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POPin Blog

Five Ways to Empower Faculty Engagement

Faculty have dedicated their lives to scholarship and instructing the next generation. Isn’t it only fair that universities provide them with the best resources to do so? However, many faculty are unsatisfied with their universities. What was once considered a lifetime position is now only lasting 11 years before instructors move on to another institution. Top educational institutions know that an engaged faculty is key to optimal student learning. Here are five phrases that empowered faculty hear from administration:
  1. It’s about the students. It’s easy to see why many faculty members can become disheartened when dealing with the many levels of administration. They may feel that, because they are constantly communicating back and forth with the administration, they aren’t left with enough time for their students. Remind faculty that the university respects that they want to put their students first. As frequent mediators between students and administration, encourage faculty to note institutional issues that students bring up to them in class or meetings.
  2. We appreciate your unique perspective. As former students, themselves, faculty have seen the educational landscape evolve and are prepared to offer an insightful outlook. Welcome input (even if it’s critical!) and open the lines of communication. Perhaps take a hint from your colleagues and host “office hours” where faculty can drop by and share some of their concerns.
  3. There are no stupid answers. Just as professors encourage class participation by saying, “there are no stupid questions,” faculty should know that their concerns, even the most obvious, are valid. Oftentimes, administration is shocked to discover problems that were never previously voiced, simply because they seemed obvious to faculty. There are some key questions that elicit these responses, including what are three major setbacks you experience from administration? What pressing issues does the university seem to be ignoring? What recent actions are harming the student experience? All faculty feedback should be met with appreciation and trust.
  4. This is a group project. Collaboration is what separates the cutting-edge organizations from the “good” ones, colleges and universities included. Shaping a classic institution in a modern world takes collaboration from all sides. Just as they instruct their students to learn from each other, university officials and faculty should learn from each other’s ideas and experiences, as well. Administration should especially value faculty’s unique proximity to students and students’ authentic voices.
  5. Can you take the lead on this? Even if it’s only with small projects, empowering your faculty members in university decisions and initiatives (without overwhelming them!) gives them an active role creating the best institution for their students.
Don’t cage your faculty in the classroom. Instructors are the backbone of an educational institution, and they are not just there to lecture and leave. A strong campus community relies on an engaged faculty, and POPin can help. POPin is an easy-to-navigate mobile platform in which faculty can anonymously submit their concerns and ideas, and collaborate over them. The results are sent to university leaders in a simple, readable format. Both NYU and UPenn already using POPin to streamline their faculty engagement, and we encourage your university to try POPin as well.