Aligning faculty development
In this present blog post series, I have been writing about the central executive leadership responsibility of alignment: ensuring that the institution and its resources are aligned with its mission and vision. Specifically, I have been writing about the critical need to ensure that your faculty is selected, retained, developed, and rewarded in full alignment with your institution’s biblical higher education mission and values.
I believe an educational institution’s missional success ultimately depends, not on its executive leadership, but on its faculty.
The shortest route to curricular improvement
Thus far in my six previous posts on this subject, I have been proposing a set of criteria for faculty selection and, by implication, retention. I now want to shift to the matters of faculty development and one of its key levers: rewards. The practices you reward are the practices you will institutionalize.
As my good friend and colleague, Robert Ferris, puts it, “Faculty development is the shortest route to curricular improvement.” Simply put, if you wish to improve your institution’s educational outcomes, invest in the improvement of your faculty.
Hiring is the doorway to development
Faculty development should flow directly from your faculty hiring process. When you have applied the criteria I have recommended, concluded your screening and interviewing process, and made a decision to employ a particular individual to join your faculty, you are not finished. You have merely crossed the threshold from faculty hiring to faculty development. No faculty member, regardless the resume, arrives on your campus without gaps in their preparation and fit for the role they will play in your institution. Thus, your letter of employment should include a set of mutual commitments to orientation and development.
Here are some examples of new faculty member developmental expectations we established in my former work as an institutional educational leader:
- All new faculty members would be assigned a peer mentor who would foster their relational and professional assimilation into our institution.
- In addition to a 1-2 day pre-school year orientation program, all new faculty members would be obligated to participate in a monthly, year-long faculty orientation cohort in which senior peers and institutional leaders would address in greater depth the institution’s biblical higher education philosophy and institutional core values. An anthology of pertinent documents and articles was assembled as required pre-session reading. First year teaching loads were adjusted downward in order to compensate for this requirement.
- In rare cases where we employed a faculty member who had not previously completed formal biblical/theological studies, a first developmental priority would be the completion of a post-baccalaureate certificate or degree in biblical/theological studies.
- If the new faculty member did not have significant previous cross-cultural experience, priority would be given to ensuring the opportunity for the new faculty member to gain such experience.
- Any other academic qualification or developmental deficits were noted and funding, achievement, and time allocation commitments were made for their expeditious resolution.
Evaluation: development fuel
Beyond this initial inventory of developmental priorities, sufficiently comprehensive and formative faculty evaluation should provide the opportunity to reassess developmental needs on a regular and ongoing basis. Your objective is an institutional culture in which every team member—including yourself—has identified improvement needs and established an agenda for addressing them. Now that’s a winning strategy.
To be continued …
Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …
You think 2016 was tumultuous and revolutionary? The year now closing will prove less consequential compared to 2007, writes observer John Naughton. That was the year the pace of technological change and the scope of global dissemination of incessant connectivity eclipsed our capacity to adapt such that people around the world live in a constant state of anxiety.
ABHE Senior Fellow Scott Rodin offers a thoughtful call to our responsibilities to live as stewards in a time when truth is up for grabs. Check it out. It’s worth a read and then some serious reflection.