Faculty Exit Interviews


Procedures For Exit Interviews For Departing Faculty Members

The Faculty Exit Study, an annual effort led by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs,  offers each tenured or tenure-track faculty member who is leaving Penn State an opportunity to participate in an exit interview, an exit survey, or both. The goals are to better understand the experiences of tenure-track faculty members at Penn State and to respond to faculty concerns.

Each college and campus will develop procedures for designating one faculty member as an Exit Interview Officer (EIO). The EIO might be a current faculty member, one who retired within the past two years, or an ombudsperson. The EIO should not be a human resources representative or someone who reports directly to the dean/chancellor. Diversity should be considered when selecting an EIO. (See the list of current Exit Interview Officers.)

All departing faculty – whether they were leaving as a result of other job offers or opportunities, denial of tenure, or retirement – are invited to be interviewed. The Human Resources (HR) Representative or Director of Business Services (DBS) will forward names of departing faculty to the EIO. The EIO will contact the faculty member to set up the exit interview. The EIO is encouraged to stay in contact with the HR representative or DBS. If the departing faculty member or college or campus officials believe the exit interview should be conducted by an administrator in the Provost’s office (e.g., the Provost or one of his Vice Provosts, rather than the college EIO), that can be arranged. Faculty who ask to be heard at both levels are given that opportunity. The Vice Provost for Academic Affairs is the contact person in the Provost’s Office. Exit interviews for minority faculty also include an interview with the Senior Faculty Mentor.

Interviewees should be assured of the confidentiality of the process, but be told that their responses will be shared with the Provost and, unless they have some objection, with their deans/chancellors. EIOs should print a copy of the interview questions appropriate to the reason the faculty member is departing. A written copy of the interview should be passed on to the dean/chancellor unless the EIO has been asked not to share information with the dean/chancellor, but instead to pass on to the Provost. Interviewees should also be asked whether or not they wish their names identified when these responses are shared. Copies of the responses are forwarded to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

An optional online Faculty Exit Survey is available to all departing faculty. (A paper copy of the survey is available upon request.) Departing faculty members who choose not to be interviewed may also participate in the survey. EIOs should make the departing faculty member aware of the survey during the interview. This survey is intended only for departing faculty members and not for non-academic staff. The Vice Provost for Academic Affairs will summarize responses as they relate to their colleges in ways that will ensure the confidentiality of individual responses. Although the forms will be coded to reflect respondents’ demographics, all information is confidential and will be presented in aggregate form in a report from the Provost’s Office. In cases where individuals might be identifiable due to the demographic coding, breakdowns will not be disseminated that reveal those figures. The general patterns of responses will be shared each year with the Academic Leadership Council and the Faculty Affairs Committee of the University Faculty Senate. The goal is to understand faculty concerns so that the University can be more responsive to them.

The Vice Provost for Academic Affairs will summarize responses as they relate to their colleges in ways that will ensure the confidentiality of individual responses. Although the forms will be coded to reflect respondents’ demographics, all information is confidential and will be presented in aggregate form in a report from the Provost’s Office. In cases where individuals might be identifiable due to the demographic coding, breakdowns will not be disseminated that reveal those figures. The general patterns of responses will be shared each year with the Academic Leadership Council and the Faculty Affairs Committee of the University Faculty Senate. The goal is to understand faculty concerns so that the University can be more responsive to them.

 Faculty Exit Survey Results, Reports, and Analysis are available for review online.

For more information about and any materials from the Exit interview Officers Workshop held in October 2016, contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

Suggested Questions for Faculty Who Are Retiring

(Faculty members who are retiring to take positions elsewhere will be asked the questions listed for that group of faculty as well.)

  1. Why did you decide to retire?
  2. What major changes have you seen at Penn State, and how do you evaluate them?
  3. How do you assess your last years at Penn State and your level of satisfaction as opposed to that in your earlier years?
  4. Do you believe Penn State is moving in the right direction? Are there any pitfalls you suggest the University needs to avoid?
  5. What advice do you have that may enable Penn State to be a better institution?
  6. Do you expect to keep some connection with Penn State after retirement? What might Penn State (including your campus, department, and college) do to help you keep ties with the institution?
  7. How effective was the retirement advice you received?

 

Suggested Questions for Faculty Who Are Leaving for Other Positions or Reasons

  1. If you are leaving for another position, did you seek that position or were you approached first?
  2. Were you generally satisfied with your experience at Penn State? If not, did you express any areas of dissatisfaction to your administrative supervisors before seeking other opportunities or deciding to leave?
  3. How would you compare the level and number of assignments given to you — in such areas as service, teaching, and advising — to those of your colleagues?
  4. How would you compare the level of support and opportunities given to you — e.g., mentoring, research support, collaborative opportunities — to those of your colleagues?
  5. Is there anything Penn state could have done that would have persuaded you to stay?
  6. If you are leaving because of spousal dissatisfaction with professional opportunities or local quality of life, is there more that Penn State could have done to address those issues?
  7. What changes do you perceive are occurring in terms of the direction of Penn State, your college, or department/division?
  8. How competitive is Penn State, especially in your discipline?
  9. What advice do you have that may enable Penn State to be a better institution?

 

Suggested Questions for Faculty Who Are Denied Tenure or Advised Out

  1. Explore reasons. Are there things that could have been done differently, such as better advice or more support along the way?
  2. Did you receive any mentoring? If so, what types of mentoring did you receive, and how effective were they? Did you take full advantage of the mentoring that was offered to you? Do you wish that you had received more mentoring than you did?
  3. Did you do everything you could have done to bring concerns or difficulties you were having to the attention of those who might have been able to help you address them? If teaching was a concern, did you seek help from your colleagues, or from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence? If publication was an issue, did you seek advice from others in your field? If so, were they helpful in giving it?
  4. What advice do you have for other faculty members beginning on the tenure track?
  5. Were the expectations for a positive tenure decision made clear to you, and were they the basis for final evaluation?
  6. Did you meet your expectations for yourself? If not, why not? Do you believe Penn State expected too much from you? If so, in what areas?
  7. How would you compare the level and number of assignments given to you during your time at Penn State — in areas such as service, teaching, and advising — to those of your department colleagues on the tenure track? To those of your colleagues already tenured?
  8. How would you compare the level of support and opportunities given to you — e.g., in mentoring, research support, and collaborative opportunities — to those of your colleagues in your department and in your college on the tenure track? To those of your colleagues already tenured?
  9. Overall, do you feel Penn State treated you fairly? If not, what should have been done differently?
  10. What advice do you have that may enable Penn State to be a better institution?