Rewarding team effort

Laura Huenneke

By Laura Huenneke, Provost and Vice President
for Academic Affairs

So much academic culture is focused on individual effort and rewards, from the unique learning paths of individual students to the specialized contributions of our accomplished faculty scholars.

Those efforts may result in recognition through awards or performance-based compensation increases. But very often it takes a team effort to tackle university priorities such as recruiting and accommodating students, or improving the quality of our academic programs and the learning experiences of students. How might we do a better job of providing incentives, support and rewards for group accomplishments?

Examples we already have in place include the incentives offered through the President’s Technology Innovation Fund, which supports departments in redesigning courses. Seals certifying the excellence of a department’s assessment efforts represent another approach.

Interestingly, at this week’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting, we heard about an example being put forward at the highest level of the university system. A new form of compensation was established for the Enterprise Executive Committee, composed of the presidents of the three universities plus the ABOR president. Each of the four will receive a year-end bonus if the enterprise as a whole reaches certain goals.

I’ll be challenging our deans over the next few months to help design such support and recognition for unit-level accomplishments and performance. But I welcome all of your good ideas, as well, about how to add to our suite of incentives and recognition programs for team and unit accomplishments.