Suggestions for Readings on Approaching Pandemic Impacts on Faculty Work and Consequential Reviews

Jan 11, 2021

As we all well know by now, the pandemic has changed faculty workloads, raised stress levels, and compounded inequities. Universities across the nation are working to address faculty burnout, pandemic-related challenges, and disparate impacts. One particular area of concern for faculty is consequential reviews–those relating to promotion, tenure, reappointment–as well as annual reviews.

The pandemic is expected to amplify preexisting inequities in faculty promotion and tenure processes (Malish et al. 2020). Existing inequities include gender and racial bias across key areas of faculty experience, including grant funding (Ginther et al. 2011), peer review (Tamblyn et al. 2018), student evaluations of teaching (Chavez and Mitchell 2020), teaching and service load (Tierney and Bensimon 1996), and the tenure evaluation processes (Weisshaar 2017). Additionally, certain types of work done by faculty have intensified, especially due to the twin pandemics. For example, student care activities rose significantly both for coursework and for advising (academic and other). Faculty also find themselves with additional teaching responsibilities: serving as a replacement instructor for a colleague; increasing their workload to compensate for colleagues who can’t teach on campus; and supporting colleagues in their transition to online teaching. While service opportunities and needs for faculty leadership have mushroomed, we have yet to fully capture and find ways to recognize and reward this often invisible labor. At the same time, these burdens can fall disproportionately on women and faculty of color.

As the Faculty Senate committee works on COVID-19 accommodations and as we discuss the topic in the Senate and across campus, here are some resources on these issues as well as examples of what other universities are doing. As we move forward, we need to consider both how to make adjustments for the current pandemic context, and also how to be more proactive and less reactive, for example, by designing for the “post-virus” professor and professoriate. Here are some resources so that all faculty can learn about evidence-based approaches and from other higher education institutions as we continue these conversations university-wide and in our units.

Related Literature on impacts of COVID-19 on Consequential Reviews and Annual Reviews
( Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment Standards and Processes)

What Other Institutions and Organizations are Doing in Relation to Covid and Faculty Work and Consequential Reviews:

  • University of Delaware: Task Force on Equity in Faculty Evaluations: Completed a report to the Provost and Faculty Senate that addresses the impacts of the pandemic and the equity issues elevated by the national discussion about systemic racism.
  • University of Michigan: As part of their ADVANCE program, the STRIDE committee produced this report on “Faculty Equity & Covid 19” which includes internal survey data and national research-based suggestions.
  • University of Massachusetts: The UMASS ADVANCE Program created a COVID-19 tool for tracking the impact of the pandemic on equity.
  • University of Wisconsin System: The Women’s & Gender Studies Consortium’s Caregiving Task Force produced an initial statement and subsequent recommendations for workload, consequential review, and other adjustments.
  • The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty released “Supporting Faculty During & After COVID-19: Don’t let go of equity

Lastly, if you would like to do a deep dive, check out the National Academies webinars on the topic:

We welcome learning about additional research concerning these topics and will continue to share more resources moving forward. We are especially interested in building our research base on COVID-19 and faculty of color as well as scholarship that extends our thinking on the post-pandemic professoriate. Please send any related articles and resources to us.

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