Faculty experience addressed at campus climate forum


Caela Price/Iowa State Daily

J Arbuckle, an associate professor in the sociology department was one professor that attended the campus climate meeting in the Parks Library on Oct. 17. Faculty members met to discuss campus climate issues particularly affecting faculty and staff. 

Kaitlyn Hood

Wednesday’s forum on faculty experience was met with limited faculty attendance.

The main purpose of this two-part faculty experience work group forum is to develop specific actions for issues of concern for faculty here at Iowa State. These issues of concern are based on the campus climate and Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) surveys.

Campus climate and COACHE surveys measure faculty satisfaction about their experiences at work and academic issues.

The second part will take place from 11 a.m. to noon, Nov. 1 in the Pioneer Room at the Memorial Union.

For this first part of the forum, room 198 in Parks Library was set up where faculty could write on big sticky notes to put down their concerns at different tables indicating different areas of concern across the rather large space.

There were 12 faculty members in attendance, including those on the committee.

Nevertheless, the forum went on to discuss the six main topics of the night: department initiatives, faculty work-life initiatives, faculty awareness initiatives, teaching initiatives, university initiatives and community navigation initiatives.

President of Faculty Senate, Peter Martin, asked, “What can we do as a faculty to address the issues that have come up?”

This opened up the beginning of department initiatives that need to be addressed. It lead to the conversation of behaviors within departments. Department meetings are where the worst behavior can be seen from faculty. Faculty at the forum described it as what one would do in elementary school.

A proposed solution that was offered was bringing a level of civility to departments through the advancement of conflict resolution, trust, accountability and leadership skills.

Next, the topic of faculty work-life was discussed. All agreed the proposed solutions of increased health options, such as gym memberships, improved university childcare, balancing of faculty workload and stress and improvement of faculty handbook policies would benefit all faculty at Iowa State.

The faculty awareness initiative came next with a suggestion of a marketing campaign geared toward faculty. It would consist of simple reminders of civility and the right thing to do in a possibly stressful situation. Members of the meeting recognized that it will not stop every single incident from occurring, but it will prevent some of the simple ones. The strategy would lead faculty to anticipate and prevent some current concerns, but the fact that if the concerns continue there should be some sort of penalty set in place for whoever is creating the issue.

Following faculty awareness was teaching initiatives. A big point from this was creating a new culture within the faculty. A new culture where everyone could learn about ongoing activities and professional development to adapt to changes in the environment and society surrounding Iowa State. This could include learning about cultural competencies or the change of language to avoid a fear of incorrectness with students and faculty alike.  

University initiatives was a smaller topic discussed at the forum. The continuation of professional development was addressed again along with the balance of work and stress levels on the faulty.

Lastly, community navigation initiatives rounded out the discussion at the faculty experience work group forum. They focused on the need to provide resources to faculty to make their work more successful. One idea that was pitched was the development of a website that contains updated community information that would provide a community for those who are not familiar with the culture of Iowa State and the areas surrounding it.

At the end of the forum, Martin asked everyone to write down three ideas on sticky notes on their top solutions that were proposed during the discussion. Whether it was from ones that were discussed or ideas of their own.

For the second part of the forum on Nov. 1, the work group hopes for more members of the faculty from all departments and colleges to attend to share their concerns in order to make members of the faculty at Iowa State have the best experience possible.