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Climate survey reveals faculty feel “under-valued” by UNH

The Assessment of Climate for Learning, Living, and Working Final Report of September 2019 found that almost half of tenured or tenure-track faculty did not agree that UNH values their service contributions.  

“I have no job opportunities at all for advancement at UNH or in my department and am actively looking to leave on a daily basis,” an anonymous staff respondent said in the report. Respondents cited benefits, professional development resources, job security, and “the feeling that differential voices were not being heard.”  

The report found that 54 percent of “Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty respondents ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that their service contributions were valued by UNH.” Professor of Hospitality Management and Marketing Daniel Innis was one of the respondents. He said that he defines service contributions as unpaid methods of “rais[ing] the visibility of the institution.”  

One of Innis’ service contributions to UNH is his work on the board of the Log Cabin Republicans. The organization “is the nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing LGBT conservatives and allies,” according to His time serving as New Hampshire state senator in 2016 and 2017 was another service contribution. While Innis served in the State Senate, he was one of 559 known LGBTQ elected officials in America, according to Victory Institute’s 2018 “Out for America” report.  

“Oh, my goodness. Money,” he said regarding other contributions he’s made to the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics or to UNH as an institution. Professor Innis is also a former dean of Paul College. 

Innis was the “driving force” behind the “state-of-the-art” Paul College building, according to Paul College’s website. He considers the building his “crowning achievement.” He claims that the student population increased by 1,000 after the construction of the building.  

Innis does not think that UNH’s value for service contributions across colleges are consistent.  

“If you’re engaged in service in COLSA [College of Life Sciences and Agriculture], it’s a different animal, literally and figuratively, because their mission is different from ours…and in some disciplines they’re more hands-on. The equine program, that’s a perfect example, and the service that comes out of that to communities is nice. So, service varies from college to college. I think its recognition varies from college to college, too,” Innis said. 

Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences Sherine Elsawa agrees that UNH’s value of service contributions varies by college, and she thinks it should. Elsawa thinks the variance is due to major differences in each discipline. Elsawa defines service contributions as participating in any committees within or outside the university. This includes reviewing papers and grants. She serves on the editorial board of scientific journals where she receives manuscripts and seeks peer reviewers. She also reviews grants and is an active member of the American Society of Hematology where she served on several committees. Elsawa said that UNH has valued these contributions, “somewhat, not as much as [she] feel[s] they should have.” Like Innis, Elsawa also was a respondent of the survey.  

Professor Benjamin Chandran of physics and astronomy and integrated applied mathematics also defines service contributions as committee work. Chandran serves on a committee to prepare for the graduate comprehensive exam, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, and a colloquium committee. He also once served on the Faculty Senate and on an external review committee for another department at UNH. Chandran was a participant in the survey. 

Chandran explained that within his department, service contributions are spread fairly evenly amongst faculty members. UNH also breaks down services between UNH service and external service. Externally, Chandran served on a topical subgroup committee for the American Physical Society for six years, served on review committees for grants – several being for NASA, and has reviewed papers submitted to journals. He is unsure if UNH is aware of all external service.  

“We try to keep track of it within my department, but I think most of us more or less do that out of a sense of commitment to our fields,” he said.  

Chandran thinks that UNH values CEPS faculty service in one major way, and that is with time.  

“We know they value our service because they give us time to do research, write grant proposals, and bring in external funding to support out research,” he said in an email. 

Five major themes were found in the report under “Reasons Why Faculty Respondents Considered Leaving University of New Hampshire.” One theme was “lack of advancement opportunities.” Forty-four percent of staff respondents did not agree that there are clear advancement procedures at UNH.  

From a faculty perspective, Chandran believes that the tenure-track is “sufficient advancement opportunity.” Having become a professor, Chandran can focus on teaching, researching, and mentoring graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. He said, “there isn’t really another level that I really want to get to because I already get to do what I want to do.” 

Innis spoke on advancement opportunity for staff.  

“It is difficult in Paul to advance staff…it’s not that hierarchical an organization. It’s fairly flat,” he said. He said there is not a “next level” within the college. Those running the Master of Business Administration program face the same plateau; they cannot move up to the Ph.D. program, as it is run by the economics department, said Innis.  

Under “Faculty Respondents – Challenged with Faculty Work,” faculty commented on professional development resources. Innis said that while he was dean, he made sure a professional development trip for staff was in the budget. Only a few took advantage of the trip, but “it’s critical” for staff to feel valued, Innis said.  

One anonymous respondent in the report said that “‘[r]ecent budget issues have affected the dollars available for professional development.’” Other respondents commented on the narrow scope of professional development opportunities. 

Elsawa said there are many opportunities for professional development like teaching, research and grant writing, but she is unsure if her colleagues know about them or have the time. Respondents also associated time with limited development opportunity.  

“’Most of the trainings are offered on the weekends which takes away time with family,’” one respondent said in the report.   

Chandran thinks that the university could offer classes for new faculty on the best methods of teaching new courses. He said that few new faculty members “get training in pedagogy,” and this is where the university can improve. While at the University of Iowa, Chandran used their teaching center to watch videos made by experts on the best methods of teaching.  

The majority of tenured and tenure-track faculty respondents reported to feel “supported and mentored during the tenure-track years.” Of the respondents who reported to not feel supported, more than twice as many were women than men.   

Chandran thinks this dichotomy may have to do with service contributions. He said that his female colleagues across UNH are “often more consistently dutiful in terms of service work, and they step up and take on difficult service assignments, which are actually not rewarded professionally in the same way that research is.” He explained that the limited advantage of doing extra service may contribute to the difference in feeling valued. He also noted the importance of learning to say “no,” especially while on the tenure-track.  

In regard to differences in support by gender, Innis said that male versus female “perception” and “system structure” each play a role.  “It may be…that because the academy was developed largely with male faculty for decades and decades and decades, that the support structures we put in place work for guys but aren’t maybe as appropriate for women,” said Innis. He added, “I will say that I have not seen women turned down for tenure here anymore than men.” 

Innis discussed diversity within Paul College, claiming that more women than men were hired while he was Dean. Innis thinks that Paul faculty members are “pretty diverse.” His concern is with LGBTQ inclusion. Innis explained that when he was married to a woman, he would always be in the finalist pool for a job. Since coming out as gay, Innis has applied to provost, president, and other dean jobs, and has never made it past the first round. “Coincidence? I don’t think so. And it really hurts me because it’s not right,” he said. Innis doesn’t see the university “taking action” but is hopeful changes will come with President Jim Dean who was elected in 2018.  

Overall, Chandran feels valued by UNH.  

“I feel like just having the opportunity to do the job, it feels like in a way the university is supporting you,” he said as he finds support from UNH in the sense that he does what he loves. 

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