Recruitment and Retention
Task Force Report - May 31, 2001

2.2 Faculty Retention Surveys and Interviews

In this subsection, we report the key findings of exit interviews of departing faculty, interviews of individual chairs and faculty regarding successful and unsuccessful retention cases, an interview of the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA) Faculty Affairs Committee, and a meeting of Junior and Senior Women's Faculty Focus Groups. Further details are provided in Appendices C-F.

Finding #5 - Noncompetitive salaries represent the most-cited factor in faculty retention, especially among male faculty.

As seen in Appendix C, 12 of 14 male faculty but only 4 of 13 female faculty cited noncompetitive salaries as a very important (4 or 5 on a 5-point scale) factor in their decision to leave CU Boulder. From the data in Appendix D, 5 of 9 unsuccessful retention cases and 13 of 17 successful retention cases in the humanities cited salary as prominent in their consideration of outside offers. Faculty salaries relative to peer institutions were also the most frequently cited issue in interviews of science faculty, engineering faculty, and the BFA Faculty Affairs Committee (Appendices D and F). Senior women faculty but not junior women faculty expressed concern over salaries and gender equity (Appendix F).

Finding #6 - Lack of research support (financial, library holdings, travel, graduate research assistants) is the second-most-cited factor in faculty retention cases.

From the Faculty Exit Questionnaire (Appendix C), 12 of 27 faculty cited insufficient financial support for research or creative work as an important factor in their decisions to leave CU-Boulder. Lack of research support was also cited in 3 of 10 unsuccessful retention cases and in 8 of 17 successful retention cases in the humanities, and the need for high-quality graduate students and for matching and infrastructural funds for equipment, facilities and special initiatives was noted by physical-science and engineering faculty (Appendix D).

Finding #7 - A sense of professional isolation, including a lack of supportive and friendly colleagues, is an important concern, for both male and female faculty, and it is the third-most-cited factor in retention cases.

Five of 13 female faculty and seven of 14 male faculty indicated in the exit questionnaire that a sense of professional isolation was an important factor in their decisions to leave CU-Boulder (Appendix C). The Women's Faculty Focus Group noted that professional isolation includes a lack of friendly colleagues and inclusion in their primary unit, and unsympathetic/rude students in classes.

Finding #8 - Partner/spouse employment is the fourth-most-cited factor in faculty retention, especially among female faculty.

Five of 13 female faculty (all with academic partners) and three of 14 male faculty cited employment situations for their significant others or spouses as a very important factor in their decisions to leave CU-Boulder (Appendix C). Amongst humanities retention cases, four of ten faculty who departed and three of 17 faculty who stayed noted that spouse/partner opportunities were important factors in their consideration of outside offers (Appendix D). The importance of spousal hires is even more important for junior faculty, figuring prominently in approximately 50% of the recent retention cases in arts and humanities for untenured faculty (Appendix D).

Finding #9 - Other, less frequently cited factors in faculty retention cases include lack of financial support for teaching activities, insufficient housing assistance programs, noncompetitive benefits (health insurance, retirement, dependent tuition), insufficient staff support, increased administrative burden on faculty, poor quality office and laboratory space, and the need for flexibility in workload and childcare options.

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Last modified: April 8, 2005