National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity's Faculty Success Program hosts IU professors

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More than 20 Indiana University Bloomington faculty members are taking part in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity's Faculty Success Program, a summer "boot camp" designed to help faculty launch and sustain successful academic careers.

The significant number of participants reflects a high priority placed on faculty development and retention at IU Bloomington. The campus became an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity this year, and the provost's office and several academic units are providing scholarships for Faculty Success Program participants.

"The administration is deeply committed to enabling our young and mid-career faculty to succeed," said Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Tom Gieryn, whose office is coordinating the initiative. "The Faculty Success Program builds on tested methods to help faculty with the challenge of balancing many priorities and excelling as scholars and teachers."

Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel announced IU Bloomington's NCFDD membership in her February 2013 State of the Campus address. Faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers were invited this spring to learn about the center and make use of its services.

"We invested in an institutional membership after hearing from faculty members who had found NCFDD on their own and benefitted enormously from it," Robel said. "We are committed to supporting our faculty members throughout their academic journeys and recognizing the particular needs that accompany each stage of an academic career. The center's expertise in supporting minority faculty members made the service especially attractive."

The Faculty Success Program is the NCFDD's signature program. Participants learn strategies for increasing research productivity, building academic networks and reputations, and balancing work with personal and family life. They gain a better understanding of the challenges of prioritizing research, get specific advice for establishing a daily writing goal and learn to align their academic activities with their own values and their institution's priorities.

The program includes weekly "community calls" with NCFDD President and CEO Kerry Ann Rockquemore and motivational and encouragement messages to serve as reminders of the program's principles. Participants are matched with a small group of peers, including faculty at other institutions with professional and personal circumstances similar to their own; together they form an "accountability network" for sharing challenges and successes.

NCFDD has particular strengths in supporting faculty from diverse backgrounds, making it valuable to IU Bloomington's efforts to retain faculty from under-represented groups, including minorities in a variety of fields and women in science, mathematics and computing.

Rockquemore kicked off IU Bloomington's participation with an April 24 workshop titled "Every Semester Needs a Plan: How to Create a Strategic Plan for Your Research and Writing, and the Secret to Actually Doing It." More than 120 people attended the workshop.

Eleven of the 21 participants in the Faculty Success Program hold appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences. Others are in the School of Public Health, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Maurer School of Law, School of Informatics and Computing, School of Nursing and School of Education. Eight received scholarships from the Office of the Provost and the others are funded by their schools.

Jean Robinson, executive associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the College hires at least 50 faculty members each year, many of who have just received their Ph.Ds.

"While university graduate programs do a terrific job in training young scholars, new faculty do not generally start with experience in blending research, teaching and service," she said. "They also are trained at one university and come to another, each of which has its own culture and work environment. The Faculty Success Program is uniquely situated to help faculty navigate the shoals of academic careers generally, as well as gaining a deeper perspective on how to engage with the local academic climate."

Victor Quintanilla, an associate professor of law in the Maurer School of Law, made use of NCFDD resources when he entered the academic job market and again last fall when he joined the IU Bloomington faculty. He said the program's focus on setting clear goals for writing and scheduling daily and weekly activities to meet those goals proved invaluable.

"The weekly accountability calls are terrific," he said. "You in effect check in with other scholars and speak about what your goals are and what you did to achieve them. It's an empirically documented way of ensuring your writings goals are salient on a daily basis. The program helped me, in my first semester at IU, advance my writing while adjusting to the requirements for teaching and service."

Cate Taylor, an assistant professor of gender studies and sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences, attended Rockquemore's April workshop and took part in an initial 45-minute conference call with the NCFDD director. She said IU's membership in NCFDD is a clear expression of support for the development of faculty.

"I've been more productive and less stressed since I started doing the program," she said. "Kerry Ann talks about how it's not entirely intuitive for tenure-track faculty to figure out how to thrive in an academic structure. There is a lot of immediate accountability around teaching and service but very little day-to-day accountability around research. The program helps with thinking very clearly about that and then structuring your time to create short-term accountability around research projects."
After the summer boot camp, participants in the Faculty Success Program will share what they learned with other new faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in a series of brown-bag luncheons over the next academic year.

With IU Bloomington's membership in NCFDD, faculty members, graduate students and other researchers also will have access to services in addition to the Faculty Success Program. These include online discussion forums, "tele-workshops" and learning communities on such topics as grant-writing, academic entrepreneurship and preparing a successful book proposal.