Providing recommendations and creating initiatives to address barriers to retention
The recommendations below are neither exhaustive nor absolute. They should be considered as a springboard for discussions.
Recommendations for Theme 1. Teaching as Cultural Taxation
- CTET and the Office for Faculty Success are partnering to increase support for faculty teaching culturally taxing courses. Our faculty fellow for inclusive teaching, Dr. Megan Burke, will offer a faculty working group opportunity to provide on the ground support, listening, and resources for faculty teaching these courses. Dr. Burke offered a highly effective funded working group for diverse faculty, and will repeat this offering in spring 2023.
- Where possible, we recommend that deans and chairs work to rotate course assignments for GE courses involving culturally taxing subject matter as well as seminar offerings to provide equitable opportunities for all tenure-line faculty to teach within their areas of specialization.
- Acknowledge the added workload of teaching diversity focused GE courses. With the recent GE reform, some faculty have had these classes reduced from four units to three, which requires them to make up these units with additional courses. Potential ways to reduce this workload increase include hard course caps, and examining CR codes to allow release for culturally taxing courses.
- We recommend that RTP committees recognize in their evaluations the added labor and skill required to teach diversity focused courses. Further, given the added labor for such courses, departments should be judicious with requests for additional course preps, especially when already assigned to teach diversity focused GE courses.
Recommendations for Theme 2. SETE’s as Reinforcing a Customer Service Model
- CTET will offer a yearly Self-Care for SETE’s workshop to help prepare faculty how to read, contextualize, and respond to student comments and ratings. Sessions on avoiding over-utilizing SETE’s will be offered to RTP committees at every level.
- We recommend deans and chairs incentivize usage and dissemination of CTET’s Peer Observation Toolkit to increase reliability and validity of peer observations conducted across schools and departments. CTET is available to offer Schools and Departments a workshop on how to employ this approach.
- Shared governance may wish to consider convening a working group to examine the systematic issues regarding training and preparation for faculty serving on RTP committees, especially as relating to the interpretation of SETE’s and peer observations, particularly with respect to the validity of individual student comments independent of any full class student membership.
Recommendations for Theme 3. Bullying, Lack of Support, Lack of Respect
- To assist with interpersonal conflict and bullying, the AVP for Faculty Success has built partnerships with Deans and Departments and offers voluntary, confidential consultations for faculty. In situations of interpersonal conflict between faculty members or administrators, facilitated conversations are held to understand the scope of the problem, and a plan is developed to improve relations. The faculty member is encouraged to reach out to the Office of Faculty Success for support, and in some instances, matters are referred to additional units such as Academic Personnel, CFA, Police Services, and the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination. The AVP for Faculty Success will also lead sessions on how to identify, respond to, and prevent bullying.
- We encourage shared governance also to convene a working group to study the issue of new faculty mentorship across schools. Specifically, VTA identified anecdotal inconsistencies in the approach across schools and departments to mentorship. The goal should be to set a baseline standard in equitable mentorship opportunities for faculty in all schools. We also recommend rewarding senior faculty for mentoring.
- In departments where formal mentoring opportunities are not available, deans and chairs should take proactive steps to set up structured opportunities for faculty mentorship.
- The VTA grant, with its residual funds, seeks to conduct a pilot of a support group for junior diverse tenure-track faculty. Participants indicated the value of having a confidential space to discuss the concerns highlighted in this report, and creating an ongoing space for that kind of dialogue is appropriate. Anonymous efficacy and impact data will be collected from participants and reported to the provost in hopes of supporting a permanent budget for this capacity.
- Participants also recommend that much more inquiry into the attrition of tenure-track faculty. The Office for Faculty Success now conducts exit interviews with departing tenure track faculty. Factors associated with departure will be described in a report to academic affairs. On a related note, participants expressed departments that have been identified as being successful in retaining faculty of color be given greater priority in forthcoming tenure track hires.
- Although salary and housing is an issue for all faculty, it was still presented as a significant barrier for VTA participants. At a minimum, the division of administration and finance should work to restore the housing options and relocation assistance that were removed.
Recommendations for Theme 4. Workload, Service, and Cultural Taxation
- We recommend that Departments work to revise RTP policies to recognize and honor the merit of culturally representative service to the university. SSU should recognize the perspectives and contributions of diverse faculty in mentoring diverse students, diversifying curriculum, and other activities. Faculty who choose to provide culturally representative service should qualify for credit toward RTP as such activities help to support student success and retention.
- We further recommend that Deans and the Provost take steps to discourage department RTP committees from singling out diverse faculty for culturally taxing roles. These should be at the discretion of individual RTP candidates to pursue or decline as they see fit.
- The AVP for Faculty Success conducted a cultural taxation analysis of each candidate’s WPAF in the 2021-2022 cycle. This involved a careful review of the candidates’ self-assessment, CV, supplemental evidence, and evaluations from the Department, School, Dean, and University RTP levels. The Provost used this analysis to inform her evaluation letters. In instances where cultural taxation was evident, the provost amended the expectations from previous evaluation levels.