Faculty Activity Reports

Faculty activity reports (FARs) are the way that faculty members report on their year’s activities to the Dean. The report is typically used to set faculty compensation for the subsequent academic year. At Marquette, the FAR determines annual salary increases and affects summer research stipends as well. Therefore, the FAR is my chance to state my case for some extra bucks next year.

Beyond compensation-setting, the FAR can serve other purposes. For example, the report helps the Dean’s Office collect information about faculty activities for their various upstream reports to other constituencies, such as the University, accreditation bodies, press, alumni, students, prospective students, etc.

I suspect that at some schools, the FAR also serves double-duty as a report for tenure and promotion purposes. Sadly, I have no such luck–I have to separately report on my activities to our P&T committee. I can recycle some of the FAR work, but effectively I have to write a second report.

The words “faculty activity report” strikes fear into the hearts of every law professor, for good reason. I spent virtually an entire working day filling out on my FAR–a pretty heavy reporting tax. And I haven’t even started on my P&T report yet.

Why so long? Our FAR request has seven major sections, most of which are not surprising (e.g., teaching, scholarship, service, goals for next year). However, collectively these seven sections consist of a total of 46 line-item questions (some of which are further composed of sub-parts). Further, these questions are written exactly how a lawyer writes interrogatories–overbroad and burdensome.

In anticipation of each year’s FAR fishing expedition, throughout the year I make notes about various activities in a Word document as they occur. This way, I have captured most of my reportable activities in a single file that I can conveniently consult at the year’s end. However, there always seem to be new questions every year on the FAR for data that I wasn’t tracking. Further, I still need to pull information to respond to the FAR from other sources–my CV, TWEN, my website, and various other documents. At one point yesterday I had 5 different Word documents and several web pages open at the same time…and the printer was smokin’.

The product of my day’s labor? My FAR will include a 12 page (3,000+ word) written narrative singing my praises and explaining how I’m an virtuous human being plus a binder of a couple dozen documents (published articles, work-in-progress articles, syllabi, exams, class handouts) totaling several hundred pages. I suspect the Dean will have as much fun reading it as I had fun preparing it.

The good news is that I’m looking forward to moving this binder off my desk so I can actually do some work that is worth reporting…right after I do my P&T report…