One key reason that colleges and universities find Interfolio’s faculty review software so valuable is that it accommodates virtually every practical action involved in an academic committee decision. This month’s product release—arising from an array of thoughtful client input—serves equity and transparency with a new tool to enforce committee accountability.
The gap between “can” and “must”
As you may know, Interfolio’s Promotion & Tenure platform for formal faculty reviews is deliberately quite flexible, allowing for a wide spectrum of faculty review practices. Our client institutions have been able to use the product for nearly any process where a series of closed groups (committees) review an individual candidate’s case packet, one after another:
- annual or periodic review
- sabbatical requests
- et cetera
In faculty review processes, it’s not unusual for the institution’s policy to call for a given committee to attach one or more documents to a candidate’s official case packet upon concluding their review. Most commonly, this would be a letter, statement, or form making clear that the candidate had passed (or had not passed) that committee’s review. Indeed, Interfolio has always been aware of this. The ability for the committee chair to upload a document, invisible to the candidate, has been a standard available action built into our faculty review technology from the beginning.
We had been hearing from client institutions, however, that the mere ability for the committee chair to do this was not enough. They needed a safeguard against committees sending the case packet ahead without having attached the document they were supposed to attach. The ramifications for a committee’s failure to take this type of action vary from institution to institution, and from case to case, but suffice it to say that faculty affairs offices care a great deal about ensuring that all candidates up for a certain kind of review go through the appropriate process. In an extreme case, it might cost them a lawsuit.
So, having heard from real administrators and faculty who use our faculty review software to maintain equity and transparency at their institutions, we built a feature to address committee requirements. Starting today, you can set a functional requirement for a specific committee at a specific workflow step to upload one or more documents in order for the case to move forward.
Client institutions: the source of Interfolio product ideas
As with the vast majority of our decisions about what to put into the product and how we could improve it, this was a suggestion we synthesized out of a variety of comments we were getting—both from clients that already use Interfolio’s Promotion & Tenure and schools that were sizing it up for their own needs.
Even as we’ve begun to define a new category of faculty-focused technology, it’s still real people on real academic campuses who most inform what we build. We consider it essential to continually listen and understand what shared governance and faculty affairs look like in action.