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Majority of faculty approves of Paxson

The faculty approved of Paxson’s leadership at a higher rate than it did the Corporation’s

About 31 percent of the faculty strongly approves of Christina Paxson’s performance as president, and 35 percent reported they somewhat approve, according to a poll of the faculty The Herald conducted April 8 to April 12.

Another 30 percent said they were not familiar enough to answer or had no opinion on Paxson’s handling of her role so far. Those who somewhat or strongly disapprove made up 4 percent of respondents.

Though former President Ruth Simmons received higher approval ratings in the fall of 2011 — 73 percent of the faculty strongly or somewhat approved of her performance, compared to the 66 percent who currently approve of Paxson’s — she also received higher disapproval ratings, with 18 percent indicating they somewhat or strongly disapproved of Simmons. Only 9 percent reported feeling too unfamiliar with her policies to respond or having no opinion, The Herald reported at the time.

The Corporation’s governance was less popular than Paxson’s, according to this year’s poll. Eighteen percent said they strongly approve. Forty-two percent that they somewhat approve, while 16 percent reported they somewhat or strongly disapprove. Another 25 percent of respondents said they were not familiar enough to answer or had no opinion. Two years ago, about 61 percent of the faculty voiced approval for the Corporation’s governance.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said they strongly approved of the Faculty Executive Committee’s governance, 37 percent somewhat approved, 9 percent somewhat or strongly disapproved and 31 percent had no opinion or neither approved nor disapproved.

Forty-five percent of  respondents said the Graduate School should be the University’s top priority in coming years, making it the most popular choice. Financial aid and faculty diversity were selected by 16 and 14 percent of respondents, respectively. The 5 percent who said the School of Engineering should be the University’s top priority were all faculty members in the sciences.

About 20 percent of respondents indicated they are very satisfied with the level of faculty input in the strategic planning process, and 33 percent expressed being somewhat satisfied. Another 18 percent reported feeling somewhat dissatisfied and 13 percent very dissatisfied. Another 16 percent were either not familiar enough to answer or expressed no opinion.

More faculty members in the sciences than in the humanities expressed satisfaction with the level of faculty input in the process, with 32.5 percent of science faculty members voicing strong approval, compared to 7.5 percent in the humanities. Another 40 percent of the science faculty reported they somewhat approve of the level of input, compared to about 33 percent of those in the humanities.

Faculty members in the sciences also expressed stronger support for the decision to create a School of Public Health than their counterparts in the humanities or social sciences. Of science faculty members, 57 percent reported strongly approving, compared with 30 percent of social science faculty and 22.5 percent of humanities faculty. Overall, 39 percent of the faculty reported strongly approving of the decision, and 33 percent said they somewhat approve.

Faculty members generally expressed dissatisfaction with the University’s available child care resources and spouse support for faculty. Of respondents, 14 percent indicated being very or somewhat satisfied with childcare, and 32 percent reported feeling somewhat or very dissatisfied. About 19 percent are satisfied with spouse support and 33 percent dissatisfied.

The University recently attracted faculty criticism for closing the Taft Daycare Center, which operated exclusively for children of University employees and graduate students. After reviewing a report by the Advisory Committee on Childcare, Paxson recommended the University subsidize childcare for its employees but not open an exclusive daycare center, The Herald reported at the time.


Questionnaires were sent to the email accounts of faculty members and advertised on the faculty Morning Mail Apr. 9. Only faculty members that teach, advise or interact with undergraduate students were invited to respond, and 120 responses were recorded out of a population of 713. The poll has a 8.7 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. The margin of error for the subset of males is 10.8 percent and is 14.9 percent for the subset of females. The margin of error is 14.0 percent for the subset of faculty focusing in the humanities, 13.3 percent for the subset of faculty focusing in science and 20.5 percent for the subset of faculty focusing in social science.

The sample polled was demographically similar to the University teaching faculty population as a whole. The sample was 65.7 percent male and 34.3 percent female. Full professors made up 51.9 percent of the sample. Assistant and associate professors made up 33.3 percent of the sample, and lecturers and senior lecturers made up 14.8 percent. Of those polled, 37.4 percent focus in the humanities, 43.9 percent focus in the sciences and 18.7 percent focus in the social sciences. When reporting how long they have worked at Brown, 26.9 of those polled said five years or fewer, 22.2 percent between six and 10 years, 23.1 percent between 11 and 20 years and 27.8 percent for 20 or more years.

Editor-in-Chief Shefali Luthra ’14 and Senior Editor Alexa Pugh ’14 coordinated the poll, with assistance from Strategic Director Greg Jordan-Detamore ’14, Data Science Editor Andersen Chen ’14 and Web Producer Joseph Stein ’16.

Find results of previous polls at


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