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Teaching and Training
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Universities offer degrees, and more increasingly also offer opportunities for continuing education, corporate training, digital badges, and micro-certifications (see Chapter 6). People seek out universities largely because they are accredited by various bodies that ensure the content is appropriate and that the faculty have the appropriate credentials to certify the educational knowledge competently. Degrees come in a variety of forms - associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees of either science or arts, graduate certificates, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees which may be doctorates of philosophy or professional/clinical doctorates. Each of these also has a different set of requirements and many are accredited by formal boards. A Master of Business Administration (MBA), for example, must be granted by a business school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)4, while engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)5. While there is no accrediting body for analytics and data science, there is an emerging Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) credential that is discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. We discuss the details of formal analytics and data science degrees at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels in Chapters 3, 4, and 5, respectively.
As you approach a university for collaboration — whether at the undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral level - you will have to deal with faculty. In the next section, we try to provide some insight into working with faculty and why they may or may not return your call.
Incentives – Why Would a Faculty Member Take Your Call?
Being a faculty person is a job. We say this because there is a lingering rumor that being a faculty person consists of wandering the woods thinking about lofty ideas, returning to one’s library for some further contemplative thought, a pipe and a tea, and the occasional visit to the classroom where students are quickly dismissed in theater style - or so classic films would have you believe. The reality on the ground is not that. In fact, neither one of us even owns a pipe.
Faculty, like all employees, have performance expectations. At our university, we utilize an “eighths system” for faculty performance agreements, whereby all full-time faculty divide their work into eight units. These units are typically divided among teaching, research, and service in some combination, or administrative work and other duties such as advising students. Faculty can have a wide variation in their split among these areas, which can impact their available time. Not all faculty must address each of these areas — such as our colleague mentioned above who is exclusively dedicated to research and has never actually seen a student. Understanding expectations for how faculty are incented will help when considering with whom and how to start a conversation related to collaborating and engagement. Table 2.3 is an example of expectations for faculty workload from Drexel University.
Three things are important here. The first point is that Drexel University is classified as “Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity” just like the University of Michigan. Most universities in this category will have a similar set of faculty expectations, again with some faculty having exclusively research (non-teaching) responsibilities. The second point is that most faculty have some combination of research, teaching, and service responsibilities - faculty will be considering an opportunity to work with you through one (or more) of these lenses. An important consideration for your project is that many collaborations can fit into several of these requirements simultaneously and thus can help support the level of assessed impact the faculty member is making, which in turn makes the endeavor more attractive - meaning that they are more likely to take your call. In other words, if you are trying to work with a faculty member, which of these areas - teaching, service, or research — will your project fall into?
The Taxonomy of Faculty
No doubt you have heard of “tenure”. Basically, tenure is a commitment on behalf of the university to the faculty member that they can publish and teach there for the rest of their career. It protects a faculty member’s “academic freedom” to research or
Table 2.3 Example Policy Statement on Faculty Workload, Drexel University6
publish topics that may be unpopular. Tenured faculty are typically at the rank of “Full Professor” or “Associate Professor” (see Table 2.4) and would have progressed through the “tenure-track” process.
Fully tenured faculty have different incentives and expectations than do faculty on the “tenure-track” (see below). While there is still an expectation for publication, they do not need the same level of productivity. Tenured faculty are still reviewed regularly. This “post tenure” review is required to show that the faculty has become an expert contributor to their field and has assumed a role of leadership through professional organizations and links to external efforts such as boards, companies, or research enterprises. Many tenured faculty would welcome an opportunity to serve on your organization in an advisory capacity, in part because it helps their post tenure review, ’[he importance and role of “service” tends to increase over research for these faculty. They become chairs of their departments, heads of degrees, program directors, and the like. This means their time may be more limited, but their willingness to partner increased. They may also have the ability to link the projects to needed resources (students, labs, etc.) more easily. Further, projects that raise their or their unit’s or institution’s profile are desired and are important accomplishments to point to during their annual review. Research labs, executive training, and keynote speaking at events all create useful accomplishment points in the path toward promotion for these faculty and again, are the reasons they would take your call.
Illustrations have been created especially for this book by Charles Larson.
Pre-Tenure (Tenure-Track) Faculty
These faculty typically engage in a mix of teaching, research, and service activities and will commonly have the title “Assistant Professor”. Tenure-track faculty may be interested in engaging with you depending on the level of funded research they are already doing.
For tenure-track faculty, the most attractive thing about you is your data (sorry), and the potential external funding and associated publications that you may bring for which they may get credit - externally funded and published research is the "coin of the realm" on the tenure track.
When a faculty is hired, they start a “tenure clock” - typically six years - to “prove” that they will be able to sustain funding and publication. At most institutions one to two high quality publications (generally defined as the 'impact factor’, acceptance rate, or citations to the journal) a year suffices but may be more depending on the field and the institution. “Very High Research Activity” institutions - like Drexel University or the University of Michigan - often place a premium on publishing productivity because they are measured on that productivity which in turn affects their research portfolios and of course their ability to generate funding. Be aware that pre-tenure, tenure-track faculty may be advised not to engage in external relationships at this point in their career to protect their time and ensure they are publishing.
Non-Tenure Track Faculty
You may hear terms like “Professor of the Practice”, “Clinical Appointment”, “Teaching Faculty”, or “Lecturer”. These titles generally describe faculty - who may or may not have a PhD, with limited expectations to generate external funding, research or publication. Their primary role within an analytics or data science program is to teach. As a result, their interests in collaborating with you are typically aligned with student projects, practicums and maybe guest lectures.
Faculty think of "guest lecturers" in the same way we think about taking the kids to the grandparents - everyone gets a break.
Research faculty are common at large research universities like the University of Michigan - they may opt for or a position where research funds part or all of their salary and they must offset their salary with external funds. Or, for some, they obtain a grant or project which “buys out” some of their l/8s of time otherwise dedicated to teaching. This is sometimes an option for partnering with a university if you feel your project needs a specific faculty’s expertise. This will require funding typically at some percentage of the faculty person’s full salary and benefits. How much time you might need from them will also be an issue. In our case, if we think of eighths, you can break that down into workable hours. For our University a one unit buy-out is roughly 12% of their salary plus “fringe”. Fringe benefit rates can run typically in the 20% to 40% range of total salary and include any non-salary benefits the employees receives such as retirement contributions, health and other insurance, or leave benefits. Research faculty, because of the demands of research grants, have less ability to partner - unless your company is the sponsor of the research grant. Federal rules around supplemental forms of income do not allow for their time to be spent outside of the grants they have, if federally sponsored (i.e., through the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health). It is also true that many universities do not support payment to faculty in excess of their eight units of work. More recently, universities have begun to look at the broader impacts of research and service, which often have blurry edges. This is important and relevant to you because you need to position a project to ensure that the process and/or outcomes is of maximum benefit and alignment to the needs of the faculty while also serving the needs of your organization.
For most faculty, one of the biggest incentives to work with you is related to the types of students they work with. If they mentor doctoral students (see Chapter 5), they will be laser focused on ensuring adequate funding to ensure these students do not starve (really - doctoral students need a lot of care and feeding). They may also be seeking data sources to test and validate student research - note that this could be particularly unique opportunity to test your data with cutting edge research/ algorithms. The legal challenges here can be deep, but with an understanding of the advantages and property rights for all parties, the issues can usually be addressed. If the faculty are working with master’s level students, they will be interested in some combination of internships and capstone projects, and possibly sponsorship of a thesis. These initiatives are mutually beneficial and can provide a company with access to new knowledge and a pipeline of more qualified practitioners, which is especially helpful in fields like analytics and data science (see Chapter 4). If faculty are working with undergraduate students (see Chapter 3), the emphasis will likely be on internships, practicums, and hackathons, which are more exposure-based and can provide a company with a period of useful labor, but also a pipeline for entry level positions.
Table 2.4 summarizes how faculty at differing academic ranks - in ascending order of seniority - may think about collaborating with companies.
Each of these themes will re-emerge in the following chapters when we discuss the types of programs and student interactions you may have.