Office for Faculty Development

Helping in the Professional Development of Faculty

The tenure and promotion criteria and review process are outlined in detail in the Academic Personnel Policy (Red Book). This section of the chairs’ handbook provides suggestions related to mentoring and professional development. Please also see the Suggested Guidelines for Major Faculty Personnel Reviews.  As chair, you should also be familiar with the deadlines listed in the Master Academic Calendar, which is produced by the Provost’s Office each year. Note that the document is also published in an alternative summary format to define the roles and deadlines for each of the major faculty personnel actions (AFRs, leaves, reappointments, promotion, tenure, and post-tenure reviews).  Access this version.


UMass Boston is known as a “research university with a teaching soul.” Good teaching is something that one never stops working toward. Faculty members should be encouraged to:

  • Engage with the Center for Innovative Teaching (CIT), which plays a key role in fostering and cultivating a university culture that values excellence and innovation in teaching and learning. CIT offers  programs and initiatives that provide opportunities for faculty for professional development in their pedagogy
  • Attend CIT forums (CIT offers 3-5 each semester) and the annual conference held in collaboration with Educational Technology each May. Many past forums can be found on iTunes U.
  • Apply to CIT seminars (currently held in the spring but may eventually be held fall and spring) where tenure-track faculty meet weekly in small groups of 8 – 10 for an entire semester to discuss pedagogy. This seminar should not be seen as relevant for only those tenure-track faculty who express concern about their teaching. All faculty should be encouraged to apply. The Dean and Chair must discuss and agree to the implications on the number of courses taught by the faculty member if the faculty member’s application to a CIT seminar is accepted;
  • The semester-long seminars held by CIT are confidential in every aspect – what takes place in the seminar cannot become part of the faculty member’s personnel file. CIT seminars are structured to be reflective and interrogative spaces for improvement of one’s pedagogy free from the pressures of review and assessment,
  • Express any concerns about their teaching, and encourage them to find someone to talk to about it: you, others in the department, their faculty mentor(s), colleagues in other departments. A mentor can, at the invitation of the faculty member, visit her/his class and offer suggestions on pedagogy.    
  • Be familiar with the offerings of Academic Support Programs. ASP offers tutoring and a variety of other services to students. Faculty should be aware of what programs they offer and how students can access their services.
  • If the faculty member will be teaching online courses, make sure that he or she has the opportunity to sit in on some “chats” with model instructors and receives training from College of Advancing and Professional Studies on aspects of online teaching.

Research/Creative Scholarship

To help your faculty be productive scholars:

  • Articulate early and clearly department, college, and university expectations for research/creative performances/scholarship. 
  • Encourage first and second year faculty to apply (usually in March) to the University Research Seminar (URS) offered to second and third year faculty. URS meets every two weeks over a 9-month period to foster productive research and scholarship, and to break through the sense of isolation that may accompany the period of building one’s dossier for the tenure decision. It is facilitated by two faculty members.
  • Emphasize the importance of the Annual Faculty Report (AFR): this is a faculty member's opportunity to list all that s/he has been doing professionally in a given year.  Advise them to devise and contribute to a system for keeping track of their work in each of the major categories of review: teaching, research and scholarship. Faculty can enter information into the electronic AFR on a rolling basis, and have it serve as a system for keeping track of their work. 

Additionally, you should encourage faculty to

  • Make their achievements known to the department (through you as chair). You, as department chair, should announce the accomplishments of new, tenure-track, and tenured faculty at department meetings. Convey the department’s sense of pride in these successes. It is your responsibility to pass on the information to the Dean and Provost, for inclusion in the Provost’s monthly report and/or other university publicity materials. Research and scholarship accomplishments should also be brought to the attention of the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Enhance professional development by networking outside the University and make connections with scholars who are doing research in similar areas.
  • Be on the alert for suitable opportunities to present their research or scholarship at local or national conferences and apply to do so; advise them not to let their UMass Boston annual conference travel entitlement go unused.
  • Seek funding from internal sources.
  • Apply for outside grants or fellowships. In your capacity as chair, you should pass along pertinent information that comes across your desk. Faculty applying for outside funding must follow the guidelines of the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs. 
  • Apply for faculty travel money from OITA if applicable
  • Seek help from the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) to identify funding sources and for help in writing and vetting proposals. Information can be found here. 

Service and Faculty Governance

Service to the university, to the department, and to the university community is an integral part of being a faculty member at UMass Boston. It is the responsibility of the department chair to clarify that all full-time faculty are expected to be part of the work of the University and to come together collectively and cooperatively to solve University-related issues.

  • Although department chairs should protect untenured tenure-track faculty from too much University service, they should feel a sense of belonging and understand the importance of their voice in governance issues.
  • Avoid conveying the impression that service is a distraction. The university’s current and future health depends on the participation of all its faculty in committee work at all levels (department, college, and university). Of course, one should never place junior faculty in committees that are excessively time-consuming or those whose end results are in the distant future. Strategically selected committee work can invigorate the faculty member by making her/him feel that s/he is a valued member of the campus community.   
  • Additionally, let faculty know that it can be especially rewarding – and a good first stage of building a significant service record-- to embark on service activities that grow naturally out of their research interests or that involve them in their discipline’s professional organizations, or with secondary school teachers/students in your field.

Faculty support for service to the community

Encourage your faculty to attend the Community-Engaged Partnerships Symposium hosted by the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP), which highlights the community partnerships of UMass Boston faculty and staff as well as offers faculty development workshops in best practices. OCP offers additional services to faculty.