Faculty Evaluation and COVID-19

COVID Impact Statements

NC State’s creative and dedicated faculty are making profound adjustments to their work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon consultation with the Faculty Senate Personnel Policy Committee, Provost Arden is offering faculty members the option to develop a COVID Impact Statement, which can be added to the materials prepared for the reappointment, promotion and tenure (RPT) process (beginning with AY 2021-22 cycle) and post-tenure review (PTR) and annual review (beginning with AY 2020-21 cycles) to help ensure that their efforts can be recognized. Please note that impact statements are not required.

The COVID Impact Statement is an opportunity for faculty to describe both positive and detrimental effects of the pandemic on the mix or balance of their work activities and the types of work outcomes that they were able to achieve. Evaluators are asked to consider these impacts as they apply departmental and college standards in faculty evaluation processes. Evaluators are also asked to recognize the individualized impacts of COVID and avoid universalizing these statements; for example, the same factor that presented an opportunity for one candidate may have presented a hardship for another.

Developing an Impact Statement

REG 05.20.20 Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Dossier Format Requirements and REG 05.20.04 Post Tenure Review of Faculty are being amended to allow the inclusion of an additional page to the current optional two-page candidate statement. Faculty may choose to present a COVID Impact Statement as a discrete one-page addition to their candidate statement, or they may choose to integrate information about the impact of COVID throughout a three-page candidate statement. If integrating across a three-page statement, faculty should ensure that COVID impacts are clearly and explicitly presented to address the intent of this opportunity.

For each realm of responsibility that has been affected, the faculty member may summarize changes in practice that affected productivity, including but not limited to:

  • Opportunities to demonstrate innovation and creativity;  
  • Modifications or increases to workload, activities or approaches;
  • Canceled or delayed events, activities or work products;
  • Reduced access to facilities, locations, personnel or partners;
  • Opportunities to address emergent issues related to the pandemic and/or
  • “Invisible” service to sustain departmental or other operations or to support students.

Impacts should be discussed explicitly in the faculty member’s statement as well as in the departmental, department head, college and/or dean’s assessments. 

In addition, each faculty member at their discretion may elect to address personal circumstances that affected overall productivity (i.e. increased caregiving demands) as well as other observed effects on productivity that may fall outside of specific realms of responsibility. Adding information about personal circumstances is entirely optional.

To include a COVID Impact Statement in a RPT dossier or PTR materials: The COVID Impact Statement, where used, will be part of the optional candidate statement in RPT and PTR dossiers. The two-page limits for section I.C. of the RPT dossier and for the optional candidate statement for PTR dossiers have been increased, permitting a maximum of three pages.

To include a COVID Impact Statement in an annual review: A COVID Impact Statement is considered “other pertinent information” allowable per REG 05.20.03 – Annual Reviews of Faculty Members. Faculty should consult with their department head for any departmental preferences or procedures on including such a statement for annual review.

COVID Impact Statements FAQs

COVID Impact Statements provide NC State faculty the opportunity to document the effects of the pandemic on their professional responsibilities and provide peer evaluators with important context for faculty evaluation processes. Select your role and learn more about these statements.

Q1: Are COVID Impact Statements required for RPT or PTR?

A1: No, they are optional.

Q2: Do I need a COVID Impact Statement?

A2: Did the pandemic alter your work products or approach to your realms of responsibility? Did the pandemic affect the type or mix of evidence you can provide to show that you meet performance standards? Has the pandemic shifted your effort in one or more ways different from the expectations set in your SFR? If so, then you may want to consider documenting this context for peer evaluators in a COVID Impact Statement.

Q3: What should I do if I am not sure I will need a COVID Impact Statement?

A3: If you’re not sure you will need one, go ahead and start documenting items now, and keep a running list of thoughts that might be relevant in a COVID Impact Statement. Then when the time comes for your next evaluative process, your content is ready and doesn’t have to be recalled from past memory.

Q4: What should my COVID Impact Statement include?

A4: There’s no set format to a COVID Impact Statement and to presenting this important context alongside your achievements and accomplishments. In general, you should summarize any changes in practice that affected productivity or the mix of activities in your realms of responsibility, including but not limited to:

  • Opportunities to demonstrate innovation and creativity; 
  • Modifications or increases to workload, activities, or approaches;
  • Canceled or delayed events, activities, or work products;
  • Reduced access to facilities, locations, personnel, or partners;
  • Opportunities to address emergent issues related to the pandemic and/or
  • “Invisible” service to sustain departmental or other operations or to support students.

Make sure to connect these changes in practice to specific impacts in your work, connecting the changes to opportunities and the challenges within the different realms of responsibility.

In addition to documenting adjustments to your professional responsibilities, at your discretion you may elect to address personal circumstances that impacted overall productivity (i.e. increased caregiving demands) as well as other observed effects on productivity that may fall outside of specific realms of responsibility.

Q5: Can I update my COVID Impact Statement for different processes? 

A5: Yes. You can create separate and distinct COVID Impact Statements for annual review, RPT and PTR evaluations as needed.  

Q6: How do I include a COVID Impact Statement in my RPT dossier?

A6: Starting in the 2021-2022 RPT cycle, the two-page optional candidate statement will be expanded to a three-page statement to allow for this. You may choose to present a COVID Impact Statement as a discrete one-page addition to your candidate statement, or you may choose to integrate information about the impact of COVID throughout a three-page candidate statement. If integrating information across a three-page statement, be sure to do so in such a way that your points regarding COVID impacts are clear and explicit for the reviewer. 

Q7: How do I include a COVID Impact Statement in my post-tenure review materials?

A7: Starting in the 2020-2021 post-tenure review cycle, the two-page optional candidate statement will be expanded to a three-page statement to allow for this. You may choose to present a COVID Impact Statement as a discrete one-page addition to your candidate statement, or you may choose to integrate information about the impact of COVID throughout a three-page candidate statement.

Q8: How do I include a COVID Impact Statement in my annual review materials?

A8: A COVID Impact Statement is considered “other pertinent information” allowable per our regulation on faculty annual reviews. Talk with your department head for any departmental preferences or procedures on including such a statement for annual review.

Q9: If I received an automatic tenure clock extension for COVID-19, may I still include a COVID Impact Statement in my dossier?

A9: Yes, you may. Information about requesting an COVID-19 automatic tenure clock extension is located in its own section of our FAQs about RPT. Faculty who have received a tenure clock extension for any reason, including COVID, may also include a COVID Impact Statement in their RPT dossier if they wish.

Q1: What is the purpose of the COVID Impact Statement in evaluation?

A1: COVID Impact statements are an opportunity for faculty to give you important context about the effects of the pandemic on their professional responsibilities and achievements that you can then consider during faculty evaluation processes.

Q2: What is the relation between a COVID Impact Statement and departmental or college standards?

A2: A COVID Impact Statement provides context regarding why faculty approaches or outcomes in meeting the standards may look different than might be expected in non-pandemic times. The COVID Impact Statement does not substitute or change the standards, nor is it meant to be an explanation for not meeting such standards.

Q3: What if our DVF believes the pandemic has changed faculty work and/or our discipline or field to the extent that we want to modify the departmental standards?

A3: The departmental standards are set, via the departmental RPT and PTR rules, by the departmental faculty and can be changed when the departmental faculty deem it appropriate to do so. Such changes require departmental and college review and approval, as well as review by the Provost and by the Office of General Counsel. Here’s guidance on working with the Provost’s Office to revise a departmental rule.

Q4: When can we expect to start seeing COVID Impact Statements?

A4: COVID Impact Statements can be included in post-tenure review optional candidate statements and annual reviews beginning in the 2020-2021 cycle, and in RPT candidate statements beginning in the 2021-2022 review cycle.

Q5: When will COVID Impact Statements no longer be accepted?

A5: Since our evaluation processes require faculty to discuss their achievements over the span of several years, we anticipate the need for COVID Impact Statements in our evaluation processes for the foreseeable future, likely 5-7 years. The university community will have no less than two academic years’ notice before phasing out these statements. 

Q6: Is there a standard format for COVID Impact Statements?

A6: No. As an evaluator, you may see a COVID Impact Statement in RPT or PTR as a discrete addition to a candidate statement or as integrated information throughout a three-page candidate statement.

Q7: How should DVFs prepare to consider COVID Impact Statements?

A7: Departments and/or colleges can do several things to help ready yourselves to review and consider COVID Impact Statements. 

  • Communicate that statements are welcome. The DVF can help assure all faculty that the creation and submission of a COVID Impact Statement is welcomed and will provide the DVF with helpful context. 
  • Continue to focus on your standards.  Is the faculty member meeting standards for their rank and realms of responsibility? This key question in RPT and post-tenure reviews has not changed. Are we seeing evidence in dossiers or in the discipline/field that suggest our standards should be modified prior to the next RPT, PTR or annual review cycle? 
  • Proactively identify some expected differences. Knowing we can’t imagine all of the possibilities, what less typical patterns and/or mixes of evidence that meet our departmental standards might we expect to see during this period of disruption? What funders, publication outlets, meetings or juried shows have been affected, and how will that affect faculty outputs? What new opportunities has the pandemic created in our field/discipline? 
  • Acknowledge that effort and SFRs may not match. How did increased teaching demands and the shift to remote instruction in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 affect faculty and their balance of effort across the realms? How did lack of access to research facilities or resources do the same? How will your DVF take any discrepancies between SFRs and these kinds of challenges into account?
  • Acknowledge that the pandemic affects people differently. How will we take into account in our deliberations the documented differential effects of the pandemic on faculty with more caregiving (child care, elder care, educational coordination) responsibilities? How will we be prepared to recognize the individualized impacts of COVID and avoid universalizing these impact statements? For example, the same factor that presented an opportunity for one candidate may have presented a hardship for another.
  • Share insights with the entire department. How can we share this thinking to help faculty craft their impact statements in the future? How can we spur additional departmental conversations about the range of effects we are seeing the pandemic have on faculty work?

Q1: Is there a required format for COVID Impact Statements in annual reviews? 

A1: There’s no set format for a COVID Impact Statement for RPT, PTR or for annual reviews. Consider and communicate any content and format expectations you have for COVID Impact Statements submitted as part of annual reviews. 

Q2: How can I support faculty in creating COVID Impact Statements?

A2: Departments Heads and Deans can do several things to support faculty in creating COVID Impact Statements, like the following:

  • Talking regularly with faculty during annual review or other regular meetings about the impact of the pandemic on their work and the adjustments they are making. This will help them decide what issues may be important to highlight in future impact statements.
  • Engaging faculty members in discussions about these statements and what information would be especially useful or relevant during the review process. This will encourage department-level transparency and shared decision-making about the statements and their use. 
  • For departments with mentoring programs. Working with mentors to develop department-specific suggestions to help ensure that COVID Impact Statements address some of the more common issues faced by your department’s faculty or key aspects of departmental standards. 

Q3: As department head, how should I consider these statements during annual reviews of faculty?

A3: Prior to the next annual review cycle, you may want to consider your procedures for annual review, how annual reviews are used by the department, and whether any adjustments are needed. For example, if your current practice is to provide a meets expectations or does not meet expectations outcome at the end of an annual review, what are the implications of continuing, suspending, or adjusting that practice in light of the pandemic? Similar to its use in RPT and PTR, a COVID Impact Statement should provide you with helpful context for understanding the effects of the pandemic on each faculty member’s responsibilities and outcomes.

The annual review process is an important touchpoint, providing faculty with useful guidance ahead of their next major evaluative milestone (RPT or PTR). Consider using it as an opportunity to help faculty refine their COVID Impact Statements ahead of those processes or to coach them regarding tenure clock extensions, adjusting their timeline for a non-mandatory review, or other approaches.

Question not answered? Contact Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Katharine Stewart or Associate Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Policy Courtney Thornton.