Recommendation 4. Swarthmore should encourage and support faculty excellence, embracing exceptional teaching and active scholarship and artistic production throughout an individual’s career.

Given the complex demands of teaching, learning, and research and the exponential expansion of information, the College must recruit and retain the best teacher-scholars and support their ongoing development. Continuing engagement with one’s field prompts a scholar to rethink courses; update readings, labs, assignments, and other materials; and ask new questions constantly. As active scholars and artists who often enlist students as collaborators, faculty members model for students the process of rigorous and imaginative analysis of received wisdom and ultimately the creation of new knowledge and understanding. The dedication, creativity, and high standards Swarthmore faculty members bring to teaching are grounded in their identities as scholars and/or creative artists.

As we continue to support work in the traditional classroom, we must also facilitate the new teaching formats that faculty members are using to an increasing degree. These include high-impact experiences such as supervising research and field work; incorporating problem-based learning into academic courses; working with individual students to improve writing and communication skills, and guiding students in an everchanging technological environment. These new teaching formats require faculty members to change the way they allocate their time. Swarthmore’s policies and practices should recognize this change and ensure that we are encouraging scholarly and artistic achievement effectively. As we seek the best faculty, we recognize that diversity is essential. We strive to give all students strong models of accomplishment, reflecting our nation and our world, and we know that individuals with different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic identities enrich our community. As we intensify efforts to increase the diversity of the faculty, we must cultivate a community in which all faculty members can thrive.

This recommendation has three parts:

Recognize and support the full range of ways that faculty members teach by recalibrating the teaching load. In recent years, the learning needs and expectations of students have changed, greatly affecting the ways faculty members deploy their time and efforts. Traditionally, Swarthmore faculty members have taught five courses per year, and this—coupled with advising and engaging students, producing scholarship or other creative work, and completing service requirements—has made up the academic work of a scholar. Recognizing that the time devoted to intensive, individualized teaching represents a portion of the academic work of a faculty member, we must recalibrate the assignment of faculty time to include four formal courses (with adjustments for courses with labs) each academic year. This means that the recalibrated course load would be four plus one, with the fifth “course” being used to support teaching, research, and artistic production in the expanded ways that are so essential to current forms of learning and research. Students benefit when our faculty can engage them in new forms of teaching and research, and since our peers have already recalibrated teaching loads, this will allow us to remain competitive in our recruitment efforts.

This recalibration will require a comprehensive examination of the academic program, enabling the Council on Educational Policy (CEP) to determine where to add new faculty lines. The CEP must also evaluate the essential elements of the academic program and identify needs to consider courses with very low enrollments, how requirements are sequenced, and the circumstances that justify releasing a faculty member from a course for administrative service.

Recognize the value of faculty research and artistic production and support it vigorously. We should ensure adequate allowances for research and travel to professional meetings and expand internal fellowships to support second-semester research and creative production in the arts. We must continue to fund start-up costs for research laboratories and acquiring depth in new monographs, journals, and databases in the library.

Renew efforts to increase the diversity of the faculty, especially in tenure-track appointments. With the support of the College’s equal opportunity officer, we must increase the diversity of applicant pools and develop strategies to persuade highly sought after candidates to choose Swarthmore, including funding postdoctoral fellowships for underrepresented groups and opportunity hires. Extending the diversity of the faculty and the instructional staff must be a key objective of the proposed diversity plan.