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Faculty Excellence Advocate

Matthew Pontifex, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Kinesiology
126E IM Circle

The Faculty Excellence Advocate (FEA) is a faculty member who serves as a key driver of faculty quality, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the college. They build close working relationships with their faculty colleagues, department chairs, associate deans, and the Dean; working to create a climate that promotes quality, inclusiveness, alignment, objectivity, consistency, and transparency. The FEA is a resource for all faculty in the College of Education, which includes academic staff, fixed-term faculty and tenure-stream faculty.

The creation of the FEAs is an outcome of ADVANCE ADAPP: Advancing Diversity Through Alignment of Policies and Practices (ADAPP). ADAPP is administered in partnership with the Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs and Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Development through the appointments of Faculty Excellence Advocates (FEAs) in each college across the university with key leadership, education and advocacy duties. The key areas of responsibility for the FEA are recruitment, mentoring and retention, and advancement.

Recruitment, Search, and Hiring Processes

The FEA supports the dean, department chairs, and search committees on faculty and academic staff searches. The FEA serves a resource for search committees throughout the entire process, as they craft the job descriptions, determine selection criteria for the position, and strategize efforts to recruit a diverse applicant pool. The FEA is also available to meet with candidates during their on-campus interview to answer questions, provide information (including information that the candidate might not feel comfortable requesting from the search committee), and respond to concerns that the candidate may have. 

Mentoring and Retention

The FEA is a resource for faculty and academic staff with regard to mentoring practices and retention efforts. The FEA provides information and resources for all faculty and academic staff with the goal of promoting a more sustainable, positive, and supportive work environment for all. Promoting and assessing career development within the College is a high priority: the FEA works to ensure faculty have access to developmental opportunities (e.g., ADAPP workshops, faculty development workshops, grant workshops). The FEA works with administration to ensure that the faculty mentorship program is established and supported. The FEA is a confidential source for faculty and academic staff but shares general concerns and perspectives to administration. When faculty leave the College voluntarily, the FEA meets with them to learn why they are leaving, listen to concerns that may contributed to their departure, and solicit advice they may have for improving the work climate.  

Career Advancement

The FEA is a resource for faculty members from their initial appointment through their career milestones and their development as leaders. The FEA is available to provide support to faculty and academic staff as they near reappointment, tenure, and promotion milestones by directing them to resources and guiding them in the preparation of their dossiers. The FEA does not make decisions about faculty evaluation or tenure and promotion and thus can serve as a neutral third party in offering advice. 


All conversations with the FEA are confidential. Following meetings or discussions, the FEA will suggest a plan of action but will not proceed without the permission of the faculty member. Exceptions will be made in cases involving violation of MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy, as the FEA is a mandatory reporter.


ADVANCE ADAPP: Advancing Diversity Through Alignment of Policies and Practices has created a comprehensive toolkit series for faculty and administrators. The toolkit consists of five widely available resources to address common issues for faculty and academic staff. These include: