Academic staff at Laval University have ensured closer attention is paid to their share of service work during tenure and promotion appraisals.
Most collective agreements in Canada specify faculty members’ contributions to the missions of the university in teaching, scholarly work and service, often explicitly or implicitly referring to a 40-40-20 distribution.
“In reality, few academic staff fit exactly into a rigid 40-40-20 split of duties, and the weight given to research and teaching in evaluations means service is routinely undervalued or not recognized at all,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson.
At Laval, however, departmental councils establish the criteria upon which tenure or promotion will be based so that each component of the academic job is given appropriate consideration.
“This is a really important feature of academic governance at Laval,” said Yves Lacouture, president of the academic staff union. “It gives departments the flexibility to decide on the criteria for tenure in a way that is appropriate to the discipline, as well as to assess a candidate’s contributions to the department, the university, and beyond in a more comprehensive way.”
The department of visual arts may therefore weigh the relative combination of research, teaching and service differently than a department like biology, said Lacouture.
Departmental colleagues are also in a better position to assess aspects of a candidate’s particular circumstances, such as added family responsibilities.
Broadening the notion of service was equally important, according to Lacouture.
The union has negotiated provisions in the collective agreement articulating that contributions to union activities, such as serving on bargaining committees or employer-employee committees, will be included in promotion and tenure dossiers.
Departments also usually establish the academic standards for promotion to full professor. But for those that don’t, there are now general guidelines in place that recognize that promotion to the rank of professor can be based upon evidence of the candidate’s distinction in teaching or scholarship, or even solely on exemplary institutional and professional service.
“Our model is succeeding and one for others to emulate,” said Lacouture.