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CAP Guidance on Faculty Service Imbalances

Service is, of course, one of the three legs considered for advancement in Academic Personnel cases. In some respects, however, service is the most difficult to evaluate objectively – CAP receives no outside evaluations from external reviewers as is true in “hurdle” steps for scholarship, nor do faculty review committees typically weigh in on the quality of service. CAP receives no formal evaluations of the quality of service as we do with teaching, where we receive student evaluations, faculty observations, and letters solicited from students. Instead, we typically receive a list of service activities with little explanation beyond the title of the activity.

CAP does, however, care about service contributions and seeks to reward faculty members who engage in extensive service. Moreover, CAP members expect that all faculty members will engage in increasing amounts of service as they gain seniority, service not just connected to their academic interests, but also service to departments and to the university. By the time a faculty member comes up for advancement to Step VI and Above Scale, CAP expects to see substantial amounts of departmental service and at least some Academic Senate or system-wide service.

CAP members are also concerned that certain groups of faculty members may bear a disproportionate share of service obligations. In particular, faculty of color and women are often asked to serve on time-consuming committees and in time-consuming administrative positions, especially post-tenure. The reasons for these requests are varied, but often include a desire on the part of departments and the campus to demonstrate diverse representation in governance. Though this is a laudable goal, it should not be met at the expense of an individual faculty member’s professional and scholarly development. Departments should be sensitive to offsetting extensive service obligations by providing additional time for scholarship, either once the service is completed or during the service commitment.

Where a faculty member does engage in extensive service, CAP would benefit from additional information in the candidate’s dossier. In addition to listing service titles, CAP would find it useful for candidates to provide approximate estimates of particularly time consuming service obligations: how much time a particular service obligation requires and for what length of time. For example, a committee that meets weekly two hours a day for an entire academic year is an impressive obligation, whereas a committee that meets only once or twice is less impressive.

CAP would also benefit from knowing whether large service obligations are compensated or uncompensated (with teaching relief or a stipend); both are invaluable and uncompensated service is even more noteworthy in a candidate’s file. Finally, CAP would find it helpful for candidates to provide qualitative information about service obligations that produce particularly noteworthy accomplishments.

Ann Carlson, Chair
Council on Academic Personnel, 2018-19