What is service?
Often listed as Contributions to the University and Community, tenure-track faculty are expected to engage in service opportunities. According to Section 600 (the manual that outlines tenure-track evaluation standards), service is formally defined as, "Contributions to the University and community refer to those contributions normally expected from all members of the faculty. Such contributions include active membership on committees at the Department, College, or University level, student advisement, and such other responsibilities, including community service, undertaken to advance the goals of the University." (Section 632.5: Faculty Affairs Policies website).
Faculty who make contributions outside of their department tend to be more engaged and better positioned to create social networks across campus and apply for opportunities like research dollars and other college and university-level resources and even positions. Some faculty report that this can be part of the most rewarding aspect of their work because of the relationships built outside of their department. It can also be helpful when faculty connect their service to teaching and creative or scholarly activities.
How is Service Evaluated?
It depends on your department and college. However, Section 632.5 (Faculty Affairs Policies website) states, "Positive recognition shall be given to those faculty who help the University serve students and community members from underrepresented groups. Positive recognition shall also be given to those faculty who make significant contributions in advancing University programs dealing with teacher education and/or internationalizing education. As part of their personnel procedures, departments may, in addition, specify the types of contributions which advance their efforts in those areas" (Section 600).
Suggestions for Assistant Professors, Senior Assistant Librarian, Student Services Professional – Academic-Related I:
Effective participation in faculty and student affairs at various levels (University, College, Department) is desirable.
Student advisement, mentoring, and retention activities are highly desirable.
Community service is desirable.
Not all service is the same (e.g., serving on the department awards banquet is often valued differently than serving on curriculum or assessment).
Which service roles are right for you depends on lots of variables of course. While we appreciate the common advice of follow your passions is valid, we also appreciate that sometimes it's hard to know which roles will feed our passion and which ones won't it until we've been here for a few years. We appreciate these decision-making tips from Virginia Huynh, Child & Adolescent Development when someone asks you to join a committee to learn more before saying yes:
- Avoid a quick yes on the spot; instead respond by saying, "Oh, thank you, I need to think about it. When do you need to know my answer?"
- Ask- What is the goal of this committee? Is there a deliverable expected at the end? Who's leading and who else is on this committee?
- Ask- What is the length of the commitment (e.g., end of the year?)? Is there an expectation I need to stay on this committee?
- Ask- Can you describe roughly how many hours per week (or over the semester) can I expect to spend on this?
- Ask- Why are you asking me? What unique contributions are you thinking I would bring?
- Inquire with others about this role and ask them, "How will serving on this committee help me as a new faculty member?"
Realities of Service
Say yes first, so it's easier to say no later. What does this mean? As you learn more about all the service options, optimize the service obligations by strategically figuring out which types of committee work will be a win for you. What type of work pulls to your strengths and gives you energy and fulfillment? Intentionally seek those out and ask to join those efforts. Then when you are later asked to join committees you know won't be a good fit for you, you can confidently say, "Oh, thank you for thinking of me. I have already extended myself on X committees this semester."
It is true that women and faculty of color are too often exploited (June. 2018) for service roles and/or engaging in invisible service that isn't even formally acknowledged (e.g., hours of time mentoring students that aren't even our own students but have sought you out as a trusted ally).
Examples of Service
- Department Personnel Committee (DPC)
- Search & Screen
- Assessment (but might be counted at college or university level instead)
- Graduate Studies or program area Coordinator
- Accreditation or Program Review
- Commencement (but might be counted at college or university level instead)
- Sabbatical Review
- Advising Coordinator/ Advising role
- Equity & Diversity Representative
- Student Organization/Club/Program Advisor
- Faculty Mentorship
- Student Success; GI2025; Student Mentoring
- Reviewer for Scholarship/Awards
- And more
- College Personnel Committee (CPC)
- Reviewer for Research & Graduate Studies’ Distinguished Speaker Award
- Reviewer for Research & Graduate Studies’ Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Awards (RSCA)
- Student Success; GI2025; Student Mentoring
- Academic Planning/Policy Committees
- Faculty Senate (12 standing committees)
- Faculty Development
- New Faculty Foundations (orientation)
- Grant reviewer (probationary faculty grant; learning-centered grant)
- Active Learning Ambassadors
- Workshop presenter/facilitator
- Research & Graduate Studies, Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects
- Common Reading Reviewers
- Community Engagement
- Other university-level committees (these may or may not have faculty roles)
- Just Say No: Kerry Ann Roquemore - Inside Higher Ed (2010)
- Skill #6 - The Art of Saying No: National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (2020)
- Faculty Service and the Difference Between Opportunity and Exploitation: Helene Meyers - Chronicle of Higher Education (2018)