Statements of Mutual Expectations to Become Statements of Faculty Responsibilities

Memorial Belltower

The Statement of Mutual Expectations (SME) is a written description of the mix of a individual faculty member’s realms of responsibility and the mutually-agreed-upon expectations from both the faculty member and the department during the faculty member’s appointment.  Every faculty member must have an SME, which is to be prepared in consultation with their department head. Every faculty member is to maintain this document throughout their course of service to the university.

“With teaching and research taking up much of our faculty members’ time, we recognized a need to streamline the SME process to fit in better with their other responsibilities,” said Katharine Stewart, vice provost for faculty affairs. “In light of this need, the Provost created a task force on Statements of Mutual Expectations (SMEs), and charged the task force with recommending revisions to improve consistency and clarity of SMEs.”

A change in SMEs would also reduce errors, omissions, and inconsistencies that had the potential to create confusion during candidates’ reviews for award of promotion and/or permanent tenure or during post-tenure review. The SME Task Force, chaired by Dr. Jane Lubischer — assistant department head in Biological Sciences and director of the Life Sciences First Year Program — and composed of faculty and department heads from all NC State colleges, worked throughout academic year 2016-2017 and recommended several changes to the SME content and process. Based on the recommendations from the task force’s report, the Provost approved a process that will transition SMEs to Statements of Faculty Responsibilities (SFRs).

In addition to the name change, two additional changes will take place: the debut of a new online tool and the availability of additional guidance on faculty activities. The online module will articulate with the RPTOnline system that will allow for immediate checks of common errors in SMEs/SFRs, such as total percent effort of more than 100 percent and a lack of documentation of reasons for changes in faculty effort or activity descriptions. The online module, to be called SFROnline, is being developed in consultation with members of the SME Task Force and will allow upload of existing SMEs as supplemental information to minimize the need for “backfilling” of information.

The task force also developed additional guidance for the descriptions of faculty activities in each realm in which a faculty member has significant effort. These guidelines will help provide clarity regarding departmental expectations, but are not overly specific to the point that they limit
faculty members’ academic freedom or their adaptation to changing instructional or scholarly

“The changes implemented by the SME task force will support faculty members’ professional development and career advancement,” said Stewart. “We do want to note, though, that SFRs will still maintain key features of SMEs.”

SFRs will continue to be developed through discussions between a faculty member and department head, with a dean’s involvement if no agreement between the faculty member and head can be reached (per REG 05.20.27). SFRs will also continue to identify rough percentages of faculty activity in the six realms of faculty responsibility and describe in general terms the activities to be undertaken by the faculty member in those realms.

SFRs will continue to be required in RPT dossiers and PTR packets. Finally, SFRs will always be modifiable as faculty members’ responsibilities shift over their career at NC State, and changes will continue to be documented within the SFR to provide context for faculty evaluations.

The SME to SFR transition will occur in a series of steps. The online module (SFROnline) is currently in development and will be piloted in Spring 2018 with two or three departments that were identified by the SME Task Force. The Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) will work with faculty and department heads to identify needed revisions to the SFROnline tool during this time.

From Spring 2018 through Fall 2018, OFA will work with the Faculty Senate, department heads, and deans to implement necessary revisions of NC State regulations and rules. In a majority of cases, this will involve minor changes such as changing “SME” to “SFR” in various places in the regulation or rule.

In Academic Year 2018-2019, the SFROnline module will be available for campus-wide use. The new SFR format and online module will be optional for RPT dossiers submitted in RPTOnline in the 2018-2019 review cycle. Beginning in the 2019-2020 RPT review cycle, the new SFR format will be required for RPT dossiers. The SFR format will also be required for new faculty beginning in academic year 2019-2020.

OFA will be providing information about the SME-to-SFR transition via the Provost’s website, in campus-wide information sessions, and other meetings beginning in Spring 2018 and continuing throughout the transition period. Katharine Stewart and Courtney Thornton will be available to colleges, departments, and individuals for consultation, Q&A sessions and other support as needed.

Learn more about the SME to SFR transition. Please contact Katharine Stewart, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, at or at 919-513-7741, or Courtney Thornton, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Policy, at or at 919-515-5490, if you have questions about the transition process.

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