SU Advance Partnership

Assessing Differential Faculty Contributions and Aligning Faculty Advancement with Mission Values. This is a collaborative venture between Gonzaga University, Saint Louis University, and Seattle University and is funded by NSF ADVANCE Partnership Awards.


Institutional inability among U.S. institutions of higher education to recognize, measure, and evaluate a comprehensive and inclusive range of activities is a significant barrier to advancement for women and faculty of color who engage disproportionately in activities that directly benefit students, universities, and communities, but which are not easily captured in traditional measures of “impact.” This project aims to reimagine the “impact factor” by realigning evaluation of faculty contributions with the broader range of activities that constitute the foundation of higher education.

The proposed program is the culmination of more than a year of focused communication between Gonzaga University, Saint Louis University, and Seattle University – the Partners on the proposed NSF ADVANCE Partnership grant (#2204538). The three universities share a Jesuit mission grounded in education of the whole person for social justice leadership and have each established a university-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion with explicit language indicating that faculty activities promoting diversity and inclusion are a priority. All three universities show markedly similar faculty work patterns, whereby essential but under-valued activities are routinely undertaken with the same pattern of over-representation of women and faculty of color who are stalled with respect to promotion. This Partnership Proposal builds on a Seattle University 2016-2021 NSF ADVANCE-IT grant (#1629875). The ADVANCE-IT grant focused on cultivating the changes necessary to implement a sustainable faculty development path toward advancement that includes recognition and reward of traditionally hidden or under-valued work.

We have concluded that there are three inter-related elements within the general work of revising advancement processes to be more comprehensive and mission aligned. These are: recognition by faculty and administrators within an institution of a broader more inclusive range of faculty contributions; the development of a toolkit for assigning merit to and evaluating these activities; and intentional faculty development in alignment with a more comprehensively recognized range of career pathways. The proposed ADVANCE Partnership provides an ideal opportunity to experiment with variations on implementing revisions, variations that might be more suited to different types of universities, thereby making the initial SU ADVANCE IT project more widely generalizable.

Read the full grant document: NSF-ADVANCE-Partnership

Intellectual Merit:

We have identified four general areas of under-valued faculty activities in which women and faculty of color are over-represented. These areas include: under-valued scholarship (including science education research, applied research, public-oriented research); community engagement; faculty administrative leadership; and institutional work to meet diversity and inclusion aims. The focus of the proposed NSF ADVANCE Partnership is reimagining faculty evaluation for promotion using approaches specifically suited to each of these areas.

Broader Impacts:

In the U.S. today, many institutions of higher education have clearly articulated missions, and these are vital in providing a raison d'etre for the diverse faculty, students, and staff who work there. Missions also provide an important, publicly accessible explanation to surrounding communities for what an institution does and why it exists. At the same time, however, at institutions that have a clearly articulated mission, many “mission resonant” activities performed by faculty are relied upon but taken for granted. There is widespread need for evaluation measures to align with activities. This proposed Partnership grant initiates important structural change aimed squarely at redressing this identified key area of change, first at the three identified Partnership institutions, but with the eventual goal of disseminating cultural change across the AJCU and ADVANCE networks more broadly.

Project Team

The new ADVANCE Partnership will continue our previous work, with an intentional focus on generalizing and disseminating tools to promote cultural change across other mission-centered institutions, including those in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) network. Faculty involved in the project are as follows:

Seattle University:

  • Jodi O’Brien (Principal Investigator), Interim Associate Provost  
  • Colette Taylor, Special Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Directions

Gonzaga University:

  • Maril Bertagnolli (Co-Principal Investigator), Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs
  • Paul Bracke (Co-Principal Investigator), Associate Provost, Institute for Research & Interdisciplinary Initiatives  

Saint Louis University:  

  • Debra Lohe, (Co-Principal Investigator) Associate Provost
  • Katie Heiden Rootes, (Co-Principal Investigator), Assistant Vice President, Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement 

SU ADVANCE Partnership Research and Presentations

Contact Us