Considerations for Faculty Evaluation and COVID-19

Faculty evaluation is one of the most important areas of responsibility and/or oversight for department chairs / Local Academic Unit heads. 

Since the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and events that prompted a national reckoning with race have created disruptions to our personal and professional lives. In response to numerous questions from academic leadership, the Office of the Provost has created this resource to offer guidance around faculty evaluation. This page will be updated as we continue to learn more, as we recognize that COVID-19 impacts are likely to continue among some faculty members and disciplines beyond the current year. 

COVID-19 Impacts 

All Local Academic Units/Schools/Colleges should be asking about and accounting for COVID-19 in faculty annual evaluations. You can find Example COVID-19 Impact Statement Guidelines for Annual Review here. In addition, please familiarize yourself with the following resources on the Office of the Provost website: 

The Role of Department Chairs’ Role in Supporting Recovery from COVID-19

  • The annual review process offers an additional opportunity to check in with your faculty members, which is especially critical currently. Be proactive in asking faculty members what they need to get back on track, what adaptations they have made and/or might be able to make moving forward, and what has been positive and/or unexpected.  

  • Engage in and facilitate mentoring conversations among your faculty, recognizing that one size does not fit all. If needed, prioritize conversations with faculty coming up for promotion, both tenure-line and term.  

  • It will be important to consider how you make assignments (e.g., new courses, overloads, committee work) given what you have learned from the annual review and your conversations with faculty. As appropriate, offer flexibility as needed. 

  • Continue to support hybrid meeting formats to include as many of your faculty as possible.  

  • Foster departmental community discussions 

  • Become familiar with the increasing evidence and literature how COVID-19 has affected the discipline.  

  • Explore the differential impacts on different groups of faculty (e.g., faculty of color, women with young children or faculty with elder caretaking responsibilities). 

  • Discuss what adaptations might have been made within your LAU/School/College that are worth preserving.  

  • Seek to build awareness and camaraderie among colleagues to develop a shared context for faculty evaluations. 

  • Become familiar with the increasing literature on impacts of and adaptations in response to COVID-19 on your discipline.  

  • Know that while not all faculty may wish to document or disclose health or caregiving impacts, caregiving responsibilities reflect the disparate impact COVID-19 had on worktime for faculty members.  

Annual Review

General Considerations

  • Count COVID-19 related contributions that changed or increased workload (e.g., support and mentoring for remote instruction, increased advising, service, public engagement, pivots in research, scholarship and creative work). For example: 

  • Participation in professional development activities to adapt and improve teaching and learning practices, with examples of changes made to courses. 

  • Mentorship of peers or other leadership for teaching and learning efforts. 

  • Efforts undertaken to support student learning and success under difficult conditions. 

  • Faculty with higher advising loads or who are seen as more accessible to students have often spent increased time advising, mentoring, and simply providing student emotional support. Note that the research suggests that women and faculty of color are disproportionately impacted. 

  • Teaching during the pandemic, regardless of modality, was challenging for all faculty and teaching in multiple modalities increased these challenges. 

  • Be aware of and acknowledge the unevenness of the pandemic’s impact on certain subpopulations of faculty (e.g., caregivers). 

  • Not all faculty have had the same access to spaces, equipment, and/or high-speed internet.  

Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring

  • Best practices indicate that comprehensive evaluations of teaching, learning, and mentoring include a review of multiple sources of information. Importantly, the pandemic is an opportunity to ensure that we think beyond the student course evaluation.  

  • A reminder that additional evidence can include peer reviews, teaching/course design and materials, attainment of course learning outcomes, and/or faculty members’ self-assessment. For a helpful resource that provides additional information see: Supporting Efforts to Document and Assess Teaching and Learning  

  • Student course evaluation reminders:  

    • There were no student teaching evaluations for spring 2020.  

    • We piloted the BLU new Student Course Evaluations in fall of 2021. While not specifically COVID-19 related, this is another complexity in the review process. Some faculty may have experienced lower response rates than in prior semesters.  

    • Note that there may still be insights and/or trends that can be gleaned from reflecting on these evaluations.

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work

  • Count, with the same weight, cancelled/ postponed/ virtual conferences, invited talks, etc. 

  • Document interruptions that might have impacted the record (e.g., lab closures, unavailability of human subjects, inability to travel to field sites, interruptions in manuscript review timeframes or other press disruptions, exhibition or conference cancellations). 

  • Support faculty in creating a plan to address short and medium-term impacts on research efforts, such as impacts related to travel restriction, lab closures, etc.  

  • Some faculty have been very productive during the pandemic and some have identified new research opportunities or been brought into research teams for specific expertise. 

Service and Leadership

  • Document internal and external service requirements related to the pandemic. Service in some areas may have increased while service in other areas may have decreased or ceased.  

  • Research continues to highlight the unequal demands on faculty of color and women due to both the COVID-19 and racial reckoning pandemics.  

  • Consider whether a faculty member contributed to pandemic solutions in the department, college/school, university, or professional organization. 

  • Special considerations might be given to contributions that advanced unit-wide teaching and learning during the pandemic and/or to service efforts that utilized faculty expertise in support of community responses to the COVID-19 crisis.