Leaked Survey Results Reveal a Concerned and Dissatisfied Faculty
Results from a survey conducted by the Yeshiva University Faculty Council reveal a faculty that feels largely underappreciated and distressed about the future of the university. The survey, which polled 211 faculty members across all of YU’s graduate and undergraduate schools, consisted of 16 questions screened by the Faculty Council with response possibilities on a scale of 1-7 (1=strongly agree, 7=strongly disagree).
The faculty survey was conducted in May 2018 and was presented to the administration the following June, before being presented to the faculty. The results were sent to The Commentator via an anonymous email address on Thursday, Dec. 13. A brief investigation revealed that the email was sent by an associate professor who teaches at the Wilf Campus whose identity The Commentator was able to confirm, but who wishes to remain anonymous. The survey covered topics such as the faculty’s perception of the university, how the university views them, confidence in YU leadership and recommendations for future action.
On average, 68 percent of faculty reported that they liked coming to work at YU (either “somewhat agreed,” “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement). Only 32 percent said they would recommend YU as a workplace. Only 23 percent said that they “have NOT considered a job in another institution.”
Less than 50 percent reported feeling like valued employees and that their professional contributions were valued by the university.
Of those surveyed, 35 percent agreed that they felt YU cared about them as a person, and only 31 percent think YU treats them in a fair manner.
“Faculty at Yeshiva University have not received regular raises, nor cost of living increases, for the past ten years,” expressed an official unanimous statement crafted for The Commentator by the Faculty Council in their closed session of the most recent Faculty Council meeting, which concluded this past Friday afternoon. “In addition, retirement and medical benefits have sunk far below industry standards, including what was meant to be a temporary reduction in employer contribution to pension plans that has yet to be fully restored.”
Overall, faculty confidence in the university’s leadership and Board of Trustees was low. An overwhelming 85 percent did not report to have confidence that the Provost’s Office is transparent and provides all information to faculty. Selma Botman has served as Provost since July 2014. She left her previous position as President of University of Southern Maine in 2012 after four years, following faculty clashes that ended with a vote of no confidence in May 2012.
Only 40 percent of faculty surveyed reported to have confidence in President Ari Berman.
President Emeritus Richard Joel received a vote of 80 percent “no confidence” in 2015 from the then full-time faculty teaching at Yeshiva College. The vote was organized by the Yeshiva College Executive Committee, the board for faculty governance of Yeshiva College.
“We value the feedback of our faculty members,” Provost Selma Botman remarked to The Commentator. “They are Yeshiva’s most important resource. We will continue to work side by side with the faculty to develop programs, launch new initiatives that support the university’s vision for the future, and educate and mentor students.”
The confidence in the deans of various schools was higher than the Provost’s and President’s offices, on average. Sy Syms deans had the highest confidence rate at 88.2 percent, followed by Cardozo deans at 87 percent. The lowest confidence levels in the deans were evident in the Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women deans, at 53 percent and 64 percent, respectively.
Only 20 percent reported to have confidence in the Board of Trustees, while 11 percent agreed that they have confidence in the university’s expertise in financial management.
The Yeshiva University Faculty Council, which was founded in 2012, is a forum with faculty from across the institution that resolves issues related to governance and education. The Council formulates university-wide academic policies.
“It may be a good idea to conduct surveys on a regular basis, but this is the first time the faculty council has decided to do that,” said S. Abraham (Avri) Ravid, co-speaker of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council and chairman of the finance department in Sy Syms School of Business, in an email.
“The objective of the survey was to work with administration to identify and address areas of greatest concern,” read the statement from the Faculty Committee. “It is our hope that the administration will be forthcoming in the near future with a plan and timeline for addressing these issues.”
The Faculty Council intends to survey the faculty annually.
Photo Caption: YU's Wilf Campus
Photo Credit: The Commentator