Provost hopes to boost faculty morale after 2016 decrease

By Lauren Lavelle

Select Rider faculty members’ email inboxes pinged with a message from Provost DonnaJean Fredeen on Jan. 24 inviting them to take part in a series of discussions regarding the campus morale.

This request comes after the presentation of the results of the 2016 Climate Survey at the recent Provost’s Dialog, a forum held for faculty members to voice their concerns and hold academic conversations.

According to Robert Stoto, the senior associate vice president for human resources, the survey revealed that faculty morale was low compared to previous years.

“The email was sent because the results were somewhat below what they had been in past years,” he said.

The survey, which is conducted every three years, contained 46 questions intended to measure faculties’ opinions on Rider’s work environment. While he was reluctant to share specific results, Stoto revealed the answer to the survey’s capstone question, “Overall, how satisfied are you working at Rider?” rated just over five on a scale of one to seven.

“Look at it on its own, it’s not too bad,” he said. “But if you look at it versus what it was in previous years, it went down somewhat.”

After presenting the results of the survey, Fredeen and President Gregory Dell’Omo decided to focus on each department individually.

“Throughout January and February, up until spring break [of 2017], we were able to meet with every department,” Fredeen said. “We did this in an attempt to really try to open communication lines even more between the faculty and the senior administration.”

Fredeen and Dell’Omo are currently making a second set of rounds this year to see if the departments’ wants and needs have changed within in the past year.

According to Fredeen, the email can also be traced back to her determination to complete the action steps of Rider’s current strategic plan.

“When I interviewed here in 2012, [Rider] was able to boast that they had hit and completed 95 percent of the action steps of the former strategic plan,” she said. “I’m competitive and I want to do better than 95 percent but I need to have the faculty work with me in terms of having that happen. I felt this kind of dialogue with a small group of people would be very helpful because we knew we could sit down and they would be honest with us.”

Associate professor and chairperson of the College of Business Administration Eugene Kutcher was on the receiving end of the email and is looking forward to contributing to the discussions.

“I probably invited myself [to the discussions] at some point,” he said. “We study things like employee morale and engagement in this department so I think I’ve oftens times said, ‘I’d love to talk more about these things.’”

Kutcher also related the results of the climate survey to the strategic plan.

“The goal for everyone should be building a culture of recognition and that’s part of the strategic plan,” he said. “Culture is the kind of thing where you never know if you really achieved it, you just look for indicators. You look to see how people are treating other people and what’s going into the decisions administrators are making.”

Overall, Fredeen does not regret sending the email and believes her actions will further unite the senior administration and Rider’s departments.

“I think when people begin to see the strategic plan really coming to fruition, they’re going to realize that we are moving forward and we are a university of choice, but we’re going to be able to enhance and improve upon that,” she said. “I think that’s going to make a big difference.”


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