Portrait of a Faculty
Survey shows Emory professors more likely to receive job offers elsewhere, consider time pressures greatest stress

By Daniel Teodorescu


Click here for an overview of nation-wide results to the Higher Education Research Institute survey of faculty.

Click here to see a chart showing the greatest sources of stress to Emory faculty compared to faculty elsewhere.

Academic Exchange October/November 1999 Contents Page

Emory faculty are more likely than colleagues at other private universities to have received another job offer during the last two years, according to a 1998 survey conducted by the Office of Institutional Planning and Research in conjunction with the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Emory faculty are also more likely to commute a long distance to work, do research and writing on women or on race and ethnicity, and be U.S. natives.

Open to all U.S. post-secondary institutions, the survey was designed to gather timely information about the workload, teaching practices, job satisfaction, and professional activities of collegiate faculty and administrators. Nearly six hundred full-time Emory faculty--32 percent of the full-time faculty body--completed the survey. The highlights summarized here compare Emory responses against those of a group of faculty at five other private universities: Carnegie-Mellon, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, and Stanford.

Tenure standards. More than three-quarters of Emory faculty say the tenure standards for research or publication have been communicated clearly to them. More than half, however, find the communication of standards for university service either very uncertain or somewhat uncertain. Compared to men, women faculty at Emory tend to think the standards for research and publication are communicated somewhat less clearly.

Leaving academe. During the past two years, 42 percent of Emory respondents considered leaving academe for another job. These faculty tend to be in business, law, and medicine.

Tenure attitudes. Overall, Emory respondents support the tenure system, with sixty percent disagreeing with the statement, "Tenure is an outmoded concept." As might be expected, disagreement with this statement is lower among untenured faculty; weaker support of tenure also tends to characterize law, medicine, and nursing faculty.

Retirement. Twenty-nine percent at Emory and 19 percent at other private institutions considered early retirement over the last two years. Correspondingly, fewer faculty at Emory (33 percent) than in the comparison group (48 percent) plan to work beyond the age of 70.

Contentment. When asked if they would "do it over again," 76 percent of Emory respondents and 83 percent of the comparison group would still want to be a college professor. At Emory, male faculty and full professors are more likely than female faculty and colleagues at lower ranks to answer a definite "yes."

Collaboration. While most published scholarly work elsewhere is produced in collaboration, faculty at Emory are more likely to publish alone. Forty-two percent of Emory faculty publish most or all of their work alone, 19 percent with one other person, and 38 percent with two or more people.

Teaching and social goals. Emory faculty have a relatively higher appreciation than their counterparts elsewhere for social and moral goals in guiding undergraduate teaching. Emory faculty differ from their counterparts by almost twenty percentage points in valuing goals such as "preparing for responsible citizenship" (62 percent versus 43 percent) and "instilling commitment to community service" (40 percent versus 22 percent).

The Western tradition. Emory faculty are more likely than those elsewhere to agree that Western civilization is the foundation of undergraduate education and that colleges should be involved in social problems.

Teaching styles. Emory faculty are more likely than others to use class discussions, multiple drafts of written work, computer-aided instruction, and readings on women/gender and racial/ethnic issues. The biggest gaps occur in the use of extensive lecturing and teaching assistants. At Emory, only 10 percent of respondents reported using teaching assistants in most or all of their undergraduate classes, and 40 percent said they lecture extensively. The corresponding percentages for other private universities are 44 and 58, respectively.

Personal philosophy. Emory respondents tend to attach a somewhat higher importance to "developing a meaningful philosophy of life," "helping promote racial understanding," and "integrating spirituality in life."

Politics. Approximately half of Emory faculty describe themselves as liberal, one-third as middle-of-the road, 13 percent as conservative, and 4 percent as far left. Analysis by school reveals a significantly higher proportion of self-identified liberals in law and theology than in the rest of the schools.

Institutional priorities. Enhancing the university's "national image," "promoting intellectual development," and "increasing/maintaining institutional prestige" are perceived by more than 85 percent of Emory faculty as being the top institutional priorities. The proportions of Emory faculty who see "developing community among students/faculty" and "facilitating community service involvement" as high or highest priority (53 percent and 41 percent) are considerably higher than at other private universities (38 percent and 25 percent).

Institutional equity. Emory faculty are slightly more likely than their counterparts elsewhere to feel that faculty of color, women faculty, and gay/lesbian faculty are treated fairly at their institution. They are also more likely to believe that their colleagues are interested in students' problems (65 percent at Emory, compared to 53 percent in the comparison group).