Valuing Faculty - Redefining what counts
DAVID A. MORTON, PH.D., M.S. Associate Professor (Lecturer), Neurobiology and Anatomy
“People ask if having a non-tenure track position makes me nervous. But I’m not too concerned. If a professor excels in education, scholarly activity and service, that’s the highest form of job security there is.”
ON TENURE TRACK OBSTACLES: “Grant funding is a key element in the tenure process. My scholarly activity deals with educational research, and funding in education is not very robust.”
ON CURRICULUM REFORM: “Every national meeting I attend includes presentations on the movement away from lecture and toward student-focused education. But I rarely hear discussions on what it really means to be an engaging teacher.”
ADVICE FOR NEW INSTRUCTORS: “Find mentors and seek out their counsel. They can help point your career in the right direction.”
LOUISA A. STARK, PH.D. Research Associate Professor, Human Genetics; Director, Genetic Science Learning Center
Innovation in education should be recognized as scholarship and counted toward tenure, just as innovation in scientific research is recognized and counted.”
ON WHY TENURE MATTERS: “As I apply to new funding agencies, I worry about how I’ll be perceived in terms of my qualifications, my likelihood of being retained, and institutional support for my work.”
ON THE VALUE OF MIDDLE AUTHORS: “Today’s science is a team sport. We need to move beyond the current tenure model where only first and last authorship on a paper counts, and the people listed in between don’t get credit in terms of recognition or advancement.”
ADVICE TO YOUNG FACULTY: “Find your passion! Keep exploring and trying out options until you find the work that synergistically brings your talents and skills together in ways that excite your imagination and creativity. Your passion will inspire, motivate and sustain you through the inevitable ups and downs of any career or work environment.”
YDA J. SMITH, PH.D., OTR/L Assistant Professor (Clinical), Occupational Therapy
“Achieving tenure is not a priority if it limits my ability to follow my heart and fulfill my visions of best practice in education and community work.”
ON TENURE TRACK OBSTACLES: “Community-based work doesn’t easily translate into the required components of the tenure process, and it leaves limited time for research, publishing and grant funding.”
BIGGEST CAREER DREAM: “To demonstrate, at a national and international level, the value of occupational therapy in the field of refugee resettlement, and to create systemic change in OT education and career opportunities.”
ON EXPANDING THE DEFINITION OF TENURE: “Scholarship takes many forms and is too narrowly defined by university systems. Skill, experience, dedication, creativity, critical thinking and impact should all factor in.”
NADIA MINICLIER COBB, M.S., PA-C Assistant Professor (Clinical), Family and Preventive Medicine, Utah Director of Collaboration with the College of Health, Ghana
“I don’t think that having tenure would add anything to my work. If anything, it could narrow and potentially stifle it.”
ON MAKING TENURE MORE RELEVANT: “If there were new ways of protecting academic freedom that weren’t focused primarily on publications, grants and citations, but on interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation in teaching, then I’d be interested in pursuing tenure.”
ON LEARNING COMMUNITIES AS SCHOLARSHIP: “Scholarship should be expanded to include the development of ‘learning communities,’ where faculty and students work together across disciplines, education levels and traditional academic boundaries.”
ON THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL HEALTH: “It’s inspiring to be a part of a growing global wave in which the ‘non-physician clinician’ is being seen by agencies like the World Health Organization as a key solution to the health care shortages our world is facing.”
FLORY NKOY, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. Research Associate Professor, Pediatrics; Research Director for the Division of Pediatric Inpatient Medicine
“I don’t want to scramble to publish on less exciting projects just to beat the tenure clock, at the expense of developing a solid asthma care program.”
ADVICE TO YOUNG FACULTY: “Don’t seek recognition or success as your primary goal. Instead, be humble, teachable and persistent. Recognition and success are the natural consequence of your efforts.”
ON THE ISSUE OF VOTING RIGHTS: “Even though I don’t have an official ‘voice’ in academic affairs, I think my voice is better heard through my contributions to the University and research accomplishments.”
ON QUALITY IMPROVEMENT SCHOLARSHIP AS SCIENCE: “Standard QI is not scholarship, but implementation and dissemination science, which seeks to understand the mechanism by which a new intervention is effectively translated into practice, is a growing field of research—and it should be included in the definition of scholarship.”
After hosting 39 focus groups attended by more than 300 faculty members this past year, the Retention, Promotion, and Tenure Statements Revision Committee gained plenty of perspective and some good targets. Here are five critical themes that informed their revised guidelines.
Five Critical Themes
Value scholarship related to all of our missions (clinical care, education and research).
Recognize that the hallmark of scholarship is dissemination (which extends beyond peer-reviewed journals) and impact.
Be inclusive and open to new forms of scholarship as they develop, including health services and implementation science, global health, technology, commercialization and innovation, sustainability, inclusion, advocacy, community engagement and quality improvement.
Recognize individual excellence from many clinicians and scientists in the context of team-based science, not just first authors and principal investigators. Develop new metrics to recognize vital contributions that middle authors and co-investigators often make in driving science forward. Broaden the opportunities for non-tenure-track clinical faculty to engage in and support investigation.