The Faculty Activity Reporting System is a powerful vita-oriented database. Like many of our peer institutions, Western Michigan University is implementing Faculty180 from Interfolio, a software system designed to enable faculty to organize, manage, and report on their annual professional activities as well as to manage their curriculum vitae (CV) and biographies in multiple forms.
A Software Selection Committee, charged by Dr. James Gilchrist, Vice Provost for Budget and Personnel, reviewed a variety of options and approaches to manage faculty activities data. Faculty180 was chosen for its widespread adoption of our peer institutions as well as its product capabilities—including workflow.
There’s a number of valuable outcomes from this type of database management system. WMU faculty and staff will benefit from fewer future requests for this type of data, the University will gain new insight into the research and creative activity, teaching, and service efforts of our faculty (i.e., data collected can be used in strategic planning), it will aid colleges and departments in reporting accreditation data, and it will improve the accuracy of reporting at all levels of the academic enterprise. As such, a significant goal of the project is to reduce the administrative burden for both faculty and staff in managing faculty activity data. FARS will also be open and available to WMU’s contingent faculty.
WMU FARS provides a wide range of benefits to faculty and staff by creating an online storehouse for data on faculty achievements. As such, this will save time as it makes faculty data available for accreditation reports, program reviews, and other purposes. Relatedly, faculty can use this information to generate curriculum vitae (CVs) and biographies in multiple formats.
While early testing reveals an interface that is intuitive and easy to learn, there is no question that the first time faculty use the FARS it will take additional time to navigate the process. Nonetheless, FARS will come to save time because the system is designed to pre-populate a portion of faculty PARs by automatically importing data from internal and external systems. Some information, including teaching assignments and related information, will appear in FARS automatically. Other information can be entered manually or imported from online sources such as Google Scholar, Web of Science, or other citation management systems. In so doing, FARS is designed to reduce the amount of time faculty members spend in the annual reporting of their accomplishments as well as results in increased accuracy and consistency in the data. Said another way, faculty will only enter their data once—and it will automatically cascade into their vita.
When fully implemented, WMU FARS has the potential to be used for accreditation reviews, HLC compliance, Instructor II workflow, as well as promotion and tenure workflow.