Last month, Interfolio clients and staff from across the country convened for Interfolio Summit 2023 in Washington, DC. Over three days, attendees participated in a variety of insightful discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities focused on driving institutional success.
During the event, faculty affairs leaders shared what’s going on at their institutions, their biggest concerns in their roles, and what they need most from their tech. Here are the top five takeaways from this year’s Summit—and how your peers in faculty affairs are addressing these challenges:
Faculty workloads—and how to track workload in order to drive equity—was a top theme this year. Since workload is often not transparent or equitable, high-performing faculty tend to take the brunt while chairs and deans have to both manage faculty performance and a host of other duties—often with little to no training.
The team from Texas Christian University discussed their efforts to launch a faculty workload equity model, noting that they initially struggled with decentralized, PDF-heavy data. “Any perceptions of a person’s workload could be anecdotal—sometimes unrealistic—and this leads to certain people being overextended,” shared Mica Bibb, Associate Director of Faculty Services, Appointments & Recruitment. “And this can lead to frustration for some who might feel like they volunteer and serve for everything and complacency for others who might feel like they’re on the good side of that equation.”
This highlighted the need for a quantitative tool to consider and enhance equity within departments, disciplines, and academic units, so they looked to their Interfolio platform for this use case. After piloting their workload model this past spring, the team looks forward to continuing their efforts and using the data they’ve gathered to initiate change. “We’ll be thinking about how we can go about enhancing workload equity,” shared M. Francyne Huckaby, Associate Provost of Faculty Affairs. “How we can use the data to address those inequities, and how we can monitor the progress that we’re doing.”
2. Faculty Buy-in and Engagement
Always a hot topic amongst faculty affairs professionals, our clients shared their success stories around faculty buy-in and engagement. We asked attendees for the most successful action they’ve taken at their institution to garner faculty adoption, turning their responses into a word cloud that highlighted training, internal documentation, closed-loop feedback, and office hours as top actions supporting their efforts.
When it comes to faculty buy-in and engagement with Interfolio, clients attributed their success to the platform being so user-friendly and easy to use. “The Interfolio system is built so that it really allows faculty to go in, do what they need to do, and then go back to their teaching and research,” shared Alpa Khatri, Senior Technology Manager at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “So, at the end of the day, we’re all happy.” Being able to show faculty how Interfolio directly helps them makes it significantly easier to get them on board—especially when it’s a minimal lift.
While everyone agreed that impact is important, academic leaders were quick to point out how incredibly difficult it can be for institutions to measure since impact means different things to different people and different academic disciplines. While it’s clear that impact contributes to an institution’s success—whether that’s meeting funding metrics, maintaining accreditation status, implementing DEI initiatives, or a host of other activities—measuring and proving impact can be a difficult process.
Susan Halsted, Program Support Coordinator at the University of Missouri, noted how her institution uses Interfolio to showcase faculty impact. UM maintains faculty data—such as publications, grants, honors, and awards—in Interfolio, which helps them keep track of everything faculty members are doing to drive institutional success. “We are focused on being able to show the work of our faculty,” said Halsted. “Our faculty success and impact contribute to our institution accreditation processes to maintain our high research level accreditations.” This information is also shared through the UM Faculty Scholars website, which highlights what faculty are doing—as well as the impact the university is having on their larger community. In addition, Halsted noted that being able to see all the work faculty are doing in one place helps the institution put up qualified faculty members for campus-level awards that they might not think to apply for.
Interfolio clients at this year’s Summit were eager to learn more about our integrations—and especially how Interfolio can help save them time when used with existing systems.
Our team shared how Interfolio can be integrated with existing institutional systems—such as Workday, PeopleSoft, and even homegrown systems—through APIs, resulting in valuable time savings. If you think of your systems as a customer in a restaurant and Interfolio as the kitchen in that restaurant, the API is your server, delivering what you need when you need it. These integrations can automate processes, taking a lot of effort off your staff so that you are both saving time and receiving more accurate information in all of your various systems.
Reducing effort for staff is incredibly important for faculty affairs leaders, and we are always looking for new ways to help achieve this. We’re constantly striving to improve our capabilities to ensure our clients can be more efficient and effective in their roles.
5. Data Access and Reporting
With Interfolio, clients are able to collect and access a wide range of data to support faculty lifecycle processes. During Summit, the Interfolio team shared ways to be more efficient in the Interfolio FIS, focusing on key points to keep in mind when making data decisions:
- What is the goal?
- How do you measure that goal?
- Gathering information
- Analyzing the data
- Taking action on that information
With so much data readily available in the FIS, institutions are able to quickly generate reports for compliance, accreditation, and other vital activities—all while saving faculty and staff time.
It was great to be back in person for Summit 2023, and we’re already thinking about how we’ll make next year’s event even better. We hope to see you there in 2024!