Stating the obvious

In addition to inquiry, a second means available to you in your quest to enhance educational mission accomplishment through faculty development is investment. This should be obvious, but you know as well as I how easily we cave on investing in faculty development when budget crunch time comes around.

Resource allocation is a key effectiveness tool

Peter Drucker’s business executive insight is applicable as well to educational leaders: effective leaders focus more on resource allocation than on solving problems. You may believe you have few resources to allocate or that you are powerless to allocate resources, but that is not the case. Don’t make the mistake of exclusively equating resources with funds.

You have more resources than you think

You may have little to allocate in terms of funds but you can nevertheless allocate meaningful resources toward the career development of your faculty by (a) connecting your faculty members to persons and entities that are eager and able to invest in them; and (b) allowing them time to pursue such connections. Some of my greatest professional growth has come through opportunities to share individually and in the community of professional peers. That, by the way, includes participation on accreditation evaluation visit teams! Do all you can to encourage, make introductions, and make allowances for such connections.

Development is an investment, not an expense

When it comes to allocating financial resources toward faculty development, I admit you likely have an uphill battle. Not only may you face actual scarcity, you are more likely confronted with others’ lack of imagination and failure to grasp that funds spent on professional development represent an investment, not an expense. Secular corporations understand this. They invest, on average, 5-10% of their operating budget on employee training and development. Why do we not do the same? Because we do not believe the resources are available and we do not believe they will pay dividends. But they are available and they will pay dividends!

Begin by taking inventory

If you have not already, start by taking inventory of all current faculty career and professional development investments your institution makes annually. Such investments would include payment or subsidy for: academic book purchases; journal subscriptions; conference registration and travel allowances; professional/scholarly organization membership dues; sabbatical/study leave; loans or grants for advanced study; and so on. While you are at it, don’t forget allocations of time and opportunity to build and expand professional connections.

Just keeping track of such investments will have its own effect. You measure what you value and you value what you measure. Once you have, however roughly, quantified your present resource allocation on behalf of faculty professional growth and career development, set a modest goal to increase it and track those increases year by year. A percentage allocation goal is one you can achieve regardless of your institution’s financial scale.

Baby steps are better than inertia

When I started this practice at my former institution some years ago, I was chagrined to learn that the total annual institutional investment in professional and scholarly development amounted to less than one-half of one percent of our operating budget. It was an amount of which you may well be envious, but it was a paltry token of our purported convictions regarding the importance of faculty development. Now that we had at least a rough measure of annual professional development investment, however, we set a goal to double our annual investment to one percent and we worked hard over a period of several years in order to achieve it. Not surprisingly, we met challenge and resistance when budget reconciliation crunch time came around.

In the end, few truly believe professional development is an investment. But you must insist and persist. Otherwise, coaching faculty is unlikely to amount to more than mere lip service.

Manner and means

The preferred manner of faculty development is coaching. Two essential means of faculty development are inquiry and investment.

But what should be the substance of faculty development? Let’s take that up next time.


Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …

Ten reasons taxpayers should defund Planned Parenthood

You probably don’t need persuading, but this litany of Planned Parenthood’s outrages compiled by Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Joe Carter should remove any residue of reluctance about ridding our culture of this murderous scourge. If we allow the funding to continue, how can we escape the verdict that we have blood on our hands?


Transgender: really a move to abolish gender?

This Anglican theologian is onto something. The social landslide to include transgender people in the equal rights catalog is motivated by a deeper instinct to abolish gender altogether, what the late Francis Schaeffer would recognize as another desperate and determined attempt to stake out human autonomy from the Creator. It is a move that may backfire politically but will certainly backfire culturally. After all, autonomy is not only inconsistent with truth, it won’t work in a world God created. We need not panic, just walk in truth and grace.