Faculty Roles and Responsibilities


The faculty role generally encompasses three areas of responsibility: Teaching, Research, and Service. Contrary to the diagram above, what proportion of time a faculty member spends (or is expected to spend) in each area varies generally by institution type and more specifically from institution to institution.

Teaching generally includes actual in-class time working with students, as well as time spent mentoring and directing research by graduate students and preparing for class. Depending on the specific institution, such time could also include office hours as well as time spent revising old or creating new courses. Over the last decade, much work has been accomplished in advancing the notion of a scholarship of teaching, wherein the endeavor of teaching becomes a dynamic interchange of knowledge between the teacher and the learner, with pedagogical approaches being continuously assessed for effectiveness for the student as well as in relation to the subject matter. The work of Ernest Boyer, Parker Palmer and others in this area has greatly elevated the perception of teaching as an important and valued role for faculty.

Research refers to the inquiry and/or discovery activities of the faculty member. Research includes writing text books, doing oral histories or assessing the impact of a social service program. Faculty members in all institution types engage in some form of intellectual inquiry that demands a significant portion of their time and energy and should also be valued as research.

Service in the context of academia generally refers to service to the institution, the external community, and the larger academic community. What qualifies as service, again, varies greatly upon the specific institution. For example, small liberal arts colleges often require faculty to be active in shared governance through active engagement in faculty senate meetings, exercise of control over the curriculum, and involvement in advising students or similar activities that support the mission of the institution. In other institutions, service means service to the particular department of which the faculty is a member. Such duties might include participation on departmental or college-level committees or advising of students who are majors of the department. This is particularly true of larger institutions where meetings of the entire faculty are rare. Other institutions expect service to also include leadership in community service activities in the institution's city or state. Service also includes activities and leadership in professional societies and other national organizations as well as service on study sections for granting agencies, participation in advisory councils, etc.

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