Amherst 250 Plan
Implementation of the Amherst 250 Plan
The restoration of the UMass Amherst faculty through the 250 plan requires clear guidelines to govern the allocation of new resources to campus units. Several main principles create the framework for this activity, and a data based process supports the allocation of resources. The principles described here generally reflect those that guided the campus in its budget reductions of a few years ago, and will now guide the restoration of the faculty. This part of the 250 Plan represents a draft description that will require further review and consultation by appropriate Faculty Senate groups as well as by the units in Academic Affairs affected by this plan.
The primary focus of UMass Amherst is on teaching and research, students and faculty. We look at opportunities in terms of how they support our mission to teach graduate and undergraduate students and how they enhance the campus’ national research performance. As these twin engines of our mission succeed, they generate additional opportunities for outreach, for continuing education, for support of economic and social development in the Commonwealth and in our communities, but these benefits depend on the success of the campus in fulfilling its primary teaching and research mission.
The first allocation decision for the 250 Plan rests on an assessment of the teaching capacity of each college or school referenced against national norms. That is, do we have sufficient numbers of faculty, and the right mix of instructors, to teach the students enrolled in classes taught within each school or college. National norms for this come from the Delaware Study that provides reasonably good data for institutions similar, if not identical, to our own. If a college or school is significantly deficient in instructional resources relative to the national marketplace, we assume an increase in faculty will be required. If a college or school is significantly over the national norm, we assume no increase in faculty are required for teaching purposes. We have been conducting such an analysis for several years, and a significant fraction of any new faculty will be used to fill existing instructional resource shortfalls in the humanities and social sciences. With basic needs met, additional faculty allocations can address further quality improvements.
The second allocation decision involves an assessment of the research performance of each college and school. If a college or school’s research performance has been increasing on a per faculty basis for the past four years, then we have reason to believe that additional investment in this unit’s research capacity would be wise. If a college or school’s research performance has been flat or declining on a per faculty basis for the past four years, then additional faculty resources for research would depend on very compelling evidence that investment will produce results.
These first two are the key decision elements, but university improvement is not a simple mechanical process, it requires a data based judgment. For example, in some cases, accreditation requirements or other national standards will define certain levels of faculty staffing, regardless of the workload. In such cases, the decision about allocation may well be a decision about whether to sustain the school, department, or program at all, and not an incremental decision about adding or subtracting faculty support.