COMMISSION ON FACULTY DEVELOPMENT AND CAREERS
Charge to the Commission
In May 1997, the Provost, in consultation with the faculty leadership of the University Senate, appointed a Commission to address a number of concerns pertaining to faculty professional development across the faculty career. The Commission was charged with making recommendations, as appropriate, regarding how the University could enhance its support of faculty professional development. Concern regarding faculty development reflects recognition of the importance of continuing investment in faculty as a means of achieving the University's academic aspirations. It also reflects recognition of the potential increase in the length of faculty careers with the abolition of mandatory retirement. While hiring outstanding new faculty can help jumpstart new areas of endeavor for the University, as well as strengthen continuing endeavors, a world-class university cannot be built solely through the selective recruitment of outstanding new faculty.
Faculty vitality, both from the perspective of professional expertise and from the perspective of enthusiasm and engagement, is a sine qua non of a successful university. Although faculty members accept the primary responsibility for maintaining that vitality, the growing pressures and demands facing faculty make it increasingly challenging for many to find the time and resources needed for professional development. The rapid growth of knowledge, sweeping technological change, and increasing social demands on the academy make it imperative that even the best of our universities work to ensure that adequate institutional means for professional development are made available to faculty.
The Commission was asked to consider all activities undertaken by faculty to promote continued professional development in teaching, research, scholarly and creative work, and service throughout their academic careers, as well as those activities undertaken and resources provided by the University to facilitate continued professional development.
The specific charge to the Commission is as follows:
1) To inventory, describe, and analyze current opportunities, incentives, and resources for faculty development;
2) To document and analyze barriers to faculty development;
3) In light of information obtained, to make recommendations for improving opportunities and minimizing barriers to faculty development; and
4) To consider what special issues are associated with different stages of the faculty career (the probationary period, the period immediately following the granting of tenure, and the remainder of the tenured appointment) and to make recommendations for addressing these where there is a documented need.
After the Commission began gathering data pertaining to its charge, University leaders and a faculty commission articulated focused and ambitious goals to guide the generation and allocation of resources in the future. Particularly relevant are the September 30, 1998 "Strategic Focus" memorandum from then Interim Provost Edward J. Ray to the Council of Deans and the July 1998 "Report to the University President and Senior Vice President and Provost" of The Ohio State University Research Commission. In light of the information and recommendations included in these documents, the charge to the Commission on Faculty Development and Careers was amended to include the following additional specific charge:
5) In preparing recommendations relevant to its initial charge, the Commission will consider the relevance, given that resources are not unlimited, of any proposed recommendations to the achievement of the goals set forth by the University's senior leadership.
The Commission pursued these strategies in addressing its charge:
A) Collection of information from peer institutions;
B) A survey of Ohio State University heads of tenure initiating units and regional campus deans;
C) A telephone survey of a large random sample of faculty;
D) Five focus groups (faculty leaders, assistant professors, associate professors, professors and academic administrators, and chairs of highly ranked departments);
E) An inventory of university-wide resources available for faculty professional development; and
F) Discussion, analysis, and reflection.
Formal information gathering efforts and resulting findings are described below. Specific recommendations follow.
A) Peer Institutions
The Provosts' offices at 21 institutions, including the public CIC institutions and those identified as "benchmark institutions" by the University administration, were asked to respond to a series of questions regarding institutional practices and policies pertinent to faculty professional development. Thirteen institutions responded. Several department chairs at each of these institutions were also asked to provide information about institutional practices and policies from the departmental perspective, but too few responded for the information provided to be useful.
B) Department Chair Survey
Chairs, directors and deans of all tenure initiating units on the Columbus campus, as well as the four regional campus dean-directors, were surveyed. Information was sought regarding their perceptions of opportunities and incentives provided for faculty development, use of Special Research Assignments (SRAs) and Faculty Professional Leaves (FPLs), availability of travel funds and other resources to support faculty development activities, and perceived barriers to faculty development. Of 108 administrators surveyed, 58 responded.
A focus group discussion was also held with four chairs of particularly strong departments in order to determine whether these departments might provide ideas for "best practices" that could be disseminated to other departments.
C) Faculty Survey
The Commission engaged the Survey Research Unit of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences to complete telephone interviews with samples of faculty members on the Columbus campus and four regional campuses. Regional campus faculty, minority faculty, women faculty, and associate professors with 10 or more years in rank were over-sampled.
Interviewers asked faculty members to respond to questions regarding the following: How they rate their level of satisfaction as a member of the faculty at OSU; how they rate their accomplishments in research, scholarship, other creative efforts, and teaching; their ability to make and implement long-range plans for professional development; impediments to the effectiveness of their teaching and research productivity; their obligation to and responsibility for growing professionally; what they are currently doing to improve their teaching, research and creative activity, and professional service responsibilities; access to, application for, and extent to which they have been granted Special Research Assignments (SRA) and Faculty Professional Leaves (FPL); factors that encourage or discourage faculty from taking SRAS and FPLs; the extent to which high-quality teaching, research and University service are valued in their academic unit; and the extent to which annual performance reviews help in making plans for professional growth.
D) Focus Groups
The Commission engaged specialists in focus group methodology to conduct five focus groups for faculty members. One session, intended in part to refine methodology, was held with faculty leaders. The other four sessions were held with assistant professors, associate professors, professors and faculty administrators, and chairs of particularly strong departments. The purpose of these focus groups was to explore perceptions of faculty members regarding: Professional development opportunities; barriers, incentives and resource needs for faculty development; and specific professional development concerns associated with the probationary period, the period immediately following the granting of tenure, and the remainder of the tenured appointment. It was hoped that these in-depth discussions would help elucidate findings from the large-scale survey.
Overview - Faculty Survey
The first survey question asked respondents to rate their overall level of satisfaction as a member of the faculty at The Ohio State University. The seven-point response scale ranged from extremely satisfied to extremely dissatisfied. Ohio State faculty members are, in general, satisfied with their experience at this university. In reporting their overall level of satisfaction, 84 percent indicate that they are somewhat satisfied to extremely satisfied with "quite satisfied" the most common response. Five percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied or uncertain and only 11 percent expressed some degree of dissatisfaction (most indicating that they were somewhat dissatisfied).
There is relatively little variation in the proportions expressing satisfaction by college cluster, gender, minority status, or rank. Eighty-seven percent of faculty in the Colleges of the Arts and Sciences expressed satisfaction compared to 81 percent of faculty in the health sciences colleges and 79 percent of faculty in the other professional colleges. Eighty-four percent of regional campus faculty expressed satisfaction. Eighty-five percent of minority faculty and 80 percent of female faculty expressed satisfaction. Assistant professors were most satisfied (with 90 percent indicating they were somewhat to extremely satisfied), while 82 percent of associate professors in rank more than 10 years, 81 percent of associate professors in rank less than 10 years, and 81 percent of full professors expressed satisfaction. Very small percentages of any of these groups indicated that they were quite or extremely dissatisfied. The highest such percentage (7 percent) was obtained from associate professors in rank more than 10 years.
Most Ohio State faculty (80 percent) think that the primary responsibility for professional growth lies with them individually. The other 20 percent think that responsibility for their professional growth lies with the University. Ninety-seven percent of faculty members feel they have an obligation to the University to grow professionally during the course of their career. Eighty-four percent believe that if a department views a faculty member as no longer sufficiently productive in teaching, research, and service, it is that faculty member's obligation to identify how he or she can contribute usefully to University programs.
Ohio State faculty members feel able to remain current in their teaching (94 percent), research focus (84 percent), and discipline (79 percent). Women and associate professors in rank longer than 10 years feel less able to stay current in their research focus (77 percent and 70 percent respectively).
Almost three-quarters of the faculty think that they can make and implement long-term plans for professional development. However, one quarter of all faculty members disagree. Disagreement is particularly evident among women and associate professors. Thirty-six percent of women, 34 percent of associate professors in rank less than 10 years, and 37 percent of associate professors in rank more than 10 years disagreed. Information was not obtained that would explain the latter finding. However, faculty members were asked to identify what factor at Ohio State has most helped them to be productive and what factor has most hindered them from being productive. As might be expected, the range of responses to both questions was very broad. However, a very common response to the former question was "support of colleagues" or "interaction with colleagues." Frequent responses to the latter question were "too many commitments" and "excessive time spent on service activities."
Opportunities, Incentives, and Resources for Faculty Development
There are three formal mechanisms by which faculty may obtain release from regular responsibilities.
Faculty Professional Leave: In 1972 the Ohio legislature established a faculty professional leave program for faculty at state-assisted colleges and universities. The program provides for eligibility every eighth year of service at an Ohio institution. The enabling legislation permits each University's Board of Trustees to establish the terms of compensation for such leaves and to define what qualifies as a year of service. The Ohio State University's Board policy establishes a year of service as one in which a faculty member provided significant service at least half time during the course of a year. The policy further provides for full pay for a one-quarter leave, three- quarters pay for a two-quarter leave, and two-thirds pay for a three-quarter leave. Faculty members may supplement this reduced level of compensation up to but not to exceed its normal level from external funds so long as whatever is done to acquire those funds is consistent with the purposes of the leave. Each college and regional campus establishes a mechanism by which formal proposals for FPLs are reviewed and approved. The Office of Academic Affairs approves proposals forwarded from colleges and regional campuses provided the legal requirements for the leave have been met. Faculty owe the University one full year of service following completion of a faculty professional leave and are required by law to file a report on the leave with the University within three months of the conclusion of the leave.
Special Research Assignment: This program, also established by the Board of Trustees, provides for the possibility of a one-quarter reduction in regular responsibilities, at full pay, to permit a faculty member to focus attention on a defined project. Board policy limits the number of SRAs in an academic unit to no more than 10 percent of the faculty in a given academic year. Individual departments and colleges define more specifically the terms of SRAs with the result that policies vary across campus. In some cases an SRA provides for a complete release from normal duties so that the faculty member may leave campus; in other cases there is only release from formal classroom teaching. In addition, departments vary as to whether they permit SRAs during heavier vs. lighter teaching load quarters. Thus, the utility of an SRA varies widely across academic units.
Professional Leave of Absence: Faculty may take an unpaid leave of absence to spend time at another institution (for example, as a visiting professor), research institute, or other entity provided the activities to be undertaken will increase the value of the faculty member to his or her academic unit. Leaves are granted only in anticipation of the return of the faculty member to Ohio State following completion of the leave. Leaves are normally granted for no more than one year and cannot exceed two continuous years.
Leaves of any of the above types are uncommon at Ohio State University. Data generated by the Office of Academic Affairs for the years 1993-94 through 1996-97 indicated that an average of 183 faculty had some type of leave experience during any of these academic years. Assuming an average tenure-track faculty size of 3,000, these numbers are very small. Neither the Research Commission nor the Commission on Faculty Development and Careers was successful in acquiring comparative data for peer institutions, but perceptions suggest a higher rate of leave-taking at peer institutions. In any event, very few faculty members at Ohio State are engaged in focused professional development freed from continuing responsibilities at any given time.
In permitting a leave only every eighth, rather than every seventh year, Ohio's faculty professional leave program is somewhat less generous than those at most peer institutions. However, its salary arrangements appear to be more favorable. Peer institutions on a semester calendar typically provide a one semester leave at full pay, and a two semester leave at half pay.
Faculty Support Services and Other Resources
Office of Faculty and TA Development: This office, located within the College of Education, provides a variety of services to individual faculty and groups of faculty and graduate teaching associates for the purpose of improving the quality of instruction. Services include, but are not limited to, classroom observation (including videotaping); and assistance with specific aspects of instruction, e.g., test development and leading discussions. Thirty-five percent of the faculty survey respondents reported using the services of this office, and 90 percent of these reported that their most recent experience with that Office was helpful.
The Ohio State University Research Foundation: While not necessarily directly supportive of faculty development, OSURF provides a variety of services to faculty seeking and managing external grant support for research. Eighty percent of faculty survey respondents reported using the services of OSURF, and 75 percent of these reported that their most recent experience with that Office was helpful.
Office of Research: The Office of Research provides, on a competitive basis, grants of up to $20,000 to seed research that has the potential to attract external funding. Untenured faculty are the primary recipients of these awards. The Office also provides seed grants for interdisciplinary research that has potential for external funding. This competitive program, funded from Research Challenge funds, provides grants of up to $20,000 to at least two investigators.
University Technology Services Programs: The Office of Academic Affairs and University Technology Services sponsor three funding programs to enrich teaching, learning, and research using technologies. These include Faculty Innovator Grants awarded quarterly to support efforts to enrich learning and teaching environments through the use of web-based tools and other technologies, annual grants awarded to colleges and departments to introduce new technologies and upgrade existing technologies, and distance education funds. While the latter programs are not specifically targeted at faculty development, funds could be sought for that purpose where the objective is to enhance relevant faculty capabilities.
Academic Leadership Development Programs: While not a "service" in the traditional sense because participation requires nomination and selection, the "Emerging Academic Leaders" program provides opportunities for faculty identified by chairs and deans as having considerable leadership potential to learn more about major issues facing the University and academia more generally. This program, new during the 1998-99 academic year, is a collaborative effort of the Office of Academic Affairs and Office of Human Resources. In addition, the University participates in the CIC Academic Leadership Program for which four faculty fellows are selected each year.
The Office of Academic Affairs and Office of Human Resources also provide a variety of programs for department chairs and other academic administrators to assist them in carrying out their roles. These programs, begun in 1995-96 for new department chairs, and expanded considerably since then, have the potential to enhance faculty development activities through enhanced academic leadership.
Department- and College-based Programs: It is evident from chairs' responses that some academic units have invested resources in specific types of academic support services. Some colleges have established their own offices to provide instructional support; and at least one college has arranged to have an OSURF liaison located within the college office. Many colleges have created associate or assistant dean positions to focus particularly on identifying/providing focused support in research grant seeking and instructional improvement. The success of these investments is not known. They do reflect a decision to expend scarce resources to provide focused assistance to departments and their faculty.
Other Resources: In an institution as large and decentralized as The Ohio State University, generalizations about the availability of other resources (equipment and facilities, funds for travel to professional conferences, etc.) are virtually impossible. For the most part, such resources are a function of both local funding and local decision-making. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence to support a generalization that availability of such resources varies considerably across departments. However, most respondents in the faculty survey indicated that at worst most of the various resources that might be of importance to the ability of faculty to advance had neither helped nor hindered them in their faculty work.
Faculty Review Processes and Mentoring Programs: The Office of Academic Affair requires annual review procedures for all faculty (supplemented by Faculty Rules requirements for untenured faculty), that should serve as a substantial source of assistance and support to faculty in their continued professional development. Both survey and other data indicate, however, that practice is uneven across campus for both untenured and tenured faculty, and especially for the latter group. In particular, the extent of peer involvement in the review of colleagues varies dramatically across the University. In some departments peers participate only in fourth year reviews, promotion and tenure reviews and promotion reviews of tenured faculty. At the other extreme, peers participate in the annual reviews of all faculty members below the rank of full professor. Peer involvement in the review of full professors is almost nonexistent.
Untenured faculty may exclude time from the probationary period for childbirth or adoption and for a variety of major impediments to their progress that were beyond their control. This opportunity is invoked quite often. It is not possible to determine the extent to which the opportunity is not utilized when circumstances justify its use.
Data from other universities indicate that current faculty development policies and resources at Ohio State are similar to those at the peer institutions. Review processes, mentoring programs, research seed grants, leave programs, and support services differ both within and across institutions, but no marked differences were observed that suggest Ohio State faculty are either relatively disadvantaged or advantaged. Several institutions (University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of California, Irvine; and the University of Minnesota) have special summer fellowships that provide full or partial summer salary to support research. While some universities offer a year or two of summer salary to new faculty to support research activities, most Ohio State faculty must seek summer salary for research activities from external grants.
The Ohio State University does differ from an increasing number of institutions in not having at least begun discussion of what has come to be called "post-tenure review. " This phrase has become a catch-all for review processes with widely differing goals and methods. Perhaps the only generalization possible is that the term generally implies something more involved than a regular annual review for purposes of making salary decisions. The Commission did not focus data collection efforts on such procedures as the apparently rapidly changing situation in this area would likely have rendered any data obsolete very quickly.
Last, as noted in the overview of survey results, when asked what factor has most helped them be productive at Ohio State, many faculty members cite their colleagues. We cannot determine from these brief responses what it is about collegial interactions that promotes productivity. We can infer, from our own experiences, that when faculty members are interested in the work of fellow faculty, read their papers, assist them with teaching, and otherwise help faculty feel valued, they contribute to their colleagues' professional growth and maintain a culture of faculty professional development and high productivity.
Barriers to Faculty Development
Among 20 different factors about which faculty were surveyed that might help or hinder their ability to be productive, only funds for professional travel was identified by as many as 20 percent of faculty as having hindered or greatly hindered. Only four other survey items were identified by at least 15 percent of the faculty as having hindered or greatly hindered their productivity: Assistance with seeking and preparing research grants, assistance with managing research grants, secretarial assistance for word processing, and computer technical support.
Financial resources to support professional development activities of faculty vary across departments. Many departments report few resources to support faculty development. Department chairs stressed the lack of adequate support for professional travel as a barrier to faculty development. A majority of the department chairs indicate that some funds for travel are allocated if faculty members are presenting at a professional meeting or conference. Few departments support travel for faculty who are not presenting a paper or serving on a board of a professional society.
Survey results indicate a lack of familiarity on the part of faculty with some University efforts that are intended to support various aspects of professional development. For example, 65 percent of faculty members indicate they have not used the services of the Office of Faculty and TA Development; two-thirds of these are not familiar with the functions of the Office.
Neither Special Research Assignments (SRAs) nor Faculty Professional Leaves (FPLs) are integrated into ongoing faculty development efforts. Sixty-three percent of faculty members have never taken an SRA. Smaller percentages of regional campus faculty, associate professors less than 10 years in rank, and women have not had an SRA while a larger percentage of assistant professors have not had one. Only 4 percent of the faculty who have not taken an SRA have ever applied for one.
Two-thirds of faculty who are eligible for a faculty professional leave have never taken one. The percentages are particularly high for associate professors in rank more than 10 years (73 percent) and faculty in the health sciences (94 percent). The percentages are lowest for faculty in the arts and sciences (51 percent) and minority faculty (56 percent).
Only 3 percent of the faculty members who have not taken a Faculty Professional Leave have ever applied for one. Rejection of applications is not a serious constraint.
With regard to both SRAs and FPLs, slightly more than one-half of faculty indicated that such leaves are simply not discussed. Absence of discussion of leave opportunities is highest in the health sciences colleges. When faculty reported that leaves are discussed, it is because they are encouraged. Very few faculty members reported that leaves are actually discouraged or that a leave proposal was rejected. Absence of discussion may be an important reason why leave taking is uncommon.
During focus group sessions, faculty urged better communication concerning the opportunities and provisions for SRAs and FPLs. It is particularly important that faculty members know and understand university, college, and department policies regarding eligibility for and provisions of SRAs and FPLs.
Other evidence to explain the low rate of leave taking is anecdotal and supports only the observation that there does not appear to be one or a few predominant reasons that faculty leaves for professional development purposes are uncommon. Reasons faculty indicate for not having applied for a leave include knowing that there was no one to pick up one's teaching obligations or that other faculty would be burdened, personal constraints, including family and living arrangements, and inability to leave graduate students and on-going laboratory research. Faculty members responding to the survey rarely mentioned the loss of income associated with a faculty professional leave of more than one quarter as a reason for not taking a Faculty Professional Leave. Faculty members participating in the focus groups and department chairs, however, listed loss of income as a major barrier to use of FPLs.
Most chairs think that their role is to encourage and provide feedback to faculty. They accept responsibility to ascertain that faculty understand the criteria for advancement in the department and to inform them of funding and development activities. However, most chairs report that they focus their efforts primarily on developing junior faculty. Comments by chairs indicate a general feeling that there is little that can be done for senior faculty except to provide encouragement and information. Thus, formal mentoring relationships for tenured faculty are rare.
Many chairs identify resource constraints as a barrier to faculty development. These include limited funds for professional travel, inability to adjust teaching loads, and inability to financially reward productivity. Faculty noted these as well as lack of time to concentrate on scholarly activity because of teaching and service obligations as barriers.
Faculty Development Issues Associated With Different Stages of the Faculty Career
Faculty responses to survey questions concerning faculty development issues indicate no major differences among groups whose careers are in the probationary period, the period immediately following the granting of tenure, or during the remainder of the tenured appointment.
Three issues regarding differences in professional development emerged from the survey to chairs and the faculty focus groups. First, mentoring is primarily available during the probationary period. Formal or informal mentoring processes are lacking for faculty after tenure is earned. Second, there is a general feeling of increased teaching and service responsibilities for tenured faculty compared to probationary faculty. And third, department chairs and faculty participating in focus group interviews perceive that incentives such as SRAs, seed grants, and travel funds are often provided to probationary faculty first and then to senior faculty. These barriers, as well as lack of time, impede both professional growth and productivity.
The Board of Trustees, administrative leadership, and faculty are committed to making this very good university a great university. A university is only as strong as its faculty. When the faculty becomes stronger, so does the university. Hiring and tenure decisions are of fundamental importance to the building of strong faculty. Tenure track positions should be held open until the best possible hire can be made, and academic units should be provided incentives to exercise caution in hiring by retaining use of the funds for vacant lines until they are filled. Very high and rising standards should be exercised in the granting of tenure. Tenured faculty must be willing to expect more of junior faculty than was expected of them. The importance of hiring and tenure decisions was acknowledged by the OSU Research Commission ("Findings and Recommendations: A Report to the University President and Senior Vice President and Provost," The Ohio State University Commission, July, 1998) when it called for the improvement of the faculty by recruiting "above the mean," promoting "above the mean," and retaining faculty "selectively." In its recommendation to "set expectations and investments for faculty development at levels consistent with institutional goals, " the Research Commission recognized the fundamental role of faculty professional development in improving the faculty. However, the central question remains. What must we do after hiring to facilitate professional development?
1. The overriding need, and our most important recommendation, is to make continuing faculty development a more central concern of our institutional culture.
Faculty development will become a central concern when faculty members and academic administrators alike accept appropriate professional development of faculty members as a primary and continuing goal. To succeed with faculty development is to improve not only individual faculty members but also the institution as well. To fail at faculty development is to squander a primary resource--faculty--that determines the quality of the institution.
The recommendations that follow describe how we think this university should proceed in attempting to move faculty development to a more central position in our institutional culture. Although we already have many faculty development opportunities, we need to develop more. A more crucial problem to be addressed, however, is what can we do to increase the faculty use of opportunities?
We believe that an initial step is to establish our basic assumptions about faculty development. We assume:
With these assumptions as an underlying rationale, we offer the following additional recommendations to achieve the goal of making continuing faculty development a more central concern of our institutional culture.
2. A department's policy regarding its philosophy, expectations, priority, and resources for continuing faculty development should be stated explicitly in its Mission and its Pattern of Administration.
The expectation that faculty will continue to grow professionally in ways important to the advancement of their department's mission must be as integral to department planning and department rewards as expectations for high-quality performance in teaching, research, service, and outreach. Central to assuring a department culture that encourages continuous professional growth is a clear departmental mission and well-understood roles for all faculty members in relationship to that mission. Until recently, many departments did not have an articulated mission that would encourage and guide professional development. This situation is being remedied as all departments must now describe their mission in their appointments, promotion and tenure document.
Also central to a departmental culture that encourages continuous professional growth among all department faculty members, is esprit de corps. Faculty must care about the success of colleagues and be willing to provide professional opportunities for them (especially for junior colleagues), review papers, occasionally accept some additional work in order to facilitate an opportunity for a colleague, and otherwise contribute to the general welfare of the department.
Teaching schedules can also be arranged to provide for an occasional on-duty quarter without formal course assignments. It is important to stress, however, that a quarter without formal course responsibilities is not synonymous with a leave. Unless faculty have an approved leave, they are expected to be available for other regular duties throughout an on-duty quarter that does not include classroom teaching.
Faculty members express concern about the extent to which service activities take time away from teaching, research, and professional development activities. They also expect substantial involvement in a broad range of administrative/decision-making activities. Time used one way cannot be used another. Resolving these conflicts is a challenge for both the faculty and administration at the department, college, and university level but especially at the department level. Each department should examine how it conducts its business and determine whether there are ways to reduce the amount of faculty time spent in administrative activities and secretarial chores while still achieving desired outcomes. This examination should consider where faculty involvement is critical and where it is not and also consider how many faculty members need to be involved in any particular administrative activity.
Some evidence suggests that women and minority faculty spend relatively more time on committee and other service work than other faculty. While this fact results from the good intention of providing for and benefiting from diversity in all our activities, it can impede the ability of women and minority faculty to be successful in their teaching, research, and professional growth. Until the number of women and minority faculty is considerably larger than is currently the case, it is not possible to assure that every committee is fully diverse and not impose undue service burdens on women and minority faculty. The University's first concern for women and minority faculty must be their academic success and continued professional development. It should not impose burdens on them to serve other purposes, however important, that impede such success.
While less than optimal faculty time allocation can result from institutional pressures, it can also result from less than optimal faculty choices. Faculty must take responsibility for making optimal decisions regarding the allocation of time to teaching, research, and service. All three activities are important - the University must demand excellence in teaching, high-quality scholarship, and effective contributions to governance. When a faculty member continually under-invests time and effort in any one of the three major faculty responsibilities, the entire enterprise suffers to some degree.
The interrelationship between the reward structure and faculty professional development was a frequent theme in the Commission's various sources of data and in its discussions. It is important to be clear that tenure and a guaranteed base salary establish an implicit contract with faculty to provide high-quality research, teaching, and service to their department that is appropriate to that department's needs. The concept of "high quality" contains an implicit assumption of continued professional growth. The University must avoid establishing any kind of expectation in which these activities are not assumed to be baseline expectations but only occur when extra rewards are offered. That said, the University must avoid assigning rewards in ways that provide disincentives for professional development activities. For example, withholding or minimizing salary increases for faculty during a Faculty Professional Leave year provides a substantial disincentive for use of such leaves. It is critical that the criteria for earning salary increases and other rewards be consistent with expectations for faculty.
An important determinant of continued engagement and enthusiasm for most, if not all, faculty is change--change in emphasis (teaching, research, outreach, or administrative service); change in research direction, acquisition of new research skills and interests, or courses taught. Although not always the case, productive change may sometimes require a period of investment during which productivity (for example, published papers) declines while time is spent investing in new knowledge and skills. Departments should, to the extent possible, encourage and support the need for faculty to reinvent themselves periodically. This goal can be accomplished by providing the time needed to carry out the "reinvention" without financial penalty, and by finding appropriate ways to reward a faculty member's new activities where these are of clear value to the department.
3. We strongly urge the Executive Vice President and Provost to make clear to all academic units that faculty development is to become a high priority and that units will be held accountable for facilitating faculty development.
The Commission recognizes that existing resources are scarce and that new resources are uncertain. We recognize as well that unfunded mandates are not helpful. Further, we are not confident about the extent to which faculty development should be funded centrally, or at the level of the college, or the level of the department. We are convinced that faculty development activities should receive more support. Increased support should come from making faculty development a higher priority, both for existing resources and for new resources as they become available. For example, if resources are allocated to implement the Research Commission Report, a portion of the funds allocated should be used for faculty development activities. If resources for faculty development are not retained centrally, then it must be made clear to colleges, departments, and regional campuses that they are responsible and accountable for allocating resources for faculty development.
4. We propose that a component of a chair's annual report to the dean and the dean's report to the Provost be a description of plans, including the allocation of resources, to promote faculty professional development in the departments and the college or regional campus.
It is imperative that department chairs and faculty formalize policy about and priority for continuing faculty development.
5. We strongly urge every department that is not presently successfully encouraging faculty to take Faculty Professional Leaves (FPLs) and Special Research Assignments (SRAs) to identify and reduce any departmental barriers to the use of leaves. Recently tenured faculty, in particular, should be encouraged to take professional leaves.
Very few faculty members take any kind of leave in a given year. Knowledge and skill enhancement occur to some degree during the conduct of normal duties. However, time away from regular responsibilities is essential to the kinds of major investments that assure that faculty not only keep up with rapidly changing fields but also reinvent themselves periodically in order to maintain energy and enthusiasm. Thus, increasing the extent to which faculty have access to such time is of critical importance to the maintenance of faculty vitality and to the advancement of the University.
A culture that supports leaves (even when faculty must, on a rotating basis, pick up each other's duties) should be developed. Information about the programs and about application procedures should regularly be disseminated. Where curricula and teaching assignment patterns are a barrier, they should be carefully examined for potential for change.
At present, Special Research Assignments and Faculty Professional Leaves are understood to be available only for research activities. We propose that departmental policies for continuing faculty development recognize that professional leaves are appropriate to enhance professional growth in all responsibilities of faculty members - teaching, research, service, and outreach. It is particularly important that professional leaves be recognized as appropriate for the enhancement of teaching.
To the extent possible, academic programming should be designed to assure that faculty, on a rotating basis, are able to take professional leaves or leaves of absence. However, individual faculty preferences to teach and "own" courses in their narrow academic area of interest have considerable impact on the design of course offerings and program requirements for majors in some departments. Curriculums that are built around a set of required courses that can only be taught by single faculty members and must be taught at least annually, guarantee that time away from regular duties cannot be taken. Department faculties should ask themselves whether the course requirements/assignments that prevent leaves or other time off from teaching are truly necessary or are the product of faculty desires to own and require courses tailored to their particular specialties.
Faculty on professional development leaves should receive full consideration for salary increases based on reported progress in meeting the goals of the leave. Inability to earn a salary increase during a leave year only adds to the financial cost of reduced pay and increased expenses.
6. We recommend that the University Administration explore mechanisms for addressing other barriers to leaves.
We recognize that personal circumstances may often be the primary barrier to leaves that entail relocation. While the University's ability to offset these constraints is quite limited, there are some things it can do. It can be open to leave proposals that fall short of a full academic year's relocation or do not entail leaving Columbus at all. Such leaves are currently possible, but all departments and colleges are not aware of these opportunities. The University could also identify ways to provide assistance to faculty members who wish to rent out their home during an extended absence.
Also, the University can provide guidelines for additional compensation beyond that permitted by the current Board of Trustees policy when the excess income is clearly needed to cover increased living expenses associated with a leave that entails relocation. This compensation would have to come from external sources, but at present even when such compensation is available, its receipt is technically a violation of Board of Trustees policy.
7. We recommend that the Board of Trustees be asked to abolish the
10 percent cap on Special Research Assignments.
The current 10 percent cap on the percent of faculty who can be on a SRA at any one time is inconsistent with the absence of similar limitations on Faculty Professional Leaves or Professional Leaves of Absence. The 10 percent restriction sharply restricts leave opportunities even when creative planning would enable greater use without interference in meeting department obligations. In its place there should be a requirement that each dean present to the provost an annual plan for how many faculty will be on some type of leave during the coming academic year along with a plan for how teaching obligations will be met.
8. We recommend that the Special Research Assignment (SRA) program be renamed "Faculty Development Assignment" to make clear that the central purpose of the program is to promote professional growth in teaching, research, service, or outreach responsibilities.
We propose that the Faculty Development Assignment (FDA) be clearly defined as a quarter's release from current duties in order for a faculty member to pursue a specific approved objective. While faculty members on FDA accept their obligation to assure continued progress toward degree completion of their graduate students, they should be released from other continuing assignments for the duration of the leave. If such release is impossible at a point in time, then that may not be the appropriate time to use a leave opportunity.
9. We recommend that all faculty members attend at least one national research-oriented professional conference annually, preferably with some role in the program (presenting paper, chairing session).
Interaction with professional peers at the national level, including exposure to the latest research and open discussion about it, is an essential component of professional growth. Conferences that focus on professional matters but do not include the presentation of cutting edge research have value but are not a substitute for participation in national, research-oriented conferences.
10. We recommend that departments implement formal and informal programs to mentor untenured faculty, recently tenured faculty, and experienced tenured faculty.
Mentoring is critical for untenured faculty. Formal mentoring programs for untenured faculty exist in many departments but are the exception rather than the rule. Mentoring programs for tenured associate professors are rare. It is important to point out that faculty in the immediate post-tenure period may be particularly in need of support to assure that pre-tenure momentum is maintained. In addition, it is assumed that tenured associate professors will be reassessing professional career directions and/or research focus. If a tenured associate professor is not making progress, it is the responsibility of the department chair to identify peer mentors. The implementation of mentoring programs for tenured faculty is essential for professional growth and continued productivity.
11. We recommend that the University's academic leadership program for new and continuing chairs and other academic administrators consider ways of enhancing the development of mentoring skills in chairs including establishment of a mechanism for the sharing of best practices among chairs.
Department chairs understand and accept the critical role they play in establishing expectations for faculty, in providing constructive feedback and support, and in providing resources as incentives and rewards for desirable activities. However, chairs bring variable skills and understandings to this role as well as varying degrees of creativity in addressing different kinds of situations.
12. Every faculty member should have the basic resources needed in her or his discipline to carry out assigned responsibilities at expected levels of quality.
Continued professional growth is hampered when simply carrying out one's basic job responsibilities is a challenge. What constitutes basic resources will vary considerably across disciplines but will consist minimally of an office, a computer with internet connection, a telephone, access to appropriate support staff, and reasonable financial support to attend at least one domestic professional conference annually. These basic resources should be provided to all faculty who are meeting the expectations of the unit.
A perception exists that some departments are unable to provide the above-described minimal resources. The Commission had no way to test the accuracy of this perception. Thus, we can only assert that should one or more such situations exist, they should be addressed. If the severe lack of resources does not lend itself to local solutions through improved management, either the continued existence of the unit as an independent entity should be questioned or the funding situation should be addressed from outside the unit.
Sensible hiring practices may sometimes be helpful in resource-constrained situations. Departments should not hire new regular faculty when current faculty lack the minimum resources needed to be productive and to grow professionally. Nor should they hire new faculty when they cannot immediately provide the needed basic resources to these individuals in addition to any agreed upon startup requirements for research programs. While there is an enormous cultural bias toward filling vacant positions even when instructional pressures are absent, departments sometimes would be better off to use vacancy funds to support continuing faculty.
13. We recommend that the University and departments give high priority to professional development activities that enhance the appropriate use of developing technologies in teaching.
University administrators and other staff with particular responsibility for the quality and development of teaching should be charged with determining how current efforts could be enhanced in order to serve more faculty in a more integrated way. However, some degree of integration of activities associated with developing teaching technologies and other teaching enhancement support seems appropriate. In addition, the development of a program whereby faculty could compete for teaching fellowships that would entail concentrated work on developing particular aspects of teaching with experts outside the home department should be considered. This kind of opportunity might be particularly valuable in assisting interested faculty in learning how to use cutting edge teaching technologies.
14. We recommend that orientation programs for new faculty be expanded.
For many years the Office of Faculty and TA Development has provided a well-attended orientation session for new faculty with the emphasis on teaching. Conversations are presently underway among that office, the Office of Academic Affairs and the leadership of the Faculty Council to offer a broader range of orientation opportunities for new faculty. These would include more thorough introduction to University resources available to faculty, information about the organization and governance of the University, and advice from senior faculty on how to plan for and achieve academic success. We urge that these plans be solidified as soon as possible with the intent of implementing the new program during the 1999-2000 academic year.
15. Our capstone recommendation is the establishment of a university-wide program of Faculty Development Planning and Review.
The program will require a Faculty Development Plan (FDP) for every member of the regular faculty. Academic units should have substantial flexibility to shape FDPs to fit the unit's resources, aspirations, and unique characteristics. Provisions regarding the establishment and administration of Faculty Development Plans should be a part of a department's policy for faculty development included in its Mission and its Pattern of Administration. All academic units, however, will be requested to pay attention to the following:
a) Each faculty member, working with the department chair and appropriate faculty peers, should develop a periodic Faculty Development Plan. The appropriate timing of the planning process may vary by discipline and by rank within the discipline. However, the development of such a plan should be required during the first year of a probationary period and during the first year after tenure is granted. In most cases, no more than six years should pass without the development of a new plan.
b) The FDP should include, in terms as specific as practicable, the professional growth goals of the faculty member, as well as the means of achieving those goals. The plan should also include what the unit chair will provide in terms of resources and opportunities. The faculty member's professional growth goals stated in the FDP should be consistent with the goals and aspirations of the academic unit.
c) Once developed, the FDP should be one of the items examined as a part of the faculty member's annual review. With the mutual assent of the chair of the tenure initiating unit and the faculty member, the plan may be modified as a result of the annual review. The annual review should take into account both the faculty member's progress toward faculty development goals and the extent to which appropriate and planned resources of the academic unit and faculty development opportunities have been made available.
d) During the final year of a faculty member's FDP, there should be a peer review of both the faculty member's professional growth and the record of the academic unit in making available the expected resources and opportunities. This peer review should then serve as background information in developing the faculty member's next FDP.
e) In developing the FDP, appropriate consideration should be given to different stages of an academic career. For example, the FDP for an assistant professor would likely focus on those activities that strengthen the individual's record for promotion and tenure. At a later stage in a career, a person might benefit from an extended period of time (FPL or unpaid leave of absence) to focus on a major research undertaking or accept a visiting appointment at another university. Others might wish time and/or resources to develop a new research direction or a modification in the percentage of time spent on particular faculty responsibilities. For example, some may want to spend more time on research and less on teaching; others more time on teaching and less on research. The assumption is that all faculty would be engaged in teaching, research, and service, but the emphasis on one responsibility may be increased or deceased for a period of time when that increase or decrease appears beneficial to both the individual and the academic unit.
f) The FDP should not be limited to "big ticket" items such as Faculty Development Assignments, Faculty Professional Leaves, leaves of absence, or major travel. Such activities are indeed important, but the FDP should also take into account that there is a variety of activities that are extremely important aspects of a Faculty Development Plan. Examples include:
16. We recommend establishment of Office of Academic Affairs guidelines for the development of department-, college-, and regional campus-based Faculty Development Plan programs.
These guidelines, to be developed in consultation with appropriate faculty groups and academic administrators, should set forth the general parameters for these programs including how the academic units will deal with situations where mutual agreement cannot be reached on a faculty development plan.
We propose a program of Faculty Development Planning and Review as a means to heighten the awareness of faculty development as a central and important problem and to embed a concern for appropriate faculty professional development in each academic unit and in each faculty member. Effective and efficient programs of faculty development are clearly mutually beneficial to the individual faculty member and to the University. The implementation of a program of Faculty Development Planning and Review will require careful and continuing evaluation by both the faculty and academic unit administrators.
After considerable review of data, discussion, and reflection, the Commission has provided 16 specific recommendations that focus on enhancing the development of the university's most valuable resource-its faculty. These recommendations represent achievable, multi-pronged approaches to promoting continued faculty vitality, productivity, and professional growth. If implemented, they will contribute greatly to the University's goal of preeminence among institutions of higher education and research. We urge that this report be disseminated and discussed broadly and that its recommendations be implemented as quickly as possible.
Report approved by the members of the Commission on Faculty Development and Careers on June 2, 1999.
COMMISSION ON FACULTY DEVELOPMENT AND CAREERS
Georgia Bishop, Professor, Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy
Zita Davis, Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Mathematics
Susan Fisher, Professor, Entomology
Patty Fan Havard, Assistant Professor, Pharmacy
Michael Hogan, Professor and Chair, History
Bruce Mainland, Professor, Physics
Gwendolyn O'Neal, Associate Professor, Consumer and Textile Sciences
Gerald Reagan, Professor and Secretary, University Senate
Randall Ripley, Dean, Social and Behavioral Sciences
Sally Rudmann, Associate Professor, School of Allied Medical Professions
Caroline Whitacre, Professor and Chair, Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Nancy M. Rudd (Co-chair), Vice Provost for Academic Policy and Human Resources
J. Robert Warmbrod (Co-chair), Distinguished University Professor Emeritus
Molly Davis (Staff), Office of Academic Affairs