In Conversation: Adrianna Kezar + Andrew Rosen

Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Noon – 1 PM ET

Join Andrew Rosen and Adrianna Kezar for a discussion about the pressures on higher education and the future of faculty.

As colleges and universities prepare for uncertainty with respect to tuition and research revenue, state funding, and endowments, many institutions are also exploring the expansion of revenue opportunities.

While it is obvious that COVID-19 will have short and long term impacts on the business of higher education, what are the implications on tenure, non-tenure track, and contingent faculty? Are we witnessing the dawn of a new era in this existential crisis?

About our featured guests

About Adrianna Kezar

Adrianna Kezar is the Dean’ s Professor of Leadership, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education at the University of Southern California, and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education.  A national expert on change, governance and leadership in higher education, Kezar is regularly quoted in the media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlantic, Boston Globe, Washington Post, PBS, and NPR (national and local stations), among others. At the Pullias Center, Kezar directs the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, and is an international expert on the changing faculty. Her latest book is The Gig Academy: Mapping Labor in the Neoliberal University (October, 2019). 

About Andrew Rosen

As CEO at Interfolio, Andrew Rosen brings a proven track record of successfully introducing and scaling innovative, problem-solving technologies into new markets. Andrew started his career as an early co-founder of Blackboard where he and the team successfully built and scaled the Learning Management System throughout the education marketplace. After taking Blackboard public, Andrew left to grow Presidium Inc., an early education start-up focused on end user support services and then joined the Education Advisory Board as General Manager of its Education Technology. At EAB, Andrew and his team evolved analytics and predictive modeling technologies to address the rising issues around student retention and student success. Most recently, Andrew served as the Sr. Executive Vice President and Head of Product at MicroStrategy, a world-class enterprise analytics platform company.

Free eBook: Rapid Digital Transformation for your Faculty Affairs Processes

Compiled and published in the time of COVID-19, our free eBook pulls together best practices around online faculty evaluations and professional reviews, planning ahead for future digital transformation, and more.

How is higher education thinking about business continuity in faculty affairs during COVID-19?

East Stroudsburg University, Vanderbilt University, Tulane University, American College of Education, and University College London discuss how their departments are navigating faculty processes, shifting priorities, and approaching digital transformation. 

Our panelists include:

  • William J. Bajor, Ph.D., Director, Graduate and Extended Studies, East Stroudsburg University 
  • Danielle Certa, Assistant Director of Faculty Appointments, Faculty Affairs: Office of the Vice Provost, Vanderbilt University
  • Alysia K. Loshbaugh, Assistant Vice President for Business Relationship Management, Tulane University
  • Natalie Pelham, Ed.D., Senior Director of Training & Development, American College of Education 
  • Nina Seppala, Deputy Director of Academic Affairs, University College London

What You’ll Learn

Hear from higher education peers about business continuity and how faculty’s mission-critical work continues during COVID. Panelists discuss what was most challenging when going fully remote and the role of technology in this transition. We hear crowd-sourced best practices and close with a Q&A session.

This webinar took place in May 2020.

Free eBook: Rapid Digital Transformation for your Faculty Affairs Processes

Compiled and published in the time of COVID-19, our free eBook pulls together best practices around online faculty evaluations and professional reviews, planning ahead for future digital transformation, and more.

Interfolio hosted a client-only webinar to address higher education workflow changes and trends we saw among our client partners during COVID-19. Our panel of Interfolio consultants and project managers discussed ways to use your Interfolio modules to track changes and delays you may have experienced because of COVID-19. 

We shared stories and best practices from peers at partner institutions, including the steps they’re taking to manage different processes across campus. We are here as a constant partner in your planning, support, and success. 

If you use Interfolio at your institution, you can find the recording of this April 2020 webinar, as well as specific articles on how to use the platform to track various aspects of COVID-19 impact, in the Interfolio Client Community here. Or else, please contact your Account Manager for assistance.

Under the constraints of COVID-19, how are higher education institutions handling faculty personnel processes digitally? What are the traits of a well-prepared institution, and what aspects are most critical to success in a digital transformation of faculty affairs? And what lessons will academic employers carry with them even after the crisis recedes?

Interfolio recently facilitated a digital roundtable conversation asking forward-thinking leaders from a diverse combination of universities to address how they’re currently handling academic personnel processes in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 

With discussion among academic and administrative leaders at East Stroudsburg University, Vanderbilt University, Tulane University, American College of Education, and University College London, the roundtable event painted an encouraging picture of higher education’s prospects for a digital transformation around faculty affairs.

Online faculty evaluations (and other digital personnel processes) already in place

First of all, it was clear these institutions’ embrace of digital processes for faculty work had put them in a better position to handle the pandemic before it even began.

Several panelists actively pointed out the value of this head start—among them Danielle Certa, Assistant Director of Faculty Appointments in the Office of the Vice Provost at Vanderbilt University; Alysia Loshbaugh, Assistant Vice President for Business Relationship Management at Tulane University; and Nina Seppala, Deputy Director of Academic Affair at University College London.

These institutions’ shift to digital faculty personnel processes some years earlier meant that the administrative routines around faculty work—especially review, promotion, and tenure—faced relatively little need for change or adjustment as a result of the COVID-19 circumstances.

And this modern digital framework for faculty affairs, they stressed, applies not only in crisis scenarios, but as a sustainable daily approach to processes like hiring, activity data maintenance, tenure and promotion candidacy, and committee work.

“Resistance to change is a bit of a luxury”

A recurring theme was the importance of thoughtful change management around faculty technology.

While adopting new technology is hardly painless, several panelists pointed out that it is a perennial workplace phenomenon. And higher education, while distinctive in many ways, is no exception.

“Resistance to change is a bit of a luxury, I think,” said Certa (Vanderbilt), “and I think that people now recognize that we no longer have that privilege. We have to change; we have to adapt. We keep hearing, over and over again, that there’s no going back to the way it was before, so let’s put things in place that will continue to help us move forward. Doing as much as we can digitally is the way to go.”

Speaking of the piles of 3-ring binders historically used for faculty promotion and tenure cases, Bajor (East Stroudsburg) advised: “We do not need to continue to recognize the permanence of this [paper-based] practice as the sole means for evaluating faculty talent. It’s not stated anywhere in the collective bargaining agreement, and it’s not the best method of assessing everyone’s talent.”

A key component of successful change management around faculty technology is communication, as several panelists mentioned.

When it comes to change, ventured Loshbaugh (Tulane), there is no such thing as communicating too much. She emphasized the need for an internal communications strategy, and high volume of communications, to effectively reach the people on campus whose workplace routines you want to change.

And Natalie Pelham, Senior Director of Training and Development at the American College of Education, gave the example of the dozens of self-guided training resources their institution had provided. These specialized materials walk all academic employees through how to do the full scope of their job online.

“Little treasure chests of data”

When it came to advice the panelists would give to institutions considering a move to a faculty information system, the panelists stressed the importance of consulting the right people on campus.

Seppala (University College London) spoke of the highly positive experience she had had when pursuing an innovative and non-traditional use case for their digital platform (Interfolio Faculty Search) that their institution’s situation called for.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for something that doesn’t seem to be in the system,” encouraged Seppala, “because it might be possible.”

Certa (Vanderbilt) advised peers considering the move to a faculty information system to thoroughly interview the individuals on campus who, historically, handle data and paperwork around faculty hiring, tenure, promotion, CVs, and activity reporting.

“It’s very likely,” said Certa, “that all of your areas are keeping little treasure chests of data that they have developed over time… And these might not be higher-level people in the unit. This might be your boots-on-the-ground administrative assistant.”

Faculty rising to the occasion

Overall, all panelists emphatically praised the spirit of giving and goodwill exhibited by faculty, staff, and leadership on their campus during this time.

“I can’t tell you how many faculty members have leveraged this time of crisis to become absolutely fantastic online educators,” says Bajor (East Stroudsburg).

When we asked the panel what the least challenging thing has been, all panelists said some version of “working together as a team.” In various ways, they reported, faculty and staff have displayed admirable flexibility and collaboration, regarding both their student-facing and administrative responsibilities.

“I must say,” said Seppala (University College London), “I just feel that our faculty and our professional services staff have been very flexible, and they’ve been doing more than we ever expected… There’s been a lot of goodwill and effort on the part of our faculty as well as our admin team.”


Interfolio is committed to helping the global faculty affairs community and academic leadership continue to play their pivotal role throughout these changing circumstances. 

If you have questions about moving higher education operations online or business continuity in these trying times, we welcome inquiries or conversation at

Advice from the Faculty Affairs Community for Your Digital Transformation

Long before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic appeared, a growing group of colleges and universities had already made the transition to online processes around faculty evaluation, hiring, and data reporting.

This eBook draws upon Interfolio’s recent digital roundtable conversation, as well as an associated survey of faculty affairs professionals, to share what’s challenging, what’s worked, and what steps you should take

Download the free eBook to understand:

  • The primary challenges that faculty affairs professionals face around managing faculty online in the present time
  • What solutions are working to take faculty evaluation workflows, hiring, and data online
  • Advice for success from your peers who have undergone a digital transformation of faculty affairs
Download the eBook:

The Costs of Mismanaging Faculty Appointments and Journeys

The faculty members who teach, conduct research, and share in governance are the most valuable assets of every higher education institution.

Yet, amidst all the other technology at the college or university, the academic roster—and information about academic journeys—often remains without a home.

Download this free eBook to understand:

  • What faculty affairs offices don’t know (and cannot easily accomplish) about their faculty today
  • What gaps exist among most institutions’ technology options today
  • What dangers you risk when your academic appointments and journeys go unsupported
  • What the solution should look like
Download the eBook:


Why Now? Faculty Affairs Leaders on Digital Transformation

These days, when you speak of “digital transformation” in higher education, you’re likely to get a wide range of responses. Those who think they’re already current and keeping pace might question, “Are we still doing that?” as if technological advancement is something that ever truly stands still. Others—those still anchored or resigned to outdated paper-based solutions—might wonder, “Is that necessary or even possible?” The answer to all those questions is yes! And it points to the most pressing question: Why now?

For those academic institutions ready to bring modern efficiency, collaboration, and success to faculty affairs decisions, now is the time. In this best practice guide, we discuss—with insights from Interfolio institutions of all sizes, specialties, and locations—five primary reasons colleges and universities are embracing digital transformation for faculty management.

You’ll learn:

  • How a Faculty Information System can help bring your strategic vision to life
  • How you can promote transparency and integrity throughout the faculty lifecycle
  • Insights on how technology can empower your goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion

Download now:

Get a Demo for Your College or University

Find out why the Interfolio platform is so popular among leading institutions.

Interfolio, creator of the leading Faculty Information System, partners with colleges and universities to take the essential processes around hiring, review and promotion, activity reporting, academic appointments, and career journeys online. 

What can you learn from peers who have already gone through this process? What are the most important steps to take in the short term?

Download this best practice guide where we discuss:

  • Short-term steps for moving to online faculty evaluations and professional reviews
  • Planning ahead for future digital transformation around faculty personnel processes
  • Examples from peer institutions
Download the eBook:

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced your institution to delay (or freeze) hiring for the near future for open administrative, staff, or even faculty positions. In these times, you are likely, by necessity, to be carefully considering the academic personnel needs at your college or university.

And academic leaders everywhere are assessing how best to handle remote hiring (or other selective academic personnel decisions)—in a time when meeting in person, or even using campus hardware, is not possible.

Luckily, since long before COVID-19 happened, Interfolio has been helping colleges and universities to achieve a digital transformation around their academic hiring and data gathering. (Get a demo of the platform here.)

Here, we discuss a few essential guidelines your office should follow when considering a move to online academic recruitment, fellowships, and other competitive processes in higher education. 

The guidelines are:

  1. Ease for committees/reviewers is essential
  2. It’s best to compile data reporting needs and priorities in advance 
  3. Letters of recommendation should be automated

Guideline 1: Ease of reviewing materials is essential

The practical experience of evaluating many applications in a row is an absolutely central aspect of academic recruitment to bear in mind.

Yet, oddly, this is a basic need that can slip out of sight during your digital transformation, amidst conversations with IT, HR, provost and dean’s offices, and the institutional diversity office. Don’t let it!

The page-by-page application review experience will make or break your transition to online faculty hiring. (Just ask Millikin University or Notre Dame.)

Regardless of whether a decision is made by committee or by a simpler administrative review, academic applications are much larger and complicated than the applications for most staff positions. They have many pages, many different kinds of documents, and in many fields, images and multimedia.

As you undertake a digital transformation around selective processes, you must keep sight of the people evaluating the applications. Ask yourself: “How will they reach good decisions under this online hiring model?”

Back to top

Guideline 2: It’s best to compile data reporting needs and priorities in advance

In parallel to the goal of actually handling the search and decision process around academic hiring, you will want visibility into a variety of data points after the fact.

It is critical to compile your list of desired data points, beginning early on in your digital transformation effort. Have at least a brief check-in with your institutional diversity, HR, and institutional research offices to make sure you have your bases covered.

Here are a few sample data points around academic hiring that you should consider:

  • Self-reported diversity/demographic information (following federal EEO Commission guidelines)
  • Quantitative ranking of applicants by reviewers, based on standard criteria
  • Other applicant profile information:
    • Highest degree earned; date earned; granting institution
    • Country and state of residence
  • Dates:
    • Position open and close
    • Submission per application
  • Withdrawn applications
  • Other data on positions offered
    • Rank
    • Title
    • Tenure-track or not
    • Full-time or part-time
  • Disposition code (i.e. “Why was this applicant or group of applicants removed from consideration?”)

Keeping this checklist at hand during your digital transformation will help you make sure that, in your new online academic hiring model, you’re able to capture and view all this information later.

Back to top

Guideline 3: Letters of recommendation should be automated

Handling confidential letters of recommendation, in an efficient and responsible way, is one of the biggest burdens on administrative time around academic hiring.

In 2020, you do not have to settle for a manual process around recommendation letters in higher education. You should see this as a given in your digital transformation.

This is because letters are a specific bottleneck that make a big difference in the overall flow of recruitment and competitive selection at your college or university. Of course, it is up to the committee, department or institution (not Interfolio) to decide where recommendation letters should fall in the process.

You should expect your automated solution will accommodate all of the following:

  • Either the applicant or the committee should be able to request a letter online.
  • Intended confidentiality status should be clearly marked prior to letter submission.
    • Once submitted, the letter file should be kept confidential from the applicant before, during, and after submission of the application.
    • Also, it should be possible for the applicant to supply a letter held confidentially via their dossier service.
  • The letter should go directly into the proper application (still confidentially). However, the applicant should be able to submit their application even before the letter is submitted.
  • The applicant must be reasonably prevented from submitting a letter for themselves (and getting away with it).
  • The applicant, the writer, and the institution should receive automatic confirmation when the letter is submitted.

The point is, you should make automating recommendation letters a priority. It will reap big benefits for the efficiency of your process.

Back to top


Interested in how a modern online faculty hiring experience might look at your institution? Get a demo of Interfolio here.

Interfolio is committed to helping the global faculty affairs community and academic leadership continue to play their pivotal role throughout these changing circumstances. 

If you have questions about moving higher education operations online or business continuity in these trying times, we welcome inquiries or conversation at

Across higher education, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown academic affairs and faculty development offices the value of online faculty evaluation systems and personnel processes. 

Obviously, the current circumstances are still forcing a range of very immediate needs to be addressed around the continuity of daily operations at academic institutions. 

However, once immediate continuity needs are somewhat settled, many college and university leaders may now be considering how to achieve a digital transformation around faculty affairs in the longer term. Interfolio has helped many higher education institutions make this transition.

If you are considering how you can successfully and securely manage faculty review workflows online going forward, here are a few early factors to consider:

  1. Audit your faculty review types
  2. Assess how centralized (or not) your processes are today
  3. Assemble the right team
Download our free white paper on evaluating new systems for promotion and tenure:

A Note: Pairing Data with Academic Personnel Decisions

Intentionally, this post focuses on considerations around faculty review, promotion, and tenure workflows—that is, bringing the classic three-ring binder online successfully.

Yet the decision workflow is just one piece of bringing faculty affairs online. Clearly, there is a natural connection between conducting reviews of scholar accomplishments and your institution’s overall handling of faculty activity data. 

You can certainly focus just on what’s needed to get up and running online soon with the formal review processes—many of our clients have done that. 

However, you will see the most far-reaching benefits if you also bring CV information into a devoted faculty data hub. That way, your formal review cases can simply draw upon the existing data and materials in the system. If you’d like to learn more, a great starting point is our free white paper on data in faculty affairs.

Factor 1: Audit your faculty evaluation and review types

Even if your current focus is on complicated, labor-intensive types of faculty evaluations, it would be valuable to consider the broader picture for your future success. 

Before you get too far in your planning, we recommend you make time to list out all the types of academic professional reviews that take place at your institution. Briefly note down which people or offices are involved in each process today. 

Here is a sample list of situations that require formal reviews of scholars’ information and materials:

  • Appointment
  • Reappointment
  • Annual review
  • Tenure
  • Promotion
  • Merit reviews
  • Sabbatical and travel leave
  • Funding and fellowship applications

Of course, in your list, it is best to use the actual terms that your own institution uses—you should not end up having to change them even when you go digital. 

If you approach the solution as not just “taking tenure online,” but rather start to see all faculty professional review scenarios as online activities—because they can be!—you will get the most mileage out of whatever solution you arrive at.

Back to top

Factor 2: Assess how centralized (or decentralized) your processes are today

Almost all colleges and universities have a “master” faculty handbook that governs the universal policies around professional reviews of teaching and research faculty members. 

However, beyond that universal handbook, academic institutions differ widely from one another in terms of such aspects as:

  • School-/college-specific requirements
  • Discipline-specific materials
  • Committee evaluation process
  • How involved the candidate is
  • How much information needs to be collected

To understand how centralized (or not) your institution is, you may need to draw out high-level flowcharts for each of your major academic units, such as a school, college, or division. 

Sometimes there is much more variation between academic units than anyone at the top assumed. In other cases, faculty reviews are much more similar between units than the faculty affairs director would have guessed. 

The degree of centralization influences the questions you’ll need to answer, including file type requirements, the need for fielded form data versus uploaded documents, and the transparency needed for faculty candidates.

In Interfolio’s work on taking faculty evaluations online at various higher education institutions, we have found that this “mapping” exercise frequently leads to discoveries that have real impact on the digital transformation effort. 

Back to top

Factor 3: Assemble the right team

In order to make a successful transition to online faculty professional reviews, you’re going to need to secure buy-in from a lot of people—including faculty, leaders, and staff. In order to do that, you’ll need a core team of champions in the right positions across campus. 

You don’t need to set your entire team in stone from square one. But you will want to have an idea of who could occupy the following roles:

Project leader (visionary). There needs to be at least one person who is really driving the change forward, maintaining a clear sense of where your school needs to move “from” and “to.” The majority of the time, this is someone in faculty affairs or the provost’s/dean’s office who is explicitly tasked with faculty development or tenure. Or someone else, as long as they really believe in the unique needs of faculty reviews. If this topic really speaks to you… you might be this person!

Institutional implementation lead (Power user!). You’ll need someone who has great first-hand familiarity with the processes as they are today. This person makes sure that all the new technical actions and tools truly meet your practical needs. Often this is someone in a manager or coordinator role in the academic leadership offices (faculty affairs, provost, dean), but it may also be someone in the library, HR, or occasionally IT. Regardless, they must relate to the faculty perspective.

Executive sponsor. This person has the visibility and the authority to show the whole institution—when the time comes—that:

  • This transition is real
  • It matters and is really worth it
  • We are doing it

Often, this is the provost or an associate provost. Identifying and recruiting a strong executive sponsor early on in this process is absolutely essential for faculty, staff, and peer administrators to ultimately embrace the transition.

Institutional technical lead. This is someone in IT who has the familiarity and the authority to ask the right questions and solve potential technical roadblocks. They need not be the CIO/CTO, but they must realize the value of making the change to online faculty reviews and activity data.

Ultimately, other people will get involved. But, as one Interfolio trainer at a major public research university told us: “Start the process as early as possible. I really don’t think it’s too soon to communicate and get out there the idea that change is coming.”

Back to top


Thinking about online faculty reviews, data, or appointment management next year? Start with our free white paper on evaluating promotion and tenure systems, and contact us soon with any questions.

View our other COVID-19 resources for faculty and higher ed.