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Office of the Provost

Faculty Advancement

Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Survey

 The University of South Carolina in partnership with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), a research initiative based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is engaging in a first-of-its-kind national study of faculty departures and retentions.  

Why has the University of South Carolina decided to participate in this study?

We want to recruit and retain the best people, and that means we have to be willing to listen. The COACHE Faculty Retention & Exit Retention Study is designed to help us do that. COACHE is designed by Harvard researchers who specialize in the study of faculty and the academic workplace. COACHE understands that faculty are a unique type of employee whose circumstances require an instrument tailored for them. The instrument and methodology was developed in consultation with researchers, faculty, and academic leaders across the country and has been reviewed and approved by the Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects.

The other reason that COACHE makes sense is that it gives us the opportunity to benchmark ourselves with other institutions. No other research study offers comparative data on this issue. The peer data can help us understand where our strengths in faculty retention lie and where we have more work to do. (For a full list of the universities that have partnered with COACHE since its founding in 2005, visit the COACHE website.) 

We see this as an opportunity to shed new light on our institutional practices related to faculty retention. At many institutions, the protocols and policies used to address outside offers are not codified to ensure equitable treatment for everyone. We want to understand whether this is the case at UofSC so that we can take steps to improve the processes we use in retention actions.

Finally, even if you have moved on to another institution, we care about your experiences and want to be sure you were treated well during the transition.  We want faculty to recommend UofSC to graduate students and other colleagues. We know we cannot retain everyone, but we can make everyone feel valued and respected.

Who will be invited to participate in the study?

If, in the past year, you received a formal outside offer and you shared that with someone at the institution you should be included. This is regardless of whether you (a) accepted the offer and moved on or (b) you decided to stay. Also eligible are faculty who (c) received a pre-emptive adjustment to their employment status, like a salary increase or additional graduate student support, that was not part of a counteroffer.

What does the survey ask about?

Grounded in the literature on workplace mobility and the academic labor market, the survey focuses on:

  • the search process
  • the nature of the outside offer
  • the compelling factors to leave and to stay
  • the impact of spouses or partners on decision-making
  • the counteroffer
  • the transition to a new institution (when applicable)

The survey includes adaptive branching so that respondents only see the items related to your experience. The longest branch of the survey takes 20 to 25 minutes to complete; the shortest may take as few as five minutes.

If you would like to learn more about what might be learned from the results, I encourage you to review this infographic that summarizes some key findings from the pilot study.

Who from our institution is working with COACHE on this project?

Each campus needs a team to execute this study. The Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Analytics, the Office of the Provost, and the deans have helped compile the data for this study. If you have specific questions about our relationship with COACHE or how we plan to use this data, please contact Cheryl Addy, who can answer specific questions about how UofSC plans to use these results. 

When will UofSC receive the results?

Because the numbers of eligible survey participants is quite small, every institution in this study agrees to three years of data collection before receiving results.

Are responses anonymous?

All institutions will receive an anonymous report from COACHE. That report is designed to mask the identity of respondents by not reporting results with fewer than three eligible respondents and by redacting identifying information from open-text comments. Nobody at UofSC will have access to individual level responses to assure confidentiality.


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