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Town halls bring campus updates to University employees

| Monday, April 1, 2019

In a series of town halls over the past two weeks, representatives from the University administration discussed updates to the construction schedule and results from the NDVoice survey — the survey that Notre Dame employees take to show their satisfaction with working at the University. Most notably, the administration discussed the survey result revealing women feel less comfortable working at the University than men.

“Anytime we get a disparity like this, it makes me uncomfortable, because we shouldn’t have one division where people feel their work experience is less than people in another division,” John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president of the University, said.

The NDVoice survey, a confidential survey that measures employee satisfaction and allows employees to answer questions on a variety of topics, showed generally good results for Notre Dame, Affleck-Graves said. Notre Dame scored a score of 3.95, out of five points, across all categories in all departments, he said.

“So 3.95 is a really good score, and so I don’t want to play down that we’re [doing] really well,” Affleck-Graves said. “I still think we can do better. We’re Notre Dame, and we can push up that 3.95. But I do want you to know that’s doing pretty well.”

The survey results revealed that, on average, women are less positive about their Notre Dame experience than men, Affleck Graves said.

“OK, so there was some level of dissatisfaction, but do you know what, we were equally dissatisfied, and that’s a goal we should have,” he said. “And as we’ve gone over time, we’ve drifted up, but we can see that men have become more positive about the work experience and women have not increased at the same rate. And that’s a concern. Now there is a gap. There’s a gap of .14, which I think is a big gap. It’s growing, getting bigger over time and I am not comfortable with the fact that a woman feels less positive about her experience at work than a man feels about his experience.”

Affleck-Graves said that this disparity in work experience was an issue that the University would be looking into both understanding and combating in coming months.  

“This is the single issue that’s going to be the major focus for me,” Affleck-Graves said. “And I’ve spoken to Fr. John [Jenkins, University President], we’ve put together a group, we’re gonna meet with you, we’re gonna hear from you, we’re gonna try to understand what’s driving this difference. … I’m very concerned about the difference, so that’s something we’ll be working on.”

Affleck-Graves also said that while scores within departments are good, survey questions on the topic of inter-department collaboration got lower marks.

“We get this in almost every division: people feel very comfortable about their immediate work environment,” he said. “We’ve got great results on immediate manager, we’ve got great results on coworkers, we’ve got great results on ‘we know how our work helps … the University.’ What we get a bad score on is working across departments and working across divisions.”

At the one of the town halls, Affleck-Graves also discussed the timelines for various construction projects on campus, including the newly named Baumer Hall. The hall is set to open in August 2019 and will house the men from Dillon Hall while their hall is renovated. A new women’s residence hall is also being constructed on the east side of campus and is scheduled to open in August of 2020.

“We have to do this residence hall because we are now requiring all undergraduate students … to stay on campus for six semesters, so we’ll have more students on campus,” Affleck-Graves said.

Affleck-Graves also said the University plans to renovate Brownson Hall to create more space for the Alliance for Catholic Education, and to renovate McKenna Hall. The administration also discussed plans to add to the second phase of the Eddy Street project and to renovate married student housing off of Douglas Road, though these projects will be completed through an outside contractor.

The renovation of Corby is scheduled to be completed next spring, Affleck-Graves said, and the renovation of Rolf’s as the new men’s and women’s basketball facility is currently underway.

“[Rolfs has] wonderful spaces for where the team can meet, students can sit and do some work, and talk about their practice or their game,” Affleck-Graves said.

These town halls were the last for Affleck-Graves, who will be retiring in June, ending his 15-year tenure as executive vice president. He said he felt he had seen the University change for the better and he addressed the staff of Notre Dame and thanked them for their role in the University’s success.

“I think back this year on when I came in [1986], and where Notre Dame is today and what’s changed the most in my view is just the tremendous opportunities we now offer the young men and women … and the tremendous step up we’ve made in research,” he said. “I hope as you look across it, you get an enormous sense of pride in the role you’ve played in making all of that happen.”

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About Claire Rafford

Claire is a senior from Tempe, Arizona majoring in English and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy and Business-Economics. She peaked when her team won the Battle of the Books state championship in 2011.

Contact Claire