Agenda Item FA 17-43

Submitted by the Faculty Affairs Committee

University of North Florida Scholarship Statement

University of North Florida Scholarship Statement (Adopted by the UNF Faculty Association on September 7, 2017)

09/07/17: Passed

09/19/17: Approved

The item was adopted with friendly amendments.

 UNF Faculty Association
Scholarship Statement
(Adopted by the UNF Faculty Association on September 7, 2017)

Scholarship Statement – Abridged Version

During the academic years of 2015-16 and 2016-17, the University of North Florida Faculty Association’s Faculty Affairs Committee and Research Council engaged in a process to create a university research/scholarship identity statement, one that would provide a mirror of our collective identity as scholars.  This effort included administration of a survey to gather information from the faculty about the roles that research and scholarly activity play in their careers and professional identities at UNF.  The survey was launched on November 7, 2016.  By the end of the survey administration, on December 1, 2016, 177 of UNF’s 578 full-time faculty (slightly over 30%) had participated.  The statement below was developed by the Faculty Association in the summer and fall of 2017 building on the results of that survey and on significant input from the elected faculty representatives of the Faculty Affairs Committee and Research Council.  Where this statement references “faculty,” it is explicitly referencing survey respondents and those faculty representatives.  The Faculty Association voted unanimously to adopt the statement on September 7, 2017. 

 

For the vast majority of faculty at UNF, scholarship is a necessary and integral component of our academic lives and identities; it identifies us as members of a university faculty. Well over half of the UNF faculty contribute to the discovery of knowledge through original research; well over half base our scholarship in, and focus scholarship on, our various anddiverse communities; almost a quarter are engaged in the scholarship of application; and many of us are actively engaged in cultural invention and creative endeavors.

 

The vast majority of us collaborate with students, both undergraduate and graduate, and with colleagues internal and external to the university and across disciplines. Scholarship conducted at UNF frequently contributes to the economic growth of the northeast Florida region not only by preparing students for entry into a technologically and culturally sophisticated marketplace but also by driving the level of sophistication of regional industry through our scholarly contributions.

 

The University of North Florida invests in scholarship through offering tenure-line faculty members time for scholarship; annual travel funding; funding for the purchase of equipment; support for identifying and securing external funding; sabbaticals, research leaves, and summer research funding; funding for graduate and undergraduate students; and support for efforts focused on sharing results of scholarly endeavors. As is the case with many universities, faculty at UNF divide their professional time among teaching, scholarship, and service. Historically teaching three courses each semester, scholarship and service are formally allocated a quarter of our attention. Whether in the laboratory, studio, library, in the field, in a clinical setting, or simply sitting at our desks, the majority of faculty devote to scholarship between five and ten hours a week through the academic year and ten or more in the summer.

Scholarship Statement – Full Version

During the academic years of 2015-16 and 2016-17, the University of North Florida Faculty Association’s Faculty Affairs Committee and Research Council engaged in a process to create a university research/scholarship identity statement, one that would provide a mirror of our collective identity as scholars.  This effort included administration of a survey to gather information from the faculty about the roles that research and scholarly activity play in their careers and professional identities at UNF.  The survey was launched on November 7, 2016.  By the end of the survey administration, on December 1, 2016, 177 of UNF’s 578 full-time faculty (slightly over 30%) had participated.  The statement below was developed by the Faculty Association in the summer and fall of 2017 building on the results of that survey and on significant input from the elected faculty representatives of the Faculty Affairs Committee and Research Council.  Where this statement references “faculty,” it is explicitly referencing survey respondents and those faculty representatives.  The Faculty Association voted unanimously to adopt the statement on September 7, 2017. 

 

Statement Purpose: The purpose of this statement is to describe how the faculty of the University of North Florida understand the place and role of scholarship at our university: a state regional comprehensive -- one situated in a metropolitan community of which the university is a vital member and to whose educational, economic, and cultural needs we are highly responsive – largely focused on undergraduate education but also offering a modest variety of graduate degrees, many practically/professionally focused. This statement describes why our scholarship is necessary and impactful both to our identity as a university and to the educational opportunities we offer our students. We offer this statement to clarify our collective academic values and for those interested in our university, including those seeking to join it.

 

The Importance of Scholarship : For the vast majority of faculty at UNF, scholarship is a necessary and integral component of our academic lives and identities; it identifies us as members of a university faculty. It defines us, alongside our students, as fellow learners and models the ideal of the life-long learner.

 

Scholarly Focus: Well over half of the UNF faculty identify themselves as contributors to the discovery of knowledge through original research; well over half base our scholarship in, and focus scholarship on, our various and diverse communities; almost a quarter are engaged in the scholarship of application; and many of us are actively engaged in cultural invention and creative endeavors.

 

Scholarly Practices: The vast majority of UNF faculty members set both annual and long-term scholarly agendas. We carry out projects of scholarship to add to and refine knowledge and understanding; to prepare, inform, and enliven what we teach and how we teach; to contribute to disciplinary and interdisciplinary progress; to use what is discovered and invented to meaningfully better ourselves, our communities, and our world. We conduct scholarship that is significant as variously measured by the impact it has on students’ lives, on national/international academic discussion, and on the betterment of the lives of members of our communities.

 

Scholarly Standards : We recognize the importance of employing the highest standards of rigor and integrity as we practice the principled virtue of unbridled curiosity. We employ those same standards as we share with others the results of our scholarship, the majority of us through peer-reviewed journal articles.

 

Student Collaboration: The vast majority of us collaborate with students, both undergraduate and graduate, and with colleagues internal and external to the university and across disciplines. We enthusiastically seek collaboration with students in recognition of the strength of the transformative value that students experience in being involved in their professors’ scholarly projects.

 

Regional Contribution: As is appropriate for a regional comprehensive university set in a large metropolis, scholarship conducted at UNF frequently contributes to the economic growth of the northeast Florida region not only by preparing students for entry into a technologically and culturally sophisticated marketplace but also by driving the level of sophistication of regional industry through our scholarly contributions.

 

University Commitment to Scholarship:  The University of North Florida recognizes and rewards scholarly engagement and achievement by conducting annual evaluation of each faculty member whose assignment includes a scholarship component; by including, at all levels, evaluation of scholarly accomplishment in tenure and promotion decisions and in decisions about merit-focused compensation (in ways that are in line with assignment expectations, with available resources, and with the values expressed in this statement); through peer-decided university awards; and through assignment adjustments (such as the reduction in teaching assignment that comes with a Presidential Professorship and programs that offer course releases to those who demonstrate success as scholars). UNF invests in scholarship through offering tenure-line faculty members time for scholarship; annual travel funding; funding for the purchase of necessary equipment and materials (particularly, though not exclusively, in the natural & applied sciences and the arts, and particularly at the point at which one joins the university); support for identifying and securing external funding (such as grants and donations); sabbaticals, research leaves, and summer research funding; funding for graduate and undergraduate students to assist/collaborate on faculty scholarly projects; support for symposia, and the like, focused on sharing results of scholarly endeavors, both internal and external to the university; and funding the release time mentioned above. As is the case with many universities, faculty at UNF divide their professional time among teaching, scholarship, and service. Historically teaching three courses each semester, scholarship and service are formally allocated a quarter of our attention. Whether in the laboratory, studio, library, in the field, in a clinical setting, or simply sitting at our desks, the majority of us devote to scholarship between five and ten hours a week through the academic year and ten or more in the summer (most often in the absence of formal obligation).

 

Scholarly Aspirations: Faculty seek (1) to grow the quality and quantity of our scholarly contributions, measured in ways noted above, balanced with assignments and resources, appropriate to the nature of our disciplines, (2) to add colleagues who are committed to scholarship and possess the promise to produce high quality work, (3) to secure additional means, external and internal, of supporting scholarship, (4) to identify and pursue additional scholarly partnerships and collaborations, (5) to encourage enhancement of the university’s mechanisms for recognizing and rewarding scholarly accomplishments, and (6) to develop the university’s investment in scholarship in myriad ways so that growth, both for the individual faculty member and for the university as a whole, is fostered.

 

Scholarship Recommendations

Although the identity statement above is descriptive, it is also aspirational. The overwhelming majority of faculty wish to devote more time to scholarship, a goal most of us see as perennially aspirational as it is tied inextricably to the time we must devote to our instructional and service obligations. We recommend the following to enhance attention to scholarship.

  • Expand course reassignments for scholarship.
  • Diversify assignments to provide additional time to those who both wish and have the proven record to produce scholarship.
  • Expand summer funding for scholarship.
  • Expand funding for travel. The vast majority of faculty would travel more, for the purposes of research or dissemination of the results of scholarship, had we the additional resources to do so.
  • Enhance recognition, rewarding, celebration, and publicizing of scholarly accomplishment in both tangible and symbolic forms.
  • Evaluate and streamline the processes (particularly the IRB/research integrity processes) that are necessary – but at the moment difficult – for study connected to humans. Over half our research involves human participants.
  • Provide special funding for constellations of collaborative efforts that cross disciplinary boundaries, have particular regional/community significance, have special significance for UNF’s identity, and/or have special promise for acquiring additional means to support scholarship.
  • Expand support for undergraduate and graduate students engaged in self-directed scholarship, in student-collaborative scholarship, and in faculty-collaborative scholarship. Expand graduate assistantships in number and in terms of support.
  • Develop a comprehensive university plan for the acquisition, maintenance, repair, replacement, and augmentation – and where appropriate, sharing -- of all research and creative endeavor equipment purchases.
  • Ensure that evaluation of scholarly achievement is in balance with assignment expectations and available resources.
  • Develop support means for scholarly pursuits on the parts of those members of the UNF community who do not have formal scholarly obligations/assignments but who wish to pursue them.
  • Incorporate our scholarly identity and aspirations into UNF Strategic Planning and into the mission and vision statements of all UNF academic units.


Enclosure: 
Basic Summary of Faculty Association Research Survey