Valuing Faculty Committee Work

In “Incentivizing and Assessing Committee Work Contributions, Why Now? Professors Andi Curcio & Mary Lynch suggest that changes in legal education models necessitate re-thinking law school committee work responsibilities and rewards.  Their article  is a worthwhile read for anyone who believes the current system of committee workload allocations needs to change. Below is their abstract.

Faculty scholarly productivity reaps tangible internal and external rewards while the “reward” for excellent faculty committee work performance often is additional committee work. Some faculty members perform substantial committee work while others spend little time on institutional service, leaving them more time for scholarship. Despite equity issues, this system maintains the faculty self-governance model integral to academic freedom, and the necessary service work gets done. This article suggests that this traditional workload distribution model may be unsustainable. Innovations in legal education brought about by financial pressures, declining enrollments, and new accreditation standard requirements will result in increased committee workloads while reductions in full-time faculty at many schools leave fewer faculty members available to do that work. Those currently doing the lion’s share of the work may be unable, or unwilling, to take on more committee work. This article examines methods for avoiding an institutional governance crisis.

Grounding the discussion in social science literature, it explores ways to more fully engage all faculty members in committee work by creating accountability structures via smaller committees, peer evaluation of committee work contributions, and rewards for extraordinary service work. It posits that peer evaluations of committee work set normative standards and provide tangible evaluative tools, potentially changing cultural expectations about committee work participation. The article discusses the benefits and potential pitfalls of faculty committee work peer evaluations, provides a sample evaluation rubric, and sets forth a roadmap for implementing a committee work peer evaluation program. It also examines ways to encourage committee work stalwarts to continue their extraordinary service via a reward system. Amongst the rewards discussed is a year’s release from committee work responsibilities to allow for more time for scholarly pursuits. Throughout, the article suggests ways to engage more faculty in the work necessary to maintain thriving self-governing educational institutions in today’s changing legal environment.

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