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New study says faculty entrepreneurship should be recognized in promotion and tenure


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 29th, 2021

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Kentucky (UK) and a host of other institutions conclude that promotion and tenure processes at universities should take into account the entrepreneurial activities of faculty members.

The study, published in Science, follows the work of the Promotion and Tenure, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PTIE) Coalition, which has pushed recommendations for recognizing innovation and entrepreneurial achievements among the criteria for promotion and tenure at research universities.

“The people that a university produces are its most important product,” says Ian McClure, associate vice president for research, innovation and economic impact at UK and co-author of the study.

“The tenure and promotion process is the formative factor in developing research faculty at those institutions, which manages the environment that fosters a cultural imprint on their students,” McClure says. “Thus, institutions must adapt their processes to be as inclusive as possible as the world innovates and evolves in the ways that research can be impactful.”

The study shows that current processes for promotion and tenure can fail to fully assess and value faculty members’ entrepreneurial, innovative and community-engaged activities, despite the fact that these endeavors produce the kind of societal impacts universities aim to provide.

The authors of the study recommend that universities embrace a more inclusive definition of innovation and entrepreneurship — not just start-ups and tech licensing, but also efforts across the university from departments not typically associated with entrepreneurship, such as liberal arts.

According to the study, a more inclusive approach will allow most faculty to see benefits of the recommended changes without undermining basic research.

McClure adds, “The fact that 100 leaders were representing 65 universities and 13 national organizations involved in this study, and further that those leaders and universities unanimously endorsed these recommendations, evidences the resonance of this issue.”

Source: UK Now

Incorporating Innovation and Entrepreneurship Activities into Promotion and Tenure Decisions is an idea-filled distance learning program featuring a panel of experts who’ve begun incorporating innovation activity into faculty assessment criteria. Click here for details.

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