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Restructuring of Academic Tracks to Create Successful Career Paths for the Faculty of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Authors Wieder R, Carson JL, Strom BL

Received 12 May 2020

Accepted for publication 18 August 2020

Published 14 October 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 103—115


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Russell Taichman

Robert Wieder,1,2 Jeffrey L Carson,2,3 Brian L Strom2

1Department of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, USA; 2Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, USA; 3Department of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Correspondence: Robert Wieder
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, 205 South Orange Avenue Cancer Center H1296, Newark, NJ 07103, USA
Tel +1 973-972-4871
Fax +1 973-972-2668

Background: We report faculty affairs lessons from the formation and academic restructuring of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Our approach may be a blueprint for development of a new track system that can be adapted by other institutions, after consideration of their own special circumstances.
Methods: We created new Appointments and Promotions guidelines consisting of one Tenure Track and four Non-Tenure Tracks, each with different missions. We restructured faculty performance evaluations to include mission-based criteria, an expanded rating scale, and specific expectations. After negotiating these new processes with our faculty union, we enacted central oversight to ensure uniform application of these processes and their associated criteria. We communicated the guidelines and the evaluation system widely. We created programs for universal mentoring, publishing education, diversity, and faculty development.
Results: All faculty in our seven schools went through track selection. Anxiety and incomplete understanding improved after implementation. Evaluations with expectations for the following year and an expanded scale for more nuanced assessment served as mentoring tools. Requirements for mentor assignments and diversity education created an atmosphere of nurturing and inclusion. Publications, extramural support, and faculty satisfaction increased after implementation of the guidelines.
Conclusion: Lessons included the need to review and learn from guidelines at other institutions, to create tracks that align with different jobs, the necessity for central oversight for uniform application of criteria, the need for extensive and frequent communication with faculty, and that fear of change is only reduced after evidence of success of a new structure. The most important lesson was that faculty rise to expectations when clear, ambitious criteria are delineated and universally applied.

Keywords: academic restructuring, faculty tracks, faculty development, faculty mentoring, faculty evaluations, faculty diversity

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