Faculty activity reporting is an often-overlooked barrier to productivity.
What does a day in the life of a faculty member at your institution look like? It might not be what you expect. A 2014 study found that the average professor spent 30% of their time on email and meetings, and that time has only increased since 2020. So when the core of academic work should be teaching, research, and service, why is admin (like faculty activity reporting) taking up so much time—and what can you do about it?
Breaking down faculty administrative work
For professors at colleges and universities, faculty administrative work falls into a few main categories (though this likely doesn’t cover everything!).
The first is service work. Faculty members are generally required to serve on committees for their department or for their institution, sometimes leading them, and these roles come with varying amounts of administrative burden. A faculty member on a hiring committee, for instance, might read and evaluate hundreds of applications — which is an entire job on its own.
Service work also extends to the academic community, including voluntary things like organizing conferences or serving on award committees.
Research-related admin makes up another huge category of administrative burden. Just the initial process of applying for funding is hugely time-consuming — even more so because grants are so competitive that most applications aren’t successful. Compiling data, dossiers, and bio-sketches for such applications is frustrating because often, each grant requires specific formatting or information, and faculty usually need to format their CVs manually.
Another area that imposes administrative burden is activity reporting. Reporting activity information up to deans and academic affairs offices is key to building faculty profiles, gathering accreditation data, handling performance evaluations, understanding faculty workload, and informing promotion and tenure review processes. The task of gathering information on every course taught, paper published, course evaluation received, or committee chaired takes time. Faculty must dig through files, emails, and disparate systems to track down everything necessary—sacrificing hours from their teaching or research work in the process.
What can you do?
Despite these challenges, nearly 50% of colleges and universities still use paper processes for their faculty. This includes workload tracking, course assignment processes, and tenure and promotion review. Automating all of these processes not only streamlines and simplifies activity reporting, removing a huge time burden, but also can help:
- speed up grant applications with simple formattable CVs
- simplify promotion and tenure
- contribute to an equitable distribution of service work (to ensure that minority groups aren’t overburdened)
When everything that a faculty member needs to keep track of – from current and past teaching assignments to course evaluations, work history, and committee work—is all in one centralized, digitized system, it’s easy to download or share the necessary information with just a click. Plus, integrations with systems like ORCiD mean that faculty only have to enter information in one place.
PeopleAdmin’s Faculty Information System is the digitization tool to relieve administrative burden, offering the simple and faculty-friendly path to administrative burden-free activity reporting. Our new collaboration with Duke University’s Teaching Assignment Management System brings another level of support to academic affairs teams, offering ways to optimize and visualize faculty workload.
Banish administrative burden
There is a way to let faculty get back to the core elements of their roles – teaching, research, and service—and that is through digitization. When you cut administrative burden, everyone benefits. Reach out to our experts to learn more!