Defining, Documenting, and Evaluating Service: A Guide for Regional Campus Faculty

Professor speaks to his class in language lab, CAS
Professor Scott Hartley, wearing protective glasses, talks with students in the lab, CAS


In April 2008 the University Senate approved a policy designated “Evaluation of Service for Regional Campus Faculty.” It began this way:

“Service plays an important role in the professional lives of all faculty at Miami. For colleagues at Hamilton and Middletown, service is especially critical because it can be used as their second criterion for tenure and promotion. More generally, the regional campuses have an important role to play in their communities that is distinct from Oxford.”

The policy characterized service of four different types: institutional, professional, community engagement, and community outreach. It required faculty who came under its purview to develop service plans and service portfolios in an “intentional and strategic” manner. It also specified that faculty service in general should “rise to a commensurate level of intellectual rigor and quality as is expected of teaching and scholarship,” and that service be evaluated in an systematic manner using “criteria such as the depth of expertise and preparation, quality of the work, impact, and appropriateness of goals.”

This guide elaborates on the directives of that policy and attempts to establish a more detailed common understanding and vocabulary by which faculty service can be described and evaluated.

The criteria for defining, documenting, and evaluating the quality of service (parts II, III, VI, and VII of this document) broadly apply to all regional campus faculty for whom service constitutes an established part of their professional duties. Annual activities reports should show that service has been significant in terms of the faculty member’s contributions and the service activities’ impact, based on the definitions in this guide.

The criteria for service agendas and service portfolios (parts IV and V of this document) apply to all regional campus faculty whose tenure-eligible appointment began on or after July 1, 2008, and who chose service as their second criterion for tenure and promotion. Other faculty members may elect to be considered under current policy or under the previous policy as it was set forth in MUPIM, section 7 and departmental promotion & tenure guidelines.

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Definition of Service

Service applies a faculty member’s knowledge, skills, and expertise as an educator, a member of a discipline or profession, or a participant in an institution to benefit students, the institution, the discipline or profession, and the community in a manner consistent with the missions of the university and the campus.

To be evaluated as effective in service, the faculty member needs to document what was accomplished, what role he or she played in it, and its significance or impact.

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Types of Service

The following four types of faculty service can be documented and evaluated:

Service to the Institution

Academic programs, departments, schools, the campus, and the university as a whole are not simply organizations but are communities. As such, these communities rely on their members for the necessary energy, time, and leadership to sustain and develop them as viable and effective systems for accomplishing their missions. Faculty and administrators are members of these communities who share responsibility for their governance and advancement by contributing through institutional service. Service to the institution involves activities that help sustain or lead academic endeavors.

Examples of institutional service include but are not limited to:

  • Contributing as a member or leader of a task force to address an issue facing the campus or university community
  • Participating as an elected member in faculty governance
  • Leading faculty governance activities
  • Serving as an appointed or elected administrator or head of any academic group at the campus, department, division, or University levels
  • Chairing a committee
  • Helping a committee to meet its goals
  • Chairing a search committee
  • Contributing to a search committee
  • Bringing new campus or university initiatives to fruition
  • Representing the university in a public media forum
  • Contributing to student welfare through service on the student-faculty committees or as adviser to student organizations

Service to the Discipline or Profession

Service to the discipline or profession involves activities designed to enhance the quality of disciplinary or professional organizations or activities.

Examples of service to a discipline or profession include but are not limited to:

  • Serving as an appointed or elected officer of an academic or professional association
  • Serving as an organizer or leader of workshops, panels, or meetings in areas of professional competence
  • Contributing time and expertise to further the work of a professional society or organization
  • Promoting the image, prestige, and perceived value of a discipline or profession
  • Participating in accreditation activities
  • Editing a professional journal
  • Refereeing manuscripts or grant proposals submitted to journals, professional meeting program committees, and funding organizations
  • Establishing professional or academic standards

Community Engagement

Community engagement involves activities that contribute to the public welfare beyond the university community and call upon the faculty member's expertise as scholar, teacher, or administrator. Community engagement demonstrates the principals of reciprocity and mutuality; it meets a need defined by the community, not merely created out of the interests of the faculty member.

A faculty member might undertake community engagement independent of teaching and research or integrate them in various ways. For instance, while service-learning is a pedagogy that most specifically relates to a faculty member’s teaching, if the result is a project that appropriately combines community need, professional expertise, and meaningful outcomes, then it is community engagement as well. Community engagement may also be legitimately connected to a faculty member’s research agenda, particularly for publications in the area of “public scholarship” or the “scholarship of engagement.”

Examples of community engagement include but are not limited to:

  • Participating in collaborative endeavors with schools, industry, or civic agencies
  • Consulting with private and public, profit, and not-for-profit organizations by applying expertise to enhance the efficiency or effectiveness of the organizations served
  • Assisting the public through a university clinic, hospital, laboratory, or center
  • Providing public policy analysis for local, state, national, or international government agencies
  • Making research understandable and useable in specific professional and applied settings
  • Communicating in popular and non-academic media including newsletters, radio, television, and magazines
  • Giving presentations or performances for the public
  • Testing concepts and processes in real-world situations
  • Evaluating programs, policies, or personnel for agencies
  • Engaging in seminars and conferences that address public interest problems, issues, and concerns and that are aimed at either general or specialized audiences such as trade, commodity, practitioner, or occupational groups
  • Participating on governmental or social service review panels
  • Engaging in economic or community development activities

Community Outreach

Community outreach involves fulfilling a role in the wider community as an active representative of the campus or university. Volunteerism and acts of good citizenship do not in themselves constitute community outreach unless they are undertaken as part of one’s professional responsibilities to the institution. The distinction between engagement and outreach has primarily to do with the extent to which the activity involves disciplinary expertise applied to real-world issues (engagement) versus serving as the institution’s representative in a community setting (outreach).

Examples of community outreach include but are not limited to:

  • Recruiting or informational visits to area high schools
  • Civic board memberships where such membership specifically represents university participation in the organization
  • Creation or maintenance of specific and directed community outreach efforts

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The Service Agenda

Faculty should carefully develop, in concert with coordinators, mentors, chairs and deans, an agenda, philosophy and plan of service. These plans should be tailored to the specific professional expertise of the faculty member and the needs of the institution and the community. Plans will be flexible and open to revision, assuming faculty member, departmental, and campus agreement.

The philosophy/agenda should articulate:

  • The purpose of the work and its potential value
  • The “academic fit” with the faculty member’s expertise (as an educator, as a member of a discipline or profession, or as participant in the institution)
  • Realistic objectives

The construction of a successful service agenda may be a two- or three-year effort and typically involves:

  • Assessment of the challenges and needs within the served community
  • Alignment of those needs with the faculty member’s skills and knowledge
  • Building of relationships and opportunities for collaboration

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The Service Portfolio

Faculty members who have service as their second criterion should develop a service portfolio that documents their activities. In its overall format, the service portfolio is roughly analogous to the more common teaching portfolio. The latter typically contains a teaching philosophy followed by materials such as course evaluations, syllabi, sample assignments, representative student work, peer evaluations, other solicited and unsolicited feedback, plus self-reflection—all aiming to document the faculty member’s effectiveness as a teacher. The service portfolio should similarly gather and organize materials that document the effectiveness of a faculty member’s service. It should describe and contextualize the work, distinguish the faculty member’s individual contribution, demonstrate the impact of the service work and describe the manner in which that impact was assessed. The most successful portfolios document both process and product, show a faculty member’s professional expertise and experience as important inputs into the process, and display a purposeful approach to service as part of faculty members’ academic lives.

The service portfolio typically begins with a narrative summary of the faculty member’s service activity that articulates the service philosophy, nature of service and the methods employed, the goals established and outcomes achieved, and an assessment of its effectiveness, followed by supporting documentation in the form of appendices (see below, Section VI).

In some manner, the portfolio should address the following points:

Clear Goals

  • Does the portfolio state the basic purposes of the work clearly?
  • Does the portfolio define objectives that are realistic and achievable?
  • Does the portfolio identify important questions in the field?

Adequate Preparation

  • Does the portfolio show familiarity with scholarship and best practices in the area of service undertaken?
  • Does the portfolio show the faculty member brought the necessary skills and professional background to the work?

Appropriate Methods

  • Does the portfolio describe methods appropriate to the goals?
  • Does the portfolio show the methods were effectively applied?

Significant Results

  • Does the portfolio demonstrate the extent to which the project’s goals were achieved?
  • Does the portfolio document the impact of the service work?

Effective Presentation

  • Does the portfolio use a suitable style and effective organization to present the work?
  • Does the portfolio present its messages with clarity and integrity?

Reflective Critique

  • Does the faculty member critically evaluate the work?
  • Does the faculty member bring an appropriate breadth of evidence to the critique?
  • Does the faculty member use evaluation to improve the quality of future work?

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Documentation of Service

Documentation must effectively represent service activities and products in a way that enables evaluators to apply the quality indicators. Types of documentation differ based on the kinds of service, the constituencies served, the types of products created during the service, and other factors.

Faculty members should consider documentation as an ongoing process, rather than a summary of outcomes, making it a continuous process with regular feedback from colleagues. They should focus on documenting their individual contributions while providing context to the service activity, balancing attention between process and impact, clarifying the intellectual questions that guided the work.

Analytic, reflective, and evaluative entries from the following sources may be used to offer concise and effective documentation:

Personal Evaluation

Examples of valued documentation include but are not limited to:

  • Reflective critique of process, project outcomes, and the alignment of the service activity with professional and career objective of faculty member and/or the mission of institution

Internal Documentation

Examples of valued documentation include but are not limited to:

  • Results of any formal assessment or evaluation undertaken of the project
  • Minutes of meetings, letters or memos that document processes and show the impact of a faculty member’s service on practices or policies
  • Work products or examples used or produced as part of project
  • Other artifacts or documents that illustrate the nature of the work or its impact
  • Documentation of policy changes or new practices that resulted from the service

External Review

No specific form of external review is required for service. (Note that letters from external reviewers are still required for the evaluation of research, scholarship and creative activity, as specified in Miami University Promotion and Tenure Guidelines, Part 2, Section IV.) Examples of valued external documentation of service include but are not limited to:

  • Letters or other feedback from clients or sponsors, administrators or colleagues who engaged in or observed the work, and/or external experts in the discipline
  • Surveys of clients, community partners or other stakeholders
  • Publication in peer-reviewed venue or other dissemination to peers, clients, or the public
  • Media reports or other public recognition of the service work
  • Other evidence of impact

Examples of unsatisfactory documentation of service

  • A simple listing of committees or organizational affiliations
  • Assertions of merit based upon time on task rather than specific results
  • Evidence of outcomes but no evidence of individual role
  • Failure to show how service work is consistent with professional development and goals

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Indicators of Quality of Service

Evaluation of the service of tenured and probationary faculty for purposes of both annual review and for tenure and promotion shall be conducted by persons holding tenure. The following quality indicators provide faculty members a framework for presenting their service work and enable evaluators to assess the quality of that work. The list of quality indicators is not exhaustive, nor are the indicators meant to be equally weighted for each faculty member. Their importance will differ depending on the work being evaluated and the instances of application (i.e., a single service activity or an overall service record).


  • Influencing identified constituencies/creating sustainable change
  • Furthering the missions and goals of the campus and university
  • Contributing to the professional development of the faculty member

Intellectual Work

  • Command and application of relevant knowledge, skills, and technological expertise
  • Contribution to a body of knowledge
  • Imagination, creativity, and innovation
  • Sensitivity to and application of ethical standards

Importance of role

  • Consistency in completing necessary work
  • Sustained contribution
  • Increasing level of responsibility
  • Creative and responsible leadership
  • Consensus building

Communication and dissemination

  • Responsible representation of work during and after completion
  • Communication with appropriate audiences
  • Use of modes of communication and dissemination appropriate to audiences
  • Analysis of and reflection on the service

Interaction of Service, Teaching and Research

  • Symbiosis of service, teaching, and research
  • Service that contributes to the learning environments for students and for faculty members

All of the quality indicators are relevant to the evaluation of service. A service record that invites the application of all the quality indicators is more highly valued than one that invites the application of only isolated quality indicators. For example, the outcome of a service activity that is widely communicated and disseminated, but demonstrates little intellectual work and insignificant impact is less valued than an activity that includes wide dissemination, intellectual work, and significant impact.

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This guide drew significant inspiration, both conceptually and for specific ideas and phraseology, from:

“Service @ Indiana University: Defining, Documenting, and Evaluating.” Indianapolis: Center for Public Service and Leadership, 1999.

Other information and ideas were drawn directly or indirectly from:

Glassick, Charles E. and Mary Tyler Huber, Gene I. Maeroff. Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997.

Lynton, Ernest A. Making the Case for Professional Service. Sterling, Va.: Stylus, 2005.

Driscoll, Amy and Ernest A. Linton. Making Outreach Visible: A Guide to Documenting Professional Service and Outreach. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education. 1999.

The basic outline of the regional campus service requirement can be found in:

“Evaluation of Service for Regional Campus Faculty.” (Approved by the University Senate on April 7, 2008)