UVA staff sounds off


In February, UVA President Teresa Sullivan wrote to the nearly 5,000 Academic Division staff members and asked them to participate in a job satisfaction survey. Participation in the survey, which covered areas such as “the adequacy of your work environment” and “opportunities for advancement,” was anonymous. Overall, more than 3,000 salaried staff members completed the survey by the March 18 deadline. The results, released last week, showed that 86 percent of UVA employees had positive overall feelings about their employer, and four out of five employees said they would likely still work for the University in three years.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan shares the results of a job satisfaction survey during a June 24 meeting with staff members. More than 3,000 salaried staff members responded to the survey.

The survey also featured a space for additional comments which, according to the survey report, “were delivered to President Sullivan to fulfill the promise made to employees…that they should be honest and forthcoming.” And they were: Staff comments totaled 820 pages—a longer text than the first edition of James Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses.

They also didn’t pull any punches. Among the comments were scathing critiques of parking prices and UVA’s minimum hourly hiring rate, as well as complaints of “bully” behavior—a charge heard last year following the suicide of a Virginia Quarterly Review employee.

The massive comments report can be found on UVA’s Human Resources website. In the meantime, C-VILLE compiled a few excerpts, along with their subject and the number of times they occurred.

President Sullivan: More than 100 times

“I was very pleased that President Sullivan held the Day of Dialogue…[C]hange has to come from the top and it looks like President Sullivan is steering the ship in the right direction.”

“I think she has so many good ideas and seems to really care about this place, its students, and employees. I am excited and energized by her leadership style.”

“I think that the true impact of President Sullivan’s leadership cannot be assessed for a few years, but my initial impressions are favorable.”

“I have worked at UVa since 1981 and believe this is the first time I have been asked my opinion. Thanks President Sullivan.”

Parking: More than 100 times

“We pay over $600 annually for parking. Students take up spots, Parking and Transportation does nothing.”

“It’s never mentioned in the media that our parking fees are continuing to rise and our health care just keeps rising too.”

Living wage: 21 times

“I would add a staff member to the Board of Visitors. I would institute a Living Wage at UVa.”

“UVa has a problem when money is available for buildings and not to invest in a living wage for all of its employees. When someone must work two or three jobs to be able to pay for their home and have money for other expenses, the priorities are not correct.”

John Casteen, UVA President Emeritus: 6 times

“Good luck with piloting this ship, you have big fundraising shoes to fill. John Casteen was a great fundraiser and idealogue.”

“Casteen was good at fund raising, but we need someone who can really advance the University.”

“I have a copy of President Casteen’s University Leadership Characteristics posted in my office, and find it of great value and inspiration in guiding my daily activities.”

Leonard Sandridge, former Chief Operating Officer: 27 times

“A lot of my faith in leadership is bound up in Leonard Sandridge, and I think we’re all going to miss him. I like what I see so far in President Sullivan but sometimes I wonder if I trust them too much.”

“Leonard Sandridge is the only Vice President that cares about employees. When he leaves decisions will be made for employees without taking the needs of the employees into consideration.”

Bully (or some variation, such as “bullying”): 67 times

“I have frequently witnessed extreme incompetence and bad treatment of University employees, humiliation, bullying, minimizing, undermining, sabotaging, denial of broken interpersonal relationships that need to be addressed.”

“I was impressed with the fast action of my department when I noted that I was a victim of bullying in the work force. I received professional respect.”

“My supervisor is famous for having to get her way and if she does not get her way you can be sure that there is reprisal. The reprisal comes in the form of rude comments, picking, gossip, special projects and bullying. This has also been reported to upper management, but she continues to do so.”

Football: 18 times

“I would like to see the football team win just like everyone else, but not at the cost of bringing down academic standards.”

“I would stop wasting money by trying to compete in Division 1 men’s football and basketball.”

“Books are more important that football.”