Web profiles publicly showcase your faculty’s accomplishments, engagement and impact, allowing your university to:
- attract prospective students and faculty
- impress donors
- inform legislators, accreditors and the public
They’re also a boon to faculty, showcasing their work on a larger stage than all but the most widely followed personal websites. This opens opportunities for collaboration and recognition as an expert in the field.
At many universities, faculty must request manual updates to web profiles, causing delays in showcasing current awards, conference presentations, performances, exhibitions and other successes. Manually updating faculty web profiles also taxes the resources of marketing and IT teams.
With the right customizations and integration with the campus website, a faculty activity reporting solution can automatically update faculty web profiles using the data faculty already enter into the system for other uses, such as annual reporting or accreditation. Using faculty’s existing data eliminates manual tasks and ensures that your university website tells the most current story of faculty teaching, research and scholarship, service and other accomplishments. In the first of this two-part series, learn how Wake Forest University’s Schools of Business and Law create and use faculty web profiles and research and expertise directories. Next time, we’ll look at six key considerations Wake Forest’s technical team identified when implementing web profiles.
Founded in 1834 as a manual labor institute with 16 students with a mandate to educate Baptist ministers as well as laymen, Wake Forest University has evolved into a private, coeducational research university with more than 4,900 undergraduate students. Named for its original location, the university is now located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with a satellite campus in Charlotte. Wake Forest has six schools, including its highly ranked Schools of Law, Business and Medicine.
Reward Faculty Investment in Activity Reporting
Faculty activity reporting is vital to universities—you need activity data for accreditation, program review, fundraising, recruiting and more. And the information is typically used for annual review, promotion and tenure, merit increase reviews and other university processes involving faculty. But for faculty already fully occupied with teaching, research and service entering their data can feel like a thankless task.
“Web profiles are a great incentive for faculty to keep activities up to date in the system,” said Elizabeth Nolan, Director of Faculty Affairs at the School of Business. “Faculty are particular about their web profiles—it’s their window to the world. For many, it drives them to update their information in Activity Insight.”
The best faculty activity reporting solutions minimize faculty data entry by pulling as much data as possible from existing campus systems and importing citation information from multiple repositories. But faculty or their proxies will still be asked to record activities in the system—and faculty sometimes view an activity database as primarily benefitting the university.
Faculty’s activities reflect their life’s work, so they are justifiably proud of what they do and eager to share it with peers, prospective collaborators and students. An automatically updated web profile immediately reflects new publications, conference presentations, grants and other accomplishments. Public awareness of faculty accomplishments can lead to important opportunities to collaborate, publish, present at a conference or become a recognized as a subject-matter expert for media inquiries.
Current, accurate faculty data fuel many reporting needs, including annual reviews. “At the School of Business, we begin faculty annual review preparations in early January, so December 31 is a big deadline here,” Nolan said. “Faculty will look at their annual reports and wonder why a new publication is not reflected. I’ll ask, ‘Did you put it into Activity Insight?’ It’s the faculty’s responsibility to enter their information and keep it up to date. If they add it so that it shows up in their web profile, it’s already there when annual review time comes around.”
Activity Insight allows your faculty to display, hide or highlight particular accomplishments, tailoring web profiles to reflect the work they currently wish to promote. It can also facilitate web-facing bios, office hours, research interests and more. Faculty can customize these web-facing items to reflect their current areas of focus.
This wealth of faculty activity data can also support keyword searches on your website and provide direct links to publications and updates to in-progress research. By adding these to your university’s website, you can share a rich and complete story of your faculty’s achievements.
The Right Stories at the Right Time
“Before we launched faculty web profiles through Activity Insight, they were on a WordPress-driven site. Faculty would report notable activities to an administrative support person, dean or the communications department, and one way or another, the web profile would get updated with the new book, article or other accomplishment. It wasn’t efficient—there was lots of password management and changes in who was responsible for updates,” said Christopher Knott, Associate Dean for Information Services and Technology and Professor of Law at Wake Forest School of Law. “But then, an increased need for up-to-date information, including the demands generated by the launch of a capital campaign, made it imperative that we improve our processes.”
The same information that fuels faculty web profiles at Wake Forest is now used to create reports for deans and the communications department. “We had to think about the data we gather and how it’s displayed so we can tell our story in a couple of different ways for different constituencies,” Knott said. “For example, the dean needs to know immediately if a faculty member has written an article. So do the communications people and the librarians. Our alums, University administration, or news outlets might also need to know about the new article, so we sorted out ways to pull the data we wanted, and translated it into the look and feel we wanted for different audiences.”
Getting the right information into the right hands at the right time took some planning. “We take the data that populates our web profiles and use it as a starting point, then categorize them into lists, such as journal publications,” Nolan said. The Administration can take this information to fundraising opportunities, sharing stories of the university’s most current successes that are relevant to particular donors. The School’s marketing team uses the reports as story lists for the annual report, magazine and newsletters, social media and other promotional materials.
“We encourage faculty to stay current entering activities,” Nolan said. “Having data there in real time means you don’t get to the end of the year and say ‘I don’t remember!’ Capturing the data helps ensure accomplishments are recognized.”
“Picture a world where we have set up a series of set queries and reports, so on the first of every month, we query the law school data, which tells us all of new publications and other faculty members’ activities. We deliver that report to dean so she knows what scholars are producing. And she can print that report and take it with her when she’s talking with donors or the board of trustees,” Knott said. “We’re a small school, but communication is always tricky. This is a way to show faculty that if you put your activities in one place, we’ll deliver them to every mailbox they need to get to.”
Before web profiles data was available, the primary way Wake Forest’s communications team could get information about publications was if faculty picked up the phone and told them, Knott said. “Now, the communications team gets that report and can use it as their raw material from a marketing perspective. It’s like a story list so they can follow up with faculty members and publicize their accomplishments to a variety of audiences.”
Faculty is any university’s greatest strength. Web profiles showcase your faculty’s accomplishments, sharing your stories of success and impact with your many constituencies. And web profile data can fuel additional reporting to ensure you have the right story to share with the right stakeholder in real time. It also provides a strong incentive for faculty to keep their activity data current, making reporting for accreditation and other purposes more accurate and complete.
Next time, we’ll look at six key considerations Wake Forest’s technical team identified when implementing web profiles.