Academic Tenure

Or: Why we built the first digital faculty roster to provide transformational transparency into all scholarly tracks, ranks, milestones, and journeys

Exciting news! This week we launched our newest product in the Interfolio Faculty Information System: Lifecycle Management. It’s a culmination of over a year of research and development with academic leaders; as such, it’s the first new module built from the experiences, feedback, and contributions of our Faculty Information System community. 

What we’re releasing today will offer transformational transparency into vital information about the faculty body. What previously lived in disparate spreadsheets across campus is now a single, simple-to-navigate, searchable database of all of the commitments, workload, career milestones, and academic journeys of the entire faculty. Lifecycle Management translates all of the institution’s complex policies on academic employment models, position types, and advancement pathways into a digital and visual format, so university faculty and administrators can build trust, transparency, and clear communication about expectations and exceptions to academic advancement

When we speak to academic leaders—Provosts, Vice Provosts and Directors of Faculty Affairs—we often hear about the challenges of managing an increasingly complex academic workforce across a range of units on campus. Scholars in higher education today don’t fall into a single category: they might be tenure-track or tenured, but they are just as likely to be part- or full-time adjuncts, lecturers, clinical faculty, or any other pathway that comprise the diverse spectrum of academic contributions on campus. Yet all of these individuals have a distinct journey that represents their lifecycle at the institution, and all deserve to be represented as part of the faculty body—whether for a single semester or over an entire career. 

In the course of our research we observed an almost universal challenge around consolidating, managing, and reporting on various faculty ranks and advancement sequences in a way that would foster equity and transparency in academic careers. Again and again, we heard from academic leaders: where can we view the current status, rank and future pathways of the faculty body? How can we anticipate resourcing or plan for faculty promotions, retirements, sabbaticals, and other milestones to facilitate long term planning at the institution, unit, or department level? Where do we find details about the academic commitments that were made when a hiring offer was made—and make sure those commitments are followed up on? How do those in academic offices see, securely, the information that lives partly in HR, partly in a spreadsheet, and partly in the margins of notes made at the time of hire? Lifecycle Management answers these questions by providing a way to safely and securely surface vital information about academic career lifecycles to university leaders. 

As a technology company that prides itself on leading the field in faculty-first technology, it was vital that we continue to innovate our roadmap to deliver platform solutions to large challenges that we hear from our market. At the same time, we know that our current clients want to see investments that continue to expand the product suite to bring more value to their institutions. The majority of initiatives in 2019 were dedicated to the continued improvement of an institution’s experience of our existing platform—and the addition of Lifecycle Management will continue this path by adding a level of administrative transparency, access, and trust to the process of academic advancement and management on your campus. 

Please join us for a free webinar and Q&A about the new Interfolio Lifecycle Management product on Thursday, December 5, 2019.