Administrators under fire
In the 2010 Faculty Climate Survey released mid-February, the College of Engineering reported the lowest numbers in job satisfaction and gave President Renu Khator and Provost John Antel the lowest approval rating out of all of the colleges participating.
“I don’t believe this is an accurate assessment of the college,” said Michael Evans, junior chemical engineering and student senator for the College of Engineering, in an e-mail interview.
“I believe initially (engineering students) would be stunned and wonder why,” said Evans about students’ reaction to the survey, “but they would understand that the 30 or so responses to the survey only represent a fourth of the engineering faculty.”
According to the survey, 36 faculty members from the College of Engineering responded. The college had the fifth most representatives in the survey out of 13 colleges. CLASS had the most respondents with 136.
Even with the low number of respondents, engineering gave Provost Antel a “slightly disapprove” rating at 3.75 on a 1 to 7 response scale.
President Khator received a higher rating from the college with a “neutral rating” at 4.41, compared to the highest number coming from the Library with a 6.83 “somewhat approve” rating.
“The reason why the ratings might be low is because the engineering faculty think that they are not receiving enough money or provided with adequate facilities,” Evans said.
Evans also commented on the difficulties from on-campus construction.
“Engineering student groups are forced to meet in the Y-building, which is barely standing, and the engineering buildings are old and out-dated,” Evans said.
Aside from poorly rating the president and provost, the engineering faculty evaluated central administration “least favorably.”
Comparative analyses across University colleges indicated that UH’s “risk of losing faculty” is highest in engineering, according to the survey.
While no one who participated in the survey would comment about the ratings since it was done anonymously, Shin-Shem Steven Pei, electrical and computer engineering professor and faculty senate member, pointed out that the College of Engineering did not rank lowest in every category.
“We gave our department chairs a very high 4.91 rating out of a maximum possible of 7, which is higher than Technology, Pharmacy, Business and Library,” Pei said.
For students like Evans, this provides optimism about their college.
“I don’t think (the survey) should represent the college as a whole,” Evans said. “My professors are very pleased with the performance of the president and provost. Their labs are being renovated, and new faculty members are being brought to the campus.”
Overall, the president’s ratings were positive, as were the provost’s, even though his were slightly lower.