August 2018

At the 2018 New Administrator Orientation, the leaders of the Academic Advancement Network (AAN) asked attendees for their questions and feedback.  This page contains our answers and comments.  If you would like additional information, please contact us at

Is the consultation free or is it charged to the college?

All consultations conducted by members of the AAN staff are free of charge.   We occasionally refer to outside consultants, who may require a fee.

We received several questions related to AAN working with others across campus. 

Much of our work is done in partnership with units on campus; we believe that in many cases collaboration with colleges, departments and other organizations is the most impactful way of facilitating progress.  Please get in touch with our office, and we will work with you to develop individual workshops, longer-term programming, and/or consultations to meet your needs.

Several questions addressed where information on our programming can be found. 

Please see our website, which contains a calendar of our events as well as mechanisms for searching based on topic and appointment type.  Please also keep an eye out for emails from our general communications address (, Cindi Leverich (related to leadership development; and Juli Wade (

We appreciate the comments related to academics who work away from the East Lansing campus.

We serve all faculty (tenure system and fixed-term), academic staff, and academic administrators with MSU appointments, regardless of where they are.   We are particularly interested in increasing engagement with MSU Extension and our campuses in Grand Rapids and Flint.  We are deeply committed to inclusive programming and continue to increase our offerings with options for virtual attendance.  We regret that due to logistics and resources we are not always able to do this, but whenever it is possible we do.

AAN should consider an end-of-the-year session to provide feedback and debrief from New Administrator Orientation.

This is an interesting suggestion, which we will consider for the future.   We currently offer and require for individuals in certain roles, nine Leadership Institute sessions.  These span throughout the year, and are designed to provide on-going training that expands on the content from New Administrator Orientation.

Several comments related to the need for mentoring of various types. 

AAN is committed to increasing opportunities for mentoring, and we encourage individuals to take advantage of the following resources already available:

Please contact our office if you would like assistance with developing mentoring programs within your unit.

Several comments raised issues related to resources and strategies for helping fixed-term faculty and academic and support staff feel valued.  There also were questions about career paths and leadership opportunities for individuals in these roles.

We added programming for fixed-term faculty and academic specialists (Thriving as an academic specialist at MSU,  Thriving as a fixed-term faculty member at MSU), and have modified the Lilly and Adams programs so that they are both open to all individuals with academic appointments at MSU. Ann Austin, Juli Wade, Beronda Montgomery, and other AAN colleagues have also been holding discussions with various groups about issues important to fixed-term faculty and specialists.  AAN is committed to supporting academics across their careers, regardless of appointment category.

AAN also held a workshop for administrators on academics outside of the tenure system in October 2017.  With the goal of increasing awareness, Juli Wade and Terry Curry visited chairs & directors meetings in the colleges in 2017-18 to discuss the topic and learn about the challenges facing administrators in this area.   We are committed to working on a range of issues related to MSU’s academics outside of the tenure system.  Please stay tuned!

A few questions were raised about resources for chairs to help mid-career colleagues who are stalled.

AAN held a symposium on the mid-career in Spring 2018.  Follow-up sessions for the current academic year are being planned.   

Several comments related to other aspects of leadership development, and what is available for emerging leaders.  

Programming related to a number of the topics raised can be found at the website for AAN’s node on Leadership Development, including programs for both current and future leaders.   One question was about training for associate chairs.  At present, the AAN does not offer anything specifically for associate chairs, in part because the roles differ substantially across units.  However, they are welcome to attend any sessions we offer on leadership development, including those in the Leadership Institute.

A group is also working on developing a cross-campus framework for leadership development.  Please see the information highlighted by Provost Youatt and in Juli Wade’s Leadership Blog.

Are there $/resources for people to get training from outside of MSU to bring back diverse/different perspectives?

The Office of the Provost provides funding for ~15 individuals each year to participate in the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity’s Faculty Success Program each summer.  AAN requests applications during the spring semester.

The Executive Vice President for Administrative Services and Human Resources provide funding for 6-8 individuals to participate in the Executive Leadership Academy Fellowship.  This program is for individuals levels 14 to 17 from Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, Residential and Hospitality Services, Infrastructure Planning and Facilities and the Office of Planning and Budgets. The core of this program is a week-long leadership program at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Does AAN provide online modules for courses on AAN topics or certifications of completion?

Not at this time, but we are considering some online modules related to leadership development.  Through HR, the ElevateU platform does provide online content (courses, videos, books) on a variety of topics.  ElevateU is free for all faculty, academic staff and support staff.

How are postdocs developed professionally?

Please see the information available at the Graduate School website; this unit is currently the primary source of postdoctoral support on campus.

The tailored search function on the AAN website does not work effectively.

We are in the process of refining both the instructions and functionality of this search.   It is not providing information as it should; thank you for alerting us to this problem.

We are grateful for the thoughtful contributions on a range of topics important to moving MSU forward, especially topics related to institutional change.   We will be considering these over the course of this year and will begin to engage academics across campus in conversations.

A number of questions/comments were provided relating to evaluation and reward for academics on our campus, for example:

  • what should be rewarded/valued for faculty
  • the importance of teaching and the scholarship of teaching & learning
  • consideration of which metrics are most appropriate for evaluating units
  • relative lack of incentive to serve as department chair
  • helping post-tenure faculty appreciate the importance of continued scholarly productivity with increased responsibilities related to service

Is there a central registry of who is doing what? This might help leaders find people to talk with and/or get involved with.

There are various places to go to for this type of information.  However, MSU does not have one centralized registry for everything that is happening on campus.  The new Inside MSU: News for Faculty and Staff should provide some information in this regard.

This may have changed, but AAN offerings used to be disconnected from options through HR, although there is some cross-area utility.

We collaborate with HR on a number of offerings and try to cross-promote sessions whenever possible.  HR sessions are open to all faculty and academic staff in addition to support staff and we hope individuals take advantage of offerings that AAN is not able to offer.

Do you have resources that can be used to take professional development offered in units from good to great?

AAN would be happy to work with unit leaders on what is needed to continuously improve a team’s performance.  While this can be highly individualized, we recommend contacting one of the node leaders to discuss possible development options.

We received a couple of questions on integration across the AAN nodes.

The nodes of AAN collaborate on a number of activities to provide synergy across academics’ career responsibilities. These collaborations include various orientations, annual symposia, and follow-up activities related to specific topics (e.g., mid-career faculty and staff and late-career academics). The node leaders work together in reflection, planning and presentation of most topics to ensure synergistic offerings and engagement of MSU academics.

How is AAN coordinating various teaching and learning activities/initiatives across campus? Seems like lots of groups are not talking or working together that could really benefit from that (e.g., CREATE, Hub, Stem, HHMI, AAN). How do you get the learning networks to work?

The new #ITeachMSU website to be launched in the spring of 2019 will contain a list of contacts across campus who are connected with various initiatives and instructional expertise. This space is envisioned to be a place where educators can connect at all levels. There is the capability to engage around discipline-specific topics as well as general teaching and learning efforts.

How can we become involved with the learning communities (how will we know what is offered and how will we benefit)? Do you solicit ideas for learning communities that have not been explored? Are there any learning communities around topics that would blend academic and support staff together? 

AAN puts out a call for proposals each year. We welcome all ideas that support development in teaching and learning. The proposal form is available online.  The AAN website will have a full listing of the learning communities once they have been selected and anyone interested in joining is welcome.   At the end of the year, each learning community presents on the work they have done at a poster session during the Spring Teaching and Learning Conference.

Are there ways to incorporate graduate teaching assistants into development programs?

Graduate students are included in many of the opportunities and development programs through the educator professional development framework. Examples of these opportunities include learning communities, workshops, and seminars offered at the campus-wide level as well as in colleges and departments. All educators are invited to participate in and contribute to the #ITeachMSU Commons that will be launched in the spring of 2019.   The Graduate School also provides a variety of development opportunities for all graduate students.

Do you have suggestions for new fixed-term teaching specialists?

We encourage all new academics to connect with learning communities as well as colleagues who may offer mentoring opportunities. For help in making connections aligned with their specific interests, individuals should send an email to the Academic Advancement Network at