Goals and General Description

Building Vital Undergraduate STEM Departments and Programs
The 2003 PKAL Assemblies
What Works - What Matters - What Lasts: The Roles and Responsibilities of Leaders in Undergraduate STEM

December 5 - 7, 2003


Registration Deadline: November 21, 2003

Threaded through the Atlanta sessions will be lessons learned from the nine topical assemblies that have been held during the fall of 2003. These means, in part, there will be significant attention to the visions of what works when institutions are having documentable success in realizing a learning environment that, for example, motivates students to consider careers in STEM fields.

The Atlanta assembly will focus also on roles and responsibilities of leaders in supporting robust scholarly careers of members of their faculties. Participants will explore ways to build a learning environment in which faculty are engaged actively as scholars, as passionate about the quality of the learning of their students as they are about the quality of their research, and construe their career as one in which their research and education responsibilities go hand-in-hand.

The 2001 PKAL paper on Investing in Faculty will be one resource for the assembly. The following notes from PKAL also help set the stage for the discussions in Atlanta.

Ways to Build and Sustain a Vital Scholarly Community: Departmental Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Have clear departmental goals that reflect:

    • the current state and future directions of the discipline/field
    • the institution's mission, current circumstances and future directions
    • an understanding of its students: their background, potential and career aspirations
    • a commitment to prepare all students engaged with departmental programs for the world in which they will live and work upon graduation, and to motivate students to pursue STEM careers.

  2. Have periodic departmental discussions about how those goals play out in decisions:

    • about seeking and selecting new faculty
    • about promotion and tenure, recognition and review of faculty at all career stages
    • about securing, allocating and reallocating resources (time, people, space and $).

  3. Have a communal understanding of the scholarly agenda of individual departmental faculty, where they are with regard to:

    • the review and tenure/sabbatical timetable
    • their research (at initial, mid-point, or final stages)
    • resources needed to move their research projects ahead (time, mentors, collaborators, space, new expertise, $)
    • integrating the research into the departmental curriculum.

  4. Have visible efforts to support and enhance research careers and to provide resources (time, mentors, collaborators, space, new expertise, $) to support faculty scholarly endeavors, including:

    • mentors, within and beyond the department, for early career faculty
    • research leaves appropriate for faculty at different career stages
    • academic schedules/calendars that "reserve" research time
    • an archive of funded proposals/reviewer comments
    • a process to counsel authors of proposals for internal or external grants
    • internal faculty development funds
    • an active grants and contracts officer.

  5. Have a departmental culture which signals that the ideas and careers of colleagues matter, including one that recognizes that...

    ...the scholarship required for a successful research-grant application is as demanding as that for a lecture, a report for publication, or a text-book. Preparation of a grant application is a scholarly endeavor that combines the values of a scientist and the skills of a scholar: dedication, enthusiasm, standards of excellence, intellectual honesty, ethicality, disciplined thinking, and clear writing. – George Eaves. NIH. 1983

    Also, one that:

    • encourages individual faculty to outline scholarly goals, with collegial discussion of those goals in the context of the future of the field, the individual, and the department
    • supports engagement with scholarly colleagues off-campus, in workshops and other professional activities
    • ensures individual faculty have requisite resources to accomplish their scholarly goals
    • recognizes and celebrates the achievements of colleagues
    • tests the research agendas of individuals and the department against new directions and opportunities in their scholarly field.