Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Description of a University Faculty Evaluation System

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Description of a University Faculty Evaluation System

Article excerpt


The salary of college faculty often is based on a merit and market factors rather than a fixed time-in-grade system. Merit evaluation should be based on the job description, faculty rank, and percent time devoted to teaching, research and service. This paper describes a merit system used in an Agronomy and Horticulture Department. The teaching matrix evaluates efforts in undergraduate and graduate instruction, student credit hour production, student advisees, and student and department head evaluations. The research matrix system is divided into two metrics, publication numbers, and grant dollars. The service matrix is divided into recruiting, community, department, university and professional service and is based on hours spent in each category, compared to a targeted total number of hours. The ratio of undergraduate students/FTE has increased slightly over the last five years along with an increase in graduate students per FTE indicating that merit for teaching is encouraging student enrollment. Research publications /FTE have increased, again indicating the merit system is improving research productivity. Currently service evaluation may be the least effective evaluation tool, as merit for service has not been tied to productivity. Nevertheless, the system has the flexibility to change the weighting factors to better reflect the changing needs of the department.


The salary of most college and university faculty in the United States is based on a merit evaluation system and on market factors rather than a fixed time-in-grade system where time in service determines the grade and salary (Weistroffer et al., 2001). An equitable evaluation system that rewards faculty for helping achieve the goals of a department, college, and the university is essential for that unit to function efficiently and effectively. However, faculty like other professionals, are caught between what is beneficial for the individual vs. the common good (Etzioni, 1993). Self-serving needs of individual faculty may not be always in the best interests of the department. Thus, a well-designed merit system can balance these conflicting goals, achieving success for the individual as well as the group.

Merit evaluation should be based on the job description and rank of the faculty and the percent time devoted to teaching, research and service. Assistant professors should be accountable for teaching and research duties, almost exclusively. Leadership activities are the responsibility of associate and full professors. The merit system should be flexible to distinguish the different responsibilities among professorial ranks. The percent time in professional service often is not a formal appointment, but is an extension of scholarship, especially in the land grant universities created by the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 and the Hatch Act of 1887 (Rice and Richlin 1993).

At land grant universities, the legislature funds teaching first and foremost followed by research. Consequently, a university survives and grows based on the number of students enrolled. To have a successful teaching program, universities must hire dedicated teachers. However, in the college, faculty average a 25% teaching appointment. The rest of the appointment is funded by the Agricultural Experiment Station to conduct research. The college as a whole receives 88% of its funds from the Agricultural Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension Service and grants and contracts, with only 12% funded through the teaching budget (College of Agriculture, 2005).

While the teaching component is the smaller component of an academic department, it nevertheless dictates the focus, size and strength of a department. Departments are evaluated by the number of undergraduate and graduate students, student credit hour production, recruiting efforts and service to teaching such as student club advisement. (Univ. of N.M. 2005) These are, for the most part, easily quantifiable. …

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