As we end this academic year, I wanted to provide faculty–both lecturers and tenure track faculty with an update on the discussions I have been having about Faculty Affairs. In Fall 2021, we shifted to a new model which created an AVP for Faculty Success position, while moving the rest of Faculty Affairs, including the staff in Academic Personnel, to Human Resources. We have learned a great deal since then about what has worked and not worked about that model. Our assessment suggests that concerns remain about the model. While Faculty Success has come to fruition under the direction of Dr. Matthew Paolucci-Callahan, offering services effectively to both faculty and administrators, his position is a temporary one. Recognizing that we needed more experience in faculty labor relations, we brought in Mr. Kent Porter as Interim Senior Director of Faculty Labor Relations in February 2022, and with his background in Faculty Affairs and Faculty HR, he too has been successful in working with faculty, administrators, CFA, Academic Personnel, and the Provost’s Office.
As we conclude this year, my conversations with faculty, with Senate leaders and governance committee chairs, with URTPS, with CFA, with deans, with HR staff, Cabinet members, and others, suggest that we must continue thinking about an appropriate on-going structure that provides the full range of support for faculty. We need to take what we have learned and find a model that works for our campus–not necessarily what we have always had and not what we have now, but a new and better model. Here’s what I have learned and received as faculty feedback during this past year:
There is more opportunity for shared services between Academic Personnel and Human Resources; we cannot afford to continue replicating all services across faculty and staff HR units
Some functions of Faculty Affairs need to be in Academic Affairs, particularly those aspects of Faculty Affairs that are most distinctive (e.g., RTP processes, elements of lecturer employment, sabbatical and DIP decision-making, etc.)
Having the AVP for Human Resources be personally responsible for the lion’s share of the AVP for Faculty Affairs work did not work, and we need to discontinue that experiment;
We need a senior administrator to oversee Faculty Affairs, but that person cannot be all things to all people; specifically, one person cannot be solely responsible for the roles of faculty labor relations, faculty affairs compliance and policy development, and faculty success.
Faculty Success, as it relates to RTP support, faculty development, non-contractual mediation of conflict, and support for positive interpersonal relationships at the departmental level, has been both impactful and helpful
Faculty Success and Labor Relations are two key pieces of Faculty Affairs, but there is a need for a larger structure.
This summer, I plan to have further conversations with Academic Personnel and HR to talk about shared services, workload, cross training, and the model in general, but I want to reassure you that we will not make decisions about the permanent organizational structure during the summer, while most faculty are off contract. I am, however, hoping to keep the conversation and the feedback going. To do that, I am initiating a Qualtrics Survey for faculty that asks the following questions:
What are your thoughts on the current organizational structure and how might it be improved?
What aspects of past and current models of support would you like to continue? Are there new models you’d like to see us explore?
Any other feedback you think would be helpful about Faculty Affairs and/or Faculty Success.
Responses will go to Kim Purdy, Executive Assistant to the Provost, who will be able to see who submitted the responses. No one else will be able to see submitters’ names unless you choose to list your name with your comments. In the fall, we will provide additional time for faculty to complete the Qualtrics survey, and we will have discussions to reflect on the feedback received. We will then make decisions about a model of Faculty Affairs that best supports faculty and administrators and move forward.
I hope you will take the time to comment and respond to the question of the best model for Faculty Affairs moving forward. Have a great summer–you have earned rest, relaxation, time for research, and time for family and friends. Thank you for all you do. Your work is deeply appreciated.
Dr. Karen R. Moranski
She I Her I Hers
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
Sonoma State University