A Corporate Human Resource Approach to Evaluating University Faculty: Lessons in Development and Communication

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Today, performance plans and evaluations are common Human Resource practice in corporate America. In the 2000 society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Personnel Decision International (PDI) survey, 85% of the respondent organizations had some type of annual employee performance plan (www.shrm.org). A typical component of an employee performance plan is the performance appraisal. Simply stated, a performance appraisal is a systematic approach that measures an employee's work performance. Additionally, organizations use the performance appraisal for decision making in human resource planning, recruiting, selecting, career planning and development, and human resource administration (Caruth and Handlogten 1997). This paper will examine the design and communications of a faculty evaluation system that reflects the HR practice of performance plans and evaluations prevalent in corporate America.

ASSESSMENT OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM

In the Fall of 2000, a special task force, referred to herein as, the "faculty evaluation committee," was created within the School of Management at Purdue University Calumet. This faculty evaluation committee was given the directive to design and communicate an effective performance appraisal system. The committee consisted of three faculty members representing the areas of accounting, human resources, and marketing. The three members were carefully selected to serve on the committee because of his or her area of expertise that would play a critical role to the design and implementation of the faculty evaluation system. Additionally, they would represent the major areas of faculty as a whole with their varying needs and concerns.

The committee agreed that their primary mission was to design a faculty evaluation process that reflected the value each tenure track or tenured faculty member contributed to the overall success and growth of the school. Other goals included: the development of a process that was perceived as fair and just by the faculty; the inclusion of accountability and feedback of the performance for each faculty member; and the development of a standardized evaluation form to rank faculty members.

The initial step of any planned change is to assess the present situation and to identify any deficiencies. The committee first reviewed the faculty evaluation system that is currently used in the School. Each faculty member is expected to submit an annual activity report outlining his or her goals and professional accomplishments. Although there is no standardized form, the annual report is expected to include: progress toward the accomplishment of professional goals from the previous years' annual report, teaching activities and evaluations, scholarship, university and community service, and projected goals for the upcoming year.

The annual report is then evaluated by a committee of three elected faculty members who evaluate the performance of each faculty member and submit their recommendations to advise the school head in the merit pay allocation decision. The committee generally uses the three areas of teaching, research, and service to establish their rankings. This committee is purely advisory; however, and the school head is not obligated to heed the advice given. The faculty member receives feedback regarding his or her performance via the next annual contract that reflects the new salary.

The present system provides no formal two-way communication between the school head or the evaluation committee and individual faculty members. It is perceived that the increased communications between the individual faculty member and the school head would increase the ability of the faculty member to understand the goals of the department as well as understand the "value added" of each faculty member in relation to the merit-based pay decision process. After reviewing the current system, the committee also conducted an investigation of the faculty evaluation process of other schools within the University and also other colleges and universities throughout the United States. …