I think I am fated to return to our department’s personnel committee. I don’t know if I can make a difference: the inertia is pretty high within my department, and that’s within a fairly inert institution, but one thing I hope we can tackle — in addition to actually developing policies that may, one day, to faculty self-governance — is the issue of the *rubrics* that now measure what we do. A year and a half ago, two of us took on the task of developing the rubric for research in our department, but were saddened to see it turned into something, something … I don’t even words for what happened to the simple set of guidelines we had developed.
Worse, the rubrics for teaching and service were also overly involved, overly confusing. (And, worse, our former department head applied them himself, breaking the entire notion of an objective measure. *How do I know this?* When I pointed out that he had calculated my research score lower than it should be, he lowered my teaching score to compensate for my raised research score, giving me the “grade” he felt I deserved. So much for objectivity.) The result was that few faculty actually tried to use the rubrics, and so there was no effective feedback on how to make them better.
I think making them better, by making them user friendly as well as clearly objective as possible, is a top priority for the personnel committee. One of the things that has, so far, been off the table is any attempt to capture or recognize (let alone reward) on-line activity. I don’t know, at this moment, how to capture it let alone calculate the contribution it should make to our understanding of an individual’s contribution to his/her field.
At least three of us in our department maintain active websites where we engage in larger conversations about topics that interest us. I think my two colleagues are probably better at it and more focused in what they do with their blogs — I myself have been keeping this thing for so long that it feels more like an extension of my memory as well as an extension of my speech than anything more like the conventional wisdom of what blogs are for.
Here’s a quick capture of what things have looked like over the past few years on JL.o: