Chapter 4 - Faculty Profile

Shippensburg faculty have remained much the same in terms of number over the last decade. Of the total full-time equivalent faculty (345 FTEF), over ninety percent are full-time and tenure track, three-quarters of whom are tenured. Currently, 41 percent of the tenure-track faculty are full, 23 percent associate and 36 percent assistant professors. Last year was typical in the assignment of 278 FTEF to classroom instruction and support. Non-instructional assignments (such as department chairships) and leaves (sabbatical, educational and sick) accounted for the remaining 65 FTEF. Overall, the student-faculty ratio averages 19:1.

In other ways, the faculty has changed since 1989. Forty-one percent of the current complement were hired during the last nine years, largely replacing retirees. More of the new faculty have graduated from institutions in states other than Pennsylvania and regions beyond the mid-Atlantic, and more have terminal degrees in their fields of study (up from 78 percent in 1989 to 85 percent in 1998). Despite the large number of recent hires, the faculty remains fairly mature: 29 percent are 45 years or younger, 38 percent between 46 and 55 and 33 percent older than 55. The most notable change in the faculty profile is in gender. Whereas in 1989 the ratio of men to women was 3:1 (76 percent men, 24 percent women), by fall 1997 it had progressed to 3:2 (65 percent men, 35 percent women). Gain is less evident in minority recruitment and retention: eight percent of the faculty in 1989 were minority, nine percent in 1997 and eight percent again in 1998. While all 27 academic departments have at least one female faculty, only 12 have faculty of color.

Shippensburg faculty have a strong commitment to teaching. The university's mission statement, its recruitment, hiring and orientation activities, the contractual provisions that instruct tenure and promotion evaluations and the State System's five-year strategic plans consistently emphasize teaching and learning. The positive result of this coherency in priorities is reflected in faculty responses to surveys like the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) Survey, designed to obtain information on trends in faculty attitudes and professional activities across the country and administered at Shippensburg three times (1989, 1992 and 1995). Shippensburg faculty show both strong agreement with these priorities and increasingly high levels of satisfaction with their particular roles at the university.

In all three HERI surveys, for example, faculty unanimously report believing it is very important or essential that Shippensburg faculty be good teachers and a strikingly high percentage (93 percent) believe that they and their colleagues are committed to the institution and its welfare, compared to the national public, comprehensive university norm of 79 percent.

Nearly all Shippensburg faculty agree that of the many commonly cited goals for undergraduates, the ability to think clearly and independently is the most important and that the institution strives to help students achieve these goals. It seems interesting and pertinent here to note that although members of the Selected Topics Study group on student learning and development concluded that much more needs to be done to encourage faculty to expand their repertoire of teaching competencies beyond the lecture, Shippensburg faculty report attending teaching enhancement workshops more frequently than their colleagues at other public colleges. Also, more have attended multicultural workshops and taught ethnic studies, women's studies or honors courses. On the other hand, as of 1995, fewer Shippensburg faculty had taught an interdisciplinary course, team-taught or worked with students on a research project. The percentage of faculty who have taught interdisciplinary or team-taught courses would probably show small progress in 1998 but the number of faculty engaging in research with students would probably show a large increase, the direct or indirect result of a faculty-student research program funded by the Shippensburg University Foundation.

In addition to teaching, major faculty responsibilities include scholarship and service. Ninety-three percent of the Shippensburg faculty respondents to the 1995 HERI survey report spending one or more hours per week on research and scholarly writing, up from 82 percent three years earlier. Fifty percent spend five or more hours per week engaged in research, appreciably higher than the 42 percent norm for public, four-year colleges. State System, campus and Foundation funding has supported hundreds of scholarly projects during the last decade. Up too are the number of faculty reporting that it is very important or essential to provide service to the community (46 percent in 1995 vs. 33 percent in 1989) or to engage in outside activities (50 percent vs. 41 percent) as well as the number who report spending one hour or more per week in community service (85 percent vs. 72 percent). This is in contrast to the norms for public college faculty nationally that show less service and a decline in the importance faculty place on community service and their engagement in it. Many faculty at Shippensburg link research and service in applied research projects. The extensiveness and impact of faculty service on community development are examined in Chapter 12: Community Responsiveness.

Generally, Shippensburg faculty are satisfied with their working lives but also report experiencing fairly high levels of stress. The percentage of faculty reporting being satisfied overall increased slightly from 84 percent in 1992 to 86 percent in 1995. Aspects of work showing the largest increases in satisfaction over the six-year span covered by the three HERI surveys are summarized in the following table:

Table 4-1 Sources of Work Satisfaction 




Professional relations with other faculty




Competency of colleagues




Opportunity for scholarly pursuits




Quality of students




On the other hand, the percentage of faculty reporting stress increased from 80 percent in 1992 to 87 percent in 1995. Showing percentages higher than the public university norms, the major sources of stress are identified as time pressures (87 percent), lack of personal time (86 percent) and household responsibilities (75 percent). Women report experiencing stress more frequently than men. The greatest gender differences exist for teaching load, a stressor for 88 percent of the women versus 61 percent of the men, and research or publishing demands, stressful for 60 percent of the women versus 34 percent of the men. Only three of the 18 stressors listed were experienced as more stressful by men: students, children's problems and marital friction.

SUMMARY: Shippensburg faculty have a strong commitment to the mission of the university and their role in fulfilling it. They are well-educated, active in the scholarship of their fields of study, and generous in serving communities of the region. Over the past decade, their satisfaction with their job, with one another and with their students has steadily increased. At the same time, feelings of stress have also increased, especially among women who comprise nearly half of the faculty hired in the last ten years.

Impressive as the climb in faculty satisfaction with students has been in the charting of the HERI survey trends, a sizable percentage of faculty (40 percent) are not yet satisfied with "the quality" of Shippensburg students. While faculty reservations have often been attributed to students' lack of preparation and ability, the evidence, as examined earlier in the chapter, suggests that student performance has less to do with ability than with attitudinal factors like motivation, confidence and interest. Thus, the challenge for both faculty and students is to transform students' present attitudes towards learning into those that will ensure learning for a lifetime.