Is your current faculty evaluation system sustainable?
The pandemic has likely already answered this question for you. That is, if you had a paper-based system during the pandemic, you likely discovered that such an approach isn’t sustainable when everyone is working from home.
But even if you now have a cloud-based system for faculty reviews, such a system may be lacking in many other ways: perhaps it isn’t secure or efficient or easy to use.
In other words, an ideal faculty evaluation system is both sustainable and effective. And to achieve that, a faculty review system must possess these four attributes:
Enables Business Continuity
A faculty evaluation system must be adaptable during a prolonged emergency or workplace disruption.
For many workplaces before the pandemic, business continuity was just an abstract concept; now we know just how important it is to prepare for unexpected disruptions.
At California State University, East Bay, business continuity was top of mind even before COVID-19.
“Because we’re in California, we have a lot of potential disruptions, including wildfires and earthquakes, so we’re always looking at things through a business continuity perspective,” says Linda Dobb, Associate Provost for Faculty & Student Affairs at the institution.
“Interfolio’s Faculty Information System is part of our continuity plan because it gets people off paper; it creates an online faculty evaluation process that has worked very well for us,” adds Dobb.
If your institution’s review process is not cloud based, it won’t enable business continuity in the event of any disruption that restricts access to campus. Paper-based systems, therefore, are not sustainable.
To be sustainable, a faculty review process must also be accessible to faculty members of all abilities. If some faculty literally cannot use your system or access some of its content, then it can’t be sustained.
A home-grown digital system for faculty evaluation isn’t automatically accessible; each component of it would have to be specifically designed to be accessible.
“If you’re looking for a product that’s accessible, Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure is a good one in that way,” says Dobb.
Of course, we understand that keeping software accessible is not a one-time qualification, but a continuous endeavor. Working with our partner institutions to meet WCAG 2.0 standards, Interfolio regularly invests a portion of product improvement resources into accessibility—so that our Faculty Information System can be used by all scholars regardless of their abilities.
Creates Easy, Efficient Workflows
Although institutions can sustain an inefficient faculty review system, the costs of doing so are high.
Stopgap approaches with SharePoint, Google Drive, and Box were necessary for many institutions during the pandemic. However, these temporary solutions don’t work well in the long term because there’s a lot of work you have to do to use these general programs for the specific purpose of a faculty review.
Someone has to define a workflow. Once reviews are underway, there’s a lot of emailing back and forth to coordinate efforts. For the process to be secure, someone has to regularly update file permissions as committee members first gain review of files and then lose access after completing their review.
Faculty time lost to these inefficient processes is faculty time that could have been spent on supporting students, conducting research, or serving the community. In other words, inefficient processes hinder your institution in achieving its most important aims.
That’s why, if you want your faculty review system to support your institutional goals, it must be easy to use and not waste faculty time.
“It’s imperative that you choose a faculty review system system that faculty can pick up very quickly,” says Dobb. “Make sure that you adopt a product that your faculty can get comfortable with after only a half hour to an hour of training.”
As millennial and younger-generation faculty members grow in abundance, having a digital system for these digital natives is especially important.
“We have a changing generation of faculty,” says Dobb, “and they don’t want to have to go to some office to look at a paper file.”
At Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), faculty members especially appreciate several aspects of the Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure user experience.
“They can read cases from anywhere at any time, which is very helpful,” says Jessica Pesce, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at HGSE. “And we can turn downloading on and off. Sometimes, knowing that a case may take a year, they like to download it once and have the files, which we allow.”
“They also appreciate that, when they log in, they can see every case that has been assigned to them, which helps them budget their review time for the semester and leads to more efficient work,” adds Pesce.
Facilitates Assessment of Progress Toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals
Many institutions within higher education are committed to improving faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), but to effectively realize this commitment, it’s critical that institutions have the right processes and systems in place.
If, for example, a university wants to increase its tenured-faculty diversity but is not collecting data on how many diverse candidates it grants tenure, then it hasn’t taken the first step to achieving faculty diversity.
Collecting the right data and examining it is necessary to first understand the level of DEI success your institution is starting from and then to measure progress toward DEI goals.
For that reason, Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure enables institutions to collect data about academic reviews and to identify disparities in review practices that may be having an unintended negative effect.
In addition to tracking data, by building out all official faculty evaluation processes and sending every case automatically through the correct steps and actions, Interfolio gives the university new guardrails to enforce consistent and equitable academic reviews.
Interested in Trading in Your Homegrown System for A Purpose-Built Faculty Review System?
To see for yourself how a purpose-built faculty evaluation system enables continuity, achieves accessibility, creates easy, efficient workflows, and facilitates assessment of progress toward faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion, you can schedule a demonstration.
A demonstration will also enable you to understand the specific features or benefits of Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure that are most important to your institution.
You can also attend upcoming webinars and events to learn more about the Interfolio Faculty Information System and how your peers are using it to their advantage.