Opinion

A letter regarding the importance of faculty surveys

Dear Macalester Students,

Do you want to participate in the decision to re-appoint, tenure or promote faculty at Macalester? If so, please fill out the surveys that you will receive this summer. The decision to re-appoint and/or grant tenure to a faculty member is one of the most important decisions made by the College. This is your opportunity to make a critical contribution to Macalester College, as these decisions will affect Macalester students for decades to come.

If you want to have your voice heard, please fill out the surveys.
Candidates can provide different evidence of excellence in teaching, but the best evidence comes from you, in the form of anonymous student surveys. In fact, these surveys are one of the primary tools used by the Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) to evaluate a faculty member’s teaching. FPC takes your comments very seriously. It is important that we hear from as many students as possible, in order to get a complete and balanced view of a faculty member’s teaching.

Each year, Associate Dean of the Faculty Kendrick Brown surveys all students who have been taught by the faculty member undergoing review. You will not receive the email request until after classes have ended in May. If you see an email from Kendrick Brown (and you may receive several), please open and read it, as that email will detail the instructions for the survey.

Your evaluation is a critical part of our efforts to promote faculty excellence at Macalester. The course evaluations that you may have filled out at semester-end are not a substitute; in fact, those course evaluations are not a mandatory part of the file.

Next year, an unusually large number of faculty will be considered for tenure. A typical year might have four to six candidates for tenure. Next year, we will have fifteen candidates. In addition, seven faculty members will be going through a pre-tenure review, and all of their students will be surveyed as well.

What this means is that you will likely receive multiple requests for evaluation of different faculty this summer, some for tenure review and others for pre-tenure review. It matters that you fill out all of the surveys you receive; they will be in reference to different professors undergoing review.

I understand that these requests may come at an inopportune moment for you, and for that we are all the more grateful for your assistance. As a gesture of our appreciation, a small donation will be made to one of several charities for each survey you complete.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to participate in this important process.

May 2, 2014

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