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  March 27, 2000

Professional Development Services
for Faculty Now Available

After several years of reading promotion, tenure and reappointment files, Vice Provosts Bob Smith and Susan Steele concluded that there was a need for more services to support faculty development and that the University needed to adopt a coordinated approach.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education and the Office of Undergraduate Education and Instruction have responded by putting in place and coordinating a number of support services.

The following document, provided to the Advance by Smith and Steele, outlines the professional development services the two vice provosts have identified as necessary and which of these services each unit now offers in response to perceived needs.

"The support services we identify are in place now," says Steele, "and we would like faculty to know that they're available and are a package, not just scattered offerings."

Smith and Steele invite faculty and others to respond to the document via e-mail: or or by calling Smith at (860) 486-3621 or Steele at (860) 486-5019.

In past years at the University of Connecticut, the development of faculty members, encompassing the role of the individual, his/her mentors and the institution, has not been well codified. The purpose of this document is to affirm the university's responsibili ty to the development of faculty members and graduate students, to list the types of developmental support available, and to improve the understanding by new faculty members of the expectations for continued growth.

Four Populations
The development model identifies four distinct populations, the full range of which is a fundamental attribute of research universities: untenured tenure-track faculty members, post-tenure faculty members, graduate students, and non-tenure track faculty, both temporary and long-term. In one respect, this is still a simplification, since the post-tenure stage for a faculty member is by no means a steady state, comprising many changes and potentially one major promotion.

Untenured Tenure-Track Faculty Members: The years between entry and tenure are devoted primarily to

establishing scholarly credentials through a national reputation for outstanding research and a campus reputation for superb instruction. Although service obligations are generally secondary, the untenured tenure-track faculty member should not ignore the possibility of making important contributions to the health of the departmental and university communities, as well as to their disciplines.

Post-Tenure Faculty Members: The University recognizes that there can be an ebb and flow to a faculty member's career. Thus, while individual excellence in teaching and research remains essential, the roles of individual tenured faculty members within the departmental obligations may be differentiated and may change over time, as negotiated with the department head in collaboration with the dean. Critical always to a research university is the necessity of creative activity and of making the results of the creative activity widely known, regardless of the faculty member's role.

Non-Tenure Track Faculty Members, Adjuncts and Temporary Faculty Members: Many UConn departments hire on a temporary basis individuals to teach one or more courses; many also depend on individuals with long-term but not tenurable contracts. Because of their instructional role, it is critical that these individuals understand our institution, its expectations and its policies.

Graduate Students: Many graduate students resemble untenured faculty members in that they must develop promise in both research and instruction. However, while their research potential can be nurtured one-on-one, at least at the beginning of their graduate work, many graduate students also serve a very public instructional role. It is incumbent upon the university community, therefore, to prepare them for both their present and future responsibilities.

Institutional Structures for Support
The departments, the colleges or schools and the central administration are jointly responsible to members of the four populations identified above for the construction of effective support and the evaluation of progress. Just as important, however, is what the individual brings to the process. In other words, faculty members and graduate students must be proactive members of a team - deeply interested in their own success toward tenure and promotion.

Although we believe that each department should have a plan to provide guidance and mentoring to untenured faculty, to support the continued vitality of post-tenure faculty members, and to integrate adjuncts and temporary faculty into departmental culture, we focus here on the institutional support structures for these three populations. The support provided for untenured tenure-track faculty members is necessarily the most elaborate, because of the demands of the tenure cycle. Central support includes the following:

  • The central administration will offer an orientation session for all new faculty members, introducing them to the available resources, as well as to some of the issues they face. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education will annually offer a series of workshops on scholarly writing and grantsmanship, aimed specifically at honing the skills of new faculty members.

  • The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education will assist in the development of extramural support for graduate assistantships and fellowships, endowed professorships, faculty fellowships, joint research grants, exhibit and artistic performance opportunities, and patenting and licensing agreements, when mutual benefit can be derived without compromising UConn's dedication to intellectual integrity and autonomy.

  • The Institute for Teaching and Learning will assist in the development of education, instructional and evaluative proposals to be submitted to external granting agencies.

  • The Institute for Teaching and Learning will annually offer workshops that will include topics such as the development of teaching portfolios, understanding student ratings, assessment procedures and classroom management.

  • The Institute for Teaching and Learning will, upon request, work confidentially with individual untenured faculty members to assess their teaching strengths and weaknesses, to develop a plan to improve their teaching, to develop documentation of progress, and to guide them to institutional resources for instruction.

  • The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education and the Institute for Teaching and Learning, in addition, will work with departments as requested to construct departmental development structures for untenured faculty.

The structures described in all but the first of these paragraphs are also available to tenured faculty members. In addition, adjuncts and temporary faculty should be included in the new faculty orientation, as should newly hired non-tenure track faculty members. The Institute for Teaching and Learning will offer a workshop at the beginning of each semester for adjuncts and temporary faculty on syllabus construction, classroom management and instructional methodology.

The department and the faculty advisors are best placed to support a graduate student's development in research. The Office of the Dean of the Graduate School is willing to assist departments and faculty advisors in how best this can be accomplished. Also, the Graduate School will offer workshops and seminars on scholarly writing and grantsmanship, open to graduate students.

A collaboration between the department and the Institute for Teaching and Learning supports instructional development for graduate students. The instructional roles assumed by graduate students are varied, but fall into four general categories: instructional support without direct student contact (e.g. graders); instructional support with direct student contact (e.g. laboratory assistants); secondary instructional responsibility (e.g. laboratory or discussion leader); and primary instructional responsibility.

  1. From Fall 2001, the University is obligated to provide instructional training for all graduate students who have instructional responsibili ty or provide instructional support with direct student contact. In collaboration with the Institute for Teaching and Learning, departments may construct their own training program; they may also use the training program offered by the Institute; or they may elect a combination of both.

  2. Any graduate assistant with direct student contact must be proficient in written and spoken English, as ensured through compliance with the international teaching assistant policies.

Evaluation & Documentation
Documenting an untenured faculty member's progress in achieving excellence in research and instruction is essential to the success of the process. Research documentation is provided through an enumeration and assessment of publications, public presentations and grants acquisition. The central issue for the documentation of research is to ensure that the departmental review involves a measure of the quality of the work and the faculty member's promise rather than a simple enumeration of faculty member's research activities.

Good documentation of effective instruction is a work in progress. Too often a set of sometimes sporadically collected student course evaluations is the only evidence offered. While good student feedback from the course evaluation process is important to improving instructional quality, it alone does not constitute a summative evaluation. Documentation of effective instruction requires a more complete picture, accompanied by some form of evaluation.

Robert Smith
Vice Provost for Research and Graduate
Education & Dean of the Graduate School
Susan Steele
Vice Provost for Undergraduate
Education & Instruction