Faculty Development

The professional competence and intellectual vigor of its faculty are the most important measures of a university's quality. In recognition of that fact, the University of Pittsburgh supports the individual development of its faculty members by encouraging and rewarding academic achievement in teaching, scholarship, and all other facets of a faculty member's professional life. Faculty development is the responsibility of the department chair, campus president, dean, and Provost, as well as of the individual faculty member.

Because the development of an academic career is a highly individual matter in terms of the direction and level of one's aspirations and the rate of their pursuit, the University attempts not only to create a generally supportive atmosphere, but to provide specific programs of assistance. A variety of specific programs are sponsored that are designed to help faculty members with their teaching and with their overall professional growth.

The University's faculty development policies serve to:

  • recruit new faculty members who add specific needed strengths to our faculty and who are dedicated to excellence, both in their scholarly pursuits and in their teaching;
  • aid and encourage newer faculty members by helping them to understand the University's and colleagues' expectations, and the criteria and standards for advancement;
  • encourage the individual schools and departments to codify their criteria for evaluating their faculties, and to make these criteria and standards accessible to the faculty members;
  • aid in harmonizing faculty members' personal career goals with departmental and University objectives, and to give due recognition to faculty members for contributions toward the realization of these objectives;
  • encourage faculty members to strive consciously to improve their teaching, their professional service, and their stature in their scholarly fields; and
  • recognize and reward high attainment by faculty members in any or all of these areas.

The maintenance of high-quality faculty is the keystone of faculty development. In evaluating faculty performance, the department chairs, or in smaller schools, the deans, in consultation with their senior faculties, examine a number of factors. Primary among them is evidence of intellectual vitality in scholarship and a high degree of effectiveness in teaching. In the evaluation process, it is the responsibility of the chairs, deans, and senior faculty to:

  • review the faculty member's progress at least annually and discuss with the faculty member his or her strengths and weaknesses in teaching, including advising, in scholarly activity, in public and professional service, and in furthering the department's or school's other objectives;
  • interpret the University's standards and procedures in terms of departmental or school objectives, and explain these interpretations and objectives to the faculty member;
  • assist the faculty member in formulating plans for his or her progress toward mutually desirable professional objectives;
  • provide encouragement and advice concerning the resources needed for the pursuit of these objectives; and
  • provide recognition for progress and quality in performance in these areas by means of appropriate recommendations and in other tangible ways.

Public service (including community service as relevant) and professional service is included in the evaluation process for promotion and tenure. The weight given to these activities varies with academic discipline and it shall be defined clearly by each school. It is generally agreed that public service is activity based on a faculty member's professional expertise; it is conducted outside the University; it makes a substantial public contribution; and remuneration is not a primary consideration or motivation for the activity. Ideally, this work could be incorporated into the faculty member's professional research and/or the teaching and training of students. The results may become disseminated through publication as a more permanent record.

The faculty member himself or herself is expected to provide data for the evaluative process by periodically supplying the chair, dean, or campus president with materials to go into a dossier on his or her teaching, scholarly accomplishment, and public service.

In making decisions on advancement, department chairs, deans, and campus presidents also examine a number of additional factors. Among them are: leadership ability, the quality of the individual's goals and their importance to departmental development, and evidence of progress in relation to these goals and other obligations.

The deans and campus presidents periodically consult with department chairs on faculty advancement. Deans and campus presidents are also responsible for identifying persons who meet the criteria for permanent faculty, who are capable of further development, or who are of lesser promise to their departments.