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Faculty first

That’s our mission, and we’ve been delivering it for years. But have our colleges and universities?  

Throughout my 20-year career in edtech, I’ve seen a host of higher education institutions attempt to solve or mitigate large challenges with new technology. I’ve watched the evolution of enterprise resource planning systems, student information and CRM systems, learning management systems, enrollment systems, and outcome assessment systems; however, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen institutions focus their attention on faculty.

Given that faculty drive the lion’s share of revenue through funded research and teaching (in the form of tuition); comprise the greatest component of cost in the form of payroll; are responsible for brand, reputation and rank of a university; deliver student success and ultimately completion rates; and are responsible for myriad governance decisions: can colleges and universities continue to afford to not invest in faculty?

Two companies with a history of putting faculty first

Since 1999 we’ve centered our business on scholars, first by helping over 1 million of them apply for scholarly opportunities, and then by assisting over 10,000 faculty hiring, promotion and tenure decisions at higher education institutions. Faculty are the hub of every university, and we make it our goal to provide valuable tools that center around their work and accomplishments, while also helping them to drive their institution’s mission.

That’s why we’re so excited to announce our recent acquisition of Data180, a company founded by two former faculty members that provides a solution for accreditation and faculty activity reporting that’s become vital to the success of higher education institutions.

A sea change in higher education

Interfolio’s combination with Data180 is indicative of the sea change that’s taking place in higher education. Institutions are starting to recognize the need to protect and invest in their faculty, and it’s not hard to see why.

Any strategic initiative or outcome around growth, retention, faculty diversity, reputation, or data (such as accreditation or fair hiring compliance for grant eligibility), lives and dies with the faculty. Unsurprisingly, higher education institutions across cohorts have begun seeking tools within this new must-have category of “faculty technology” to help their faculty be more effective, efficient, and strategic.

Investments in faculty

The faculty-focused investments our clients are making with Interfolio—coupled with their requests to incorporate activity reporting solutions like those provided by Data180—demonstrate the emergence of a “need to have” technology to support faculty throughout their career and provide the institution with never-before-harnessed data.

Both Interfolio and Data180 know that there has to be significant benefit to the faculty in order for a technology to be holistically adopted and useful to everyone at the institution: staff, administrators, deans, and faculty alike. Institutions investing in faculty-centered technology know that if you provide tools to your faculty that actually add value to  their daily work and professional life, they are more likely to want to use them.  As a result, institutions will see more validated and accurate data about the work their faculty do daily to deliver the institutional mission through teaching, research, mentorship, and service.

But what’s most important is that faculty will—finally—receive investment commensurate with their importance, so they can continue to be the driving force behind what makes higher education exceptional.