November 2015

Promotional Advancement for Academic Professionals
We have reached the end of our initial discussions regarding promotional paths for our Academic Professionals (APs), and I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who helped to advance the conversation. With the feedback received and after discussions with our Executive Committee, I have decided to (1) embark on the process of creating a comprehensive program defining promotional paths for our APs and (2) table consideration of use of Clinical Faculty for our library and information professionals.

The results of the survey previously shared through LibNews (see below) were telling in a number of regards. Although a clear plurality of faculty and APs supported the notion of using the Clinical Faculty framework for some individuals we currently hire as APs, large percentages of those responding were opposed, and a substantial percentage of both faculty and APs remained undecided. By contrast, nearly everyone who responded was in support of the idea that we should provide promotional paths for APs.

Let me continue to emphasize the value of conversations and process in all of these efforts. Many of you were engaged in the public forums and many provided feedback through email and the survey. You engaged meaningfully and energetically in the process, and in doing so, showed your commitment to the institution and profession. Of course even carefully crafted processes like ours don’t necessarily provide clear resolution to challenging issues. Faculty governance plays an important role, as well, and I will note that although I was inclined to begin using Clinical Faculty for a handful of positions, I was convinced by our Executive Committee that the best possible path is instead an aggressive and comprehensive effort to provide promotional paths for all of our APs. Let me again applaud your thoughtful engagement.

Of course all of this means that we have work to do. It is clear that we need to update our bylaws. Our current bylaws were established before the Provost’s Communications on Specialized Faculty. Although our bylaws address the inclusion of research faculty, the bylaws need to be broadened to address Specialized Faculty as a whole, and we should undertake that work in the coming year. More significantly, we have considerable work ahead of us in defining the criteria, processes, and compensation strategies we should employ in supporting promotions for our APs. I’m convinced we have the skill and experience to do an outstanding job in addressing these challenges.

Finally, I’d like to express my deep gratitude for the work done by the members of the Specialized Faculty Task Force and the discussions and feedback provided by our Executive Committee. The work done by the Task Force was outstanding, ensuring every voice could be heard and that we were well-informed. The Executive Committee grappled with the issues throughout, helping to guide the Task Force and me. Thanks to everyone for the great contributions.


John Wilkin
The Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian