Something that gets overlooked quite a bit in the web process is the content you don’t control, your faculty. Faculty are an intricate part of every university and essential to any graduate student, especially Ph.D. looking for a program. Promoting your faculty can be almost as important as promoting your programs.
There are many ways to promote your faculty, just giving their contact information, linking to their personal or university web sites or give them the ability to control their own profiles with some constraints. Faculty seem to be pretty particular with their information and control of their content which can make promoting it quite difficult.
Why are Faculty so Important?
Talking to graduate students (especially Ph.D.) about why they choose the university they did it comes down to two key factors, faculty research and grant availability. What happens if that information is not available online? Prospective graduate students could easily overlook your university. Although the faculty do a pretty good job of publishing and talking at conferences, why not throw in some SEO and self promotion?
At Wayne State University we have ~2,800 faculty in over 350 degree programs and since our department does not oversee all the web sites at the university its hard to keep track of them all. I have put together a list of base information that every faculty should have on their site or profile page. I have also included a base profile from one of our faculty to the right.
Base Profile Information
- Name, Title
- Contact Information
- Office Hours
- Homepage, Blog
- Degrees and Certifications
- Academic Interests
- Courses Teaching
- Recent Research
- Recent Publications
- Recent Grants
- In the News
- CV Download
Motivating faculty can be hardest part, but what I’ve found to be the best motivator is their peers having a better looking and a more complete profile. Basically competing internally to look the best. Giving them the tools to update their own profile and the fields that make them feel good and sell your university at the same time can go a very long way.
Motivating them to keep it updated is yet another story. I recommend sending an email after the end of each semester with a link to edit their profile. If you are lucky enough to tie your profiles into course management software it might be more apparent and likely they will update it, especially if they don’t have to remember a second username and password. Otherwise a nudge each semester from the dean with a nice note thanking them for a great semester seem to work well also.
So how does your institution promote your faculty?
I think this is the most overlooked piece of the web puzzle, there are many content managers to keep track of pages and files but what about faculty profiles? Is your faculty profiles stored in a central database and linked to the appropriate departments? Or do you even have trouble keeping track of your faculty’s externally hosted web sites? Does your institution offer web hosting for your faculty and have you had success or failure with it? What university site have you seen that does a really good job promoting their faculty?
Photo by: Paul Chenoweth