Faculty Retention Initiatives

Auburn University is committed to fostering a robust academic community by recruiting and retaining diverse and talented faculty. Central to this effort is the university’s investment in strategies to enhance faculty development at all ranks. Recognizing faculty achievements and supporting faculty recruitment and retention are critical goals outlined in the Auburn University 2019-2024 Strategic Plan. The following efforts are designed to support departments and colleges/schools in their retention efforts by providing a framework for resources that complement existing efforts.

Annual Faculty Awards

In addition to external funding awards for research and scholarship, Auburn acknowledges the contributions of faculty members to advancing the university’s mission. Each year, the university recognizes and rewards faculty members for exceptional work and service. In addition, the competitive process allows members of the campus community to nominate faculty for their outstanding performance and contributions, creating an inclusive and supportive environment that encourages faculty to remain at Auburn. 

Nominations for the annual Auburn Faculty Awards open June 1 every year and close in the early fall. Faculty winners are recognized in late fall.

Professional Development Opportunities

Auburn strives to foster a climate that supports the professional development of faculty. The Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning offers diverse programs and opportunities for career development at every stage of faculty life. In addition to orientation for new faculty and graduate students, the Biggio Center connects individuals with helpful resources and offers faculty space to exchange ideas with colleagues, receive actionable ideas to improve teaching and experience a systematic or scholarly approach to teaching and learning. Workshops include interdisciplinary teaching and learning, departmental-specific workshops on relevant topics, and instructional technology or online learning workshops available upon request for specific departments or colleges. The Biggio Center also offers grant opportunities to faculty designed to advance teaching research and student. The center also sponsors programs for faculty success, such as New Faculty Scholars, and workshops such as Course (Re)Design to help faculty learn innovative methods and implement new approaches to teaching in active learning spaces.

Professional Improvement Leave

Each year, the Provost’s Office provides opportunities for faculty to submit requests for Professional Improvement Leave (PIL). PIL allows faculty members to pursue their professional and scholarly interests by temporarily stepping away from teaching and service commitments. Faculty can apply for a paid leave to engage in teaching improvement, writing and research, scholarly pursuits, or to gain professional experiences in their field. PIL provides faculty with the institutional support for sustained professional growth and development and enhances their continued contributions to the university.

Endowed Appointments

Endowed professorships, chairs, and eminent scholars are crucial for recruiting and retaining the highest-quality faculty and are the highest academic awards bestowed on a faculty member. These donor-funded awards support research advancements and provide additional opportunities for faculty to support graduate students or collaborate with other universities. Auburn maintains more than 200 endowed chairs, professorships, and eminent scholars that recognize the scholarship and research of faculty members. It is both an honor to the appointment’s name holder and an enduring tribute to the donor who establishes it. Each fall, the Provost’s Office hosts a recognition event for newly appointed or newly reappointed faculty holding endowed titles.

Dual Career Opportunities

Auburn recognizes that prospective faculty may have spouses/partners with independent careers, often in an academic discipline. In order to recruit and retain strong faculty, the university strives to help both members of “two-career” couples find appropriate positions at Auburn.

The Office of the Provost and Human Resources has established Dual Career Guidelines to assist spouses and partners of new faculty or staff members through networking and professional career resources. Any spouse/partner of a newly hired permanent faculty or staff member the university employs is eligible for these services.

Strategic hiring assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis. If a faculty position is identified, the unit heads for the departments, schools, and colleges of the two prospective hires will consult and attempt to develop a plan to fund an appropriate bridging position for the necessary time. For example, the bridging position might be a research assistant professor position for the spouse/partner for perhaps one to three years. During this time, they would be able to pursue appropriate career activities until a tenure track position becomes available. At that time, the spouse/partner could be a candidate for the tenure track position and would have to compete with other potential candidates in a normal search process. Funding for the bridging salary and necessary research funding (to support laboratory work, professional travel, etc.) would come from the two units involved and support from the provost as available.

Promotion and Tenure Increases

In 2018, the Provost’s Office restructured promotional packages from a flat rate to a percentage increase. These increases include provisions for (1) tenure- and clinical-track faculty receiving a promotion from assistant to associate professor (a 10% increase), (2) tenured faculty receiving a promotion from associate to full professor (a 12% increase), and (3) non-tenure-track faculty receiving a promotion from lecturer to senior lecturer (10%).

Retention Adjustments

Occasionally, faculty may be eligible for salary adjustments outside of the awarding of annual performance-based merit pay that can include market adjustments, special awards and recognitions, and endowed appointments.

When available, permanent, merit raises are annual, based on one’s performance over the past year. Retention adjustments are a proactive retention initiative for the primary purpose of keeping good faculty at Auburn. The adjustments are based primarily on sustained performance and pay relative to peer institutions. Therefore, department chairs may nominate faculty who are good performers, underpaid relative to peers, and could be considered at risk for not being retained (i.e., moving to another institution).

Nominations are aggregated at the college and ranked by priority since, unfortunately, all recommendations are usually not accommodated. The list of nominations is submitted to the Provost’s Office for review and feedback. An award amount is provided to the college, based on the recommendations, and the deans make the final decision on distribution to the recommended faculty. Requests for adjustments does not guarantee approval. Below are general criteria when considering a retention or market adjustment request for faculty:

  • No more than 6% increase to base salary.
  • Must be at least two years in current rank.
  • Only faculty receiving “Exceeds Expectations” or “Exemplary” in two of the three previous evaluation years are eligible.
  • Two sources of comparable salary data are required.
  • Faculty who received a retention or market adjustment in the prior year and faculty that have been granted tenure and/or promotion in the current year are not eligible.
  • Department heads/chairs should recommend departmental faculty to the dean for consideration and further support.
  • The dean may nominate department heads/chairs, associate deans, and other faculty administrators.
  • All nominations are confidential.
  • Any approved adjustments to salary will be effective October 1.

From 2017-2021, more than 200 faculty have received more than $1.2 million in retention adjustments. In addition to retaining great faculty, this initiative also supports the university’s strategic goal of 100% of the SREB average pay (as an institution).

Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE)

It is important that the university collect data regularly through surveys, focus groups, and meetings to understand work-life at Auburn better and identify opportunities to enhance job satisfaction to support and retain faculty members at all ranks.

Since 2005, Auburn has maintained a strategic partnership with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) study to engage in a research-practice partnership based in the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. The study, conducted every three years, measures various benchmarks of faculty life and job satisfaction, and uses the data to inform institutional policies and college/department decisions. Examples of benchmarks measured:

  • Auburn’s research environment and institutional support provided to faculty
  • Faculty teaching load, service responsibilities, and student quality
  • Campus facilities and other work resources
  • Personal and family policies administered by the institution, including HR benefits
  • Interdisciplinary and collaborative work, faculty mentoring, and P&T processes
  • Recruitment, retention, and institutional leadership

Disaggregated results from the study provide deans and department leaders with insights into the culture of their academic units and measure job satisfaction and can be tailored to the different stages in a faculty member’s career.

Last updated: September 02, 2021