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February 24, 2014

As you know, we have spent considerable focus this year on the information and data we collected in 2012-2013 from the climate, engagement and COACHE surveys. This is a handy venue to provide a short update about where we stand in our efforts to address key issues identified in this wealth of data.

We spent most of the fall semester sharing the data from the COACHE, the climate and the engagement surveys. We did this sharing with the deans, the chairs and directors, in town hall meetings, and in each of the colleges. This effort was a key strategy to communicate widely our findings. 

We still have more data to share, however, because we are just finishing up the analysis of the data for full-time, non-tenure track faculty. We hope to have this completed and results shared in March. 

In our findings to date, we found that there were three areas where we needed to make improvements at the university level:

  1. Providing more clarity and support for associate professors wanting to be promoted to full professor;
  2. Improve the clarity for tenure process; and
  3. Find ways to address concerns about appreciation and recognition. 

By the way, you can find the presentation we used at the university level to share this information on my website, . There you will also find the COACHE Provost Report, under Priorities/Faculty and Staff Success/COACHE Project.

I believe significant progress has been made in the first two items. Regarding item #1, I have proposed some clarifying language for promotion to full professor that hopefully will provoke a discussion across campus but particularly with academic senate. You can read my thought paper , which I shared in January, on my website. Its purpose is to provide greater flexibility for faculty seeking promotion without undermining the standards of excellence already embedded in policy E6.0. In addition, I am asking the deans to lead discussions with the department chairs and their college faculty about what mechanisms they want in place to provide support and guidance to faculty seeking promotion. Some of the ideas already floating to the surface are having the candidates develop plans to achieve promotion and annual conversations between the chair and the candidate about progress towards promotion. In some cases, resources will be needed and we are discussing those as well. I hope to provide a summary of our work on promotion clarity towards the end of the semester.

Regarding item #2, the academic senate is close to approving a new version of E5.0, the RIT policy that establishes university criteria and processes for tenure (and promotion to the associate professor rank). As many of you know, the effort to improve E5.0 has taken time but does fundamentally improve clarity and introduces long-needed family care provisions. I'm proud of the way this revision is emerging and the thoughtfulness of the discussion. My thanks go to the faculty affairs committee and to the senators who have worked hard to keep their constituents informed. 

Finally, while we have addressed some ideas regarding item #3, I am hoping this posting generates some email to help guide us further in acknowledging and recognizing the great work of our faculty and staff. From my discussions with deans, chairs and departments I've visited, it is not so much about awards but more about really understanding the work being done and thanking people for their contributions. There is more work we need to be doing to value the work of our non-tenure track faculty and that is one reason I am interested in having a senior lecturer help me in the role of a faculty associate. A faculty associate for non-tenure track faculty could lead an advisory group of NTT faculty, much like Marcos Esterman is doing for AALANA faculty. I believe the insights would be invaluable. 

I cannot emphasize enough how appreciative President Destler and I are for tremendous contributions our faculty and staff are making. The information we are gathering from these surveys and from our follow up tells us that there are good issues to celebrate but also that there are real issues to make improvements. I want you all to know that we are listening!