"They [faculty] are still teaching their courses, supporting students, and trying to keep up with basic tasks. But connections to the institution have been frayed. The work is getting done, but there isn’t much spark to it." https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-great-faculty-disengagement
This opinion piece by Kevin McClure and Alisa Fryar in The Chronicle of Higher Education is an interesting reflection. Perhaps there is nothing here that is an earth shattering insight. Yet, in returning to the faculty from provost, it captures the mood I've observed among my colleagues.
In my 25 years in senior higher ed admin, I can't even count the number of times I heard in executive meetings, statements such as:, that "the faculty" just "don't get it; "the faculty's resistance to change is the problem; faculty are lazy; the the poor morale is no big deal because there is always anger and malaise in "the faculty." But, in their defense, senior academic administrators can get really tired as they "play whack a mole", as individual, or small groups of, faculty members raise urgent issues they expect leaders to address, without any prioritization through faculty governance.
Although I am angry at my institution, I have been energized to be back in the faculty role. My work hours haven't changed (60-80 hrs /week), but the effort is directed at working closely with students as individuals, research questions I am passionate about, and trying to be of value to my colleagues and our department's mission. And, for the first time in 25 years, I control how I devote those 60-80 hrs/week. So, my morale for what I do is high.
Yet, I can see in my colleagues the weariness of years of, as stated in the opinion piece, not feeling "safe, valued, and confident that that they have resources needed to do their jobs."
It can be easy to forget that "the faculty" are the group of employees that deliver the missions of student learning, research, and community engagement.
I worry that the weariness I see, the sense of their contributions being invisible to the "institution," and the constant feedback my colleagues feel that they are not working hard enough, is making it harder and harder for my colleagues to engage.
We should all try to remember the results of the Gallup-Purdue survey that indicated that, by far, faculty engagement and experiential learning for the two most important factors that college graduates identified that are related to "success" and "engagement.: Here is one summary: "Remarkably, graduates who strongly agreed that a professor cared about them as a person were 1.9x more likely to be engaged at work and 1.7x more likely to be thriving in their wellbeing."
"And alumni who strongly agree that a professor cared about them as a person are 6.2x more likely to be emotionally attached to their alma mater."
So, the "great faculty disengagement" should be taken seriously.