As faulty members we are responsible for many different types of activities. Some of these occur almost daily, (e.g. teaching and all the preparation and student assessments that go with it), while others occur once a year (e.g. annual reports); and others even less often (e.g. application for promotion). Some activities specifically pertain to new faculty, while others are relevant for sub-groups of faculty or all faculty. As we go about these activities, there are some practical things (based on our experiences) and required things (i.e. policy) to keep in mind. This section of the Survival Guide and Faculty Handbook will cover:
The Newcomer: Getting Started and Faculty Meetings
Faculty Appointments, Work Loads, Summer Employment, Continuing Education, and Graduate Faculty Membership, Faculty Leaves
Academic Freedom and Responsibility, Ethics
Annual Reports, Pre-tenure Review, Tenure, Promotion, Post-tenure Review
Issues Related to Travel
The Newcomer: Getting Started and Faculty Meetings
Welcome! SFASU has many people who are happy to welcome you and to help make your transition smoother. When you first arrive, you will have many practical things to take care of: locating and moving into your office and obtaining needed office supplies, getting a computer and having it connected to the Internet, getting email, becoming familiar with mySFA (useful for contacting students, advising, faculty services such as pay stubs, etc.), clarifying schedules and duties, finalizing paperwork for payroll and insurance, and more. Whew!
Fortunately, the resources to help with most of the above items are right in your own department. If possible, prior to your arrival in town, contact your chair and arrange a time to meet. At this meeting, your chair should be able to show you your office space, give you keys to your office and the building, show you your mailbox, and help you obtain needed supplies. Remember that in order to receive a paycheck and insurance coverage you will have to complete the necessary paperwork with Human Resources (see above section in the Survival Guide and Faculty Handbook…).
If you are moving into an office with a computer previously used by someone else, it will probably already have Internet connections. If you are getting a new computer, it will have to go through the purchasing office to be tagged with a SFA ID number. Someone from Telecommunications & Networking can come by your office to help set up your computer with the network or install security applications. Information Technology Services will set up your SFA email address. For any computer help questions, a good place to start is the Help Desk at 468-1212.
Your chair will also be able to discuss your teaching schedule and other duties / responsibilities. These duties / responsibilities will include office hours (see above section in the Survival Guide and Faculty Handbook…), possible committee membership, use of departmental resources (such as the copier, fax, classroom space, etc.), and faculty meetings.
Hopefully, as a new faculty member, you will plan to participate in the year-long New Faculty Development Series. Every other week the Teaching Excellence Center will have a scheduled event related to teaching pedagogy, university resources, or building community with a variety of different faculty (e.g. newly tenured faculty, grant award winners, teaching award winners, other faculty cohorts). Between these formal meetings, there will be some electronic discussion. During the off week, you can use the hour for professional development as you see fit.
Faculty meetings include the university-wide meeting prior to the start of the fall semester (the SFA President and Provost share their thoughts with us), college-wide meetings prior to each fall and spring semester (each Dean shares their college-specific goals and information), and departmental meetings. Some departments have monthy meetings, while others meet less regularly. Regardless of the level of the meeting, all faculty are required to attend unless they have an acceptable reason to miss (e.g. sickness, travel to a conference, etc.). Always let your chair know as soon as possible if you will not be able to make a meeting.
Faculty Appointments, Work Loads, Summer Employment, Continuing Education, Graduate Faculty Membership, Faculty Leaves
Following a Faculty Search (Faculty Search (E-24A)), most qualified new faculty are given appointments as assistant professors (Academic and Professional Preparation (A-49)). Additional appointments and their descriptions can be found in Academic Appointments and Titles (E-1A) . Based on their previous experience, some individuals hired as an assistant professor may be granted some years toward tenure, but in most cases faculty will be required to have completed five years at SFA as an assistant professor before being reviewed for promotion to associate professor. Receiving years toward tenure has its pros and cons. It can shorten the time to promotion, but there will also be a shortened time table in which to accomplish the tenure requirements. For example, adjusting to a new location, preparing new courses, establishing a research program, etc. all require time and effort, and scholarly activity in particular may not proceed as quickly as hoped, especially with the relatively heavy teaching load we have at SFA.
For most full-time faculty in most departments the expected workload is 24 hours (Teaching Load Credits) across the fall and spring semesters together. Faculty Workload (A-18) gives details of faculty teaching workload and how it is calculated. Exceptions are sometimes made; for example, some first year faculty are given reduced loads and individuals taking on administrative duties are usually given some reduction. Some accreditation units also mandate lower teaching loads. In addition to teaching, faculty are also expected to “be engaged in individual research, scholarship, creative work and professional service activities.” Part-time faculty (Part-time Faculty (E-37A)) generally only have teaching duties, but sometimes may also serve on committees or help with departmental responsibilities such as advising.
Sometimes faculty take on a teaching overload. According to the policy (Part-time Faculty (E-37A)), this should not exceed 18 TLC in a given semester. Teaching overloads may occur due to increased enrollment in a department, or illness of a colleague whose courses must be covered. Overload compensation generally is equal to an amount that is paid adjunct faculty teaching the same course, but sometimes individuals take on the load with no extra compensation. Obviously teaching overloads will make it more difficult to maintain high scholarly activity, and they should be noted and considered on an individual’s annual report. Also of interest in this regard are the policies on Working Hours and Holidays (D-40) and Salary Supplements, Stipends, and Additional Compensation (E-9).
Summer teaching ( Summer Teaching Appointments (A-18A)) is not guaranteed at SFA, and it is considered separate from the 9-month faculty workload. Each department has developed its own policy to assign summer courses. Some departments give priority to new faculty, while others give first choice to more senior faculty.
All faculty members are encouraged to continue their educational growth in a variety of ways. One of these is to enroll in courses on the campus. Although the University does not strongly encourage faculty members to take courses on its own campus, it does permit them to do so under circumstances that appear reasonable. No more than one course per semester should be undertaken by a full-time faculty member. All such faculty enrollments in classes must have prior approval of the Provost.
Graduate Faculty Membership
In order to carry out duties such as teaching graduate courses, supervising theses / dissertations, or being a member of a thesis / dissertation committee, a faculty member must first become a member of the Graduate Faculty. Membership can be limited, Associate, of Full. Details about the criteria and the application and review process are given on the Information for Faculty page of the Graduate School web site.
There are several reasons why a faculty member may request a leave of absence. With respect to extended leaves of absence, there are two broad categories: professional development (e.g. continuing education, scholarly activity / sabbatical) and health (e.g. personal sickness, birth or adoption of a child). With respect to FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), at SFA a faculty member must use his / her accrued sick leave if taking time off following the birth or adoption of a child. If the leave exceeds the accrued sick leave credit hours, then the remaining leave will be unpaid. Fortunately, there is a sick leave pool for those who exhaust their sick leave due to catastrophic illness or injury ( Sick Leave Pool (E-47.1)), so in some cases those who need extra sick leave can receive it from the pool. There are also many examples of short-term leave: bereavement leave, parent-teacher conference leave, military leave, jury duty, blood donation, and more). Leave of Absence (Faculty) (E-29A) outlines the length of leave and compensation limitations for each type.
Academic Freedom and Responsibility, Ethics
As faculty members, we are professionals, and must behave in a professional fashion. We do enjoy free speech choice of scholarly directions. This freedom extends to our classrooms, as long as the topic clearly relates to the subject material being taught. We have to recognize that we inherently have a power differential with the students, so our personal opinions shouldn’t supersede our professional obligations. Details regarding these issues are clearly outlined in the following policies ( Academic Freedom and Responsibility (A-25) ; Ethics (E-56)).
Annual Reports, Pre-tenure Review, Tenure, Promotion, Post-tenure Review
The Annual Report (Faculty Activity Report)
Every year, early in the fall semester, departments ask each of their faculty members to submit an Annual Faculty Activity Report. In these reports, faculty members give an account of their professional activities during the preceding year. When a faculty member is ready to apply for promotion or tenure, that candidate must submit an application and a packet of supporting materials early in the fall semester. This packet must include the annual reports for the years being reviewed. The beginning of fall is a busy time for most people, so putting together an annual report or an application for promotion or tenure can be an unwelcome task. Nevertheless, doing a good job is important. Therefore, preparing annual reports and / or promotion / tenure packets before the start of the fall semester can save time and additional stress. Even in years when faculty members do not apply for promotion or tenure, they are applying for raises, because most faculty raises are based on merit. Therefore, we would like to offer some suggestions on how to put together these reports and applications. We hope you find some of them valuable.
Because people will use your annual reports to evaluate your performance and to recommend you for merit, promotion, and tenure, you need to know what this report is, how it is used, what to put in it, how to prepare it, and what form it should take. A good way to begin is by reading SFA's policy statement on Faculty Evaluation and Merit Pay (E-20A). This policy explains the general procedures the University uses to evaluate faculty members. It will show you how important our annual reports are in these procedures. Department chairs and deans review our annual reports when writing their annual administrative evaluations of our performance. Department chairs, often assisted by advisory committees of faculty members, use them to decide merit pay. SFA policies on Tenure (E-50A) and Academic Promotion (E-3A) specify that when you apply for these awards, your packet of supporting materials should include your annual reports. These applications are reviewed by faculty members in your department, your department chair, the dean of your college, a panel of faculty members from your college, the vice president for academic affairs, the president, and members of the Board of Regents. So your annual report is an important factor in your career. During your first year here, you will not submit an annual report, but you will submit one the subsequent fall semester for your first year.. Thus, whether you are just starting, or have been here more than a year, the best time to start on your report is the beginning of the year on which you will be reporting. With a little foresight and planning, you can have a good report nearly ready to submit at the beginning of each fall semester.
Let's consider what to put in your annual report. Obviously, you are to say something about your teaching, scholarly or creative activities, and professional service during the previous year. But what specific activities should you document throughout the year? A very good place to start is Appendix III of this Guide and Faculty Handbook. There you will find a list of the many activities faculty members have documented in their reports and applications for tenure / promotion. Also review the standardized Faculty Activity Report form that you will actually complete when submitting your annual report. (*See step-by-step instructions below.) Note that many of the items on the first list won’t easily fit into the online form. However, it is still good to gather and organize such information because you may want to include it in your tenure and promotion packets.
After that, you should try to find out what kinds of activities people in your department cite in their annual reports. You may want to talk with your department chair about what to include. Find out whether your department requires specific information. Find out what weight your department places on each of the three main areas and whether evaluators place quantitative values on activities to compare and rank department members. You may want to ask some of your colleagues how they put their reports together. If it is your first semester here, you might even ask to see the annual reports people in your department have submitted that year to get some idea of what they put in their reports. The reports are usually available in October. Also, think about what it would be like to read all the reports in your department. That is what your chair and other evaluators have to do--something worth remembering when you are planning how to prepare your report. It is to your advantage to prepare one that is easy to read. But more on that later.
Once you have an idea of what to put in your report, you should gather information and materials that you want to include. Many of us find the easiest way to do this is to collect information throughout the year rather than wait until it is time to put the report together. Note each event or activity when it occurs. For example, when you find you have been a member of a committee, make a note of what the committee is, what it accomplished, and what role you played. Keep a file of publications, conference programs, and letters of appreciation. Even if your department asks you to submit student evaluations from only one regular semester, get them from both semesters. Summarize, if you can, the results of your student evaluations. You need not put everything you collect into your report, but you probably should collect anything that shows what you have done.
Now that the annual reports are submitted online, everyone uses the same form. However, there are still departmental variations on the inclusion of supplemental materials for the annual report. Most departments will want summaries of student evaluations. They are also now distributed online, but there is currently no way to link the online evaluation summary to the annual report. Only the chair and you can access your evaluations online. Thus, you will probably need to print out a copy to submit for your review, especially if the department has a committee or all faculty members review all the annual reports for merit. Other than evaluations, you may include copies of publications or other items. Some departments want to see copies of syllabi, notes from students, etc., while other departments prefer to keep the supplemental materials to a minimum. Again, even if you don’t need all the supporting materials for your annual evaluation, organize and keep them for your applications for tenure and promotion. They can also be useful if you are applying for some sort of teaching or other award.
* Annual reports are now all submitted online and are called Faculty Activity Reports. You can access the form through mySFA. Once you are logged in to mySFA, click on the "myServices" tab, and look for the "Faculty Activity Report" link on the left hand column.
Pre-tenure Review, Tenure and Promotion Applications
Pre-tenure review occurs at scheduled times during probationary period, with those coming in with one or no years toward tenure receiving at least two reviews, and those coming in with more years toward tenure receiving at least one review. Pre-tenure review guidelines are given in the middle of the policy Tenure (E-50A) . Some departments will have additional reviews. The purpose of these reviews is to provide indications of the faculty member’s progress toward tenure. They help prevent someone from “being surprised” in an unpleasant way when they apply for tenure. The materials required for pre-tenure review may vary, but, generally, the annual report will be part of what is considered. Some departments may also include peer-review of teaching or other means by which to assess performance.
When it is time to apply for tenure, promotion, or both, you will need to fill out a Promotion/Tenure Application which is a simple form on which you specify what you are applying for and list the materials you will submit in support of your application. Academic Appointments and Titles (E-1A) lists academic appointments and titles. According to the University policy on Faculty Evaluation and Merit Pay (E-20A), those materials should include your current annual report. The specific policies on Academic Promotion (E-3A) and Tenure (E-50A) require that a candidate include a current vita. In addition, the promotion policy says you must include documentation of your professional activities and accomplishments in teaching, scholarly, or creative activities, service to the university and general community, and contributions to your profession throughout your career. So, for the most part, an application for promotion or tenure is an expanded version of an annual report. The main difference is that you will try to show others all you have done in your professional career rather than just what you have done in the previous year. So, we suggest that you prepare for it the same way you prepare for your annual report.
To repeat the most important suggestions:
Talk with your colleagues, chair, and dean about what a member of your department is required or expected to submit.
Ask whether you may review applications other people in your department and college have submitted.
Make notes about your professional activities at the time you are involved.
Save copies of materials that document your scholarly or creative work.
Save all your annual reports.
Save copies of your administrative evaluations.
The challenge with these applications is to document what you have accomplished while keeping your packet manageable in size and organizing it in a way that makes it easy for readers to review.
We can add a few tips for you to consider. As part of their documentation of teaching effectiveness, applicants are required to include all their student evaluations for the years under consideration. Try to assemble your evaluations so that they remain organized and are easy to review. When including copies of letters, tables of contents showing you have contributed to a volume, or other materials documenting your accomplishments, tell or show your readers what to look for in those pages. For example, if you include a copy of a work's table of contents to point out your contribution to the volume, highlight the title of your contribution. Don't make your readers look through several pages to find your name or a title mentioned. Keep in mind that some of your readers may want to review your application as quickly as possible and that some may want to carry out an in-depth examination of your documentation. With a well-organized packet of supporting materials, both kinds of readers will be satisfied.
Although it is not a pleasant topic, sometimes individuals are not recommended for tenure. Tenure (E-50A) also contains Procedural Guarantees Relating to Termination and Non-Renewal of Contracts.
Once you have been awarded tenure, the annual review of your faculty performance will be broadened to include what most people here call a "post-tenure review." What they are referring to is the Performance Evaluation of Tenured Faculty (A-37.1). The result of the evaluation is that our performance for the preceding year is judged satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If our performance is judged satisfactory, we are then eligible for merit, promotion, or tenure awards. But if it is judged unsatisfactory, we will be encouraged to follow a procedure intended to help us gain a satisfactory level of performance. If we fail to do so within three years, we are subject to dismissal. The reason for having "post-tenure reviews" is explained in the policy itself. "This policy increases the available options for addressing the performance measures of tenured faculty. When obtained according to this policy, the results of the evaluation of a tenured faculty member may be used to support personnel decisions relating to commendations, suggestions for improvement, and when required, counseling of a faculty member whose evaluation shows the necessity for a professional development plan designed to address deficits in performance. A faculty member who satisfactorily meets the conditions of the professional development plan ends participation in the plan. If after a specified period of time the faculty member has not fulfilled the goals of the plan, dismissal procedures may be initiated in accord with University policy."
Because departments use the same criteria to assess our performance as tenured faculty as they use for merit pay, promotion, and tenure, we need not add anything to what we normally put together for our annual report. Our only advice would be to look at the policy so that you understand what it is and what happens should you receive an unsatisfactory review.
Issues Related to Travel
As a faculty member, you might travel to conferences, meetings, or to student competitions, etc. Travel (C-49) gives all the details, but here is a quick summary. Before traveling, regardless of whether or not you will receive travel cost reimbursement or if it personal rather than professional, you must complete a travel request form and have it approved. The form can be found online. If you hope to get some costs reimbursed, the travel request will cause the money to be encumbered to the designated account. If something should happen to you while traveling, insurance coverage will go smoother if there is a travel request already completed ahead of time.
When completing the travel request and estimating costs, there are specific guidelines for in-state and out-of-state travel. These guidelines are posted online on the Travel Office web page, where there are links to list the maximum costs covered for hotel and per diem and to a mileage calculator. The maximum hotel costs and per diem are consistent across Texas, but otherwise vary depending upon location, so take the time to look them up when you are planning your travel. Note that, because you work at a state institution, you should never pay Texas state hotel tax. You will need to bring with you the official form to give to the hotel so they don’t charge you state tax. If you forget to bring the form and they do charge you tax, you will not be reimbursed for it. You will not need receipts for per diem reimbursement, but you will for all other expenses. Generally speaking, faculty don’t receive travel advances, but must pay themselves and they get reimbursed.
After returning to SFA, in order to get reimbursed, you will need to complete a travel voucher. This form is also online. This form is a bit more complicated, so it might be a good idea to ask for help from a colleague who has completed one recently. Basically, you will need to itemize your costs for each day, and also give total costs in another part of the form. Once a voucher is completed and approved, the reimbursement will be direct deposited to your bank account 12-14 days after it is received by the travel office.
There are some additional requirements for traveling to Washington, D.C. and out of the country, which are detailed in the travel policy (Travel (C-49)). If traveling with students, you might suggest that they apply to the Office of Student Activities for travel support. Students giving presentations or involved in competitions will receive more travel money than those simply attending conferences or events. Unlike faculty members, students receiving travel support through the Office of Student Affairs can get travel advances. They will still need to submit receipts for hotel, etc.
SFA librarians ( Library Faculty (E-31A) ) are M.L.S.-holding professionals with academic rank. They sit and vote on Faculty Senate, participate in university committees and are eligible for faculty development leaves and grants. While librarians hold tenure-track positions, the nature of their work is different from that of the teaching faculty, and their contracts and promotion procedures reflect this.
Librarians work on a 12-month basis, and are promoted through four ranks (Librarian I-IV), rather than three. A special library council oversees promotion and tenure applications and review, ensuring that candidates are rewarded objectively for positive job performance, scholarly or creative activity and service.