What is "faculty development" and why is it important?

Faculty Development is a "fuzzy" concept with multiple meanings and definitions. Typically faculty development refers to a college or university based program of "renewal."

Many universities, for example, offer sabbatical opportunities - a period of time during which faculty are released from their normal duties to pursue personal academic interests. These are not vacations: faculty on sabbatical are expected to use the time to write a grant, or publish a book or article. Release time may also take the form of a summer workshop focusing on improving one’s performance in the classroom.

Faculty careers tend to extend over several decades, and repetitive teaching schedules and research obligations may dull the spirit. So renewal may take the form of developing new teaching and research interests.

Often, the “renewal of spirit” is realized by developing a wider range of interests. For example, faculty members at the University of Wisconsin conceptualize faculty development as follows:

"… the societal problems to which a university addresses itself, both in teaching and research, continue to shift in form and nature, and the boundaries between disciplines shift over time. To deal with such developing issues, faculty members often need an introduction to another discipline entirely or else an opportunity to explore in depth the areas where traditionally separate disciplines intersect."

See: http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/grants/InstitutionalFacultyDevelopmentPlan.html

Last Updated: May 2, 2012