Higher education is changing and so are the needs of your faculty and administrators. Our team at APL nextED has put together a list for Provosts entering the new year. Here are five things faculty and administrators really want in 2021 and how you can advocate for them.
1. Lead, Facilitate, Lead Facilitate.
As a result of the broad nature of a Provost’s responsibilities, Provosts will end up knowing a little bit about many different things. The provost acts as more of a generalist than a specialist, whereas the faculty and administrators on campus become the lead voices for their areas of expertise in academic affairs. Faculty and Administrators want their Provost to listen to their ideas, and facilitate the process of getting those ideas heard across campus to enable decision-making. This is true for 2021, as faculty and administrators have experienced a new way of thinking and getting things done.
Simply carrying on “as usual” is not what faculty and administrators want from Provosts. They want a Provost who will lead by listening and facilitate the execution of great ideas from their academic team. Faculty don’t want Provosts who either make decisions without consulting their constituents or listen to constituents without making any decisions. If your academic team has found an amazing software platform that will save valuable time, create efficiencies, reduce spending and ultimately make faculty and administrators’ lives and jobs easier and more fulfilling, listen to them and understand how you can make it happen. Leading and Facilitating go together.
2. Focus your People on the Big Picture.
In 2021, faculty and administrators will still be navigating the muddy waters of how to operate through the pandemic. How do you keep them focused on the overall strategic plan and your institutional mission? Your academic team will feel overwhelmed and a bit lost in 2021 as some campuses prepare for business as usual, and others completely alter their teaching and learning strategies, practices and modalities. What message will you send your team in 2021? How will you help them keep your institutional mission and values at the forefront of their everyday tasks and responsibilities? Faculty and administrators want their Provost to bring them together to streamline and perhaps merge old and new processes; share and utilize data; collaborate; communicate; and develop workflows that work for 2021 and beyond. New ways of thinking and doing are inevitable for institutions to remain sustainable and scalable. Successful provosts will bring their teams together, incite and inspire change and when it comes time to execute those changes, provosts are present, supporting their teams, approving budgets and plans and Making. Things. Happen.
3. Make Faculty Feel GOOD about their jobs.
Provosts who lead exceptionally well in 2021 will pay close attention to and resolve Faculty Pandemic Stress. According to a recent 2020 survey on faculty mental health from Course Hero, more than 40% of faculty considered leaving their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19.
How can Provosts improve faculty job outlook and satisfaction in 2021? Survey results indicate that fifty-three percent of the sample said increased compensation; forty-six percent said modifications to teaching schedules of loads; and thirty-four percent cited new technology or better access to technology support. More than a quarter requested increased staff and teaching assistant support.
Provosts need to work with their Deans and administrators to ensure proper compensation for each faculty member, part and full time, by considering the myriad of variables that go into a compensation rate, such as experience, union status, qualifications to teach, degrees, certifications, etc. Provosts and Deans must also monitor, manage and adjust workload capacity for both teaching and administrative duties of their faculty. Are you paying a faculty member for 100% workload when they are working at 80%? Workload capacity should be monitored in real time with adjustments made on-time and backed by accurate data.
This saves money and allocates resources appropriately. It also ensures accurate accreditation data when that time comes. Provosts should listen to and perhaps survey their faculty and administrators in regards to what technology they need and why. Provosts could then empower their academic teams to find an appropriate technology platform supporting and automating tasks to make their lives easier and reduce stress. These tasks that can be automated and streamlined by technology, such as an academic operations platform, include staffing, compensation, course resource management, professional development, faculty activity tracking, document sharing and collaboration, recruiting, hiring, training, faculty evaluations and accreditation data. For example, there is new content provided by companies like Magna Publications to teach and even certify faculty to teach online. APL nextEd partners with Magna Publications for delivery and management of these professional development courses and certifications. What better way for a Provost to show their support by leveraging amazing technology resources to reduce faculty pandemic stress while simultaneously creating a more sustainable business model?
4. Create a Work Environment that is Diverse, Equal and Inclusive.
How can Provosts facilitate and lead DEI for academic affairs staff? Together with Deans, Provosts should work on developing a pipeline of diverse teaching candidates, scholars and researchers. Utilizing a recruiting software program to attract faculty who are diverse is the first step. There are many technology programs who will support this initiative. Secondly, Provosts will need to work with their academic teams to ensure equal compensation measures; equal opportunity for staffing (teaching and non-teaching duties); equal access to professional development, equal spend on the latest technology and fair and equitable evaluations towards promotions. Thirdly, Provosts are the leader on campus when it comes to inclusion. Commanding and expecting a culture of inclusion requires Provosts to be in the know with what’s working and not working when it comes to inclusion. Richard Reddick, Associate Dean for Equity, Community Engagement, and Outreach at The University of Texas at Austin, speaks on Harvard’s EdCast about how diversity and inclusion is a top down process. He says, “Creating an inclusive environment, we all should be doing. But then there’s this idea that, well, that’s the chief diversity officer’s job, so they should be doing that kind of work,” it starts with the chief diversity officer, but Provosts should ensure diversity and inclusion are enacted at their institution. Collecting data from faculty, administrators and students is paramount to making changes with the goal of bettering the current culture of inclusion on campus.
5. Establish a Sense of Belonging.
Faculty want to feel as if their contributions to the institutions are recognized, supported and included in across-campus decisions. Because of COVID-19, Jason E Lane, professor and dean of UAlbany’s School of Education, explains in his article for Inside Higher Education, 6 Domains of Knowledge for College Leaders During Crisis Times, “How we manage our relationships with our colleagues is shifting dramatically. On campuses where work is now remote, the common personal interactions that took place in the hallways no longer exist and, thus, must now be planned. Staff meetings may now occur daily, where once they were weekly. In addition, leaders are having to learn new ways to communicate, as texts, emails, calls and video conferences replace face-to-face communication.” He adds, “As leaders, we also have to be aware that members of our team are facing incredible stresses outside of the workplace.”
Provosts who will excel in 2021 will acknowledge this external stress, and thrive when bringing their people, their data, and their workflows together in one cohesive and collaborative place. What will that place look like at your institution? Will it be simultaneously technology-driven, people-driven and data-driven? Will faculty and administrators understand and be invested in not just the institutional mission and values, but also the common goal of the Academic Affairs unit? Will your team feel good about their jobs now and beyond 2021? Will they feel they work in a diverse, equal and inclusive environment?
In 2021, will you, as Provost, commit and dedicate yourself to Lead. Facilitate. Lead Facilitate?
Bringing Academic Teams Together
APL nextED partners with chief academic leaders and provosts at institutions of all sizes. Our Academic Operations Platform connects your faculty, staff and administrators and consolidates your academic information and processes. APL’s integrated platform provides increased transparency and greater insights to ultimately achieve your academic mission.
Schedule a demo to receive our ROI calculator tool and see exactly how APL nextED’s academic operations platform can support your academic team in 2021 and beyond.