Faculty evaluation can be an essential part of nurturing and building effective innovation into the culture and fabric of Northwestern College, but to do so well the faculty evaluation process should be reconceived and revised.
Currently the criteria for successful evaluations are available to faculty in the faculty handbook, but we do not have systematic and sustained faculty development tied to the expectations for faculty. Many faculty are unsure about what the criteria in the handbook mean. The evaluation criteria only loosely encourage innovative practices in teaching and student-faculty collaboration in research. There is also little incentive for faculty to engage in cross-disciplinary research collaborations with faculty on and off campus.
A rigorous and demanding evaluation process and high expectations for faculty teaching, scholarship, service, and faith-integration are essential for the life and future of Northwestern College. However, the evaluation process should also be seen as one of the foundational ways Northwestern College can develop and nurture faculty into excellence in these areas, and not just a way to evaluate whether faculty have achieved some benchmark in these areas.
Suggestions for Northwestern
We propose a re-envisioning of the faculty development and evaluation process at Northwestern College. In the cluster regarding faculty learning communities, we suggested that faculty learning communities become an important part of the faculty development and evaluation process. This will allow for ongoing feedback for faculty as they grow as Christian teachers and scholars, and will provide more informed data for the Faculty Status Committee in the evaluation process.
We also propose the Faculty Development Committee and the Faculty Status Committee, along with the Deans and VPAA (or a taskforce representing these groups), revisit the entire faculty evaluation process. In order to develop a more systematic, coherent faculty development and evaluation process, and one which encourages and rewards effective innovation in teaching, scholarship, and service, this taskforce would revisit and revise, if need be, the new faculty orientation class, the faculty theological education opportunities, and the wording and emphasis of the evaluation criteria in the Faculty Handbook. We propose that Northwestern College rethink how the Faculty Development Committee and the Faculty Status Committee can work together to nurture innovation and excellence in our faculty, and how we help early and mid-career faculty grow into superb teachers and Christian scholars who make a significant impact in their field.
Goal 1.4 – Advance the quality and reputation of the academic program – Raise the reputation of Northwestern as a leader in Christian thought, scholarship, practice, and artistic expression.