Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Case for a Faculty Database

There is a need for a database of the faculty. There is a real need from both the management, the individual faculty members and the external stakeholders. The management (College-level and up) needs to make reports about the status of the faculty as a whole with regards to their faculty loading, ability to service the courses requested by the students, how much overloading will happen (which means overload payment), and others. If the College wants to defend its choices (for example, opening classes or getting additional faculty), a faculty database which has a record of loading will easily present that data. It can also tell higher offices (eg, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Budget Office) that this is the load that we have, because this is the number of faculty items the University gives the College.

For the faculty members themselves, a faculty profile database can help them easily make professional profiles for promotion application or extension opportunities, because the database will have records of their research, publications, extension and career history and other recognitions and affiliations.

From outside, the faculty is not properly promoted and affiliated with the University nor the College. Sure, we have faculty members who are recognized by certain bodies for particular topic (eg, a faculty member for VFA, and another in health social science and AIDS), but they are recognized only by those certain bodies (eg, the Senate, AIDS Society of the Philippines, respectively). Anyone else (eg, a journalist) who needs an expert in any topic or field, whom we have here at CAS, have no way of knowing nor contacting our internal experts because there is no user-friendly way of searching for them.

From the University’s point of view, a CAS faculty database will be a good prototype to test how it will run and how it will be used and extended.

These are just some of the uses of a faculty database.

(I will not discuss if there is a need to promote faculty. It is the assumption that they need to be promoted not because of financial rewards but more so due to social issues and needs. The question we need to ask, probably, is do our faculty members want to serve that social responsibility call.)

With this, I am proposing a comprehensive faculty database that will be useful to management, the faculty members, and the various stakeholders.

Here are the general functions of the faculty database:

1.Allow management to collect useful information for strategic planning, faculty development, routine reports and academic decision-making.
2.Allow faculty members to have easy record-keeping of their academic, research and extension activities for their professional development
3.Allow stakeholders to know the strengths of the faculty of the College through an easy-to-use interface that will allow them to communicate with our experts.

In order to be useful, the faculty database is recommended to be able to generate the data required for the following forms:

2.Individual CV (Centennial Form)
3.PAASCU forms
5.UP Form 24
6.UP Form 03
7.UP Form 22 (Research)
8.UP Form 17 (Extension)
9.UP Form 18 (Extension)
10.UP Form 19 (Intellectual Property Rights)
11.UP Form 20 (International Publication)
12.UP Form 21 (Patents and Copyrights)

The faculty database will source data not just from one database but will be more useful if it is connected with the following existing database:

1.CRS – for loading
2.CAS Website
3.PDTS (of Personnel Office)

This table shows the relationship between the data requirements, data channels and data presentation properties (Everything is tentative.).

The table shows how useful the faculty database can be if planned properly from the users’ point of view.

Obviously, this project cannot be done by information specialists (IMS and CAS IT Office) alone. It must be done in collaboration with the data users, (eg, internal assessment, OCS, OADAA, OVCR, etc.), information specialists (IMS, CAS IT office) and the management (DO, OC, OUR, OVCAA, Budget, Accounting, etc.).

As a proposal, the following offices are proposed to be members of the project team:

1.IMS – Management and CRS Team
3.CAS IT Office
4.Dean’s Office
6.Internal Assessment
7.Student Council
8.Department Chairs
10.Administrative Officer (considering that faculty items assignment is maintained by AO)
13.Budget Office
14.Accounting Office
15.Legal Office
16. Personnel Office

Obviously, every proposal has to end with what good will it do to everyone, besides addressing the issues raised above. No, a faculty database is not a reaction. It is a proactive proposal. Besides addressing the issues of faculty loading information requirements and internal assessment data problems, a faculty database can allow planners (college and departments) to assess with better data how they performed in the past, and see trends, relate it with particular events in their organizations, and make actions based on reasonable and evidence-based forecasts of the future.

For the financial managers, a faculty database will allow them to know in near-realtime how much they will have to spend due to the loading decisions and course assignments of these unit heads. Thus, control mechanisms can be implemented, and will be based on reliable information. Everyone will easily know if an inappropriate assignment of faculty or opening of a course has happened because the database will show how and when it happened, who made the decision, and how it can be stopped.

While this information initiative can be easily criticized as a systematic attack to academic freedom and rights to privacy, I dare say it is not. It is an eye-opening and open source (in the social sense of the term) strategy to make everyone know who makes the decisions, what the situation is, and what those limitations are. How do we make sure it is not? All offices are invited to be members of the project team and given the chance to participate. Their concerns and inputs will be taken into consideration. If they don’t participate, then they have given up their rights – a showcase of irresponsibility – and thus have no right to complain.

If a faculty member would not want to share his or her information with the University, I would dare ask that why then does that faculty member share more confidential information with social networking sites? Sure, you don’t share faculty loading data or career history (or don’t you?), but you actually share more personal information by sharing your pictures and activities.

Or do you avoid your social responsibility by hiding from public’s call for their needs?

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