Partner Spotlight: Career, Leadership and University Excellence Program at the University at Albany

A group of people at a seminarThe Provost’s Office at the University at Albany initiated a Career, Leadership and University Excellence (CLUE) program to study processes and policies that affect faculty satisfaction and to create programs that result in greater faculty satisfaction and success. CLUE is a multi-faceted and growing set of initiatives that invest in-- and seek to retain-- high quality faculty and staff. Two of these initiatives include the CLUE Planning Groups and the CLUE Fellowship.  CLUE Planning Groups enable faculty and staff to participate in longer-term and more specific conversations aimed at developing new ideas and finding concrete solutions to the issues of faculty satisfaction and retention. Past CLUE Planning groups have focused on collecting information and best practices on Promotion and Tenure; Quality of Life at the University at Albany; Faculty Retention; and Staff Retention. These groups researched best practices at UAlbany and nationally; studied UAlbany processes; and submitted extensive reports with recommendations for improvement of UAlbany’s own policies and practices. As a result, UAlbany’s Strategic Plan incorporated many of these recommendations and started to implement them. 


The Office of the Provost also sponsors the CLUE Fellowship, an annual opportunity for academic tenured or tenure-track faculty members seeking to reflect on new strategies for structuring an effective academic career. The CLUE experience develops a selected group of junior and senior faculty’s leadership skills and creates a community of faculty from all ranks focused on integrating research, teaching and service effectively. Faculty are selected based upon nominations and an application process: up to ten faculty are selected each year to participate. CLUE Fellows participate in a week-long, intensive program in August and subsequently in regular follow-up meetings over twelve months that focuses on leadership skills and strategies, and career management issues. Each faculty fellow receives a modest stipend for participation and fellows select a project for the year. These can be personal projects such as putting into place new professional and self-management strategies as they work toward promotion, or larger change-projects they wish to enact at the University level. Fellows submit an end-of-year report detailing their progress, and describing how they will continue to use the strategies and skills they have developed in the course of the year-long program.   


Impact of the CLUE Fellows Program

The CLUE Fellows program’s success can be evidenced by:  1) CLUE Fellows’ reports and 2) changes in how former CLUE Fellows choose leadership projects at the University. At the end of the CLUE Fellowship, fellows regularly praise the sense of community created by the program and discuss new skills of integrating their careers in ways that will enhance their own and the University’s future. They remark they have learned how to plan careers that are more ‘whole;’ how to be strategic in their efforts; and that they better understand their role and purpose at UAlbany.  Also, fellows report an increase in their understanding of and abilities to use leadership skills. 


Leadership Projects Enhanced or Effected by Participation in the CLUE Fellowship

Former CLUE Fellows have taken authority to improve the University. These fellows directly credit the CLUE Program for having given them the courage and skills to take on very difficult and politically charged projects. Some examples of these projects include:   

  • Developing, proposing, and gathering support for the first University-wide writing program for all in-coming students 
  • Reinventing the General Education requirements for the University, and shepherding changes through all departments and the Senate approval process  
  • Reviewing and re-writing  the University Tenure and Promotion guidelines to help clarify expectations and to offer additional support for preparing dossiers to assistant professors; chairs; administrators tasked with compiling dossers;  and promotion and tenure committees at all levels.  
  • Creating a climate of inclusion and collegiality in departments and colleges where budget cuts and bullying faculty members had badly damaged collegiality and morale.      


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