Campus News

Diversity and inclusion initiatives will benefit from COACHE faculty survey

By MICHAEL ANDREI

Published March 15, 2017

“Our goal is not just diversity compliance, but diversity leadership.”
Teresa Miller, vice provost for equity and inclusion

University strategies and initiatives to enhance diversity and inclusion are expected to gain from UB faculty responses to a national career satisfaction survey operated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education survey (COACHE), a national research-based initiative, assesses faculty views on a range of university policies, practices and working conditions.

“Diversity is an important value that UB works hard to demonstrate,” says Teresa Miller, UB vice provost for equity and inclusion. “Our goal is to gain a deeper understanding of these issues and each other — diversity, equity and inclusion are an important part of the survey sent to our faculty.”

Miller notes there are differences in cultural climate in units across the university, and faculty responses can provide evidence-based data that can be used to plan initiatives and implement strategies.

“Our goal is not just diversity compliance, but diversity leadership,” she says. “UB as a place where we can have very different ideas, but we can lean in to talk about tough topics among our students, faculty and staff.”

Miller says responses from COACHE will help to assess the impact of initiatives such as DIFCON, UB’s difficult conversations series.

“In addition to DIFCON, programs such as Dine with Faculty and Thanksgiving without Borders provide UB students and faculty with opportunities to get to know one another outside of the classroom, transforming a large research university into one with more of a small community feel.

“For many people, diversity can be an abstract concept. We are invested in building relationships and taking the risks necessary to maintain those relationships and build trust,” she adds.

Miller says COACHE responses also can supply evidence-based data to develop recruiting strategies for increasing faculty diversity.   

“Despite moderate to good representation in senior leadership ranks, women and minorities are underrepresented in the ranks of department chairs, which is a significant pathway to leadership,” she says. “Women and minorities comprise only a small percentage of distinguished faculty at UB.”

Miller explains that information from the survey will help her better understand the climate that UB faculty members teach and operate in.

“For example,” she says, “COACHE asks whether each department sufficiently communicates the importance of diversity leadership and inclusion.

“COACHE will supply a baseline of information that will allow UB to recruit, train and develop culturally competent staff, and will help us to better understand where our challenges lie.”

At a time when differences are polarizing the nation, Miller notes that members of the UB community have the opportunity to come together to identify and face issues that threaten to divide the campus.

“Responses to COACHE will supply information about the effectiveness of our outreach efforts, so we can measure their impact,” she says. “We want to ensure that UB is a welcoming, inclusive community where all people are valued and respected.”

Miller says she is coordinating the launch of a campus-wide climate survey next year. “COACHE results will help point the way to target areas where we need to focus our efforts.”  

Full-time faculty can take the 25-minute web-based survey through an invitation email from COACHE through April 6. More information about the COACHE survey and UB’s participation in it is available online.