Response to APC Recommendations: Faculty Development and the Teaching and Learning Center - FY 2002 Budget Reductions

MARCH 13, 2002

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Support for the UNL faculty's professional development is important in maintaining and extending high levels of teaching performance as well as in assisting faculty members to develop other aspects of their professional lives. Despite changes necessitated by budget cuts, the goal of supporting faculty development does not change.

In general, the primary responsibility for fostering the faculty member's professional growth has rested and continues to rest with the professor's own department and college. This locus of responsibility is not new, and it reflects a strong presumption that mentoring and professional support can occur most effectively when they are centered in the professor's discipline and home department. However, we also must recognize that at various times in the past, some departments and colleges have ignored or done a poor job of supporting their faculty members' professional development. With the changes now to be implemented, departments and colleges will need to be energetic and consistent in their efforts; fortunately, there is evidence that they are now both more aware of and responsive to the professional development needs of their faculty than they were a couple of decades ago.1

Professional development centered in departments and colleges can be strengthened and enriched by campus-based initiatives and efforts. Under the required budget reductions, the Teaching and Learning Center will be eliminated, and this is regrettable. Several essential services will be maintained, mainly by transferring them. However, in these circumstances, we will also take the opportunity to reassess and re-strategize how we may most effectively promote faculty professional development on campus - opportunities for developing partnerships on campus, for utilizing our own faculty's expertise more effectively, for new approaches. The SVCAA will appoint a small faculty advisory group to assist him in this reconceptualization.

This path can lead to some positive and even perhaps exciting new ways of supporting faculty professional development on the campus.

Recommendations of the APC and their disposition

  1. "the identity of the Center should be maintained" — not accepted

  2. "consulting to improve teaching skills of individual faculty [should be retained]" — not accepted

  3. "consulting to improve skills of teaching assistants [should be retained]" — accepted

  The specialist in Teaching Assistant development (1.0 FTE) will be transferred to the Office of Graduate Studies and retained full-time. Her duties will be refocused to concentrate fully on supporting the teaching effectiveness and development of graduate teaching assistants (including organizing the International TA Workshop, working with departments and colleges, and assisting the Preparing Future Faculty program) and undertaking other duties as determined by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

  4. "consulting to enhance diversity ... [should be maintained]" — accepted

  The specialist in multicultural teaching (currently .75 FTE) will be reassigned to the Office of Academic Affairs to continue working with departments and colleges in developing diversity curricula and in other ways assisting them with inclusive teaching strategies and programs. Diversity funds currently used by SVCAA for a small grants program will be re-directed to support this salary.

  5. "move administration of T&LC to SVCAA" — not relevant if TLC is not maintained

  6. "move electronic testing services and require users to pay the full cost" — accepted

  The Testing Service (1.0 FTE) will be transferred to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning; its pricing will be reviewed to determine whether its operational costs can be put on a self-sustaining basis. The employee will be assigned to testing or to other IRP duties as determined by Director of the office.

  7. "reduce the T&LC budget with the resulting budget designated primarily for consultants" — not accepted
(budget reductions have already been incorporated in the overall budget plan, so designating them for consultants would require additional cuts elsewhere)

  8. "eliminate state budgeted office support for the Teaching Council, Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable" — partially accepted:

Currently, state funding for these groups includes:

  - funding of stipends for Academy members; this will be continued

- $61,000 for small grants support in the area of teaching support, administered by the TLTR and TC - this funding will be suspended for at least one year, with the funds being used (in addition to those already included in the chancellor's original budget proposal) to finance assisting TA's to become better teachers and for reconceptualizing faculty development efforts.

  9. "eliminate production of a paper newsletter" — accepted

  10. "eliminate use of state funds for purchase of ... library materials" — accepted

  11. "eliminate all teaching grants ... and use dollars to help fund consulting activities..." — not relevant [see items # 2 and 8 above].

  12. "use savings from elimination of newsletter to help fund consultants" — not relevant [see items # 2 and 8 above].

  13. "transfer savings from elimination of new resource materials to help fund consultants" — not relevant [see items # 2 and 8 above].


    (1) "Departments and colleges are more frequently involved than they used to be in supporting the enhancement of teaching and learning through small grant programs and sometimes even through sabbatical and travel support. New faculty members are entering the professoriate with enhanced awareness of the importance of teaching effectiveness. Peer learning, peer consultation, and peer review are actually beginning to cross the horizon of faculty/instructional development, which is very exciting and promising for an enhanced institutional spirit of professional growth and development ."
— Report of the Program Review Team, Teaching and Learning Center, 1998.