Providing pathways for development, promotion and everything in between.

Volume 4 | Issue 2

October 2020

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Feature Articles

The OFA Tackles the Burden Faculty Members Have as Caregivers

By: Jaime Williams


The Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) created a committee to consider ways to address the burdens that faculty members face as caregivers.

The OFA named this committee “Ad Hoc Committee for Supporting our Faculty,” and Laura Rosenthal, the Director for Faculty Leadership, stated that the two goals they had were to reconsider policies and procedures during the pandemic and to “issue guidance for academic chairs, particularly chairs and unit heads.”

“The guidance is currently being released but the policy part is still under consideration,” Rosenthal stated. John Bertot, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, indicated that “The policies and procedures considerations focused on ways the University might address promotion and other reviews given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”   

Linda Steiner, professor of journalism and the ADVANCE Director, stated that, “many people could see that faculty were struggling with childcare and other care responsibilities, including elderly parents,” so there was a need for this committee.

“Children are now home 24/7 and needing 24/7 supervision, education and socializing.  Often parents are the only ones to provide this, and it is one thing that simply cannot be delayed or ignored, and half-way solutions are no solutions at all,” Steiner stated.

“Imagine trying to do your job as a professor, lecturer or researcher while also trying to ensure your children were successfully accessing their online school, doing their classwork, that their computers and internet are working properly, that they are being properly fed and etc. Even harder, the youngest elementary school children may not even know how to use a laptop or have the motor skills to do so or have the attention span to sit in front of a computer for hours,” Marc Pound, Research Scientist, added.

Pound stated that, “The COVID crisis affects all aspects of faculty life, both academic life and non-academic life,” so there needed to be more consideration of this situation.

“A strict adherence to existing policies would not recognize this and result in unnecessary stress on faculty and units.  Note, [the committee’s guidance is] not new policies per se, but suggested modifications to procedures as well as general advice to unit heads,” Pound stated.

Rosenthal noted that, “we realized that faculty members are currently facing a wide range of challenges… We hope the guidance speaks to this broad range of challenges,” therefore not leaving anyone out.

However, the OFA knew faculty members who are caregivers had a burden because, “Over the summer we did a lot of interviews with faculty and also held focus groups to see how they were doing and what challenges they were facing.  We also held a discussion with all of the associate deans of faculty affairs,” Rosenthal stated.

Since the University of Maryland (UMD) and even the world has never been through a situation like this before, the OFA committee understood that they had to adapt to the times.

Although they cannot guarantee every suggestion can make every faculty member happy and not every suggestion will be followed, Pound stated that, “Like most policies, you rely on the good will of the actors to follow them.  Unit heads want their faculty to succeed so they will modify their procedures to enable that.”

“Expressing empathy is paramount. There may be changes you can’t affect, but you need to let people know you understand what they are going through. Acknowledge that different faculty members face different challenges. Recognize that the impact is uneven across faculty,” he stated.

There are a lot of changes happening in the world right now and Pound wanted members of the UMD community to know that, “We are all in this together and we have to help each other succeed.  That is the only way out of this crisis.” Bertot agreed, stating that, “Supporting all of our faculty through the immediate crisis -- and in the longer term -- is essential to the student experience, the ability of faculty to engage in innovative research, and the ability of the University to achieve its mission.”

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Digital Measures/Activity Insight Expands to All Paid Faculty Members


October 2020

This fall, we invite all paid faculty members to use Digital Measures (formerly Activity Insight), our new faculty activities reporting system. The system is a powerful tool that will help you document your teaching, research, and service activities. It is especially important to record the enhanced activities (e.g., course preparation, course redesign, additional service) faculty have engaged in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Required of all tenured and tenure track faculty, PTK and Librarian faculty should seek specific guidance from their unit head regarding whether Activity Insight reports will be used for annual or other reviews.  

A key goal in configuring the system has been to maximize reuse of data where possible -- "Enter once, reuse many times." Based on feedback received from faculty and our pilot groups, we have made a number of improvements to our implementation of Digital Measures since the initial rollout in January 2020. Specifically, Improvements include new data integrations with patent, invention and entrepreneurial activities from UM Ventures; teaching innovation activities from TLTC; and faculty mentorship assignments from Faculty Affairs. These data integrations are in addition to existing integrations with data from PHR (our HR system), SIS (our student information system), CourseEvalUM (student course evaluation data), Kuali Research (ORA funded research data) and the Graduate School (graduate student mentorship). These additions will help faculty demonstrate their many activities in support of the University’s mission, reduce faculty data entry burden in annual reporting, and help the University meet its reporting requirements to the University System of Maryland. 

See below for the following updates: upcoming training opportunities to learn more about Digital Measures; a new bulk activity data import service to facilitate entering your data; service screen updates that provide enhanced reporting capabilities; and details about importing your publications, including the bulk publication citations import feature of Digital Measures.

Training Sessions

Training on use of the platform is being offered in October and November this fall. Sign up to attend a session on the Digital Measures website.  

Friday, Oct 09, 202012:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Tuesday, Oct 13, 202012:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Wednesday, Oct 21, 20201:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Monday, Oct 26, 202012:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Friday, Nov 06, 202012:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Friday, Nov 13, 20201:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, Nov 18, 20201:00 PM - 2:00 PM

New Bulk Data Import Service

A new bulk data import service is now available.  We can import your activity data from an Excel file into Digital Measures. To take advantage of this service, please contact the Digital Measures team with the request details. This service can also be used to apply bulk updates to activity records on a particular screen in Digital Measures, avoiding record-by-record editing in the system. We will provide you with an Excel import template for the associated data screen. The columns of the template will correspond to the data fields on that screen. We will give you detailed information on the data format for each column and can load your data into Digital Measures for you.

Improvements on Service Activity Screens

Based on faculty feedback, we have divided "Professional and Campus Service and Committees" activity screens into (1) University Service and (2) Professional Service. This change more closely aligns with how service activities are categorized in departments. Existing data has been migrated to the correct data screen. If you have any questions about this change, please contact the Digital Measures team.

Importing Your Publications

Activity Insight can import publication data directly from publication database services, such as Web of Science, PubMed, and Crossref. You may need to use multiple databases for this method, as each of them covers different disciplines in varying degrees. For example, PubMed will include a high percentage of public health publications, but very little in social sciences or humanities. 

Alternatively, publication data can be imported through a BibTeX file generated by citation managers, including EndNote, Google Scholar, Mendeley, RefWorks, HeinOnline, and Zotero. You can use your preferred citation manager to create personal publication libraries, which can then be exported as BibTeX files and easily imported into Activity Insight. You could also use, an online bibliography parser that produces BibTeX exports. 

Importing from a BibTeX file requires a file upload, but it will give you more control over which publications are included with the import, allowing for broader coverage across disciplines. It should be noted that some citation managers are limited in regards to which pieces of data are stored and/or exported to the BibTeX file.

While these import options will simplify your Digital Measures updates, some entries will still need to be made manually. In addition, depending on the quality of the source data, certain details like page numbers, special characters, URLs, etc. may not appear correctly when imported automatically and may need to be adjusted manually. For bulk adjustments, contact the Digital Measures team.

All of these publication import methods are covered in greater detail in the LibGuide that the Libraries maintain on this subject.

Learn More About Digital Measures

The  Digital Measures website is not only your starting point for logging in to the platform; it is also a self-service resource with short how-to videos, extensive user guides, and contact information for the Digital Measures team. Platform support is available through email, and by phone (301.405.7681).

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Volume 4 | Issue 2