A big improvement has come to institutional structure in our ByCommittee platform! In light of recent conversations with institutions using the platform, we have expanded the available hierarchy to accommodate any number of administrative levels—making it possible for even institutions with more distinctive structures to benefit from academic committee support software.
If you’ve been an administrative user in ByCommittee before, you know that the platform has historically been structured around a three-tier administrative hierarchy. This hierarchy was intended to approximate the following organizational structure:
- Institution (e.g. an entire university)
- School/College (e.g. the School of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences)
- Department (e.g. the Department of Psychology)
Under this three-tier model, when an Administrator was creating a new ByCommittee item—such as a tenure or promotion case, faculty position, form, user, committee, or unit—the platform required them to choose one of those three levels to house the new item they were adding.
In real life, though, the schools that value an online decision support platform represent a wide range of organizational structures—from the medical school with many institutes, centers, and campuses, to the private foundation that gives out a narrow selection of competitive awards. For example, suppose several disciplines participate in the Developmental Biology Center, or in the Center for Renaissance Studies, and you need to grant a ByCommittee Administrator permissions over only that selection of departments. Under the old model, you would have to choose between giving that person administrative permissions over the entire college that housed the Center, or assigning that person separate permissions for each of the departments involved, one by one.
After a series of conversations with user institutions concerning the many variations and exceptions to the three-tier rule, we’ve simply removed this restriction from the hierarchy. Starting with today’s release, an Administrator in ByCommittee will be able to create a case, position, or unit within any existing unit for which they have administrative permissions. Need to represent the four divisions that stand between the department level and the college level? Now you can, in both ByCommittee Faculty Search and ByCommittee Promotion & Tenure. Need to create a position within the School of Business for a new dean, or a case to promote a division dean to a college dean? No problem. Sub-department within a department? Done.
This flexible approach to administrative hierarchy brings the ByCommittee platform into the realm of more specialized institutions whose most basic structure has more than just three levels—for example, medical schools and affiliated teaching hospitals.
We know every institution has its reasons for how its administrative hierarchy is structured. Indeed, every college or university has developed a distinctive culture of governance rooted in the institution’s history, mission, and location. At one school, there may in fact be rather simple, direct collaboration between, say, junior faculty and the provost. At another, there may be intermediary bodies that coordinate the approval of those highest levels. And when it comes to institutions with a high degree of autonomy, such as medical schools and their clinical partners, the sequence of sign-offs can become especially complex. Three tiers just won’t cut it.
So when an institution adopts a specialized technical solution for its committee work, the institution’s leadership should absolutely seek a solution flexible enough to affirm and facilitate the culture of governance there. A software company shouldn’t prescribe an institutional model. Rather, such customization and adaptability should be a central guiding principle when building meaningful, useful technology for higher education.
Current users may well have questions about what the new hierarchy means for their particular ByCommittee Faculty Search positions or ByCommittee Promotion & Tenure cases. To be clear: any institution using ByCommittee can continue to use the platform with their existing hierarchy—there’s no immediate action needed.
If you do have ideas about restructuring your hierarchy under the new model, we recommend that you wait until a period of low or no activity (between searches or promotion cases) and that you contact your Client Success Manager to work with you on the change:
- If you’re a ByCommittee Faculty Search user, they’ll talk through the implications for editing an administrative unit, assigning the right roles to new and existing users, and creating positions at higher levels.
- If you’re a ByCommittee Promotion & Tenure user, they’ll show you what you can do with new and existing administrative units, limiting user permissions appropriately, and planning templates or cases at higher levels.