Faculty Retention and Work Environments

Faculty leave colleges and universities for many reasons. For example, faculty leave institutions for a higher salary and more prestigious department, lack of collegiality, geographic location and to be closer to family, and believing one will not advance. Yet research suggests that factors such as a higher salary and more prestigious department are not really “pull” factors if faculty members are satisfied and thriving within their institutions. Instead, faculty tend to be predisposed to leave by virtue of dissatisfaction with certain aspects of their work environment. These factors act as a “push” to either entertain or go looking for “greener pastures.” 

I have studied faculty departure and retention, and lead institution-wide efforts to better retain women faculty. Such efforts include development and implementation of a faculty work environment survey, work environment action projects, and analysis of how issues such as department climate, service workload, policies governing outside offers, and academic reward system criteria influence faculty retention and satisfaction. In all these issues, I have maintained a particular interest in how organizational practices and cultures can be transformed to better retain women faculty.

Select Articles  and Presentations

O’Meara, K., Lounder, A., & Campbell, C. (2014). To Heaven or Hell: Sensemaking about why faculty leave. Journal of Higher Education. 85 (5), 603-632

O’Meara, K. (2014). Half-Way Out: How Requiring Outside Offers to Raise Salaries Influences Faculty Retention and Organizational Commitment. Research in Higher Education. 56(3), 279-298.

O’Meara, K., Fink, J. & White-Lewis, D. (in press). Who's Looking? Examining the Role of Gender and Rank in Faculty Outside Offers. NASPA Journal about Women in Higher Education.

O’Meara, K. (2015, February 10, 2015). Stop, Don’t, Go, Please: Faculty Departure and How Work Environments and Policies Shape it. ADVANCE Implementation Mentors Network (AIM) webinar.


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