Faculty Evaluations

patricia bowne pbowne at execpc.com
Thu Feb 22 20:23:49 EST 2001

I'm not sure what you both mean by 'corporate model.' Where
I work we have annual evaluations for faculty, which involve
reviewing the work of the past year, setting goals for the coming
year, and planning strategies to meet those goals. For example,
as chair I might meet with a faculty member approaching continuous
appointment or promotion time and go over the criteria, where
said faculty member had met the criteria, where s/he needed to
meet them, and what kinds of departmental activities would help
him/her meet them. Evaluation is also the time when we discuss
upcoming teaching schedules, sabbatical proposals, administrative
appointments, planned projects, and so on.

I think this is a far better system than just letting people go along
on their own with no formal feedback, and then socking it to them
at a tenure or promotion review. This way, the faculty member has
a written evaluation signed by the division chair for every year
of employment. That makes it more than just the faculty member's
word if s/he claims, for instance, that s/he was denied promotion 
for something that was never identified as a problem.

What Janet describes seems less useful, but more because the
criteria are biased against women than because of the evaluation
system. Our system is based on criteria which were unanimously
agreed upon by the faculty, and while I think there are some
problems with them bias against women is not one, IMO.

Her description of basing merit pay on evaluations sounds horrible
to me, from an administrative perspective. You can't both expect
people to do honest self-evaluations and accept honest criticism,
and make their pay raises dependent on what is in their
evaluations. If all you're doing is counting publication pages, 
I suppose this could work, but it reduces academic responsibility to
too few areas in my mind. If that's what you mean by 'corporate,'
I'll join you in deploring it. 

But as far as the concept of open
discussion of goals and open evaluation of how well one met those
goals, I think that is the least an institution should be able to
expect from its faculty, and the least a faculty member should
expect from his/her institution.

Pat Bowne


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