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University of Wyoming developing survey to get better idea why faculty leave for other jobs


LARAMIE, Wyoming — While lobbying the Legislature for more money to boost faculty and staff salaries, University of Wyoming administrators speculated in recent years that faculty were leaving for higher paying jobs elsewhere. But they were never able to cite specific data.

David Jones, vice president for academic affairs, informed the UW board of trustees that the university is developing a voluntary survey for departing faculty to find out if they are leaving because of pay or other reasons.

"We've had, the last couple of meetings, discussions about salary, total compensation; is it really just that?" Jones said Friday. "So we're trying to just dig a little deeper and be able to help them and us to be able to better articulate what the primary issues are for faculty."

Last year, 25 faculty that the university didn't want to lose left for other jobs, according to information provided by the university. In the previous year, 27 such faculty left.

In 2014-15, the average annual salary for a professor at UW was $112,500. In comparison, the average salary for a professor at Colorado State University was $120,000.

Individual department heads might have informally asked departing faculty about their reasons for leaving, but there was no consistent attempt to ask the question or use a uniform survey across the campus, Jones said.

The university piloted a survey of departing faculty last spring, but results were too unclear and infrequent to get any good data, he said.

The university is working to improve the survey and get a better response rate next year, Jones said.

Once the university starts getting better results, it will be able to give lawmakers better information, he said.

Trustees President David Palmerlee said better information from departing faculty may indicate that there are reasons other than salary why faculty choose to leave.

"As we get those questions asked and accumulate better data over time it will help us understand what we can adjust internally to maybe reduce the departure rates and also communicate those kinds of things to the Legislature," Palmerlee said.

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