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Examining Faculty Satisfaction and Retention: Benefitting from COACHE Data 

Jeraul Mackey, a Harvard Graduate School of Education doctoral student, has been interested in the intricacies of faculty development and university leadership since his early days at HGSE.

This interest led to a research project that Mackey completed earlier this year. His study explored the conditions that yield greater professional satisfaction among tenured faculty members. His findings suggest that, while strategic initiatives that have traditionally been utilized to improve institutional climate are useful, developing a culture where individuals feel supported and have frequent and significant high-quality interactions with colleagues is much more conducive to longer-term faculty retention. His research has been reported in numerous publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education (click here for additional information). Mackey summarized one of his key findings in the following way:

“Inculcating climates of support and care are more powerful ways — perhaps the most powerful ways — to foster commitment and, ultimately, retention among tenured faculty than focusing on formal institutional policies and procedures.”

Throughout his project, Mackey worked with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), a research practice partnership at HGSE designed to improve outcomes in faculty recruitment, development, and retention. He noted that the study was aided by significant guidance and support from two COACHE staff members: Kiernan Matthews (Executive Director) and Todd Benson (Associate Director). “Kiernan and Todd helped me navigate the COACHE data set and sharpen my inquiry. This project would not have been possible without their help.”

Mackey’s project is only one example of how COACHE’s robust and valuable data set is supporting important research and fostering valuable insights about the quality of faculty work life at a wide range of higher education institutions. Additional information about COACHE is available at