Survey: University System of Georgia faculty report dissatisfaction

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

A new survey of University System of Georgia faculty highlights widespread displeasure about pay, tenure and the state’s political climate.

The findings, released Thursday by the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors, show that nearly two-thirds of the 1,450 faculty members who participated in the survey would not recommend a job here to colleagues. About 28% of those surveyed said they plan to interview elsewhere in the coming year.

The results are part of a first of its kind four-state faculty survey conducted between Aug. 14 and Sept. 1 in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas. Matthew Boedy, president of Georgia’s AAUP group, said the goal was to gauge how faculty are doing in those large Southern states, where colleges have seen pushback against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and other “political interference.”

He said the survey results from Georgia underscore the need to invest in higher education and support professors at the state’s 26 public colleges and universities.

“I think that there’s a general dissatisfaction with salary but there’s several other issues, including the tenure issue and the rising DEI issue,” said Boedy, an associate professor at the University of North Georgia.

The University System employs more than 11,000 faculty, including about 9,400 who are tenured or on track for tenure.

The University System did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The system recently barred colleges from asking job candidates to provide information during the hiring process about how they would support campus diversity efforts. Leaders deemed such diversity statements akin to an ideological test that limits academic freedom.

The state commission that oversees Georgia’s teacher preparation programs, including education colleges, recently deleted references to “diversity” and “equity” from its rules, saying such terms are “ambiguous.” And Lt. Gov. Burt Jones earlier this year requested a report on how much Georgia colleges spend on DEI programs.

Survey respondents said they noticed impacts on hiring, including fewer applicants, due to the political climate and tenure policy changes. The AAUP, in a rare move, censured the University System of Georgia in 2022 over those tenure rule revisions, saying it’s now easier to fire professors. The University System has said the tenure policy changes were needed to better measure student success.

In the survey, professors cited salary as the top reason they were interested in leaving Georgia. The state budget provided for $5,000 raises in 2022 and $2,000 raises this year amid inflation and rising health insurance costs.

Boedy said he discussed the survey results with Chancellor Sonny Perdue, who’s led the system since 2022.

“I think that he’s interested in making Georgia a place that people want to come to work,” Boedy said. “But this survey says it’s going in an opposite direction.”

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