The University of Missouri recently implemented its system-wide Faculty Accomplishment System, an electronic database that provides a convenient way for faculty members to document their achievements for themselves and for administrators.
Although use of the FAS is optional for faculty, there is currently a 90 percent participation rate on three campuses and 75 percent on the fourth campus. “We always encourage faculty to use this system, particularly new, pretenure faculty. It’s a nice way to help build a portfolio for tenure,” says Michael Prewitt, vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The information that faculty members include in the FAS is essentially the same information most chairs require faculty to submit annually. The FAS is a more efficient way of doing this, and once the information is in the system it can be used for a variety of purposes such as annual reviews, promotion and tenure, and grant applications.
The following are categories within FAS:
- Student Related Activities—information related to courses, advising, graduate committees, and other teaching activities
- Keywords—words that describe the faculty member’s accomplishments
- Biographical Information and Career Impact—education, work history, and career impact statement
- Extension (Outreach)—for faculty involved in extension activities
- Publications, Conferences/Presentations, and Grants
- Service—community service, club participation, organization involvement, etc.
- Optional Activities—accomplishments that do not fit into other categories that are unique to a particular department
- Professional Development
- Consulting Activities
- Administrative Activities
- Honors and Awards
Faculty members enter their accomplishments under these categories. Each faculty member decides who to grant access to this information for the purpose of generating reports and other departmental uses.
During the course of a long academic career, the FAS will help faculty members keep track of their accomplishments and easily access what they’ve done, which can help in writing grant applications, for example, Prewitt says.
The FAS is intended to get faculty thinking about their goals. “We don’t expect faculty to report on past accomplishments, and that’s it. We certainly want to know about those, but we want to know more about what their plans are for the future over the next four or five years and the strategies they are going to use to get there,” Prewitt says.
Deans typically require department chairs to produce annual reports, and the FAS makes this process easier by providing access to the information that goes into these reports in a single database. The FAS also helps maintain continuity over time within, particularly as new department chairs come in.
Although the FAS has not been used this way yet, Prewitt sees its potential for advocating for administrative budgetary support. “It could be used as evidence to support or leverage more funding, but there’s not any particular way to make that argument in FAS other than using it as complementary information,” Prewitt says.
One FAS feature that has increased participation rates is its flexibility. New categories can be created based on user feedback. For example, there were changes to the types of activities that can be reported based on feedback from humanities and fine arts departments. Also, the system’s flexibility enables administrators to look at the information in whichever way they find useful. For example, administrators could easily create a report on the number of journal publications or number of grants in any department or campus, although Prewitt says that it is not possible or prudent to compare data across departments or institutions. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges,” he says.
Contact Michael Prewitt at PrewittM@missouri.edu.