It may be impossible to eliminate all stress from faculty annual and tenure reviews, but that doesn’t mean the review process should be an ordeal.
In fact, when you have the right online system for conducting faculty reviews, the evaluation process can be a pleasure for all parties concerned: faculty, committees, and administrators.
During a recent Interfolio webinar, we heard from guests who shared just how much of a difference the right faculty evaluation platform makes.
From Pained Expressions to Pleasant Convenience
At the University of North Carolina (UNC) Pembroke, the only research their scholars dreaded was reviewing the massive binders for tenure and promotion review.
“The binders were stored in a coffee room down the hall from me, and faculty would have to come up during business hours Monday through Friday and sit in this tiny little room outside my office and pore over these huge binders,” explained Scott Billingsley, the Associate Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UNC Pembroke.
“I could just see the pain on their faces every time I walked through there,” he said.
In response to damages to paper records caused by a hurricane, UNC Pembroke switched in 2019 to using the online Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure module for annual reviews, promotions, tenure review, post-tenure review, and faculty awards.
Since then, faculty members, committee members, and administrators have been able to work on reviews anytime and anywhere with an Internet connection, including at home.
“Being able to connect to the review platform anywhere there’s Internet is great for everybody, especially all the reviewers on a committee,” said Aaron Vandermeer, the Interfolio Administrator for UNC Pembroke.
Thanks to the platform, Scott added, committee work is much more efficient and more productive, with committee members able to carry out review tasks from home.
The convenience of an online platform has also made for a lighter load and easier review process at East Stroudsburg University, which also adopted the Interfolio module in 2019.
“Historically, we would put together physical review binders that were extremely thick and hard to handle—we’re talking hundreds of files,” said William Bajor, Director of Graduate and Extended Studies at East Stroudsburg.
“Now, with Interfolio, we have digital portfolios that are a breeze. Faculty members can submit what they like, and uploading portfolio files is as easy as sending an email with an attachment. While reviewing files is as easy as reading your email,” William explained.
An Online Faculty Evaluation System Enables a Calmer Pace and Clarity
The switch to Interfolio’s online module also helped UNC Pembroke go from an aggressive review timeline to a leisurely paced review cycle.
“We had an impossible timeline, which didn’t provide all the different reviewing bodies enough time to read the portfolios,” Aaron explained. “Now, with Interfolio, our department chairs and peer evaluation committees can evaluate portfolios at the same time as one another, saving us four weeks in our timeline. So, it really helped space things out and give people more time and flexibility.”
Likewise, at East Stroudsburg University, their use of Interfolio’s Review, Promotion & Tenure module for all faculty reviews has made for a “less stressful review experience,” said Rob Smith, Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Assessment.
The module has especially helped East Stroudsburg achieve their goal of clearly communicating to faculty the steps and requirements of the review process.
As William Bajor explained, “The module is a reliable central hub that faculty can access to understand what’s needed for annual renewals, five-year reviews, applications for promotion and tenure, etc.”
This clarity is critical, William said, because “if faculty don’t know how they’re going to be assessed and valued, you run the risk of great talent leaving the institution.”
An Online Faculty Evaluation System is Easy to Administer and Enables Consistency
Interfolio has made reviews easier not only for faculty members and committees but also the administrators who oversee reviews on the Interfolio platform.
For both UNC Pembroke and East Stroudsburg University, launching and operating their new online approach proved straightforward.
“Once you get your review workflows established, administering the module is not much work, requiring only a quarter to a half of a full-time employee’s time,” said Aaron.
East Stroudsburg has had a similar experience: “You don’t need many individuals to launch the new system and get it working well,” William said.
Administrators can also make changes to the platform across any connected device. This feature came in handy for Rob Smith at East Stroudsburg when he was able to quickly fix an issue by accessing the platform via his phone.
In addition to the platform’s ease of use and convenience, the administrators appreciate how it has standardized review processes across various colleges and departments at their institutions.
“We have much greater consistency now across four different colleges within our university,” Aaron at UNC Pembroke explained.
For East Stroudsburg as well, Interfolio has “brought a very nice standardization to the campus that we did not have before,” Rob Smith said.
This standardization will enable both institutions to collect data that will help inform faculty development.
“As we collect more data with each year, we’re going to have a much better understanding of ways to help develop faculty members,” Aaron said.
Ready to Reduce the Stress of Reviews?
If you’re interested in helping your faculty, committee members, and administrators enjoy a more convenient, calm, clear, and consistent review experience, please contact us, and we can give you a demonstration of the Interfolio platform.