The 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit made clearer than ever that a digital transformation around online faculty affairs, academic work, and research impact is well under way—everywhere.
The July 2020 virtual event, held over four days, drew over 830 registrants from 369 higher education institutions and research organizations across the globe.
Here’s a look at four compelling themes around modern higher education faculty and technology that emerged:
- The digital Faculty Information System as modern necessity
- Diversity and inclusion in the faculty professional landscape
- Teaching and digital faculty data
- Online faculty work (and flexibility) in higher education
1. The digital Faculty Information System as modern necessity
It was clear from the 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit that faculty affairs professionals today are paying a great deal of attention to the proper role of modern technology in faculty information, workflows, and impact tracking.
“It used to be you spent all available energy just trying to figure out how many faculty there were in the biology department,” said Emory University’s Paul Welty in the opening panel. “Well, now we can answer that question in 30 seconds—and all the rest of that energy can be spent on interesting things… We’re freed from all the tedious work.”
In this kickoff session (“Establishing the Faculty Information System”) the conversation between Nina Seppala, Deputy Director at University College London School of Management; Charlton McIlwain, Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement & Development at New York University; and Paul Welty, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Faculty Affairs at Emory University focused emphatically on how transitioning to a modern online Faculty Information System has contributed to institutional success.
The critical role of the dedicated Faculty Information System was further evident from the lively attendance at the 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit’s many “how-to” sessions.
From “Innovative Uses of Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure” with Alysia Loshbaugh of Tulane University, to “Configuring & Understanding Your University Data” presented by Arizona State University’s Susan Barrett, Lily Roggenkamp, and Katherine Sackman, to many others, it was largely professionals at Interfolio institutions who led these sessions.
Read more on our blog about why Gartner listed Faculty Information Systems as one of the “Top 10 Strategic Technologies Impacting Higher Education in 2020.”
2. Diversity and inclusion in the faculty professional landscape
Across the board, 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit participants affirmed that inclusivity, diversity, and resistance to patterns of unequal treatment are of pressing concern for the higher education faculty affairs community.
A highlight of the entire virtual event was the panel discussion on “Achieving a Diverse and Inclusive Faculty Workforce in the 2020s.” (Watch it here)
Interfolio staff moderators Max Swagler and Shawniece Disney highlighted some concrete data on faculty recruitment that is run through the Interfolio hiring module.
The panel produced a nuanced and open conversation between Genyne H. Boston, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; Christy Pichichero, Associate Professor of French and History and Director of Faculty Diversity for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, and Zulema Valdez, Associate Vice Provost for the Faculty and Professor at University of California, Merced, about the past, present, and future of diversity and inclusion in U.S. higher education.
You can watch the recording of this session here. And for more information about how Interfolio helps, check out our recent post, 3 Practical Resources for a Diverse and Inclusive Faculty Workplace.
3. Teaching and digital faculty data
Faculty teaching responsibilities was another main theme that emerged during these discussions about where academic affairs and modern technologies intersect.
It became evident that when faculty activity data is more systematically tracked and more fully considered, the institution is substantially more equipped to support faculty in their instructional role.
Because of the traditionally major role that publishing research plays in a professor’s job security and advancement, and because of the immediate and more marketable connection between high-profile research and revenue, much development in faculty activity reporting has historically been biased toward research.
Yet, in 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit sessions like “Tracking Faculty Accomplishments to Improve Teaching,” from Andy Goodman of the University of Missouri, attendees expressed great interest in the connection between investment in faculty resources and the institution’s ultimate capacity to deliver quality instruction. Goodman’s session walked users through how to make use of the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module to support faculty professional development around teaching.
4. Online faculty work (and flexibility) in higher education
The fourth and final major theme we’ll note here from the 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit was that of agility.
Across the board, it was clear that the pandemic circumstances have produced very different outcomes depending upon how fully an institution is set up to conduct online faculty affairs, and how they manage change.
In a number of sessions, including “Enterprise-wide Change Management: Creating Engagement & Buy-in” with UCLA’s Erika Chau, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Personnel, and Penn’s Rob Nelson, Executive Director for Academic Technology & Planning, attendees heard specifically what role various Interfolio modules played in COVID-19 business continuity.
In “Fostering Success in Decentralized Environments”—featuring Penn’s Julie Orts, Senior Business Systems Analyst, and Michelle Kenney Shears, Associate Director of Faculty Affairs, as well as Yale’s Audrey Bribiescas, Faculty Services Manager and Pam Bosward, Assistant Director of Faculty Affairs—we heard more about how to check in and remain nimble around technology usage throughout the year.
And in “Best Practices for Communicating, Training, and Supporting Your Campus,” Doris Ng of University of Washington School of Medicine addressed both the conceptual importance of thoughtful user support on campus, and the nitty-gritty tactics like which email templates to create.
To learn more about Interfolio’s recommendations for making a rapid transition to online faculty evaluations, download our free eBook here.
We’re very grateful to our presenters for their valuable insights and to the thoughtful participation of our hundreds of attendees. Ask us about the 2020 Interfolio Virtual Summit here, and keep an eye out for our 2021 Summit next summer!