NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

ADVANCE Faculty Climate Survey

The National Science Foundation-funded ADVANCE Center at UH conducted a faculty climate survey in 2017. The response rate for the survey was 50% for all faculty at the University and 38% in NSM.

The survey responses revealed both strengths and weaknesses in the perceived and experienced climate in the University, colleges, and departments. ( Survey Results) In response to the survey results, the Provost asked the ADVANCE Center to attempt to discover factors contributing to the low-scoring areas for each college.

As a result, college taskforces were created. The NSM ADVANCE Survey Taskforce had representation from each department in the College with an additional member representing the non-tenure track faculty. The taskforce met with departmental constituents and prepared a report detailing their findings and suggested actions. These were presented to NSM leadership, the Provost, ADVANCE team, and other college taskforces.

Areas of Strength in the NSM Climate

  • Servant Leadership
  • Voice
  • Procedural Justice

Areas of Weakness in the NSM Climate

  • Coworker Support
  • Citizenship Behaviors
  • Social Engagement
  • Embeddedness

NSM: Focus on Collegiality, Support of Diverse Faculty, and Having Adequate Resources

The NSM ADVANCE Faculty Climate Taskforce focused their study on collegiality, support of diverse faculty, and having adequate resources. Their summary findings are that the faculty feel disenfranchised and not respected beyond the College as evidenced, in part, by the felt lack of interest in their opinions/concerns and the serious underfunding of infrastructure and resources needed for research.

The faculty in the College and departments are split among many buildings which substantially reduces the opportunities to interact. Mechanisms that provide more opportunities to interact should have a positive influence on collegiality.

The taskforce reported that the faculty broadly were positive about the ADVANCE program’s efforts and that of the University to improve diversity among the students and faculty. The few vocal opponents to efforts to diversify the faculty were viewed as a big obstacle to efforts to improve faculty diversity.

Finally, the faculty reported that many R1 and AAU institutions provide high levels of central support for research facilities, equipment, equipment maintenance, and support staff. This is reported to be highly lacking at UH, with at least one notable exception (high-performance computing). Instead, faculty must largely buy equipment with time-limited startup funds, write equipment proposals, and scrape together funds to maintain and run equipment. Support at the University level for building maintenance is reported to be poor and protracted. This all significantly impacts faculty collegiality, productivity, and retention.

The taskforce provided a set of possible solutions (see the end of their report), and the College is acting on their recommendations.

NSM ADVANCE Survey Taskforce

  • Biology & Biochemistry: Richard Meisel
  • Chemistry: Scott Gilbertson
  • Computer Science: Thamar Solorio and Nouhad Rizk (non-tenure track representative)
  • Earth & Atmospheric Sciences: Julia Smith Wellner
  • Math: Annalisa Quaini
  • Physics: Donna Stokes

NSM ADVANCE Climate Survey Results
NSM ADVANCE Climate Survey Taskforce Report