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K-State Today

July 22, 2020

Update on evaluation processes for faculty

Submitted by Chuck Taber

Dear colleagues: 

Last week Human Capital Services announced flexibility for evaluations for university support staff and unclassified professionals for this calendar year. We have received a number of questions about faculty evaluations. Given the importance of evaluations for all aspects of one's academic career — e.g., promotion, tenure, reappointment, professorial performance awards, etc. — all evaluation processes of faculty will proceed as regularly planned.

It is important as we go forward in these processes to remember that the present COVID-19 pandemic has likely had an impact on all facets of faculty performance — research, teaching, service and professional development. This anomalous situation and its impact on faculty productivity shall be considered in annual evaluations, reappointments, and promotion and tenure decisions. Additionally, as was announced in March, faculty in tenure-track positions who have been reappointed for fall 2020 will be provided a one-year delay in the tenure clock.

As a reminder, it was decided in the spring that faculty members have the option of including or excluding their spring 2020 student evaluations from any and all types of evaluations in the future. This will continue to apply through fall 2020. If faculty choose to exclude the evaluations, they shall not be subject to any negative consequences from the department head, evaluation committee, senior faculty, or dean.

For the purposes of any future faculty evaluation — including annual evaluations, reappointments, promotion and tenure decisions, and professorial performance awards — student evaluation scores from the spring, summer and fall 2020 should not be used unless explicitly provided by the faculty member. Faculty preparing their documents should add "COVID-19" to the affected semesters unless they choose to add their scores or comments. 

Likewise, department heads should make the cause of any teaching and productivity disruptions related to the pandemic clear in their cover-letters and internal evaluations by including the following language: "Kansas State University collected TEVALS but did not require TEVAL scores from its faculty during the COVID-19 crisis." Any COVID-19 disruptions should be clearly delineated for, and accommodations made by, all those party to such decisions, from department heads, relevant faculty, personnel committees, advisory committees, deans, and anyone else who might be engaged in those processes.

The decision in the spring to offer faculty flexibility in including student evaluation information was in recognition of the disruptive nature of the pandemic. Our faculty, along with their students, met numerous personal and professional challenges. The additional workload required to shift to emergency remote teaching, the extraordinary creativity and flexibility employed to help students continue to learn, and the effort required to balance work and class schedules with family obligations were no small undertakings. 

The complexities that shaped our historic spring semester will be amplified during the fall as we have continued uncertainty about the course of the pandemic, continued adjustments ahead with in-person, blended/hybrid and online teaching modalities, serving students who may be ill or completing quarantine, and our own health and wellness considerations. In some cases, faculty will be involved in furloughs as well. In all areas of faculty productivity during these times, department heads and other faculty who are engaged in the evaluation processes should adjust their expectations for productivity accordingly. There should be no expectation that standard levels of productivity will be accomplished during these times.  

We have asked our faculty to be flexible and provide accommodation whenever possible. Likewise, I want to make sure that our faculty have assurances of recognition of the extraordinary circumstances that have shaped this year and a clear understanding of the flexibility available to them. Our faculty are doing important work under extraordinary circumstances and our evaluation systems should take this into account.


Chuck Taber
Provost and executive vice president