Engaging in research is one of several key functions of faculty members and is what sets faculty at top-notch colleges and universities apart from their counterparts at other institutions. It is also the primary way faculty have of not only keeping up with, but also substantively contributing to their chosen fields. We are called to think Christianly and contribute as Christian scholars to the life of the mind in the broader culture–it is a central part of our calling as Christian faculty and is part of the calling of Northwestern College. Northwestern’s reputation as a college of distinction with high-level academics is directly tied to the research production of its faculty. However, most faculty find their available time is overwhelmed by teaching and service duties during the semester (see the AIL time study).
To this end NWC should encourage and support more faculty to use their time during the summer months for productive research. In order to facilitate increased research productivity and grow Northwestern’s national academic reputation, Northwestern College should develop a number of extended contracts or increase the amount and number of summer research stipends for faculty.
Ideas from Other Institutions
Other institutions offer similar stipends and awards. In fact, some like IPWF have separate ones targeted to newer and more senior faculty.
Suggestions for Northwestern
Up to 20% of the faculty should be offered competitive, extended summer research contracts so they may engage in significant, productive research during the summer months. These should be renewable and extended (covering three to five years, rather than requiring yearly renewal). These contracts should be substantive–increasing a faculty member’s salary by 10% or more. These extended contracts will probably require the creation of a dedicated endowment to fund. The availability of such contracts could have a profound effect on the national reputation of the college.
These contracts would be separate from Summer Research Grants, which should be designed to pay for research expenses and Research Assistant salaries incurred during the summer months. These extended summer contracts will help change the research culture of Northwestern as well as increase the amount and quality of research being produced by the faculty. These contracts could also privilege research that is collaborative (particularly with other Northwestern faculty), involves students, and includes a sophisticated understanding of Christian scholarship appropriate to the faculty member’s field.
Goal 1.3 – Advance the quality and reputation of the academic program – Increase opportunity and resources for faculty-student collaborative research and scholarship.
Goal 1.3 – 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.