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Report of the Boulder Faculty Assembly Administrator Appraisal Committee [1]
Concerning Paul Voakes, Dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado at Boulder
Third-Year Review, Fall of 2005

DESIGN OF THE SURVEY

The Administrator Appraisal Program (AAP) seeks to provide in-depth feedback based on a high rate of faculty response to a questionnaire to assure a representative survey of the faculty. Faculty members have the opportunity to provide AAP feedback to the review/reappointment process when the president, chancellor, provost, or the dean of their school or college is undergoing the third- or fifth-year review. Faculty members also are requested to complete and return a “BFA Satisfaction Survey Questionnaire” that addresses campus-wide concerns, such as salary and benefit programs. With regard to the appraisal of administrators, the survey contains questions addressing the effectiveness of each administrator’s performance in key areas. Various questions-such as those addressing general administrative style, salary process, and diversity-are common for all administrators. Responses are solicited using a 5-point effectiveness scale (1 = very ineffective, 3 = effective, and 5 = very effective). The Committee has interpreted the ratings in between as 2 = less than effective, and 4 = more than effective. In addition, the committee includes a “Don’t Know” option.

The evaluation process for Dean Voakes was designed to take into account the broad scope of faculty across the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Although chairs, directors, associate and assistant deans have regular opportunities to interact with Dean Voakes, most individual faculty members do not and, therefore, they may be less well informed or simply uninformed about many aspects of the dean’s performance.

To address the problem of different levels of familiarity, the AAP Committee sent the questionnaire to all faculty members designated as eligible by the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA), and then analyzed the responses from two groups among the recipients. The first group of recipients was all faculty members within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication [2]. There were 25 responses of a possible 26 in this group, a response rate of 96%. The “Satisfaction Survey,” in which the same 26 faculty members were asked to rate overall conditions in the university, had a response rate of 88%, with 23 responding. The second group comprised 7 faculty members who were in a position to have a close working knowledge of the dean’s work; 100% of this group, termed “knowledgeables”, responded to the survey questionnaire. It is important to note that all “knowledgeables”, selected at the recommendation of Dean Voakes, also were tabulated in the overall response and, therefore, are included among the 25 of the 26 faculty members responding.

SURVEY PARTICIPATION

The AAP Committee and the Boulder Faculty Assembly have agreed, on the advice of faculty who specialize in survey research methods, that a 60% return rate is needed for a representative sample. The response rate, in this case, was well above that threshold.

AIMS OF THE AAP EVALUATION

The AAP Committee hopes to provide a developmental picture of strengths and areas for improvement for administrators standing for reappointment in AY 2005-2006. Broadly viewed, the Committee defined four general categories in evaluating responses regarding Dean Voakes:

Strengths to Build on represent areas of the administrator’s performance that were rated as highly effective by a substantial majority of the faculty (at least 60% of respondents giving a rating of 4 or 5).

Assets to Protect were areas where at least half of the responding faculty found the administrator’s performance to be better than effective (50-59% of respondents giving a rating of 4 or 5). Thus, any reallocation of effort to correct weaknesses or changes in priorities should try to protect these strengths.

Issues to be Mindful of were judged to be effective or better by the majority of the respondents, but less than effective by a significant minority of respondents (25-39% of respondents giving a rating of 1 or 2).

Areas that Need Improvement were areas judged by a significant fraction of the faculty as unsatisfactory (at least 40% of respondents giving a rating of 1 or 2).

OVERVIEW

The survey results revealed a rather bimodal picture of the faculty’s opinion of Dean Voakes’s performance on a significant number of the questions. For example, questions 1-3, 8-10, 13-14, 18, 20, 21, and 24 showed more than 50% of the faculty rating him “effective to very effective”(ratings of 3-5), but 40% of the faculty considered him to be “ineffective” or “very ineffective” (ratings of 1 and 2) in those same response categories.

On all but one of the questions 30% or more of the faculty gave ratings of 1 and 2. On all but two of the questions 30% or more of the faculty gave Dean Voakes a rating of 4 or 5. Responses from the “knowledgeables” were far more positive: Only two of the questions yielded responses of lower than 50% with ratings of 4 or 5, and 18 of the 24 were above the 70% response rate for 4-5 ratings.

Strengths to Build on (at least 60% of respondents giving a rating of 4 or 5)

There were two categories that yielded more than a 60% response rating of 4 and 5, from among all faculty respondents:

  • Being receptive to the concerns of students
  • Representing the School to external audiences

To demonstrate the bimodal nature of these data, the chart below illustrates the responses above 60% among just the “knowledgeable” faculty (column I), compared with the percentage of responses from all participants in the 4-5 ratings (Column II), and the percentage of responses from the larger group responding in the 1-2 ratings (Column III):

I II III
Knowledgeable 4& 5 Ratings: 4&5’s ALL: 1&2’s ALL:
Providing vision, strategic plan (86%) (44%) (40%)
Acting with integrity (86%) (56%) (40%)
Supporting high-quality teaching (86%) (48%) (30%)
Supporting high-quality research (83%) (41%) (36%)
Supporting high quality service (86%) (42%) (38%)
Recruiting new faculty (86%) (52%) (36%)
Making decisions in a timely fashion (71%) (38%) (46%)
Creating an atmosphere of trust (67%) (38%) (54%)
Supporting/Mentoring assistant profs (71%) (38%) (43%)
Making progress towards diversity goals (71%) (48%) (35%)
Being receptive to concerns of faculty (86%) (52%) (40%)
Being receptive to concerns of staff (80%) (57%) (43%)
Being receptive to concerns of students (86% (67%) (22%)
Managing conflicts among faculty (71%) (30%) (57%)
Treating faculty fairly and inclusively (86%) (54%) (42%)
Communicating in an effective manner (71%) (42%) (46%)
Representing School on campus (83%) (50%) (44%)
Representing School to ext. audiences (83%) (63%) (32%)
Making sound budget decisions (86%) (56%) (31%)

Assets to Protect (50-59% of respondents giving a rating of 4 or 5)

Among the entire Journalism faculty (“knowledgeables” included) the following areas were rated as “assets to protect”:

  • Acting with integrity
  • Recruiting new faculty
  • Being receptive to concerns of faculty
  • Being receptive to concerns of staff
  • Treating faculty fairly and inclusively
  • Representing school on campus
  • Making sound budget decisions

Issues to be Mindful of (25-39% of respondents giving a rating of 1 or 2)

The following items were judged to be effective or better by the majority of the respondents, but less than effective by a significant minority of respondents (25-39% ratings of 1 or 2):

  • Supporting high-quality teaching
  • Supporting high-quality research
  • Supporting high-quality service
  • Recruiting new faculty
  • Making progress towards diversity goals
  • Representing the school to external audiences
  • Making sound budget decisions

Areas that Need Improvement (at least 40% of respondents giving a rating of 1 or 2)

The following categories received a rating of 1 or 2 from at least 40% of all the respondents:

  • Providing a vision, strategic plan
  • Acting with integrity
  • Supporting/Improving the quality of doctoral programs
  • Making decisions in a timely fashion
  • Creating an atmosphere of trust
  • Supporting/mentoring assistant professors
  • Supporting the continued development of senior faculty
  • Being receptive to concerns of faculty
  • Being receptive to concerns of staff
  • Managing conflicts among faculty
  • Managing conflicts among staff
  • Treating faculty fairly and inclusively
  • Appropriately involving faculty in decisions
  • Communicating in an effective manner
  • Representing the School on campus
  • Raising funds

THE BFA SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS

The BFA also asked the respondents in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to complete a satisfaction survey questionnaire that asked 20 questions about their satisfaction with the level of university support. The number of respondents was 23 out of 26 surveyed, a response rate of 88%. Respondents rated their satisfaction with conditions in the university generally somewhat higher than they rated Dean Voakes in the categories listed below. The Satisfaction Survey reported areas of strength, defined as 60% of both “knowledgeables” and all faculty respondents in the 4 or 5 ratings as follows:

  • Teaching responsibilities
  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Library access to outside resource

Among the “knowledgeables” only, the faculty also considered the following as Strengths to build on:

  • Teaching responsibilities
  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Involve faculty in Library holdings decisions
  • Library access to outside resources
  • Education and training support offered by the Library

Three areas were listed as Assets to protect (ratings of 4 or 5 by 50-59% of all respondents):

  • University support for research and creative work
  • Education and Training support offered by the library

Among the “knowledgeables” only, respondents listed the following categories as Assets

to protect:

  • Classroom facilities
  • University support for research and creative work
  • Faculty governance/progress towards shared governance

The faculty listed five Issues to be mindful of:

  • Technological support in teaching
  • Departmental support services
  • Space and facilities
  • Other benefits, including retirement
  • Evaluation of teaching

Knowledgeables listed the following 4 Issues To Be Mindful of:

  • Classroom facilities
  • Benefits other than health plan
  • Faculty governance/progress of shared governance
  • University efforts to recruit/retain diverse faculty

The faculty also listed 7 areas that Need Improvement:

  • Support for soliciting outside money
  • Salaries compared with peer institutions
  • Equitable distribution of salary
  • Current health plan
  • Faculty governance/progress towards shared governance
  • University efforts to retain diverse faculty
  • University efforts to retain diverse undergraduates

The “knowledgeables” listed the following areas that Need Improvement:

  • Technological support in teaching
  • Departmental support services
  • Support for soliciting outside money
  • Space and facilities
  • Salary compared with peer institutions
  • Current health plan
  • University efforts to retain diverse undergrads
  • Evaluation of teaching

Overall, the Satisfaction Survey indicates substantial dissatisfaction in those areas involving salary. The highest percentages of dissatisfaction were for Salaries in comparison with peers (61% ratings of 1 or 2) and Equitable distribution of salaries (53%). Among these, only one of them, Equitable distribution of salaries, is under Dean Voakes’s control. In addition, there appears to be great dissatisfaction with categories associated with the library, and general dissatisfaction with issues of materials support.

There also are indications of serious dissatisfaction with the “difficult problem” of University efforts to improve the diversity climate on this campus.

CONCLUSIONS

Dean Voakes scored very high nearly across the board among “knowledgeable” faculty members. Among this cohort, there are no areas that meet the BFA threshold as “Needing Improvement,” and not even areas that meet the threshold “To be Mindful of.” However, among the entire Journalism faculty, including the “knowledgeables”, there are many response categories that meet both of these thresholds. Categories appearing to be of greatest need for improvement are in the areas of trust, managing conflicts among faculty and staff, and supporting the continuing development of senior faculty. These themes also often were emphasized in the written feedback provided by respondents, who referred to low morale stemming from their perception that they are excluded from the decision-making process as opposed to an inner circle of faculty members frequently consulted by the dean on such matters.The bimodal tendencies of the data can be seen to reflect such comments.

Issues of morale and the feedback that indicates the need for improvement in managing faculty conflict represent extraordinarily complex and difficult issues to address. It may prove helpful in this situation to appoint a mentor for Dean Voakes, perhaps an ombuds person, to assist him with making progress in these areas. One nearly inescapable conclusion is that, with the group of seven "knowledgeables" rating Dean Voakes so consistently high, and given the relatively small cohort of faculty in the School altogether (26), an effort to widen the circle of faculty who eventually would consider themselves to be among the "knowledgeables" is needed. To do so would mean that Dean Voakes would reach out and consult with more faculty members so that they become more informed, “knowledgeable”, and understanding of Dean Voakes's work and the decision-making process. The Administrative Appraisal Program Committee believes that if this stepped-up interaction with a larger cohort of faculty is successful, the feedback Dean Voakes receives in his subsequent reappointment review (two years hence) may become unequivocally positive.


[1] The members of the committee are: Sedat Biringen, Paul Erhard, Lawrence Frey, Ken Iwamasa, Richard Laver, Clayton Lewis, Uriel Nauenberg (chair), Lynn Ross-Bryant, Jeff Schiel, Robert Schulzinger, Daniel Sher.

[2] Faculty is defined as all members of the Boulder Faculty Senate, including all rostered contract instructors.

 
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