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Administration Concedes, Next Steps

Submitted by Staff on Wed, 10/26/2016 - 16:49

President David M Hughes sent the following update on October 26, 2016 to the New Brunswick-area tenured and tenure-track faculty:

Dear Colleague,

By the beginning of last week, nearly two hundred faculty members had signed the “Common Law Information Request and Permission to Sue.” [link to petition]. They are demanding to see the secret personnel records compiled by Academic Analytics (AA) and used by our Chancellor’s Office. At the end of last week, Chancellor Edwards announced his concession to that demand. (His message is appended below.) This step represents a victory - after more than a year and a half of persistent activism by the Union, by the New Brunswick Faculty Council, by the NB graduate faculty, and by the SAS faculty. But we still have work to do to address the use of metrics in the University.

As the Chancellor notes in his message, we will now be able to gain access to our AA profiles through chairs or other specially-trained individuals. This process seems unnecessarily burdensome to chairs and cumbersome to everyone, but it may work to provide access previously denied. We are therefore going to suspend filing the Common Law Information Request. Should those records not appear shortly, we will, indeed, deliver the document and its nearly 200 signatures to Court. Please do let us know if and when you obtain your AA profiles. And we urge that you NOT attempt to correct errors in the AA data. That company does not pay us to improve its product — one that is deeply flawed and inappropriate for academia.  

In another apparent concession to faculty pressure, Chancellor Edwards has agreed to reconsider the use of Academic Analytics altogether. At least, the new Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Metrics and Analytics may choose to recommend that Rutgers follow the path laid by Georgetown University – and cancel its subscription to AA. The Committee will also address the much wider issue of metrics, ranking, and their abuse in Academia. The Union will certainly convey expertise and information to the members of this committee, whose names are below. I would invite all of you to do the same.  

Regrettably Chancellor Edwards’s named no faculty from arts or literature departments to his committee. As AA mis-measures those fields in ways that are particularly egregious, we suggest to the Chancellor that he rectify the oversight.

Finally, we will be recommending to the Administration that it suspend its use of Academic Analytics while this important committee deliberates. Surely, the concerns and outrage regarding this database – now acknowledged by Old Queens – warrant a pause and a step back.

In solidarity,

David M. Hughes

Professor of Anthropology (SAS-New Brunswick)
President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union




I am writing to let you know that I have established a Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Metrics and Analytics. As I am sure you know, virtually all higher education institutions these days are using various metrics to measure a whole range of types of performance, from student recruitment to financial performance to faculty productivity, and virtually everything in between that can be measured. Such metrics may include a range of “dashboard” indicators, as well as other ways of categorizing information. One of several types of measures is the type of information collated by companies like Academic Analytics, but there are others. Of course, the whole idea of measurement of performance is not new to higher education—we have been giving grades to our students for a long time. Given the growth of use of measures and metrics, I want the new committee members to become well-versed on what we are doing here at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and to advise me on how best to use these measures.

Given the increasing attention to metrics and analytics, I have asked a group of faculty and a few administrators to serve on the new Advisory Committee. The membership consists of faculty who represent a broad range of disciplines and schools. It will be chaired by Professor Mark Miller from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Below is the list of members.

Of course, I am aware that some faculty members are concerned whether their publications and funding profiles as compiled by Academic Analytics are accurate. Therefore, as I told the New Brunswick Faculty Council I would do, I am establishing a process whereby any individual faculty member is welcome to check her or his file at Academic Analytics. If the faculty member then believes there are discrepancies, Academic Analytics has identified a member of its staff who can be contacted by the faculty member to consult about the discrepancies and make corrections if necessary. To review her or his Academic Analytics file, the faculty member will go through her or his department chair, who will be able to access the Academic Analytics files (in the case of non-departmentalized schools the dean will identify the individual to perform this function). To obtain access, the department chairs or other authorized individuals must complete a brief orientation on Academic Analytics. Department chairs should contact Jerry Kukor, Dean of the Graduate School, for information about obtaining access from Academic Analytics.  

I expect the first meeting of the new Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Metrics and Analytics to occur within the next couple of weeks. I thank all of those who have agreed to serve.

Members, Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Metrics and Analytics

(1)    Chair: Mark Miller, Department of Environmental Sciences and Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
(2)    Doyle White, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering
(3)    Sanjib Bhuyan, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
(4)    Florence Hamrick, Graduate School of Education
(5)    Richard Padgett, Department of Biology, School of Arts and Sciences
(6)    Jerry Kukor, Dean, Graduate School–New Brunswick
(7)    Cathy Potter, Dean, School of Social Work
(8)    Robert Heffernan, Office of Institutional Research and Strategic Planning
(9)    Krisellen Maloney, Rutgers University Libraries
(10)    Mia Bay, Department of History, School of Arts and Sciences
(11)    Simon Thomas, Department of Mathematics, School of Arts and Sciences
(12)    Eugene White, Department of Economics, School of Arts and Sciences
(13)    Staffed by: Paul Hammond, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Office of the New Brunswick Chancellor

Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D.
Chancellor, Rutgers—New Brunswick


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