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Annual Reviews

March 27, 2012

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology


For the past two weeks I have been reading annual reviews of faculty and staff and meeting with each of 25 professors and lecturers in my office, going over their contributions during the 2011 calendar year.
 
Some journalism units have faculty committees report to the chair or director with an annual review; at the Greenlee School, we do not use faculty committees.
 
I worked at institutions that used annual review committees making an advisory report to the chair or director who then ultimately decided the level of contribution—often without meeting with the employee—a process that has pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s a form of shared governance; on the other, it’s more committee work for faculty, and the administrator may disagree with the committee, which sometimes turns the evaluation process into a political exercise.
 
At Iowa State University, a large part of the annual review is tied to the position responsibility statement, a document outlining the agreed upon employee duties (i.e. the number of classes, type of research, grant expectations, etc.) in addition to other service-oriented tasks. We also assess how the contributions played a role in the unit’s long-range and the college’s strategic plans.
 
At some institutions, faculty merely send memos or even emails about their contributions, listing items that are marginal at best or not related whatsoever to the mission of the unit.
 
At Greenlee, we prepare a three-page review document asking employees to document peer-reviewed articles, convention papers, invited vs. refereed presentations, teaching and assessment practices, and student evaluation scores. We leave a blank page for comments. Some professors leave that page blank while others fill the page explaining the impact of activities or putting productivity into context.

However you look at it, the annual review process here entails a lot of work, documenting the scope of contributions that each person teaching/advising, scholarship/research and community/professional service.
 
I assign a numerical value to each section in a form that looks like this:
 
1. Teaching
 
Outstanding    Good                  Meets Expectations Below Average            Poor
5.0     4.5       4.0        3.5       3.0        2.5      2.0      1.5       1.0        0.5       0.0
 
2. Research
 
Outstanding    Good                  Meets Expectations Below Average            Poor
5.0     4.5       4.0        3.5       3.0        2.5      2.0      1.5       1.0       0.5       0.0
 
3. Service
 
Outstanding    Good                  Meets Expectations Below Average            Poor
5.0     4.5       4.0        3.5       3.0        2.5      2.0      1.5       1.0       0.5       0.0
 
4. Overall 
 
Outstanding    Good                  Meets Expectations Below Average            Poor
5.0     4.5       4.0        3.5       3.0        2.5      2.0      1.5       1.0       0.5       0.0
 
The overall score then is used to calculate the raise for the next academic year. If a person gets a 4.5 overall score, and the raise pool for the year is 3%, we use a cross multiplication formula to determine the raise percentage: 5.0 is to 3 as 4.5 is to X (or 5/3=4.5/X) or 2.7%.
 
Then we take the remainder, in this case 0.3, and put those dollars in a merit and equity pool to deal with substantial contributions or to ease salary compression.
 
Finally, because each annual review is tied to the employee’s Position Responsibility Statement—which in turn is used to determine promotion and tenure—the evaluation process over time also defines the trajectory of a professor’s career.

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