Faculty Responsibilities

SG 3.01

  1. Policy
  2. Policy Statement
  3. History


Policy Statement

The role of a faculty member involves an interlocking set of responsibilities to students, to colleagues in both the institution and the wider profession, to the institution itself and its surrounding community, to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in the faculty member’s field, and to the ideals of free inquiry and expression. Normally, these are articulated as the areas of teaching (Regular Faculty) or professional effectiveness (Library Regular Faculty), scholarship and creative activity, and service, as outlined in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9.

Each unit shall establish expectations, in writing for all its faculty, in the areas of teaching (for Regular Faculty) or professional effectiveness (for Library Regular Faculty), scholarship and creative activity, and service based on disciplinary standards and best practices and unit, college and university goals and work.  Teaching (for Regular Faculty) or professional effectiveness for (Library Regular Faculty), scholarship/creative activity, and service are included in each faculty member’s workload. For both Regular Faculty and Library Regular Faculty, these unit expectations will be approved by the process described in Board of Trustees’ Policies BOT 4.2.9.

A.  Teaching and Professional Responsibility 

Regular Faculty

The primary responsibility of faculty is effective teaching [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9].  Effective teaching must be documented by: a) self-evaluation, b) peer evaluation, and c) student evaluations.   Evidence of effective teaching is a significant factor in contract renewal, tenure, promotion, and salary increment decisions. Units should periodically review and clarify course expectations of students.  Appropriate course expectations, pedagogies, and assessment vary, depending on the discipline, course level and class size.

A regular faculty member whose appointment is at least half-time but less than full-time shall be considered "part-time" when referred to in the Faculty Handbook. Part-time regular faculty are expected to complete the same kind of work as full-time regular faculty, but in proportion with their appointment.  Relevant items such as workload and significant focus expectations, sabbatical eligibility, promotion eligibility, and performance evaluation procedures shall be stated in writing from the Dean.  These terms may be modified from time to time as circumstances change.  See also Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.4. 

Library Regular Faculty

The primary responsibility of Library Regular Faculty is professional effectiveness [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9.].  Evidence of professional effectiveness is a significant factor in contract renewal, tenure, promotion, and salary increment decisions.  Evaluation of professional effectiveness will be on the basis of the judgment of colleagues and/or those who are instructed or served.

B.  Teaching and Professional Workload 

Regular Faculty:  Workload

Normally, within a full-time load, the expectation for teaching shall be 18 credits per academic year.  Evidence of effective teaching is significant in decisions on tenure, promotion, and salary increments.  Each unit, with the approval of its dean, shall determine the number of courses that are required when any or all of the courses are other than three credits.  Each unit, with the approval of its dean, shall also determine equivalencies of studios, labs, rehearsals, team-teaching, distance education, supervision of theses or student research, clinical or internship supervision, independent study or reading courses, teaching extraordinarily large classes, and other such formal teaching activities.  Normally, no more than three different course preparations will be required of any faculty member in any semester.

Library Regular Faculty:  Workload

The expectations for Library Regular Faculty are particular to each position, detailed in position description documents approved by the dean.  Normally, within a full-time load, professional work assignments combine with scholarly/creative activities and service in 12-month appointments to equal full-time appointment.

C. Definition of Effective Teaching and Documentation of Effective Teaching  
Effective teaching at GVSU consists of creating and maintaining an environment that promotes learning. This language is consistent with Board of Trustees Policies BOT 4.2.9.
Effective teachers:

1. Demonstrate disciplinary expertise appropriate to the level and purposes of the course. Effective teachers must possess disciplinary expertise. The content chosen should fit with course learning goals, have importance in the discipline, be based on scholarship, and reflect current practices and information in the discipline.

2. Teach skills that will prepare students to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.
Effective teachers help students become independent thinkers open to diverse perspectives while being able to ask questions, critically evaluate information and claims, generate solutions to problems, and effectively communicate with others.

3. Teach content in a coherent, organized manner to aid student learning.
Effective teachers help students frame their course experience by organizing content and activities to create a purposeful learning structure. When a course is taught using an intentional and definable approach, students are able to learn and retain material, synthesize ideas, and improve academic achievement.

4. Cultivate a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and are valued and supported in their learning.
Effective teachers are responsive to social justice issues in teaching and learning. There are many ways to help all students learn, including learning students’ names, structuring meaningful peer learning opportunities, choosing examples from a broad range of cultural domains to illustrate course concepts, identifying effective study strategies for exams, effectively managing course discourse, providing grading rubrics that outline clear criteria for success on writing assignments, identifying learning objectives for class activities, explaining how students should communicate with you, being available to students, and making clear how student work will be assessed in every dimension of the course, including participation.

5. Establish and communicate challenging learning goals and high expectations.
Instructor expectations have a direct effect on upon student achievement. Effective teachers believe in students’ abilities, expect students to perform at their full potential, and help them achieve course learning goals.

6. Assess student performance in an appropriate and sufficient manner.
Effective teachers assess student performance in the areas of both knowledge and skills. They use assessment measures appropriate to the course level, size, discipline, and learning goals.

7. Competently use teaching pedagogies to help improve student performance by actively engaging students in their learning.
Research finds strong relationships between student engagement and student achievement. Effective teachers use evidence-based techniques that will actively involve students in the learning experience. 

8. Refine courses using feedback and reflection.
Effective teachers regularly think about how they teach, learn from their experiences, and work to improve their instruction. They develop their skills to better serve students.

D.  Definition of Excellent Teaching 

For promotion to full professor, a faculty member must consistently demonstrate at least effective teaching on annual reviews. In addition, the faculty member must have engaged in several meritorious activities and accomplishments that extended beyond normal teaching duties and performance during the previous six (6) years. A college or unit can be more specific about how much or what type of activity it requires.   See also BOT and SG 3.01.E.5.III.

A list of NON-EXHAUSTIVE examples can be found on the Office of the Provost website.

E. Scholarly/Creative Activity 

All Faculty

1.   Within their areas(s) of expertise, all full-time ranked faculty members [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9.], including Library Regular Faculty [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9.] are responsible for effective scholarly or creative activity.  The university expects all faculty members to be active scholars or artists who contribute to the development and application of knowledge and create a dynamic environment for learning.  The university expects a faculty member to establish a record of scholarly or creative endeavor that is meaningful within the scholar's discipline. 

2.   Grand Valley State University  accepts and employs the typology of scholarly activity that was first conceptualized by Boyer (1990). As such, scholarship may originate in any one of the four ways described below.  These four forms of scholarship and creative activity shall be recognized by all units as equally valid forms of scholarship in decisions on tenure, promotion and salary increments. 

I.  Scholarship of Discovery

In discovery, the scholar develops new knowledge or products to answer a question that is theoretically based and then communicates the results. Viewed by the academic community as traditional research, the scholarship of discovery is the pursuit of truth and knowledge for its own sake within a specialized academic area.  The scholarship of discovery contributes to the stock of human knowledge and the intellectual environment of the university. 

II.  Scholarship of Integration

The scholarship of integration combines knowledge across disciplines and communicates the results. Integration extends research and expands meaning by making connections across disciplines, bringing the focus of inquiry to bear on the broader context and deeper relationships that link and synthesize specialized knowledge into more inclusive patterns. 

III.  Scholarship of Application

The scholarship of application serves the interests of the larger community by applying existing knowledge to societal and professional problems directly tied to one's area of expertise (sharing one's expertise).  Theory and practice vitally interact, and one renews the other.  The scholarship of application differs from the focus on research and synthesis is crucial to the first two forms of scholarship.   Here the scholar uses knowledge to solve specific problems.

IV.  Scholarship of Teaching

The scholarship of teaching focuses on the study and improvement of teaching and learning.  It involves systematically investigating teaching and assessment practice and/or students' learning to develop, transform, and extend teaching activities and other aspects of pedagogy for other professionals to build upon. 

3.  The goal of scholarly activity is a creative, intellectual contribution to knowledge that is validated by peers and shared with others: in addition to this result, Grand Valley State University also recognizes additional forms of scholarship.  All scholarly/creative work must be appropriately documented so that colleagues are able to evaluate its quality and significance.

Grand Valley State University uses the following three categories to describe scholarship/creative activities:

I.  Advancement of Knowledge/Creative Expression:

Scholarly and creative work in this form advances knowledge or creative expression in the field through two characteristics: (1) the product is in a publicly accessible format and is disseminated outside of GVSU, (2) the product utilizes a process to judge the quality and value of the contribution to the discipline; this is generally through the use of peer review, but some disciplines may use other appropriate processes. 

II.  Scholarly Engagement

Scholarly engagement demonstrates an active scholarly/creative activity agenda through the use of existing disciplinary knowledge to produce a product that is disseminated to peers, users, or decision makers.  These products typically utilize less stringent public/private validation or judgment of work.  Some of them will later become Advancement of Knowledge/Creative Expression (e.g., conference presentation that is later published as a peer-reviewed article). In addition, documented scholarly/creative work-in-progress fits into this category.

III.  Professional Development

Scholarly and creative work of the professional development type are those scholarly and creative activities undertaken by educators to improve their disciplinary knowledge, competence, or skills. 

4.  Examples of scholarly/creative work in each category include, but are not limited to the following examples of faculty responsibilities in the area of scholarly/creative activity.  Colleges and units can add items as long as they adhere to the category definitions.  Teaching and services activities should not be listed as examples of scholarly/creative activities.  A faculty member who feels a specific scholarly undertaking should be part of a different category can appeal to the Dean of the college/library.  If a unit's faculty believe that a specific scholarly activity should be permanently part of a different category they can seek approval from the University Personnel Review Committee. 

5.  Standards for Tenure, Promotion, and Annual Review

Grand Valley State University recognizes disciplinary differences; there are, however, minimum university-wide standards for major personnel decisions. A unit is free to establish more stringent standards.

I.  Contract Renewal

To receive contract renewal, a candidate must have articulated a coherent scholarly/creative activity agenda and demonstrated progress towards tenure.

II.  Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor/Associate Librarian

To achieve tenure or promotion, a candidate must have two contributions from the Advancement of Knowledge/Creative Expression category OR one contribution from the Advancement of Knowledge/Creative Expression category and three contributions from the Scholarly Engagement category. 

III.  Promotion to Full Professor/Senior Librarian

To be promoted to full professor/senior librarian, a candidate must meet specific unit standards.  Unit standards will address work done in the six  (6) years prior to the submission of the portfolio on the first day of classes of the fall semester, and the standards must be more rigorous than those required for tenure and promotion to associate professor/associate librarian. See also BOT and BOT

IV.  Annual Reviews

Ongoing scholarly/creative activity includes professional development and scholarly engagement; these constitute the minimum foundation of scholarly endeavor and are expected components of everyone's annual workload.  Each unit will specify what form of scholarship/creative activity it expects on a yearly, ongoing basis. 

F.  Service 

All Faculty

Shared university governance, contributions to GVSU communities, and the development of disciplines and professions all depend on meaningful service from faculty members.  In addition to teaching and scholarly/creative activities within a normal full-time load, all Regular Faculty [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9.], including Library Regular Faculty [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.9.], are expected to engage in service as specified by the unit standards.  

Faculty members are expected to undertake increasingly responsible service work over the course of their university careers.  It is also expected that untenured faculty members will concentrate on developing competence in teaching or professional effectiveness and scholarship and that the amount of expected service will be adjusted accordingly.  Normally, service is not a compensated activity; exceptions to this must be approved by the Dean of the College. 

Evidence of service is significant in decisions on tenure, promotion, and salary increments.  Each unit and the library must establish its own standards and criteria for evaluation [as described in the Board of Trustees' Policies BOT and BOT].  These standards must discuss both the type and amount of service work expected for various faculty ranks.  Both quantity and quality of service work must be part of the evaluation.  Normal departmental activities (e.g., attendance at department or college meetings, reviewing sabbatical proposals, commenting on personnel files, etc.) are a basic expectation of all faculty members. These activities are not sufficient to be considered satisfactory performance in the area of service.   

A faculty member is not expected or required to perform institutional service work during a sabbatical. They can, of their own volition, engage in service during the sabbatical period, but such service is discouraged and will not be compensated.

1.  Service to the Institution (Unit, College, University)

GVSU depends on its faculty members for the time, energy, and the leadership that will enable the university to accomplish its mission.  It is only through the service activities of faculty that GVSU is able to sustain strong shared governance.  In addition to committee work, service to both current and prospective students and to alumni are also valued service activities. 

2.  Service to the Discipline and Profession

As representatives of a particular discipline and members of a scholarly community, GVSU faculty members are responsible for advancing their professions and enhancing the quality of scholarly and professional organizations. 

3.  Service to the Community

Service to the community involves faculty members acting as representatives of the university while using their expertise to contribute to the public's knowledge and welfare.  Community service can sometimes be integrated with scholarship if a community engagement project results in a scholarly outcome. 

Examples of activities in each service category.

G. Area of Significant Focus 

Regular Faculty

A significant focus is concentrated activity that will, at its conclusion, produce a meaningful, documented outcome in teaching, scholarship, and/or service.  It is undertaken in addition to expectations in those three areas.  A significant focus can be a one-semester undertaking, or it can take multiple semesters to complete.  Each semester, the significant focus shall require approximately the same amount of time as teaching a 3-credit hour or standard course.  It shall not have been counted as part of the expected teaching load or have been compensated externally or additionally; exceptions to the compensation exclusion must be approved by the dean of the college.  Faculty members should confirm that their choice of significant focus of activity is consistent with their unit’s and college’s expectations for tenure and promotion.

In their annual Faculty Workload Plan (see Shared Governance SG 3.02), every regular faculty member shall propose a significant focus.  The significant focus will be reviewed and approved by the unit head and dean. In the annual Faculty Workload Report, every faculty member shall describe the progress that was made in the proposed area of significant focus.

A significant focus differs from reassigned time.  See Shared Governance SG 3.03 for an explanation of reassigned time.

Library Regular Faculty

Library Regular Faculty may optionally negotiate a temporary adjustment to their normally assigned expectations established by the unit in the areas of professional effectiveness, scholarship/creative activity and service in a given year to take on a proposed area of significant focus.  This significant focus will be reviewed and approved by the dean.  Faculty members anticipating review for personnel action, and especially action for tenure and promotion will want to ensure that their significant focus of activity is consistent with their unit’s and college’s expectations for tenure and promotion.

H.  Mentoring Programs for New Faculty 

Grand Valley State University recognizes the value of mentoring for all faculty members and especially for new faculty.  The University provides new faculty with a collaborative first-year University-Wide Mentoring Program that is designed to support them as they begin to adjust to faculty responsibilities and engage as teachers, scholars, and citizens of the university and greater community.  Colleges and/or units provide additional discipline-specific and unit/college-specific mentoring.

University Mentoring Program

University and unit/college mentoring programs accomplish different outcomes.  University-wide mentoring is conducted in communities of new faculty members with a faculty facilitator.  It introduces the faculty member to university policies and culture, and it gives faculty a chance to candidly discuss concerns with and ask questions of colleagues outside their departments.

All new, non-tenured, regular faculty members are strongly encouraged to begin immediate participation in the University Mentoring Program for a minimum of one year regardless of appointment date.  This assignment should be part of the faculty member’s Faculty Workload Plan under professional development.  New untenured, regular faculty members who have experience at another university can join the University Mentoring Program’s 2-6th year group.  A faculty member who chooses not to participate in the University Mentoring Program should advise the unit head in writing of this decision.  See the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center website for a full explanation of university-wide mentoring communities.

College/Unit Mentoring Programs

All college and/or units offer a mentoring program to new untenured, regular faculty members.  (See the Office of the Provost website for guidelines and examples.)  College/unit mentoring matches a new faculty member with a department mentor(s); it provides information about college, unit, and discipline-specific practices, expectations, and criteria in teaching, scholarship, and service.  Each new untenured, regular faculty member is strongly encouraged to participate in the unit/college program.  New, untenured regular faculty members who choose not to participate should advise their unit head of their decision in writing.



September 27, 2023 - updated SG 3.01.E.5

June 2, 2023 - added anchors

June 29, 2022  - Change Faculty Activity Plan to Faculty Workload Plan; Change Faculty Activity Report to Faculty Workload Report

May 9, 2022 - SG 3.01 Faculty Responsibilities -Service. F. - update language regarding service during sabbaticals

August 27, 2020 - added link in SG 3.01 Faculty Responsibilities -Definition of Excellent Teaching

May 13, 2020 - SG 3.01 Faculty Responsibilities, including adding sections on the Definition of Effective Teaching and Definition of Excellent Teaching.

May 7, 2020 - Updated C. Service - All Faculty. Replaced "determined by the unit, college, and profession" with "specified by the unit standards."

November 20, 2019 - Updated with GLEV recommendations

October 18, 2019 - SG 3.01 changed "non-tenured" to "untenured, regular"

May 13, 2019  -  SG 3.01.E Mentoring Programs for New Faculty added

January 7, 2019 -FH 3.01 A-D retitled to SG 3.01

June 20, 2018 - FH 3.01 B "Faculty Responsibilities in the Area of Scholarly/Creative Activity" link and others added

June 5, 2018- FH 3.01.A "Teaching and Professional Work" amended

June 5, 2018 - FH 3.01.B "Scholarly/Creative Activity" amended

May 9, 2017- FH 3.01.C "Faculty Responsibilities. Service" amended

May 9, 2017- FH 3.01.D "Area of Significant Focus for Library Faculty" amended

May 09, 2017 - FH 3.01.B "Definition of Scholarship" amended

November 8, 2016 -FH 3.01.D "Area of Significant Focus" amended