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Texas Wesleyan Taps CRM To Manage Faculty Development

A Texas university has begun using a constituent relationship management (CRM) application to stay on top of faculty development work. Texas Wesleyan University's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has begun using use Intelliworks' software-as-a-service CRM platform to manage its interactions with faculty members.

CETL's mission at the university is to help the 100 full-time instructors become better teachers. At the same time, in the current budget climate, these types of operations at institutions are having to work harder to make a case for what they're doing while also increasing their effectiveness, according to Director Amy Collier: "We are very big on program assessment, making sure we're meeting the needs of our faculty.... We wanted to model for the university that assessment is not a scary thing. It's incredibly beneficial, if you do it with the serious intent of improving."

Yet collecting that kind of assessment data has been challenging for the four-person CETL crew. "My team was spending a lot of time managing information about events and service usage and marketing the programs to get more faculty engagement," she explained. Her hope is that the new program will help in determining what investments the university needs for faculty development and to improve CETL operations.

Collier said CETL had four primary functions within the software that were most important to the kind of work her department was doing:

  1. Event management, to track registration, record attendees, and send post-event e-mails with surveys, "which has really streamlined our processes."
  2. To monitor interactions through phones calls e-mails, and walk-ins. "That kind of information was incredibly hard to track before," she said.
  3. E-mail campaigns, including sending out e-mails and following who's clicking on what and what they're interested in.
  4. Reporting. "That used to take a significant amount of my time," said Collier. The new tool will help her "keep decision makers in touch about what they need to think about, invest in, and consider as we move forward as an institution."

Those decision makers include the university's CIO, whom she reports to; the associate provost, who oversees CETL's annual strategic planning and assessment; and deans. This latter group is Collier's primary target for reporting. "They're the ones who have the pulse of their faculty and what's coming around the bend that their faculty might need to be prepared for," she added. "This will be the first time I'm providing monthly reports to the deans."

One crucial buying condition for the department was how well the CRM service handled privacy. "A lot of people are worried that faculty development programs equal deficiencies--'If I engage with the CETL then I'm deficient or lacking in something.' That's an old paradigm, but some people still have it," Collier noted. "One of the things that was really important was being able to maintain confidentiality. [With Intelliworks] we can be very granular with our reporting. We can report on what our faculty is interested in and what they're struggling with, but we don't have to associate names with that information."

Intelliworks said this was the first use of its CRM product for the purposes of managing faculty relationships that the company was aware of. Typically, the application is used to improve an institution's connections with its students.

Collier said her team has received about 10 to 12 hours of Webinar-based training from Intelliworks. "That was important for us," she said. "We're really testing the capability of this tool for a different kind of user. Fortunately, [the company] has been able to provide us with solutions that they didn't think was possible with their tool."

Ultimately, the director said, she hopes the use of the CRM system will help her department become more assessment-driven. "If we do it well, we're going to learn a lot," she said. "I think we'll make great improvements both to the academic development side and to the faculty development side."

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