Radford University faculty reported continuing dissatisfaction with their workload and low pay — in addition to frustration with the school’s bureaucracy — on an annual morale survey.
But President Brian Hemphill remains more popular than his predecessor, the controversial Penelope Kyle, despite a slight drop in his scores from last year.
The surveys are typically conducted every spring with results disclosed in the fall. Faculty members choose answers on the anonymous survey on a one to five scale, with one meaning strongly disagree and five meaning strongly agree. A three is classified as neutral.
Since Hemphill was hired in 2016, scores have increased markedly over those given to Kyle, who was named to the post in 2005.
The biggest dips for Hemphill came from the statements “the president values my opinion,” which went from a 3.78 in 2017 to a 3.43 in 2018, and “I am satisfied with the leadership of the president,” which went from a 3.88 in 2017 and a 3.62 in 2018.
Kyle’s administration weathered significant controversies, including a faculty senate investigation that described a “culture of fear” among faculty that led to a no confidence vote in then-Provost Wil Stanton.
In 2015, faculty graded Kyle a 2.32 on the statement “The President values faculty opinion.”
In 2017, Hemphill scored a 3.78 on the same statement.
“That represents an increase of 1.46 points or more than 60 percent,” university spokeswoman Ashley Schumaker said.
On the statement “I am satisfied with the leadership of the President,” ratings increased from 2.57 in 2015 under Kyle to 3.88 in 2017 with Hemphill.
“That represents an increase of 1.31 points or approximately 50 percent,” Schumaker said.
Faculty President Jake Fox said the surveys can serve a valuable purpose, but the questions have remained the same for at least 20 years.
The statements also lack specificity, which makes it hard for the administration to address problems.
“Some of the questions could be improved to make feedback from faculty more actionable,” he said. “I do feel that President [Brian] Hemphill is responsive to faculty feedback and cares a great deal about their opinions.”
Hemphill said he is always eager to receive feedback from the faculty and not just from the annual survey.
“Obtaining feedback takes many forms, including visiting with all academic departments, attending collegewide meetings and presenting on a regular basis during Faculty Senate and responding to questions,” Hemphill said. “An ideal scenario provides an honest reflection of the faculty’s assessment such that we continue our forward progress in a collaborative, transparent and meaningful manner.”
The survey also assesses job satisfaction at Radford.
Faculty ranked the statement “RU’s bureaucratic procedures are reasonable” at 2.24.
“My workload is reasonable,” received a 2.97.
“I am satisfied with my pay,” received a 2.61, and “Morale among faculty is positive,” received a 2.89 score.
Hemphill responded to those ratings by email Friday.
“As a University, we have made investments in our faculty who daily invest in the minds and lives of our students,” he wrote. “We will continue to invest in providing the very best educational environment possible. It is a top priority for Radford University.”
Statements regarding the provost also received lower marks than in 2017, but the school recently formed a search committee to hire a new one.
Radford has had five provosts since the position was created in 2007.
Past faculty morale surveys can be found at https://www.radford.edu/content/faculty-senate/home/documents/Faculty-Morale-Surveys.html.