Faculty Departure

Faculty leave higher education institutions for many reasons. For example, faculty leave institutions for a higher salary and more prestigious department, a lack of collegiality, for a better geographic location, and to be closer to family. At the same time, research suggests that factors such as a higher salary and more prestigious department are not really “pull” factors if faculty members are satisfied and thriving within their institutions. Faculty become predisposed to leave by virtue of dissatisfaction with certain aspects of their work environment. These factors act as a “push” to either entertain offers or go looking for “greener pastures.” We have a series of studies to understand the work environment experiences of faculty who leave their institutions and compare them to faculty in the same cohort who decide to stay. We have also interviewed administrators who try to retain faculty and considered the impressions of faculty colleagues of leaving faculty.
 


 

Publications and Presentations

Left unsaid: The role of work expectations and psychological contracts in faculty careers and departure.

Review of Higher Education. 39(2), p. 269-297. 

Faculty leave higher education institutions for many reasons, including higher salaries, more prestigious departments, lack of collegiality, a better geographic location, and to be closer to family (O'Meara, Lounder, & Campbell, 2014; Rosser, 2004; Smart, 1990; Xu, 2008). At the same time, research suggests that factors such as a higher salary and a more prestigious department are not really "pull" factors if faculty members are satisfied and thriving within their institution (Matier, 1990; O'Meara, 2014). Rather, faculty become predisposed to leave by virtue of dissatisfaction with certain aspects of their work environment (Daly & Dee, 2006; Johnsrud & Rosser, 2002; Rosser, 2004), which act as a "push" to either entertain offers or go looking for "greener pastures" (Daly & Dee, 2006). Embedded within these push and pull factors, and subsequent departure decisions, are expectations and assumptions of what could have been, or should have been possible, in the institutions faculty members leave behind (Lawrence, Celis, & Ott, 2014; Trower, 2012). Important research over the last decade has reinforced the role of work expectations and psychological contracts on advising relationships and faculty work lives (Benzoni, Rousseau, & Li, 2006; Darrah, Hougland, & Prince, 2014; Huston, Norman, & Ambrose, 2007). Early career faculty bring many expectations related to professional relationships, career advancement, and teaching to the door steps of their new academic homes (Lawrence et al., 2014; Trower, 2012). Regardless of whether these expectations are met, they are often left unsaid. Unfortunately, what is left unsaid can be a major factor in faculty departure. This study makes a distinct contribution to the literature by examining the experiences of faculty who have actually left or are about to leave their university. It is rare in studies of faculty departure to have interviews with faculty who actually made the decision to leave, rather than those who simply desire to leave, because of the logistics and politics involved in gaining access to this group. Although intent to leave is a strong predictor of departure, more faculty intend to leave than actually do (Bluedorn, 1982; Daly & Dee, 2006; Rosser & Townshend, 2006; Zhou & Volkwein, 2004); thus understanding the factors that were pivotal in the departure decisions of those who actually left is important to understanding the phenomenon of faculty departure.

Who's looking? Examining the role of gender and rank in faculty outside offers.

NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education

Outside offers, defined as comparable offers of employment at another organization, are means by which faculty determine their relative market worth and increase their salary at their home institution. Despite the career advantages associated with outside offers, little is known about the groups of faculty most likely to receive them. For example, given unexplained pay differences between men and women faculty at research universities, it is important to understand whether there are gender differences in who receives outside offers. This study used survey data from (n = 784) faculty respondents at a large, public university and exploratory logistic regression to examine the relationship between receiving outside offers and gender, partner status and having dependents, rank, and time in rank. Key findings suggested that rank was associated with outside offers, with those in higher ranks more likely to receive outside offers. Men were more likely to receive outside offers than women. We draw implications from this exploratory study for future research and for constructing retention policies that do not unintentionally disadvantage certain subsets of faculty.

To heaven or hell: Sensemaking about why faculty leave.

The Journal of Higher Education, 85(5), 603-632.

This article analyzes sensemaking about faculty departure among administrators, faculty colleagues, and faculty leavers in one research university. A mixed methods database was analyzed to reveal four dominant explanations for faculty departure and two influences on sensemaking. Dominant explanations included better opportunities, the likelihood the faculty member would not get tenure, family and geographic reasons, and work environment and fit. Sensemaking was influenced by status expectations and proximity to the departure. Implications for future research on faculty careers, and for campuses interested in improving faculty retention, are drawn.

Half-Way Out: How Requiring Outside Offers to Raise Salaries Influences Faculty Retention and Organizational Commitment.

Research in Higher Education. 55(4), 1-22.

This institutional case study examines the influence of a policy requiring outside offers for faculty salary increases on institutional retention efforts and faculty organizational commitment. Outside offers and policies governing them are rarely examined, and studied here from the perspective of administrators, leaving faculty, and faculty who receive outside offers and remain. Findings suggest such a policy has negative influences on institutional retention efforts and organizational commitment. Implications are drawn for campuses working to retain faculty and for future research. 

Stop, Don’t, Go, Please: Retention and How Our Policies & Work Environments Shape It.

ADVANCE Implementation Mentors Network Meeting.

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