Emerson College’s academic affairs team enjoys a faculty recruitment process that’s free from certain human resources constraints.
“HR is involved towards the end of the faculty hiring process — once we’ve uploaded a signed and returned hiring proposal — so they can start their onboarding process, but everything before that is centralized in academic affairs,” said Matthew Finn, assistant director of faculty administration at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Using PeopleAdmin ATS—the applicant tracking system designed specifically for higher education—Emerson College’s academic affairs team maintains the freedom to recruit faculty in the most effective manner, without drawing compliance concerns from HR.
“We’re on the same page, as far as compliance is concerned, and [ATS] gives them the ability to access any compliance-related information they might need,” Matthew explained. “While they may not be involved with the whole process, they’re able to follow the progress within the system with complete transparency.”
It’s the ability to provide the right person with the right level of visibility at the right time that initially drew Emerson College to PeopleAdmin.
“You have to keep things accessible, but not accessible to everyone,” Matthew said. “And we can do that now because we can control who has access to these materials and when they have access.” Before implementing ATS, Emerson’s academic affairs team relied on a paper-based faculty recruitment process.
“It was extremely outdated,” Matthew said. “It was a tedious process. You could only access files behind a locked door.” Having that physical barrier prevented search committee members from reviewing candidate files during nonstandard hours.
“You could only access the materials Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Matthew said. “Now, you can look it up at night or on the weekend, which helps search committee members better prepare for their meetings.”
ATS also gives the academic affairs team greater visibility into how faculty searches progress.
“[ATS] centralized the process and makes everything so much smoother,” Matthew said. “We’re able to track how the searches are going for each department, which was far more difficult when we were chasing down paper notes and files.”
The solution even makes it easier to keep applicants informed of their status.
“Departments used have to send out individual emails, which took a lot of time,” Matthew said. “Now, that’s automated. [ATS] took a lot off some department administrators’ workloads.”
Because of the increased efficiency, gaining faculty buy-in proved to be a less daunting task than Matthew expected.
“Originally, I was hesitant to go to our faculty and tell them we were implementing this new technology. I thought, ‘So-and-so’s been here for 40 years. It’s going to be impossible to get them to use this,’” he said. “It was actually a lot easier than I thought, and I think they liked the structure and simplicity of it.”
What made faculty so receptive to the structure? ATS’s ability to create a search committee process that met the college’s unique needs.
“The way our process is built, applicants enter the system, and the search committee chair is the only person moving candidates through the workflow. The other search committee members are just using the system to look at applications and download information, so it’s very streamlined for them,” Matthew said. “That means we really only have to train one faculty member on how to use the system.”
Once the faculty search moves to the hiring offer, the dean enjoys an equally seamless experience.
“The dean has to make the offer,” Matthew explained. “Once the search process makes it to the dean’s level, the ability to use hiring proposals, upload the offer letter, and connect with human resources really expedites the process.”
Because ATS streamlined time-consuming faculty search tasks and workflows for both academic affairs and search committee members, Emerson College started implementing more impactful initiatives.
“With [ATS], we’re able to better focus on diversity and inclusion,” Matthew said. “We have access to run reports and data from PeopleAdmin to help pinpoint where we are, faculty wise, with diversity. Our vice president for diversity and inclusion is able to run EEO reports from the applicant pools and work with the search committees on a robust and diverse recruitment plan.
“Having a diverse faculty is an important goal for any institution,” he added. “It’s part of the college experience; part of education. Immersing students in a diverse world, diverse ideas, and difficult conversations in the classroom brings forward personal experiences from different backgrounds. So does having a faculty member with whom a student can relate to and learn from.”
While ATS supports greater efficiency and more impactful initiatives, Matthew believes the real value of partnering with PeopleAdmin goes well beyond technology.
“My partnership with PeopleAdmin has been nothing short of fantastic,” he said. “I’ve built amazing relationships with the staff over the years. I’ve met most of them in person, many times. I know I can always reach them over the phone, and even when I’m using the online Chat support feature, I talk to a lot of people that I actually know.”