Faculty mixed on award website

Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard launched a new web page in Classes*v2 last fall to help professors nominate each other for awards — but so far, few professors are using it.

About 7 percent of ladder faculty in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have added profiles about their academic work and publications to the Classes*v2 site since Pollard asked them to do so in November. Some faculty members said the system should be opened to scholars beyond Yale and should include more information about available awards in addition to profiles.

“The hope is that having available some basic material about an individual’s accomplishments will allow faculty to make more nominations and for deserving faculty members to be recognized,” Pollard said in an e-mail to the News Wednesday. Pollard said he will remind professors of the program in coming months in an effort to reach 50 percent participation in the FAS, adding that he extended the program to professional school faculty last month.

In addition to adding their own information, ladder faculty are provided access to their peers’ profiles through the Classes*v2 server. While awards can elevate professors’ status within their chosen field, said John Tully, chair of the chemistry department’s Awards Committee, they also increase the prestige of the University.

Still, Tully and other faculty members said they are disappointed with the content of the site. Tully said that while the profile information will help him nominate colleagues from other departments, lists of available awards for which a professor can be nominated would be more useful than lists of professors’ credentials.

“We don’t need data [about Yale chemistry professors], we get that directly,” he said. “I was hoping it would have other stuff besides information about individual faculty members.”

Diane Rodrigues, director of the office of faculty development and overseer of the site, said she thinks participation has been low because professors have busy schedules and are not making the project a priority. Film studies professor Charles Musser, who has not submitted his profile, said he needs to focus primariliy on his research, not on posting his accomplishments online.

“The most important thing is not to have more people angry at me for not making deadlines that I’ve already missed,” he said.

Four professors interviewed, who have not yet submitted profiles, said they are not familiar with the site.

Chemistry professor Robert Crabtree does not remember when he uploaded his profile, and said he forgot that the information was available. When he entered the system in Classes*v2 after being contacted the News, Crabtree said he was confused by its layout.

“It’s too complicated for me to find anything,” he said. “There’s endless divisions of things.”

Restricting access to Yale faculty members also limits the potential of the site, said Oswald Schmitz, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He said many awards nominations come from professors at other universities, who could use the extra information to recommend Yale professors.

At Yale, Schmitz said, the site will prove especially useful to professors who anonymously nominate colleagues for major awards such as the MacArthur Fellowship, or “genius grant.” This award, and others, require that candidates are recommended anonymously, he said, adding that collecting evidence for an award can be difficult when professors may not contact the person whose work they must describe.

“It takes a lot of work to nominate somebody,” Schmitz said. “You have to really explain why the candidate deserves the award.”

Regardless of whether the new web page will facilitate more nominations, it may prompt programs and professional schools to re-examine how they help their faculty members earn awards.

Paul Cleary, dean of the School of Public Health, said that he discussed the faculty profile project at a meeting of senior faculty. Now, he said, the school may establish an awards committee which would nominate professors for awards and memberships to academies.

The profile form asks for one-sentence and 250-word statements about how professors have contributed to their disciplines, a list of up to 12 published works, a list of awards received and the names of colleagues outside of Yale who would support a nomination.

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