The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.
Problem: Faculty burnout and its relationship to staff and student burnout
A 2020 survey in The Chronicle of Higher Education of 1,122 faculty members found large increases in faculty who report that they:
- Feel high levels of stress.
- Report feelings of despondency.
- Feel that their work/life balance is out of balance.
- Are considering changing careers or leaving higher education.
A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Educational Research suggests that teacher burnout has the potential to inhibit students’ achievement and motivation.
I have observed burnout affecting my own faculty colleagues, staff, and students in the music program and Oregon Center for the Arts Division.
Solution: Proposed steps
First, I will source warm leads for faculty from students, seeking out faculty in other programs who have successful practices. I will also try to visit faculty meetings of other programs to take a quick poll, instead of an email poll, as I have heard from many faculty that they are overburdened with email.
Second, I will build a larger network with peer support. Using faculty sourced from the above-mentioned polls, I will build a formal network of wellness-minded colleagues who can be resources for each other.
I will also partner with graduate assistants to extend reach. Graduate assistants have a special relationship with undergraduate students, and can be a valuable resource in developing programs to benefit all students.
I hope to organize informal gatherings to promote conversations, listening, and connections. In the spring term, I am planning to host a weekly “lunch walk” for the music program, to promote casual conversations, learning about and from each other, and developing a sense of support for each other. This may also include coffee meetings, drop-ins, and informal chats with faculty, staff, and students.
Additionally, I am currently establishing a “music chair’s council,” a small committee of music faculty (full-time and adjunct), staff, and students (graduate and undergraduate) to check in with each other regularly, and serve as a conduit for communication between our community’s members.
And finally, earlier this year I proposed a course in recreational music-making. I am developing a course in recreational and empowerment drumming to promote wellness and well-being for students across campus.
In closing, I will continue to research best practices, and work with my director to implement strategies in our division, perhaps as a model for other divisions. I would like to thank my capstone partners Ann Amicucci and Stephanie Cosner Berzin, the EAB Team for the valuable fellowship experience, and my president Dr. Linda Schott and Provost Dr. Susan Walsh for nominating and supporting me.
- “Burned Out and Overburdened: How to support the faculty.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2021.
- “Expanding Well-Being Initiatives through Faculty Partnerships.” EAB, April 30, 2020. https://eab.com/research/student-affairs/whitepaper/expanding-well-being-initiatives-through-faculty-partnerships/.
- “Does teacher burnout affect students? A systematic review of its association with academic achievement and student-reported outcomes.” International Journal of Educational Research, Volume 105, 2021, 101714, ISSN 0883-0355, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2020.101714.
See the fellows' blogs from the capstone projects
Terry Longshore and others participated in EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship in fall 2021