Ten years ago, the AIGA Design Educators Community Board posted Statements on Promotion and Tenure Standards. The purpose of that information resource is to provide guidance to those involved with Promotion and Tenure (P&T) processes of Graphic Design and Visual Communication Design Educators at US institutions of higher learning. While those metrics still serve as a solid foundation for evaluation, in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we are releasing additional recommendations for current P&T standards. Much of the language below has been pulled from the original document, but with amended and additional statements addressing our present-day challenges.
Recognizing the tremendous personal, research, and teaching challenges posed by the Coronavirus Pandemic, the AIGA DEC believes that tenure-track faculty should be entitled to an optional one-year tenure-clock extension. If faculty do not wish to delay their tenure timeline, they should not be forced to do so.
General Evaluation Criteria for Design Faculty
During 2020, the AIGA DEC urges institutions to construct appropriate and adjusted means for evaluating Educators on their Teaching, Creative Work/Research/Scholarship, Service, and Strategic Initiatives efforts. We have included our original metrics, with present-day suggestions in italic. Below are some considerations for each evaluation category.
Teaching: Evidence of excellence in teaching should be demonstrated by Design Educators in P&T processes. Course syllabi, hand-outs, presentation materials, results of student work, student evaluations of courses, etc. are often presented in this area.
Student evaluations for 2020 can be submitted with an annotation that indicates that the course was during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Reviewers should take this into consideration when evaluating. Institutions may consider allowing for an option in which faculty may choose to omit evaluations from impacted semesters or formally stating that these evaluations will not be allowed to disadvantage faculty instructional performance records.
Creative Work/Research/Scholarship: Evidence of excellence in creative work (including most professional practice activities), research and/or scholarship should be demonstrated by Design Educators in P&T processes. Project work, creative work for exhibition and/or competitions, written papers or articles for publication, conference presentation materials, books, awards, etc. are often presented in this area.
Many conferences, exhibitions, reviews, etc. were cancelled, postponed, or moved online in response to travel restrictions and shelter-in-place recommendations. Equal weight should be given to work presented remotely. If important aspects of faculty scholarship have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, they should be offered a one-year “stop the clock,” where relevant.
Service: Evidence of excellence in service to the community, institution and the profession should be demonstrated by Design Educators in P&T processes. Activities associated with community outreach efforts, institutional committee work, service to student groups, service to professional societies, etc. are often presented in this area.
During the time of the pandemic, there is an incredible need for people to give back in whatever way that they can. As such, many design faculty are dedicating more of their time to service. Many institutions put the least value on Service (as compared to Teaching and Research), but in present times, giving-back is tremendously important. Examples of designers using their skill-sets to help with the pandemic include (but are not limited to): 3D Printing Face Shields, Sewing Face Masks, Designing Posters and Social Media posts to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Organizing Design Community Events, etc.
Note: If your institution fails to place high-value on service activities, you should look for ways to frame these activities as larger research projects or engage students in experiential learning opportunities.
Strategic Initiatives: Evidence of substantial involvement in initiatives determined to be of strategic value to institutions, such as Collaborative Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Sustainability Studies, etc., may be demonstrated by Design Educators in P&T processes. Activities associated with such initiatives are often presented in this area.
Relative importance of the above criteria: AIGA DEC recognizes that institutions may weigh the relative importance of Teaching, Creative Work/Research/Scholarship, Service, and Strategic Initiatives in different manners as appropriate to their various missions. AIGA DEC urges institutions to make such expectations clear to Design Educators at the time of their appointments to academic positions.
A special note on publication venues: AIGA DEC urges institutions to recognize non-traditional means of dissemination of Creative Work/Research/Scholarship activities by Design Educators. Venues typical to other academic fields, such as print-based, peer-reviewed journals, have traditionally held limited opportunities for Design Educators. Emerging means of publication via electronic media should also be recognized as valid outlets for Creative Work/Research/Scholarship activities. Peer-reviewed acceptance procedures are preferred, but recognition of the publication venue and it’s reach to the field should also be considered.
Special Considerations for Community College Educators
AIGA DEC recognizes that Community College or other two-year institutions may not follow formal P&T processes, but may conduct annual performance reviews of Design Educators related to continued appointment. AIGA DEC urges such institutions to interpret the statements included here as appropriate, and to craft processes that provide fair and balanced evaluations of Community College Design Educators and their contributions.
If faculty are up for a mandatory review, they should be offered a one-year extension to meet performance expectations.
Special Considerations for Part-Time Faculty
AIGA DEC recognizes that institutions may not follow formal P&T processes with Part-Time Faculty, but may conduct annual performance reviews related to continued appointment. AIGA DEC urges all institutions to interpret the statements included here as appropriate, and to craft processes that provide fair and balanced evaluations of Part-Time Design Educators and their contributions. Recognition of long-time service by Part-Time Design Educators should occur by conferring an appropriate title (Senior Lecturer, Adjunct Associate Professor, etc.), and by providing a higher rate of pay in comparison to Part-Time Design Educators with lesser years of service.
Many institutions are implementing budgetary and hiring freezes in response to the current economic situation. While tenured and tenure-track faculty are usually protected, often adjunct and part-time faculty suffer. Whenever possible, preserving all faculty positions is encouraged. Additionally, it is in the best interest of schools to maintain all current positions, as securing new lines will be difficult in the coming years.
Special Considerations for International Faculty in the US
AIGA DEC recognizes that International Design Educators working in the US may have responsibilities beyond the P&T processes typically found in most institutions. As one example, Work Visa restrictions may make paid consulting impossible for International Design Educators, and any P&T requirements for such activities would therefore be unreasonable. AIGA DEC urges all institutions to provide appropriate support to International Design Educators related to Work Visas, Immigration Status, Citizenship, etc., and to appropriately assist with continuation of their employment in the US.
International faculty face unique challenges during this global pandemic. When possible, institutions should work with international faculty to find individualized solutions. This may include allowing them to offer their classes online during the 2020-2021 academic year.
This global pandemic has created (and will create) a wide array of challenges, big and small, for faculty, students, staff, and administrators. Not only has this changed the way we teach our classes and conduct our research, but we are reevaluating our priorities and our relationship with the world.
From missing graduations and football games to shifting face-to-face classes into zoom meetings, academia just looks different right now. At every level, people are trying to do their part to adapt and make our institutions thrive in new ways. While we are all facing individual challenges—we want to remind you to extend understanding to those around you. This year and this world look different than to that of which we are accustomed, so it makes sense that our standards of evaluation are also adjusted.
AIGA DEC can in no way be held responsible for the use of this information within any P&T processes conducted by institutions of higher learning, or in the outcomes of any such processes. The information provided is for advisement only, and must be interpreted by those responsible for P&T processes at individual institutions.