Thank you, thank you, thank you to the nearly 1,000 registrants from academic and faculty affairs, technology, HR, and other university roles who made the 2021 Interfolio Summit, earlier this month, a uniquely valuable event.

Here, we’re going to share just a few of the things that made the two-day virtual conference so worth everyone’s time.

We’re going to focus on five recurring themes—feel free to hop down to what interests you the most:

  1. An Academic/Faculty Affairs Community of Practice
  2. Progress on Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  3. Achieving Efficiency (with Integrity) in Faculty Affairs Personnel Processes
  4. Integrations: Faculty Affairs and the University Technology Ecosystem
  5. Successful Change Management: Real People and Faculty Affairs Technology

1. An Academic/Faculty Affairs Community of Practice

The 2021 Interfolio Summit provided a unique venue for interaction to academic/faculty affairs professionals, as well as those in university technology and HR whose work touches faculty employment.

Whether in the form of the 20 prepared sessions, the lively chat throughout, the audience Q&A, or the “Meet the Speakers” breakout rooms, the Summit this year provided a space to talk about successfully supporting faculty in the modern university. 

In “Maximizing Efficiency with Creative Uses of Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure,” Elizabeth City State University’s Dr. Farrah Ward, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dr. Joy Smith, Dean of the School of Education and Business showed how they have extended their use of the platform beyond academic evaluations to include faculty credentialing.

With “Documenting Personnel Processes and Increasing User Adoption,” Arizona State University’s Chantel Powers, Academic Personnel Analyst and Katherine Sackman, Academic Personnel Specialist, gave a detailed walk-through of their model for ensuring that the very practical “nuts and bolts” of their procedures are as easy as possible to locate, maintain, and carry out. 

And during “Stories from the Field: Managing Interfolio Long-Term,” Lauren Wolk, Senior Consultant, and Kelly Doolan, Project Manager, from the Interfolio Professional Services team announced the Interfolio Certification program, a newly formalized course by which academic professionals can demonstrate their full competency with the Interfolio Faculty Information System.


2. Progress on Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Early in planning the Summit, Interfolio recognized that the issues of justice and equal opportunity continue to pose a pressing challenge throughout the US and global society—no less in higher education faculty affairs than anywhere else.

Right from the opening keynote address by Dr. Ebony O. McGee, Associate Professor of Diversity and STEM Education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College (“Beyond Recruiting: Retaining Underrepresented Minoritized Faculty & Graduate Students”) this year’s Summit included an explicit and searching focus on issues of faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion in modern higher education.  

Our panel “Moving to Outcomes: Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives” saw academic leaders from Stony Brook University, Dartmouth University, Colorado College, and the Consortium for Faculty Diversity discussing specific tactics they’ve used, as well as the outcomes.

The panel provided concrete recommendations for building lasting diversity, a truly inclusive environment, and an equitable work experience for scholars. 

Among many topics not limited to diversity, equity, and inclusion, “HBCU Leaders in Conversation” offered a look into current challenges and successes of the US’s historically black colleges and universities. Attendees got to hear a lively discussion between Dr. Stashia Emanuel, Vice Provost for Academic Services at Kentucky State University, Dr. Patricia Williams-Lessane, Associate Vice President at Morgan State University, and Dr. James Palmer, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Prairie View A&M University. The panel discussed specific outreach and faculty support approaches, current recruitment and retention efforts, and especially how the Interfolio Faculty Information System has directly enabled progress on their strategic plans. 

In “Streamlining Insights with Reportable Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Activities,” Bridget Mullaney, MD, PMP of the Facet Project Team in the Office of the Provost at Emory University shared a model Emory employs to successfully track faculty members’ DEI-relevant professional activities and enable both the scholar and the institution to tell that story. 


3. Achieving Efficiency with Integrity in Faculty Affairs Personnel Processes

This year’s Summit continued to showcase how higher education institutions use Interfolio to make faculty affairs processes more efficient and best use faculty, staff, and administrator time. Equally clear, however, was the commitment to maintain excellence in the personnel decisions or data storytelling regardless of the level of convenience.

In a session on change management (more below), Molli J. Herth, M.Ed, Program Manager for Faculty Affairs and Development in the Office of the Provost at George Mason University mentioned that certain features had already reduced the administrative burden of managing hundreds of cases across different workflow stages and types.

In the panel “Achieving Strategic Goals with a Faculty Information System,” panelists Allysceaeioun D Britt, PhD, MPH of Meharry Medical College, Ed Collom, PhD of California State University-Fullerton, and ​​Alyssa Kupka of DePaul University shared many ways that faculty affairs and administrative workflows at their universities are operating more successfully than ever before. 

“Process should dictate the system, not the other way around,” said Dr. Britt. “And Interfolio was able to do that.”

Across this and other Summit panels, we heard how:

  • Total time to complete certain reviews had decreased
  • Faculty had been “given back” time that they could use to focus on excellent teaching, research, curriculum development, mentoring, community engagement, and other core academic activities
  • Professional staff at the university are able to be a greater support than ever to faculty, and are freed up for their own professional growth, by a centralized system really built for this work
  • Provost and other administrative offices have been given the space to revisit and reconsider inherited processes
  • (Last, but far from least!) Those who already had the faculty-friendly platform in place experienced relative ease of adjustment—and capacity to react—when the COVID-19 pandemic struck

4. Integrations: Faculty Affairs, Interfolio, and the University Technology Ecosystem

Another aspect of this year’s Summit was a focus on how the Interfolio platform, which often reflects the needs of a provost’s or faculty affairs office, can most productively interact with other systems at the institution.

In “Harnessing APIs to Streamline Faculty Hiring with Seamless Integrations,” Georgetown University’s Merced Ada, Rebecca Cpin, Christopher Davis, Emily Fitzgerald, and Charlie Leonhardt broke down how they built an integration between Interfolio Faculty Search for recruitment and their HR system, Workday. 

For those focused on integrating with faculty evaluations, J. Reuben Wetherbee of the University of Pennsylvania gave a detailed presentation on three ways that he was able to leverage the Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure API to extend the reach (and the time-savings) of the module.

And in a panel focused on Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, speakers from Scripps Research Institute, Bowling Green State University, and the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences shared how they’ve connected a wide variety of critical campus systems to exchange data with the Interfolio platform.

From faculty data originating in HR and ERP systems, to grants and other financial data, to courses, and even a projected IRB connection, the speakers at these different institutions stressed the value of bringing in data that another unit on campus has already vetted.

“The depth of reporting [available via Interfolio] has been really important as far as faculty academic career growth—because there’s a lot of support that we can give our faculty when we know more about what they’re doing, their productivity, and where we’re lacking in supporting them.”

Katrina Schreiber, Administrative Manager, Research & Academic Affairs, The Scripps Research Institute

5. Successful Change Management: Faculty Affairs Technology is for Real People

Finally, echoing a persistent theme central to the growth and expansion of Interfolio usage worldwide, nearly every client session shared to some extent how they had successfully managed the “human element” of adopting new faculty affairs technology. Namely, that a change in systems really means a change in what people do.

In “How to Successfully Lead Change Management and Faculty Adoption Initiatives,” New York University’s Mike McCaw and George Mason’s Molli J. Herth (mentioned above) generously shared the strategies their institutions had used to systematically bring all needed user groups onboard. 

Other speakers from various institutions shared many successful faculty affairs change management choices throughout the Summit, such as:

  • Internal workflows of data validation and sign-off from deans, before piping it into the central Interfolio system (“Contemporary Uses of Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting”)
  • Demonstrating security of system access to faculty members (“Achieving Strategic Goals with a Faculty Information System”)
  • In some cases, introducing the system with a hybrid model for a year before requiring it—in other cases, making it mandatory institution-wide from the jump (“HBCU Leaders in Conversation”)
  • A “train the trainer” model to distribute support for faculty members and others across campus units (“Documenting Personnel Processes and Increasing User Adoption”)

Next Year: August 2022 in Washington, DC!

We are thrilled—and grateful to every contributor and attendee—that the 2021 Summit turned out to be such a lively and welcome hub for faculty affairs dialogue and expertise.

We haven’t even gotten into all of the sessions here, such as those on the ethics of academic data management, the Interfolio product roadmap, the global social purpose of higher education, and others. 

But mark your calendars! After two entirely virtual installments in 2020 and 2021, we are proud to announce the 2022 Interfolio Summit will take place in person, August 3-5, in downtown Washington, DC. We look forward to sharing next year what we’ve all learned in between—and to continuing the conversation every day.

Interfolio Data Service enables universities and colleges to realize full impact of academic data

WASHINGTON, D.C. — September 28, 2020 — Interfolio, pioneer of the Faculty Information System used by universities and colleges worldwide, today announced the release of the Interfolio Data Service (IDS), its newest offering that provides faculty and administrators with a streamlined way to import, validate, and make actionable their faculty’s scholarly contributions. 

Interfolio’s experience with higher education scholars and administrators over the past 20 years has revealed ongoing inefficiencies and burdens placed on institutions around this process. IDS provides a holistic solution and decreases the high administrative load for faculty and staff. Used in combination with its market-leading Faculty Activity Reporting, IDS retrieves scholarly data from an ever-expanding set of multi-disciplinary sources representing over 230 million citations and 60,000 journals. 

IDS enables its clients to take full advantage of established sources of scholarly data. The data service handles the complex processing and preparation of multiple independent data sources into a single feed—which is deduplicated and matched to specific faculty through machine learning algorithms. Within the platform, faculty can easily review and validate each record before it is saved to their ongoing faculty profile. This validation capability allows faculty to claim records as their own, creating trustworthy data for the scholar and the institution. 

With its regular ingestion of data, IDS enables ongoing accuracy and maintenance of faculty records, and by extension, faculty profiles—for past, current, and future scholarship. This process stands in contrast to other methods like CV parsing or manual data loads, which leads to quickly outdated information. IDS keeps the data accurate as faculty members keep producing new research and publications. 

“As one of the nation’s leading research universities, we continuously ask ourselves ‘how can we better support our faculty?'” states Paul Welty, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Faculty Affairs, at Emory University. “Given the importance of our faculty’s research output and worldwide impact, we want to offer an improved, streamlined way for how scholarship is entered and audited in our faculty activity reporting system and how it populates faculty profiles in order to help further amplify and showcase their great scholarly contributions.”

With its place within the Faculty Information System, IDS offers distinctive value for faculty, allowing data to be used within profiles of Faculty Activity Reporting, powering CVs, accreditation reports, and institutional storytelling. Additionally, with the integration between the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting and Interfolio Review, Promotion, and Tenure modules, the data from IDS can be used for faculty evaluations. This actionability of the data creates value for faculty to validate and approve the data, as it populates their activity reports and reviews.

“Scholarly data—coupled with the ability to harness the power of its significance—is the foundation of the Faculty Information System. The Interfolio Data Service, with its groundbreaking validation of federated and disambiguated data, centers faculty scholarship,” states Andrew Rosen, CEO of Interfolio. “The Data Service represents our continued evolution of the Faculty Information System as a platform and demonstrates our commitment to focusing on faculty and digitally streamlining historically arduous tasks.”  

The Interfolio Data Service is now available as part of Interfolio’s Faculty Information System platform. For more information, visit www.interfolio.com.

ABOUT INTERFOLIO

Conceived by academics for academics, Interfolio is an education technology company headquartered in Washington, DC, USA and in Cambridge, England, UK. Founded in 1999, Interfolio operates the acclaimed Faculty Information System for colleges and universities, the Researchfish impact assessment platform for funders and research organizations, and the widely used Dossier service for individual scholars. Over 300 clients based in 15 countries choose Interfolio’s technology for hiring and recruitment, academic appointments and timelines, activity data reporting, faculty reviews and promotions, and research impact analysis. Interfolio provides scholar-first products for the full academic lifecycle—from job seeking to professional accomplishments, committee service, funding award compliance, career growth and advancement, administrative leadership, and beyond. For more information about Interfolio, please contact team@interfolio.com.

Partnership with Interfolio will transform faculty career management, improving efficiency and collaboration

WHITTIER, CALIFORNIA — SEPTEMBER 16, 2020 — Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU), a premier evidence-based integrative healthcare university, today announces its adoption of all four modules of Interfolio’s Faculty Information System. With this digital approach to its faculty processes, SCU deepens its commitment and support of the faculty experience while also improving efficiency for the university at large.

“Our faculty are the heart of what makes us successful, and we knew we could better support them while improving academic management processes,” states Dr. Jonathon Egan, Assistant Provost, Academic Administration at SCU. “The Faculty Information System solves our challenges with faculty appraisals, reporting, and data, while at the same time increasing trust and collaboration with faculty.”

With this platform, SCU is able to manage faculty members’ career pathways and create a centralized faculty roster noting location, rank, and skills, a task which previously required manual compilation by academic affairs staff.

Faculty appraisals, portfolio reviews, and faculty promotion will become fully digital—making a previous cumbersome process more efficient for both the faculty members and administrators. Additionally, SCU will streamline reporting for accreditation and compliance through Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting. Last, faculty hiring will be facilitated through Faculty Search, to help SCU continue to attract the best possible faculty from the region, the nation, and around the world.

“With the adoption of all four modules, SCU is realizing the full advantages of faculty-centric and administratively-streamlined modern academic governance,” states Andrew Rosen, CEO of Interfolio. “Interfolio’s platform enables SCU to digitize difficult manual processes while better supporting and enhancing the user experience across the entire lifecycle of their faculty’s careers—further promoting what’s truly important to SCU: educating students as competent, caring, and successful integrative healthcare practitioners and professionals.”

ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY OF HEALTH SCIENCES

Founded in 1911, Southern California University of Health Sciences’ (SCU) mission is to educate students to be competent, caring, and successful integrative healthcare practitioners and professionals. The University is committed to providing an academic community imbued with kindness, integrity, humor, and determination. SCU began as a single-purpose institution preparing chiropractors. Over time, the University added programs and evolved from a single-purpose professional school into a health sciences university with programs at the certificate, undergraduate, master, and doctoral level. The University has four core values inextricably linked to the vision of transforming and redefining health and healthcare education and, together, inform SCU’s approach to healthcare education. The values are: a commitment to integrative health, a commitment to evidence-based practice, a commitment to health equity, and a commitment to inclusivity.

ABOUT INTERFOLIO

Conceived by academics for academics, Interfolio is an education technology company headquartered in Washington, DC, USA and in Cambridge, England, UK. Founded in 1999, Interfolio operates the acclaimed Faculty Information System for colleges and universities, the Researchfish impact assessment platform for funders and research organizations, and the widely used Dossier service for individual scholars. Over 300 clients based in 15 countries choose Interfolio’s technology for hiring and recruitment, academic appointments and timelines, activity data reporting, faculty reviews and promotions, and research impact analysis. Interfolio provides scholar-first products for the full academic lifecycle—from job seeking to professional accomplishments, committee service, funding award compliance, career growth and advancement, administrative leadership, and beyond. For more information about Interfolio, please contact team@interfolio.com.

Despite the pandemic, the opportunities for institutions to advance their missions haven’t gone away. The federal government and philanthropic institutions are still requesting grant applications. Similarly, researchers are still looking for other scholars to partner with on groundbreaking scholarship.

So, how can institutions most effectively compete for these opportunities while grappling with the costs and circumstances of COVID-19? 

One competitive advantage institutions can gain is so simple that many organizations overlook it: operational innovation. 

Faculty Activity Reporting

What are the flexible and varied uses of the right faculty activity reporting system?

In fact, according to research in the Harvard Business Review, although many organizations undervalue operations, when companies such as Dell, Toyota, and Walmart focused on operational innovation, it drove their exponential growth and success.

We were reminded of the importance of operational innovation during a recent webinar we hosted with guests from the University of Wyoming and Winthrop University. 

Both of these institutions adopted the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting (FAR) module, moving to a focused, faculty-centric, cloud-based platform that powers reporting, CVs, grant applications, and more.

This operational transformation has enabled these universities to more effectively pursue funding opportunities and facilitate collaboration. 

In addition, the online Interfolio platform creates time-saving efficiencies and allows these universities to continue faculty activity reporting while working remotely during the pandemic.

Below we share the details of how these institutions used operational innovation to their advantage. 

Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting makes it easier to pursue funding

For the University of Wyoming (UW), securing funding has high stakes. As the only four-year institution in Wyoming, UW Faculty Affairs Specialist Aneesa McDonald said on the Interfolio webinar, the university has a “high responsibility to the state to produce graduates, grad students, and scholarship that benefit our communities.”

To fulfill this responsibility, the University needs funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and relies on Interfolio FAR to present a detailed picture to legislators of UW’s value to communities. 

“With FAR, we’re able to pull a report and say, ‘Look, our faculty did this many presentations in your community, or our extension educators were able to do this within your county,’” Aneesa explained. “So that really helps when we go to the state for additional funding.”

Interfolio also can assist scholars in applying for grants with the Faculty Activity Reporting module’s CV generation features.

The Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module helps researchers discover potential collaborators

Winning grant funding can sometimes depend on putting together an interdisciplinary team of scholars to tackle a multi-faceted problem. That’s why Interfolio also makes it easier for faculty to discover collaborators through a keyword search. 

“It’s a great way to promote cross-collaboration,” said Interfolio Sales Engineer Kafui Dzaka on the webinar. 

Interfolio Account Manager Lori Nealy echoed the value of this functionality. “We all know that collaborating on research is phenomenal in getting funding to your campus,” she pointed out.

The Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module enables efficiencies that free up time for research and higher-level work

The operational innovation that Interfolio enables not only helps with funding efforts, but also saves time for both administrators and faculty. 

While this efficiency may seem only like a nice-to-have benefit, saved time can be devoted to teaching, research, and other activities that potentially generate revenue.

In this way, efficiency around academic data management is a critical competitive advantage for colleges and universities.

The ability to carry out work processes efficiently was what drew Winthrop University to Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting.

Brian Hipp, Director of Business Intelligence and Data Management at Winthrop University, said that the Faculty Activity Reporting module’s efficient digital workflows distinguished it from competing solutions. 

“The biggest benefit we noticed in evaluating the product was the ability to create digital workflows within [Interfolio] Faculty Activity Reporting rather than saving a document to a computer and then sending a separate email every time you needed someone to work on it,” Brian said.

The digital, cloud-based Interfolio FAR platform has proved particularly critical during the pandemic, enabling UW and Winthrop faculty and administrators to input data and generate reports while working remotely.

Of course, efficiency makes a difference to colleges and universities even when they are not in the midst of a pandemic.

Before Wyoming adopted Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, gathering faculty activity data to present to the University’s Board of Trustees took Aneesa months of work. But with Interfolio, faculty entered the data easily, and Aneesa needed only a couple of weeks to analyze the data and create her presentation.

Brian added that “the ability of deans and department chairs to create bulk reports for all of their faculty has saved them time as well.” Faculty affairs administrators, in other words, aren’t the only ones who save time across campus.

Likewise, at Wyoming, the College of Engineering and the College of Business used Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting to create reports for their accreditation review. “They can’t believe how easy and quick it is for them,” Aneesa said. “Before, it would take months to gather that much data.”

Check out how the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module works in action

If you’re interested in learning more about Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, you can watch the webinar here. You’ll get a live demonstration of the platform, and learn more about how the FAR module integrates with other Interfolio modules, ORCID, and external data sources, such as Google Scholar and PubMed.

If you’re really curious about how a scholar-friendly, online faculty information system would support and track faculty work at your university, schedule a demo here.


How can faculty data contribute to institutional success?

“A strong data governance, collection, and analytics function is critical to institutions of higher education.”

Read more in our white paper, “Data in Faculty Affairs: How Modern Universities Can Get the Most out of Tracking Data.”

It’s a common but complicated task at your institution: answering a specific inquiry about faculty activities.

Maybe the media has inquired about faculty activities relating to a specific topic, or a grant sponsor wants to know how many papers have resulted from their funding. Regardless of who makes the request, you know coming up with the right answer won’t be easy. 

You’ll have to query your faculty directly or consult your faculty activity system, which faculty may not have updated in months, which then requires you to also follow up to see if faculty have any new information to add. The process will require time, and you may not have high confidence in your final answer.

Emory University campus

How does Emory approach faculty data and how will they use the Interfolio Data Service?

As Bridget Mullaney of the Emory University Provost’s Office put it during a recent Interfolio webinar, “With faculty data inquiries, it would take three weeks to get the wrong answer.” 

Over the years, many other academic administrators have echoed this frustration. They told us that faculty data quickly became out of date after an annual update and described challenges with gathering and reporting data.

That’s why Interfolio decided to create a solution that enables institutions to easily and continually update scholarship data: the Interfolio Data Service (IDS).

Our webinar guests included Interfolio Product Manager Katie James, who oversaw development of IDS, as well as Interfolio Senior Project Manager Lauren Wolk and Emory University’s Bridget Mullaney, in the Office of the Provost, both of whom are helping Emory University to pilot the new module.

Below we reveal a few of the perspectives they shared on the challenges of existing approaches to faculty data and how the new Data Service can help institutions. 

So, before that next data request comes to you, you’ll want to learn just how much easier it could be to provide reliable, accurate faculty data.

The data is out there

Data on your faculty’s activities is scattered across internal systems and external sources, such as PubMed, Google Scholar, government grant websites, and commercial subscription services offered by large companies including Elsevier (Scopus), Clarivate (Web of Science), and Digital Science (Dimensions).

Pulling in data from these sources (or buying pulled data) involves a number of pain points, including the struggle to de-duplicate data, the need to standardize the data’s format, and the challenge of correctly assigning particular activities between scholars with similar names.

Interfolio designed IDS to address these challenges, Katie James explained: “We know how hard it is for schools and individuals to piece together faculty data from multiple sources. So, what the Data Service does is find and import that data across sources without your intervention.” 

Moreover, Interfolio automatically cleans up the data, including de-duplicating it, standardizing the format, and matching it to the right faculty member. 

In addition, because Interfolio handles the data importing on an ongoing basis without needing action from the client, it occurs as new faculty data becomes available, whereas most institutions may only gather faculty data on an annual basis. As a result, the Interfolio Data Service enables institutions to have faculty data that is always up to date.

“Another unique feature of IDS,” Katie said, “is that it allows each faculty member to review their imported data records, as they come in, and thereby validate the data as accurate.” 

Katie added that continually updating faculty data better reflects the dynamic professional lives of faculty members: “Scholars are doing research every day, their publications are ongoing, and your faculty information system has to stay in sync with what they continue producing.”

Of course, because the Data Service feeds into Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, administrators can use Faculty Activity Reporting to query the pool of up-to-date, accurate data and quickly answer the varied faculty data questions and inquiries that arise.

These capabilities, as our guest from Emory University revealed, enable significant operational improvements.

Emory University goes from homegrown systems to hitting data home runs

Before Emory started using Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, Bridget Mullaney said, “Compiling a simple report of how many books were published by the college this year involved multiple spreadsheets, multiple email chains, and multiple people. Each unit or school was using a homegrown, taped-together system of spreadsheets and different people who only did certain tasks.

“But now, with just a few clicks, the associate faculty dean can have their report in a few minutes.”

This efficiency, Bridget said, makes a huge difference given how often academic deans need to fulfill faculty data requests.

“People ask a dean all the time, ‘How many books were written by this department in this time span?’ and similar very granular questions,” Bridget explained. “Now we can quickly get trusted answers. And all we have to do is a few clicks, and we can have their report sent via email.”

As an example of just how much time this saves, Bridget added, “I was in a few meetings last week where somebody said that they had four weeks to create three reports. And we did it in a 15-minute Zoom session.”

Not only has this made work easier for administrative staff, but faculty like the new system as well, particularly interdisciplinary faculty who are a part of two different schools. Now, instead of having to enter data twice in two different systems, these faculty members can simply validate their data as it’s auto-imported, and each of their affiliated schools can see the member’s data on the shared platform.

Emory University’s faculty in general are finding the new system easy to use and helpful. 

“We noticed that after only a short time in the system, faculty really got the hang of it,” Bridget said. “They saw the benefits and how easy it was to have all their information in one place.”

Find out more about Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting and the Data Service

If you’re interested in learning more about Interfolio Data Service, including what external sources it imports data from, you can watch the Announcing the Interfolio Data Service featuring Emory University webinar.

You can also dive deeper into the background and challenges addressed by the Data Service by checking out our eBook Reliable Academic Data: How Higher Education Can Gather and Use Accurate Faculty Information.

We’ll bet watching the webinar or reading the eBook won’t take nearly as long as answering a faculty data inquiry using a homegrown system.

The modern institutions of today exist in a data-driven world, and this increasingly includes colleges and universities. Faculty data can provide valuable metrics that can be used to improve teaching effectiveness for future students and improve the student learning experience.

We spoke with Andy Goodman, Director of the Office of Academic Affairs at University of Missouri System, where he works on the measurement, evaluation, and improvement of the faculty teaching experience. He shared his best practices for understanding the data, evaluating the facts, and taking action to improve on teaching and learning.

“How you organize matters down the road.”

As the time approaches for an institution’s annual review of faculty, it’s crucial to look at what data is most meaningful to your institution and organize accordingly. Goodman explains how the University of Missouri thoughtfully approached their implementation of Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting module in a way that would make reporting and analysis easier. While a list of recommended categories for organizing faculty data is provided, the University of Missouri did additional customization to meet the needs of their institution, specifically, with a more in-depth focus on teaching data. 

University of Missouri uses the Faculty Activity Reporting module to segment teaching data by courses taught, student advising, and mentorship of students. Other data collected includes their faculty’s extension efforts, courses taught at other institutions, and other teaching activities that are relevant to the evaluation of their work.

Goodman posed questions to consider for your activity reporting system when beginning the reviewing process: “Will your categories facilitate ease of evaluation?” and “Do your categories and annual review components help your university achieve its goals for annual review?” 

Evaluating Data for the Faculty Review Process

After providing insight and recommendations on structuring the data, Goodman discussed how faculty are evaluated, especially as it pertains to teaching and learning efficacy.

On a biannual basis, Goodman works with individuals in their review cycles. Reporting enabled the conversations to be data-driven, and allows regular discussion of what a faculty member needs to do in order to “put their best foot forward” in the next year, while highlighting what was deemed to be important in future evaluation rubrics. Goodman emphasized the importance of this feedback loop to institutional success.

Working Toward Teaching and Learning Improvement

“The goal of the annual review process is making things better,” Goodman described. It’s important to have buy-in and understanding about why an institution does annual reviews. For him, the guiding principles of the process are to improve teaching, to be forward-looking, and  “to approach it thoughtfully, [and] not just a perfunctory exercise.”

Goodman explained that the evaluations should be inclusive and holistic, including teaching preparation/delivery, teaching evaluations from students, and any other materials such as exams or syllabi. The goal of this approach is to make sure that the evaluation is not based on one data point but rather understand “the multiple means of which a faculty member can be evaluated.”

For evaluators involved in the reviews, he recommends doing a comparison of data across previous semesters, an evaluation of student feedback, and an assessment of “bottleneck” points for students in the coursework.

Using Annual Reflection Practices to Improve Institutional Success

Goodman recounted a best practice he found for encouraging faculty to understand student and peer reviews. For a qualitative course evaluation, he has his faculty bring in a black permanent marker and multi-colored highlighters along with their printed student comments. He asks them to think of these comments in terms of “control” or “no control” and then “positive” or “negative” to give context to the reviews. For example, he provided samples of a student saying “hate the haunted classroom” as a no control/negative comment and “really organized lectures – easy to follow” as a control/positive review. He encourages faculty to find central themes in these comments by breaking down what reviews are truly useful.

Finally, he explained how faculty utilize these reflection practices to see teaching improvement immediately. The process includes making sure faculty have easy access to information, support in identifying problems and altering pedagogy which may lower SET (Society for Education and Training) ratings, and understanding of the metrics on which they are evaluated. 

Goodman shares, “The way that teaching improvement happens is when you’re able to sit back and look at everything and say ‘OK, these were my strengths, these are some areas for improvement, and these are some insights that I’ve gained.'”

What Comes Next?

Goodman outlined three next steps that could be beneficial to an institution with their annual review process. First, he encouraged a working relationship with the provost’s office to clarify key components of the review process. Second, consult with the teaching center to coordinate professional development opportunities around use of SETs. And third, explore ways to explicitly align review, promotion, and tenure components with a designated data reporting structure such as Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting module.

Part of the 2020 Faculty Lifecycle Webinars series

What makes a faculty data platform successful?

This free webinar will introduce the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module for collecting and reporting on data about the professional activities of faculty members in higher education. 

Interfolio makes a variety of reporting needs around faculty data more convenient, and more accurate, including:

  • Accreditation
  • CV generation
  • Budgeting
  • Grants
  • Department evaluation
  • and many other academic data sharing needs


Free White Paper: Data in Faculty Affairs

How can your university get the most out of tracking faculty data?

Download our free white paper on data in faculty affairs to learn what types of faculty data it’s common to collect, how to ensure high data quality and consistent coverage, and what sorts of insights colleges and universities are newly starting to gain with modern faculty data methods.

Get the White Paper

How can faculty activity reporting software benefit your institution? What results will you see when adopting this type reporting system? Here are just some of the benefits that your institution can realize after implementing Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting (FAR) module.

Improving the quality of data

The more information you have floating around, the more convoluted your faculty activity reporting process is. For that reason, Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting seeks to eliminate data redundancies. When institutions have duplicate databases, it results in decreased accuracy and decreased efficiency. FAR has multiple levels of customization, including adaptable tools for data input and reporting that help institutions create its required datasets, all while eliminating redundancies. Faculty Activity Reporting helps ensure that your institution possesses a complete, accurate, and easily accessible profile of its faculty.

Working from a single interface

In higher education institutions of all sizes, it becomes easy for information to pile up and become separated into various silos. Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting seeks to combat this disorderly compilation of information, instead creating a centralized and secure interface that is easier and faster to access than multiple independent data sources — or worse, hard copies. You can import data from ERP systems, reference management software, course evaluations, grant databases, and other faculty reporting systems. Consolidating data into a single source will make it easier for faculty and staff to create everything from accreditation reports to grant applications to webpages. 

Providing access to information in real life

Even though your institution is made up of intelligent staff and faculty members, there will come a time when someone has a question about certain data or processes. Faculty Activity Reporting offers dynamic tools that encourage users to access the information they need at any given time – without wasting time sifting through countless siloed datasets. Equipped with the answers to their questions and the solutions to their problems, they can return to work with accurate insight.

Encouraging collaboration

In addition to collecting data into a single, easily accessible system, FAR provides permission-based access that allows your faculty and administrators to more easily interact with external users. For instance, you can give external parties permission to search the database using a variety of tags. When higher ed institutions have increased opportunity to interact with businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies, they can create and foster productive academic partnerships that further the goals of the university and its students.

Benefits of gradual implementation

Faculty activity reporting software can improve various aspects of operations. It may not be the best choice to roll out brand new faculty activity reporting software to every member of each department all at once. A gradual implementation process can be key to promoting transparency at an institutional level and will help ensure that this faculty-focused technology becomes an effective tool across the organization.

When you begin to roll out the new faculty activity reporting software, it may be wise to initially allow faculty and administrative members to join on an opt-in basis. Tenured faculty or long-time administrative staff members may be reluctant to adopt the new system. Rather than expecting them to quit their previous processes cold turkey, you might encourage employees who have bought into the new system to show the other members of your organization how faculty activity reporting software is a time saving, streamlined way to view and report information.

This was a strategy utilized by Miami University, a university partner that worked closely with Interfolio to improve data collection and reporting. Before the university fully rolled out Interfolio’s software to its entire staff and faculty base, it worked with select volunteers across all organizational levels to determine the direct benefits they could gain from this platform and to identify problem areas to mention when providing training to the whole organization. By beginning with this buy-in system, faculty and administrators could readily work alongside their peers — particularly those less adaptable to change — in adopting this technology.

Figuring out who should have access to information

Since faculty activity reporting software is online, it can be easily transferred to individuals across the organization. Conversely, you have the option to keep certain pieces of information confidential, accessible only to certain individuals and their higher-ups. When you’ve implemented this platform, you have the autonomy to provide as much or as little access to internal personnel as you’d like.

Using the new software for faculty evaluation

Faculty activity reporting software isn’t just a means of viewing and sharing information. Organizations can use this technology to schedule, prepare, and conduct faculty evaluations. Administrators and faculty member leaders can select faculty members to evaluate for a variety of purposes — annual review, promotion, tenure, sabbatical, or any other occasion — and select who will sit in on the evaluation. In addition, personnel can use this platform to gather documents and other information that may be helpful to refer to during this meeting.

In addition to this evaluative tool, Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting can automatically notify faculty of formal input deadlines, which may occur on an annual or semester basis. The platform’s faculty input workflows feature can document which faculty members have and have not completed this work and can then send reminders to those who have not.

When you work with Interfolio to strategize your faculty reporting capabilities, you are providing increased transparency and collaboration and improving the quality of data, thereby innovating the way faculty and staff share information.

A faculty activity report is made up of data that supports the tenure or promotion processes or guides annual reviews at higher education institutions. These materials are specific to individual faculty members. Administrators will likely use the aggregated data from multiple faculty to assemble reports for their department, school, or university as a whole. 

A faculty activity reporting software is an online data collection and reporting tool used by a higher education institution’s administration and faculty members. This technology can streamline the reporting process, making it easier to evaluate entire departments, review accreditation information, and collaborate with other organizations.

What information is critical for institutional records and external reporting?

Essentially, faculty activity reporting software provides a database for the crucial information an academic institution needs to maintain compliance and stay organized. Faculty activity reports should contain data that can be used for three key purposes: accreditation, performance reviews, and external collaboration. 

Accreditation data

One of the most important components that a faculty activity reporting system should include is information that relates to the university’s accreditation. In order to earn and maintain accreditation, institutions must meet certain requirements and pay one-time and annual fees. Universities report their accreditation status and information externally to financial institutions and government agencies in order to earn credibility and ensure their students have access to federal grants and loans.

Annual reports regarding performance and evaluation

Faculty activity reporting allows for easy scheduling of faculty assessment sessions and provides one location for the institutional information that both parties can refer to before, during, and after this meeting. With an effective reporting system, essential data is easily visible and shareable among committee members or department chairs – and, crucially, the information also remains confidential. This can improve the quality and productivity of these performance reviews. The information gathered before a faculty evaluation session might provide enough compelling information to award someone with a well-deserved promotion. Otherwise, this data can be useful in determining faculty members’ strengths, weaknesses, and other crucial points to touch on during a review.

Data for collaboration

When an institution is interested in partnering with an external organization, such as a business, government agency, nonprofit, or other resource, they can quickly share any information they deem critical to these external parties. Universities can create and develop partnerships that are mutually beneficial to students of the institution and the external organization. For instance, a university that wants its pre-med program to partner with a local hospital might share information through its faculty activity reporting system to export a report of contacts and improve transparency.

When will this information be used?

Once an institution has implemented a faculty activity reporting system and added data into the platform, these reported activities are available for use immediately or as future needs arise

This information can be useful when conveying faculty accomplishments to prospective students and employees. The data gathered through faculty activity reporting can create a significant selling point to build credibility and recruit new individuals to the university.

Filling out a faculty activity report

Although standards of faculty reporting and evaluation are shifting, faculty activity reports still typically describe faculty members’ accomplishments in three key areas: research, teaching, and service. Although reports should be comprehensive, it’s not necessary to fill out every single field. When certain information is not necessary for the department or university, it may be best to leave it out of the report in order to ensure that what is in the report is relevant.

Why do some records include start and end dates?

When faculty, administration, and outside sources browse through the information that makes up a faculty activity report, they might notice that some pieces of information have start and end dates, while others do not have end dates. Even though it may appear that there’s been an error in the system, there’s actually a simple answer for why not all data points contain both start and end dates.

A piece of data that has a start date but no end date is considered to be ongoing. By leaving it open, with no precise end date, the faculty and administration members are noting that it has not been completed yet.

In contrast, when a piece of information only has an end date — with no start date — it likely means the process of receiving this information took less than one day. Although this is a valid means of reporting data in a faculty activity report, it is typically a best practice to include both a start and end date for all pieces of information.

Generally, faculty activity reporting systems will not allow contributors to input information with no date included.

When your institution is seeking out new ways to assess faculty or gain a comprehensive picture of their activities, it might look toward Interfolio’s faculty activity reporting capabilities. Our comprehensive suite of offerings makes for seamless and simple reporting. By switching from a manual or basic digital information reporting and storage system to a fully integratable software interface, your university is adopting a time-saving platform that allows faculty, staff, and external parties to view only information that relates directly to them. Get in touch with us to find out how Interfolio’s faculty activity reporting platform can transform the quality of your staff and faculty interactions.

Improving the research and grant process: Lessons from The University of Toledo

How do you spend less time on finding the right people and more time on crafting the right story?

We sat down with Bill McCreary, Vice President, CIO, and CTO at The University of Toledo to discuss the role that faculty data plays in crucial university processes surrounding grant and research management. 

With over 17 different colleges, University of Toledo employs a diverse set of faculty with a diverse set of disciplines and data. Faculty work can range from teaching and learning to research around health and complex STEM-based projects (most notably 3D & AI).  McCreary must carefully consider stakeholders’ varied needs when making decisions about faculty data. 

Grants and research weren’t always a smooth process

“We were spending a high percentage of our activity on just fact-finding to create the application submission. It was nothing but searching for information on the researchers who would be part of the team,” McCreary said during the webinar. 

This administrative scavenger hunt reduced the time that McCreary and his team could dedicate to strategy and analysis around the research grants and their impact. 

“You can present yourself much more professionally when you can think less about who is on the grants, and more about the problem you are trying to solve with the research. This is a way for us to try to become more professional in the research and grant process,” McCreary added.

Using Interfolio and other integrations to continuously improve the process

Using Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting module, among other integrations, University of Toledo created a database of their faculty members that they could pull in an instant. “When assessing a grant, we want to find people who do good research, and being able to quickly find that information enabled us to collect the information much more quickly.” An additional outcome of the centralized data in Interfolio: it brought to light other faculty members that would make strong collaborators on research projects—showcasing faculty expertise that might not as been as visible before.

With faculty members recording data in one universal place, University of Toledo has been able to focus on hiring strategy as well. They can assess who is currently on the faculty roster and identify who they should be looking for when posting hiring announcements in order to be more competitive for research grants. “It’s been helpful when Deans try to fill out faculty positions. They can look at the roster and say, ‘Who do we really want on it?’”

McCreary acknowledged that it is an ongoing process, stating “We’re looking at yields; there are so many different types of success. We’re looking to hire better researchers, and we’re still on that journey.”

Learn more about Bill McCreary and University of Toledo’s faculty data journey and listen to the full webinar.

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Billl McCreary assumed the role of vice president, chief information officer, and chief technology officer at The University of Toledo on July 1, 2015. Responsible for all information technology, hospital systems, academic technology, the simulation game studio, 3D/virtual immersive reality, and the Center for Creative Instruction, this role brings together all the key areas of technology across the organization into the Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions (DTAS)

Before joining UT, McCreary held senior executive positions at Owens-Illinois, Kennecott, and NSG, as well as private technology firms. He also has experience in finance, mergers and acquisitions, venture development, engineering, research, marketing, manufacturing, and general management.