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University Senate Faculty Survey shows low ratings

Survey results presented at a Stony Brook University senate meeting relfected dissatisfaction with building matinence and administration. MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN
Survey results presented at a Stony Brook University Senate meeting reflected dissatisfaction with building maintenance and academic administration. MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN

The University Senate’s 2016 Faculty Survey revealed low ratings for much of the university, including the College of Arts and Sciences and building maintenance.

The survey results were presented at the Senate’s Feb. 6 meeting by Rob Kelly, chair of the Administrative Review Committee, which is responsible for evaluating administrative performance. The 99-page report was prepared by Kelly and a 12-person team.

The survey was conducted in the fall semester of 2016 and received 1,582 faculty responses – well over 50 percent more responses than earlier surveys, according to Kelly. 

The Administrative Review Committee identified two main areas of concern in building maintenance and academic administration.

Building maintenance and infrastructure received a 36.5% approval rating from 1,479 respondents, who provided an “extraordinary quantity of negative scores and comments concerning the state of many buildings on campus,” according to the report. Respondents took issue with heating and air conditioning issues, infrequent bathroom maintenance in high-travel areas and insect infestations in university buildings.

“I have worked at and attended several top public research universities throughout the country,” said one respondent, who was unnamed in the report. “Unfortunately, Stony Brook’s maintenance of buildings and grounds ranks FAR below maintenance at the others. It has been the one thing I have always been ashamed of.”

Respondents were also asked to rate their respective deans on a number of qualities and comment on their dean’s performance. The survey was conducted anonymously but respondents were asked to self-identify the school at which they worked.

The survey noted “widespread dissatisfaction” with academic administration. The deans of College of Arts and Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and University Libraries received some of the worst scores.

“The most notable of these is the precipitous decline in scores for the College of Arts and Sciences, especially notable since there was a change in Deans” since the last survey that was conducted in 2013, according to the report.

Sacha Kopp, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and physics professor, received overall negative scores. Many respondents spoke plainly about their frustrations with Kopp’s leadership, as well as his budget and policy decisions, calling him “ineffective,” “unqualified” and “inexperienced.” Multiple respondents blamed him for low morale at the school.

“I welcome feedback and ongoing input from the faculty and staff, which is an essential part of our progress and success,” Kopp said in an email.

University services like the Career Center, child care services and the University Police Department received high overall scores. The Health Sciences Center Library and the Office of Undergraduate Education were also highly rated, as were several vice presidents and the deans of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Health Technology.

The Senate Executive Committee presented the survey results to Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley in December, Kelly said. While Kelly is not an executive committee member, he said that after past surveys, the administration typically asks for more data on the survey results and sometimes investigates whether a change in leadership is appropriate.

No respondent comments were published for schools that garnered less than 30 responses, which included the School of Journalism, the School of Professional Development and the College of Business. The next faculty survey will be conducted in 2018.

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