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Impacts of COVID-19 on Faculty Career Progression

Emerging research on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for academic work points to significant impacts on workload and productivity with implications for short- and long-term career outcomes. Early measures indicate these impacts are disproportionately acute for women, faculty of color, and those with significant caregiving responsibilities. New research and commentary about disparate impacts on service and scholarship is emerging regularly, along with ideas for how to support faculty. A compilation of resources is available for faculty on these topics.

  

How will Villanova address impacts of COVID-19 on faculty careers?

In November 2020, VISIBLE (the Villanova Initiative to Support Inclusiveness and Build Leaders) began working in consultation with the Office of the Provost and Faculty Congress to examine the impacts of the pandemic on faculty at Villanova, to develop a response to help mitigate negative impacts on faculty careers. The project timeline and a preliminary report with key findings and recommendations are included below. In May 2021, a message from the Provost to all faculty announced the key project outcomes, including a Villanova University Statement Documenting Impacts of COVID-19 on Faculty Scholarship, Teaching and Service.  

The deans in consultation with the Faculty Congress have adopted one of the primary outcomes of this project: the Villanova University Statement Documenting Impacts of COVID-19 on Faculty Scholarship, Teaching, and Service which will accompany all faculty tenure and promotion materials at all steps of the evaluation process. This statement clarifies expectations for how current policies should be implemented in the context of pandemic impacts. Each candidate’s record should be evaluated in the context of this statement, which documents in detail tangible and intangible impacts, lost opportunities, and externally imposed constraints on faculty productivity that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The intent of these instructions is to ensure that faculty career progression at Villanova will not be seriously delayed or disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional recommendations brought forth from this process have been taken up by the relevant bodies. 

  • The Council of Deans is committed to ensuring that diminished scholarship productivity will not adversely impact teaching loads for the coming academic year.
  • The Academic Policy Committee in consultation with the Office of the Provost and the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, will continue its evaluation of the CATS.
  • VISIBLE will develop and continue professional development opportunities around the topic of equitable evaluation.

Other specific recommendations from this project provide additional support for work being done longer term, and within the strategic plan, such as assessment of faculty workload and service across the University, identifying resources to support faculty scholarship, and engaging to review faculty evaluation processes at Villanova.

View the Report

About this report: This report is an executive summary of a report provided to VISIBLE by the consulting team engaged for the Provost’s Office project to address impacts of COVID-19 on faculty career progression. The full report is a thematic analysis of responses provided to VISIBLE on a confidential, anonymous questionnaire administered to Villanova faculty in mid-February 2021 and in confidential listening sessions with Department Chairs, Deans, and Faculty in late-February 2021.

The intent of this project was to give voice to the lived experiences of Villanova faculty from the pandemic year. As such, qualitative methods were selected rather than quantitative; quantitative analysis does not change these stories and can often be a distraction from them. Prompts for the questionnaire focused on the pandemic’s impacts on the respondent’s scholarship, research, and service and how these might impact faculty evaluation.  This is not a research report intended to characterize the full faculty experience at Villanova. Similarly, these findings are not intended to be generalizable across institutions and identity groups.  

That this project was not quantitative in nature or was not an IRB-approved research study do not invalidate these findings. Instead, we can look to research studies to see that these findings are not different from what is being experienced across the country (see, for example, reports from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, & Medicine, 2021; Vincent-Lamarre, Sugimoto, & Larivier, 2021; and Deryugina, Shurchkov, & Stearns, 2021).

Villanova’s culture and values, Veritas, Unitas, Caritas, do not necessarily make us immune to the difficulties faced by faculty during the pandemic. This report, although difficult and challenging, reflects that reality.

VISIBLE is working with campus stakeholders to both understand the distinct impacts of COVID-19 for Villanova faculty and to identify strategies for addressing disparate impacts on faculty career progression.  In spring 2021, this multi-phase participatory project gathered feedback from Villanova faculty members to better understand the effects of the pandemic on their scholarship, teaching and service and to help the University integrate this understanding into a faculty evaluation process that is equitable, inclusive and respects disparate impacts. 

The project goal was to have a set of recommendations for the faculty evaluation process that may be implemented as early as June 2021 and into the future. 

Faculty involvement has been integral to the success of this project. Thank you to all who have already offered input to this process!

VISIBLE’s role in the project is to serve as convener, thought partner, equity advocate and source of expertise. VISIBLE does not make policy but works to support policymaking and implementation processes. 

View the recorded message from VISIBLE PI Dr. Amanda Grannas launching this project

 

2020

November
Provost tasks VISIBLE with addressing impacts of COVID-19 on faculty career progression

December
VISIBLE engages consulting team: Stephanie Goodwin, Ph.D. and Beth Mitchneck, Ph.D. to report on impacts of COVID-19 on faculty scholarship, teaching and service at Villanova University and to make recommendations for changes to faculty evaluation practices.

2021

January 
VISIBLE consults with department chairs and Faculty Congress Executive Committee on project timeline and process.

February 
VISIBLE launches questionnaire for all Villanova University faculty to begin understanding impacts of COVID-19 on their scholarship, teaching and service.

Consulting team facilitates Listening Sessions with department chairs, deans and faculty.

VISIBLE assembles Ad Hoc Subcommittee to receive a report from the consulting team and refine recommendations.

Ad Hoc Subcommittee members: Bridget Wadzuk, Chair; Aronte Bennett; David Cereceda; Adele Lindenmeyr; Sue Metzger; Melissa O'Connor; Alfonso Ortega; Manuela Priesemuth; Michael Risch; Debra Shearer; Peter Spitaler; Nathaniel Weston; Craig Wheeland.

March 
Consulting team delivers report to VISIBLE with findings from questionnaire and listening sessions and recommendations for changes to faculty evaluation practices.

VISIBLE prepares and circulates executive summary of consultant’s report.

VISIBLE hosts Community Forum sessions with department chairs, deans and faculty to receive feedback on report findings and recommendations for action.

Ad Hoc Subcommittee Chair holds stakeholder meetings in three small groups for Associate Professors with tenure, Assistant Professors on tenure track, and Continuing Non-Tenure track Professors.

April 
VISIBLE delivers feedback from Community Forum sessions to Ad Hoc Subcommittee.

Ad Hoc Subcommittee refines recommendations and forwards to Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee.

May 
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee sends revised recommendations to Council of Deans and Provost.

June 
Provost announces approved revisions and provides updated guidelines for the 2021 faculty evaluation process.

Fall 2021
Faculty workshops on equitable evaluation practices.


Please contact the VISIBLE team by email if you have comments, questions or concerns.


Thanks to Stephanie Goodwin, PhD and Beth Mitchneck, PhD for contributing to all elements of the project on this page.