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Guideline Statement #1

Best Practices in Recruitment, Retention, Development, and Evaluation of Faculty in College and University Mathematical Sciences Departments

The long-term health of the mathematical sciences depends on providing students with an engaging and rewarding mathematical education of high quality, leading to a fulfilling career. This is best achieved by a diverse corps of well-educated faculty who are committed to excellent teaching, to their students’ success, to their institution, and to the profession. Such faculty should also be engaged in a regular program of professional development that enhances both their teaching skills and their mathematical knowledge.

1. Educational Background of Faculty    2. Recruiting Faculty       3. Types of Faculty Positions    

4. Retaining and Promoting Faculty       5. Faculty Development   6. Service Expectations

1. Educational Background of Faculty

a. Those who teach courses for undergraduate credit should have a minimum of a master's degree in a mathematical science, except as indicated in items b. and c. below. In institutions that grant at least a bachelor's degree in the mathematical sciences, a substantial majority of all instructors should be full-time, permanent-track faculty and should possess a doctoral degree in a mathematical science. The department's curricular needs, course offerings, and relative enrollments in its various subdisciplines should be considered in departmental hiring decisions.

b. Departments may offer instruction by graduate students who do not yet possess the above-mentioned credentials, acting as apprentice teachers. Graduate student instructors should be closely supervised and mentored by permanent-track members of the faculty. Preferably, a graduate student who does not yet hold a master’s degree (or equivalent coursework) would not be assigned as an instructor of record.

c. If undergraduate students assist in undergraduate instruction, their efforts should be restricted to classroom organizational duties such as reading and commenting on homework assignments; tutoring or assisting in mathematics and computer laboratories, mathematics workshops, and recitation sessions; and holding supplementary instruction sessions. Grading by undergraduate assistants should occur only under close faculty supervision and only when the grader is mathematically more advanced than students in the class.

2. Recruiting Faculty

The mathematical sciences are in constant need of being strengthened and replenished by individuals from the broadest possible pool of talent. This is best accomplished when those teaching mathematics are drawn from a diverse pool of talent and are committed to supporting students of all backgrounds.

a. Special efforts should be made to recruit and hire members of traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, and the differently abled.

b. Faculty positions should be advertised broadly, in a way that reaches a wide range of candidates rather than relying primarily on networking with candidates already known to the department. They should be advertised long enough that candidates from outside the immediate community have time to apply before the hiring process is closed.

c. Those responsible for hiring faculty should seek to identify and overcome bias in their decision-making processes and to remove any other potential barriers for applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups. Where possible, departments or institutions should provide the members of their hiring committees with training in avoiding discrimination and identifying and overcoming implicit bias.

3. Types of Faculty Positions

a. The overwhelming majority of faculty positions should be full time and tenure track (or permanent track). Post-doctoral positions, research visiting positions, and other developmental visiting positions can be beneficial to the department, the faculty, and the students. However, other temporary positions (such as part-time and adjunct) should be limited.

b. Hiring an individual into successive full-time, low paid, temporary positions without a permanent contract or a track to tenure is exploitative and should be avoided. With the exception of post-doctoral faculty and research visitors, faculty who have held a temporary position in a department for more than three years should either continue in a permanent-track position or be replaced.

c. Whenever possible, full-time temporary positions for new PhDs, post-docs, and junior faculty should be for at least two years to give faculty in those positions adequate time to develop their scholarship, teaching, and other aspects of their career before having to apply for jobs again.

4. Retaining and Promoting Faculty

a. Departments should maintain a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for all who seek to work and study in the mathematical sciences. Departments should endorse and enforce institution-approved personnel policies, including policies on non-discrimination and prevention of sexual and other harassment.

b. Departments should ensure that all faculty are treated fairly. This includes protecting faculty from historically underrepresented groups from demands on their time and energy (e.g., advising and committee service) that go beyond what is expected of or typical for other faculty members.

c. Departments should give clear, written guidance to all faculty about requirements, expectations, and evaluations for retention, promotion, tenure, salary raises and other reward systems, as well as any other expectations of employment, including expected levels of research and teaching. When a department has faculty members from several disciplines, it is particularly important that there be a mutually accepted, written statement concerning expectations and rewards for faculty members in the various disciplines. Decisions about retention, promotion, tenure, raises, and other rewards should be based on this written statement.

d. Tenure-track faculty without tenure should be counseled annually about their progress toward tenure.

e. Departments must accept the responsibility for nurturing the professional growth and advancement of all their faculty, especially those from traditionally underrepresented groups. This includes providing mentoring and professional development opportunities, especially for junior faculty.

f. Experienced faculty should also supervise and mentor part-time faculty to ensure they are aware of and are meeting all department expectations.

5. Faculty Development

Ongoing professional development in both teaching and scholarship is essential for all faculty. Departments must accept the responsibility for nurturing and mentoring faculty, especially new faculty and those from groups traditionally underrepresented in the mathematical sciences.

A. Developing Excellence in Teaching

a. A regular program for maintaining and improving teaching expertise is essential for all academic mathematical scientists. Departments or institutions should provide long-term structured opportunities for acquisition and improvement of teaching skills for all their teachers, and all teachers should participate regularly in activities to maintain and improve their teaching expertise.

b. Graduate students and part-time or adjunct instructors should receive substantial introductory training and ongoing opportunities for improving their teaching.

c. The courses assigned to faculty should be chosen to aid in their development as teachers, whenever possible. This is especially critical for new and early-career faculty.

d. Departments should provide all teachers with regular formative feedback on their teaching, independent of any summative evaluations used for promotion and retention decisions, and in addition to student evaluations.

e. In each department, instructors should support one another as teachers and regularly discuss teaching, including methods, ideas for handling challenges, curriculum improvements, and ways to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all learners.

f. Mentoring undergraduate research projects is time-consuming and does not necessarily add quality or quantity to a faculty member's research program, yet the benefit for the undergraduate students is immense. Departments should support undergraduate mentoring where possible and should establish clear guidelines for compensating, evaluating and rewarding undergraduate student mentoring.

g. Similar statements apply to the work of mentoring graduate students.

B. Developing Excellence in Scholarship

a. Departments and institutions should include in every faculty member’s work assignment an expectation of disciplinary or interdisciplinary scholarship, broadly defined. Successful scholarship includes the obligation of timely communication of results to peers. Faculty should sustain their scholarship throughout their careers.

b. A department should encourage, recognize, and value the diverse nature of faculty scholarship that is directly related to the department's mission and program goals. Guidelines for the acceptable forms of this scholarship and for the nature of communication of results to peers should be clear and made available in writing to faculty members.

c. A regular program for maintaining and improving disciplinary or interdisciplinary expertise is essential for all academic mathematical scientists. Departments should support professional development of faculty members to enable them to remain current with the most recent advances in the field. All full-time faculty members should participate in appropriate professional development, and such activities should be part of each faculty member's work assignment. Sabbaticals and research leaves at appropriate intervals are important for faculty to maintain and improve their scholarship.

6. Service Expectations

a. Departments should expect all faculty to be involved in service to their institution and the profession. The level of expectation should be reduced for faculty before tenure, but should still reflect a meaningful degree of involvement in the professional community. Senior faculty should provide significant service to the institution and the profession. Department and institutional expectations for service should be clear and made available in writing to each faculty member.

b. Senior faculty should participate fully in teaching, curriculum development, and student advising, as well as supervising and nurturing junior faculty and teaching assistants.

c. Service to the profession of various types should be recognized when defining service expectations. In particular, departments should support educational and community outreach and recognize these activities in defining service expectations.

d. Departments should expect all full-time faculty members to be formally involved in their professions by participating in professional organizations.


Edward Aboufadel (CFD chair), Grand Valley State University
Connie M. Campbell, Gulf Coast State College
Minerva Cordero, University of Texas at Arlington
Timothy Flowers, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Debra Lynn Hydorn, University of Mary Washington
Tyler J. Jarvis, Brigham Young University
Herbert E. Kasube (former CFD chair), Bradley University 

Perla L. Myers, University of San Diego
Benedict K. Nmah, Morehouse College
Emily E. Puckette, University of the South
Jennifer Quinn, University of Washington – Tacoma

September 2017