Areas of Focus for "at CUMC" Title

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) requires excellence in each domain of its academic activities:

  • Research, which may span basic science discoveries to clinical and public health applications;
  • Education, which includes the most innovative transmission of the principles and practice of health sciences using principles relevant to adult learning and creative media;
  • Applied health care and public health interventions, which should comprise the scholarly application of health science knowledge in clinical practice and public health interventions.

Advancement in rank is marked by incremental achievements within the area(s) of focus, as well as by growth in reputation as appropriate to the faculty member’s area(s) of focus. Notable and important internal contributions essential to CUMC schools also support advancement in faculty rank. Institutional, community, local, regional, national and international service and/or academic citizenship will be considered supportive for advancement. Of note, good citizenship in the absence of excellence in one or more areas of academic focus would not be sufficient for academic advancement.

CUMC Area(s) of Focus

Although excellence is expected of every faculty member, the evidence may vary depending upon the area(s) of focus. In some areas of focus, such as investigation, national and/or international recognition of research contributions are the standard measures of accomplishment. In other domains, such as education and applied healthcare and public health practice, regional or national recognition based upon expertise, or participation in nationally recognized innovative educational programs or substantive institutional contributions may be an appropriate standard for advancement. To achieve the rank of full professor, faculty are required to have achievements that have been recognized beyond CUMC or to have made highly unique and important contributions to their CUMC School.

Specific areas of focus help faculty to define what kind of academic work they will emphasize as they shape their careers and to know what is expected of them for career advancement. Consideration of areas of focus also help the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (COAP) for each school at CUMC to appropriately review faculty accomplishments when faculty are considered for promotion.

It is not unusual for faculty to make high quality, substantive contributions in more than one area of focus. It is expected that contributions from each area of focus will be of high quality, though contributions need not be quantitatively the same. Identification of a faculty member’s area(s) of focus should be determined by a collaborative discussion between the faculty and his/her chair or division or subdivision or section leader (i.e. academic director). 

Identification of area(s) of focus should occur at the time of the appointment or annual faculty review.

Faculty and their department chairs/division directors jointly determine faculty area(s) of focus by reflecting on faculty scholarly work, faculty career goals, specific work defined at the time of hire and the departmental priorities. To facilitate the self-reflection of faculty as they consider the major (and minor) area(s) of focus, an Area of Focus Self-Assessment Tool for CUMC Faculty may be useful. Faculty should discuss with divisional, departmental or school leadership how their self-defined area(s) of focus align with their departmental priorities and academic achievements. (Academic Tracks - at CUMC)

Significant Supporting Activities

Many faculty make substantial contributions outside of a single area of academic excellence. These activities are often of outstanding quality and importance but are in domains in which the quantity of their contribution is less than in faculty’s primary area of excellence. These significant supporting activities will supplement accomplishments in the area(s) of excellence, allowing the sum total of an individual's achievements to be considered in the evaluation for promotion. 

Multiple Areas of Focus

As faculty members in the "at CUMC" title group may make significant academic contributions in more than one area of focus, faculty may designate multiple areas of focus. These areas can be considered as a “major and minor” areas based on his/her distribution of academic efforts. Alternatively, faculty effort may be equally divided.

The “major area(s) of focus” should be the area(s) of focus to which the faculty member commits the most time or makes the most important departmental contributions. Minor areas of focus would be those in which the faculty member makes significant and measurable contributions, but which are quantitatively of lesser magnitude or are narrower in scope. 

Faculty careers are dynamic, so clarity in what is expected by area of focus will assist faculty if they choose to transition from one area of focus to another. Some faculty may choose to select two areas of focus if both are aligned with the departmental priorities and the faculty member's interests. The quality of work in both is expected to be high, though they may differ quantitatively. 

Educational contributions

Educational contributions are required of all faculty, though the type and quantity will vary with the academic area(s) of focus. These contributions may occur in many settings and may take many forms. The type and magnitude of educational contributions will vary according to the academic area of focus, but would be expected to be broader and more robust when the academic area of focus is Educational Scholarship and Leadership.

Scholarly Products

Scholarly products are examples of evidence of expertise in a particular area of focus, and will vary with the area of focus, as well as with academic rank. Although research publications, funding, and presentations are standard scholarly products for investigators, educational products such as course syllabi, teaching demonstration materials, and presentations at educational forums would be acceptable for those with an education focus. Similarly, for those with a focus in applied clinical and public health sciences, recognition based upon activities that impact practice paradigms and patient or population outcomes would be appropriate. A faculty member need not have examples of every type of evidence in their portfolio, but a sample of evidentiary support should be of sufficient quality for evaluation of excellence in the area(s) of academic focus, and should be quantitatively appropriate to the academic rank.

Evaluation of scholarly productivity: One of the key aspects of the system of areas of focus is that contributions and achievement can be assessed through objective measurement of quality, innovation and impact. Measures may include, but are not limited to teaching and/or trainee evaluations, peer-reviewed publications and external funding, new or expanded clinical or public health programs with demonstrable reputation and impact. A table of scholarly productivity as appropriate for academic rank is available here.

Regardless of the type of evaluative evidence, faculty are strongly encouraged to prospectively consider evaluative evidence of activities and to regularly update their CV, to reflect their activities and to consider ways to continue to grow within their area of focus. Honors, such as teaching awards, invited presentations, a significant role in clinical programs, should be noted on the CV.  At the same time, developmental goals and measures  should also be critically and strategically assessed. (Specific measurement is described below for each area of focus.)

Faculty should participate in a regular review of their activities, preferably annually, with their academic supervisor/director regarding the choice of area(s) of focus and their productivity in their area(s) of focus. Discussion may be facilitated by use of a faculty activity reporting tool that is available through the CUMC Office of Academic Affairs.

For appointments and promotions, contributions in all three areas will be considered.

Each CUMC school has a committee to consider faculty appointments and promotion (COAP). For faculty with an "at CUMC" title, COAP committees take into account each area of focus and the sum of accomplishments in all three of these areas:

All three of these areas of focus are included in evaluating performance excellence.

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