- 1 Faculty
- 2 Faculty issues and concerns
- 3 Standards
- 4 Supporting Documentation
The faculty members at the college – the backgrounds they bring to teaching, their understanding of learning, their commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and their skills to do such teaching – are at the heart of the our academic success. All of these elements intertwine as faculty members enter into relationships with teaching partners, students and the material they intend to investigate in their programs. Thus to teach at Evergreen is not only an academic experience but also deeply relational.
The most powerful learning within an interdisciplinary curriculum comes only in part from the range of area of studies included; it is in the act of inquiry into matters where members have a stake in the ideas - the basis for reflexive thinking - that members draw together historical (from academic disciplines) and current (from public life) perspectives into more integrated learning. Interdisciplinary teaching rests, simultaneously, on active inquiry with colleagues and students, and ongoing planning and refinement of their programs.
Teaching, like all learning, is based in a capacity for reflexive thought. In the process of teaching faculty members change what they know and how they think; their interdisciplinary and disciplinary knowledge and insight expand, and their skills of inquiry sharpen. By its nature, interdisciplinary teaching invites faculty members into unfamiliar areas of study. It can lead to unexpected and surprising new learning. Students make it abundantly clear, in their evaluations of their own learning, that faculty members who are similarly engaged in genuine inquiry are key to their learning.
Faculty issues and concerns
There are a number of conditions present within the faculty that today provide sources of creativity as well as strain. Two stand out for special attention. First, we are a very different faculty group from who we were at our last reaccreditation. Close to fifty percent of our current faculty members have been hired in the last ten years; an addition fifteen percent have been here for 15 years or less; and the remainder have taught at the college since its earlier years. Many of the faculty in this latter group will be retiring within the next five years.
The current faculty has a different disciplinary distribution than at our last review. Most notably we have hired more faculty members for our professional graduate and undergraduate programs; we have fewer faculty members in the humanities (21% of the faculty in 2005, down from 25% in 1997) and greater numbers in the sciences ( 35% in 2005, up from 26% in 1997). The following shows the number of faculty members hired and those that retired by planning unit over the last ten years.
The change in demographics among the faculty has had a direct effected on curricular offerings, as well as approaches to pedagogy and epistemology. These changes can be viewed in a variety of ways. For some, they are an unsurprising change in student interest and academic priorities in higher education. But we should also consider how these changes affect our ability to do interdisciplinary studies.
There are other interesting demographic changes that help tell the story of the current faculty members at the college. The regular faculty has grown by 6% since 1997 – from 153 to close to 180. 51% of our faculty members are women, 49% males. And 23% are persons of color. In terms of age distribution, the following shows numbers and percentage (based on 180 regular faculty members in spring of 2007) in five major age categories.
|Age Range||Number of faculty||Percentage of faculty|
|30 - 39||22||12%|
|50 – 59||64||35%|
|60 – 69||52||28%|
|70 – 79||1|
There are interesting observations to make about these numbers. The majority of our faculty members are mid-career; we have a very small percentage in their 30s. With almost 60% 50 or older we must expect continued high rates of retirement and hiring over the next 10 to 15 years. This will make our processes of socialization and orientation to the college a very high priority for us.
In the spring of 2007, the faculty included those with as much as 33 years of teaching at the college to those in their first year. 49% of the faculty have been here for ten years or less, 21% for five years or less. 32% have been here between ten and twenty years.
|Years of teaching at TESC||Number of faculty||Percentage of faculty|
|1 – 5 years||38||21%|
|6 – 10 years||51||28%|
|11 – 15 years||26||14%|
|16 – 20 years||34||18%|
|21 – 25 years||14||7%|
|26 – 30 years||6||3%|
|31 – 33 years||11||6%|
A second important condition effecting faculty teaching is the increase in our faculty to student ratio largely as a result of state funding. The actual classroom ratio is 25 to 1, although the majority of faculty tend to carry something closer to FTE when sponsoring contracts is added to the mix. We have also had a significant change in the length of programs. In 1998 …….were three quarters and now only ….. programs are year long. [Matt has these numbers] Thus within a single year, a typical faculty member is interacting for shorter periods of time with twice as many students as was the case ten years ago. This poses serious tensions and constraints for the faculty attempting to create the conditions for engagement and complex learning.
For many faculty members, we have reached or exceeded a tipping point in being able to include activities that require close faculty involvement (e.g. responding to student writing, amount of time faculty members can spend one-on-one with students, time for faculty seminar, evaluation conferences). For those faculty members who include studio, field research and lab work, many feel they can’t teach in programs with more than 50 students, thus we have seen a pattern of more two-person teaching teams and a more narrow academic breadth. This pattern is having a direct impact on our ability to provide well-integrated, interdisciplinary programs.
These two factors exert enormous influence on the faculty’s decisions about program content and approach. But there are other forces that need mention:
- We have planned programs for the last ten years within our most traditionally defined planning structures (e.g. Environmental Studies, Expressive Arts, Scientific Inquiry). Many faculty members are experiencing unintended consequences of that structure: a fracturing of the curriculum in more traditional ways and a centrifugal force that seems to pull faculty members back into their disciplinary origins.
- The orientation of new faculty members had rested with their first teaching partners. We had been able to assume that most of what a new faculty member needed to know would be addressed in the course of team teaching. But many new faculty members report that it is very difficult to get information (e.g. narrative evaluations) from team members on our most basic processes. This may reflect any number of problems – a heavy work load among teaching partners, an inattention by the faculty (and deans) as a whole to ongoing articulation of key values and practices, and movements away from what we assumed were well established practices (here a change in pedagogy).
The faculty as a whole has much more work it must do collectively not only for the overall guidance of the college but also for the assimilation of new members. The intensity (and some would say isolation) of teaching partners has to be balanced by broader deliberations by the faculty on matters of both principles and practices.
Such a change requires us to be much more deliberate and mindful of our common work. We have been informal and varied in our approach to welcoming new faculty members as well as in our processes as a faculty. These changes call for a more broad-based and integrated discussion among the faculty. To that end, faculty development is now a major desk assignment for all the deans who work to urge more faculty discussion.
- We have a younger faculty attracted to teach at Evergreen because of the autonomy and collegiality of teaching, and less so because of an interest in educational reform. Many of the original faculty were seasoned in the protests on college campuses in the 1960s. The planning faculty settled on interdisciplinary studies as our pedagogical innovation as both more educationally sound and better suited to develop the insights and skills useful for participation in a democratic society. In other words, Evergreen was meant to be a better and more civic-minded education.
- One of the manifestations of this change is a heightened concern by faculty members to stay well connected to their “fields.” Many express difficulty in teaching broadly, as they understand interdisciplinary to mean, and being able to focus on the details they know are key to specific areas. This tension is partially a reflection of the faculty members; but it must also be recognized as a change that has happened within disciplines and departments over the last decades. In graduate study today there are more “disciplines,” and with greater amounts of content to be mastered. And, as noted above, more recent graduates did not complete their studies within the same critical framework as did many of the original faculty at the college. In other words, we may be seeing a change in the relationship our faculty has with their original academic preparation. This may be bearing on what they find pertinent and of interest in teaching.
- The current negotiation for a faculty union must also be seen as a fundamental change in the relationship – actual and assumed – between the faculty and the administration. While negotiating for higher salaries is assumed to be a key incentive to form a union, many faculty members are also interested in having faculty authority established through a legal contract rather than presuming collaboration with the administration
4.A Faculty selection, Evaluation, Roles, Welfare and Development
All of the practices discussed in this section are done collaboratively, calling on the involvement and judgment of many members of the college. Our primary goal, throughout the following institutional processes, is to deepen the interdisciplinary understanding and sensibilities of our faculty: recruitment and selection of faculty members; the orientation and support provided in their first years in both their teaching assignments and development opportunities; their participation in the planning and teaching of the curriculum; on going and extensive review and evaluation of their teaching; governance and scholarly work; and their involvement on ongoing faculty development events. It is in both whom we hire and then the conditions within which they work that we sustain a faculty capable of the challenge of providing an innovative liberal arts and interdisciplinary education for students.
The institution employs professionally qualified faculty with primary commitment to the institution and representative of each field or program in which it offers major work.
The Provost is the faculty hiring authority, and delegates the coordination of that process to an academic dean. That dean, informally known as the “Hiring Dean” works in partnership with the Faculty Hiring Coordinator. They are responsible for implementing the college’s policy regarding the qualifications and experiences determined for each position.
The Hiring Dean works with the Curriculum deans and Hiring Priorities DTF members (representatives from all the curricular planning units) to select positions necessary for a comprehensive curriculum. The process for determining required qualifications is consultative involving Provost, deans, and faculty members in the field. They determine the requirements for each position based on their best judgment of an expected applicant pool, and the particular background and experiences necessary for each position. Thus our qualifications can vary from position to position [http://www.evergreen.edu/facultyhiring/regular.htm] Our usual qualifications, unless there are other considerations, are the following:
- Terminal degree
- College teaching experience
- Interdisciplinary teaching and/or research
- Intellectual and artistic vitality
Common “desirable” qualifications often include:
- Work with underrepresented student populations
- Work with community organizations
We assure faculty commitment to the institution in a number of ways. In our recruitment materials and when candidates are on campus for interviews, we stress the primacy of teaching. Candidates meet with faculty members in their same field, specifically around the time spent teaching and the ways in which faculty balance scholarly and artistic interests with teaching.
Establishing qualifications, and selecting new faculty members, requires striking a balance between disciplinary expertise and interdisciplinary breadth. The College’s Hiring Priorities DTF, which includes members from all the planning units, determines the positions to be hired. Then another small group, including members from across fields and working with the hiring dean, writes the final job description. A good job description makes clear that we seek both depth and breadth, and that both sets of criteria have equal weight.
Key to this process is the language we use to announce position and describe the qualities in successful candidates. We craft job announcements that articulate the required areas of expertise and qualifications, and that also convey the qualities of our work and teaching relations. Using language like “collegiality,” “innovative and engaging pedagogy,” and “intellectual and artistic curiosity, “ we hope to catch the attention of potential applicants for whom teaching, interdisciplinary studies and collaboration are strong priorities.
We believe that we hire qualified and compatible new faculty members because the hiring process is based in extensive community participation. Beyond the Provost, deans and Faculty Firing Coordinator, many people are involved in reviewing, interviewing and then selecting new faculty members. For each position there is a subcommittee that includes faculty, staff and students; the campus-wide Hiring DTF is also made up of faculty, staff and students. Candidates meet other faculty members and students at presentations, class visits, and over lunch and dinner. Everyone who has contact with the candidate is asked to review and advise the subcommittee and Hiring DTF. The procedures involved in hiring continuing faculty members is stipulated in the Faculty Handbook http://www.evergreen.edu/policies/f-4200.htm
What follows is a schema that lays out the progression of the hiring process and the key groups involved in the process.
Steps in the Hiring Process
Members of the six planning units
generate position proposals
Members of the Hiring Priorities DTF are
charged by the Provost to select
positions to be hired. These
recommended positions discussed by the faculty as a whole
Hiring Dean meets with representatives from
Hiring Priorities and planning unit
To write job description
Hiring Dean, in consultation with planning unit coordinator, invites
Members from across the college (faculty, students, staff)
To server on the position subcommittee
Hiring Dean invites members from across the college
(faculty, staff, students) to serve on the Hiring DTF
Hiring Coordinator and Hiring Dean develop position descriptions
And develop plan to advertise and recruit applicants
Subcommittee members for each position review
and select semi-finalists. In consultation with the Hiring
DTF they then select finalists.
Candidates are on campus for a two-day interview process. The groups that
Are involved in the interviewing process include the following:
Subcommittee Hiring DTF Deans Provost Community
The review and recommendations from thes egroups are discussed as a
“decision meeting” facilitated by the Hiring Dean.Members of the subcommittee, Hiring DTF and deans make up this group.
The recommendation to hire for the position is sent forward to the Provost who makes final decision in consultation with the President.'''
Faculty participate in academic planning, curriculum development and review, academic advising, and institutional governance.
At any one time, a faculty member is in three phases of “program planning”: their immediate program, the program coming up the next year, and their program coming up two years hence. Planning, as both a process of curricular design and inquiry, is inextricably linked to teaching at the college.
Assuring innovation and collaboration requires genuine and open inquiry as a basis for planning; and it must be supported by opportunities for rethinking and redesigning curriculum. (This means that the college’s catalogue is rewritten every year.) Currently those opportunities include the weekly faculty seminar, two annual faculty retreats, summer program planning institutes and an annual September Symposium. While the scale of participation in these opportunities varies from immediate team members in a program to the whole faculty, they all present opportunities for faculty members to articulate the substance and goals of their teaching, to listen and learn from one another, and to have an inclusive process of curriculum planning in which faculty members can draw from this wide array of input. This allows the faculty to provide not only a foundation and progression in our fields of study, but also a responsiveness that is key to relevant and thoughtful learning experiences. Collegial interaction and dialogue is the basis for rethinking and redesigning curriculum, and calls upon the most thoughtful and collaborative skills of the faculty. This process is intended to provide a process of planning curriculum that is both disciplinarily substantive and promotes genuine, engaged teaching and learning.
There are a number of ways in which faculty members participate in curriculum planning. It may be useful to think about these ways like rings in a concentric circle. At the center, and the work that is most compelling, is the planning each faculty members does with his/her teammates for the program they will teach. At any one time, a faculty member is involved in planning three such programs:
- Within their current program, faculty team members meet minimally each week and perhaps are in touch more often by e-mail, to do the on going planning of their programs. While the major elements of the program were determined before the program started, there are ongoing refinements and changes that must be done as the substance and issues of the program emerge. For this kind of planning, all faculty members are expected to participate in their team faculty seminar. There is wide variation in how the faculty do this kind of planning. Many teams do host these seminars, but not all.
- During any year of teaching, faculty members have been assigned to their teaching teams for the following year. They may meet occasionally during the year for informal discussions or more formal planning. The spring of the year preceding this next program, there is a spring retreat where those team members prepare materials for students prior to registration. In the summer preceding this program, faculty members can attend one of five four-day Team Planning Institutes where they meet intensively with team members to design their upcoming programs.
- In the fall of the year, all faculty members are invited to attend a Fall Faculty Retreat that occurs over a period of three days. During this retreat, faculty members take the first steps in proposing new programs and talking with potential team members for their programs two years hence.