Tenure and Promotion

Promotion and Tenure Details for Faculty Members

Information for Candidates Applying for Advancement in Rank and/or the Conferral of Tenure 

Standards, Guidelines, and Expectations 

The University guidelines for advancement in rank and the conferral of tenure are found in the Faculty Handbook, which sets out the requirements for promotion and tenure that apply to all candidates; promotion and tenure are addressed in Article III, Section G. On this page under “Related Links” are the rules and application procedures with which all candidates for promotion and tenure need to be fully familiar. All candidates are responsible for the dossier they submit and for providing all the evidence in that dossier necessary for the success of their application. See Section G.9.a.iii within the “Related Links” on this page. One should keep in mind that the question to be answered in a tenure application is whether the candidate is doing the work for which s/he was hired; the question to be answered in a promotion application is whether that work fits the standards of the advanced rank the candidate seeks. 

The candidate must also meet school or college standards, guidelines, and expectations for tenure or for the rank for which the candidate is applying. Links to the standards, guidelines, and/or expectations of the schools and colleges are provided under “Related Links” on this page. For applicants in the College of Arts & Sciences, links are also provided for departmental standards. Other schools and colleges may have departmental standards in addition to those published as the school/college standards. Candidates should consult with their deans, department chairs, and mentors to learn the standards, guidelines, and/or expectations which govern their applications. School/college-specific contact information is provided. 

The Application Process 

Prior to the President’s decision on a candidate’s application for tenure and/or promotion, each candidate’s department chair, school/college committee, school/college dean, and the University Committee on Rank & Tenure – in that order – will have evaluated the application and written a letter to communicate to the next reviewer in the process whether the candidate is recommended for the action requested: promotion or tenure or both. The committee letters will also include the outcome of the secret ballot vote (yes/no/recused/absent) of the members. Other evaluators in the process include peer reviewers, both internal and external to the University, and prior and current student reviewers – whose evaluations are all included as required elements of the candidate’s dossier. 

A timetable is set out in the Faculty Handbook at Section G.11.a under “Related Links;” it must be followed in the application process. A candidate’s failure to meet the deadlines in the timetable will result in a failed application. All tenure track faculty must apply for tenure by their sixth year of employment, unless other terms of employment have been negotiated. (The faculty of the School of Law is governed by separate terms that require an interim step in the third year of the tenure process.) If a faculty member is unsuccessful in applying for tenure, a final opportunity to re-apply in the seventh, terminal year is available. The candidate should also understand that the award of advanced rank, e.g., full professorship, is based on the standards of that rank being met. Valuable service to the department, school, and university over a long period of time is rewarded through other means; professorships and associate professorships can only be awarded when the standards by which they are governed have been met by the candidate. 

Promotion, also known as advancement in rank, is considered separately from the conferral of tenure. Standards used to evaluate candidates for promotion are different from those used to evaluate tenure qualifications. A candidate for tenure may choose to seek a concurrent advancement in rank but is not required to do so. 

To gain an overview of the application process for both promotion and tenure, candidates should attend the informational workshops presented by the University Committee on Rank & Tenure in the fall and spring semesters. Attending early in one’s university career will give a candidate valuable information about how to prepare over the probationary years for a successful promotion and/or tenure process. The informational slide show presented at the most recent Rank and Tenure Forum can be accessed under “Related Links.”

The University Committee on Rank & Tenure 

The University Committee on Rank & Tenure is an elected committee of the faculty; two members of the University’s administration also are members by virtue of their positions: the university provost and the dean of the Graduate School. Elected members, representing all the schools and colleges of the University serve for three year terms and may be re-elected for an additional consecutive term; the members’ terms are staggered to prevent gaps in experience. All members must be tenured and hold the rank of associate professor or professor. See the list of the current U-CR&T members and their terms.

The University Committee is responsible for reading all candidates’ dossiers, from all schools and colleges, for reviewing all prior decision-making points in the candidate’s application process to ascertain compliance with Faculty Handbook requirements, and for making independent recommendations regarding the candidate’s application and dossier to the university president. The University Committee uses the university standards, the college/school standards, and any published department and division standards in its evaluation of each dossier. 

Each member of the University Committee votes on the committee recommendations about the candidate, voting separately on the recommendation for tenure and the recommendation for promotion if the candidate seeks both actions. All votes are by secret ballot, and all members of the University Committee are strictly required to keep in confidence all the information they learn about a candidate and that candidate’s dossier. Committee members may communicate information about the candidates and the recommendations of the University Committee only with each other and the university president and provost, as provided in the Faculty Handbook. The annually-elected chair of the University Committee may communicate with the deans and their executive assistants prior to and up through January 10, to facilitate the collection of the dossiers, but only to ascertain that all the required elements of the dossiers have been received. 

Candidates can rest reassured that the privacy of their personal employment and other information is strictly preserved by the members of the University Committee. Unless responding to a lawful subpoena compelling testimony or a duly authorized request for information by the Faculty Grievance Committee, University Committee members are prohibited from discussing individual cases with any other person, regardless of whether that other person is connected to the University, has prior access to information about the candidate’s dossier, or seeks an explanation for what has occurred in a candidate’s application process. At the close of the process, candidates have recourse to the Provost for information about their application, given the Provost’s position as the chief academic officer of the University; however, all information about reviewers’ and committee recommendations remains confidential, per Faculty Handbook rules and University Statutes. 

To preserve the integrity of their work, University Committee members recuse themselves from considering – and have no access to – dossiers for those candidates with whom they have either an actual conflict of interest (e.g., directly supervise) or a relationship that could be perceived to give rise to a conflict of interest. Another practice observed by the University Committee – and recommended to all reviewers and rank and tenure committees as a best practice – is that no committee member may serve as a peer reviewer and be heard again in the discussion of the candidate’s dossier or exercise a vote on it; members who choose, for example, to write a letter on a candidate’s behalf thereby forfeit participation in the Committee’s discussion of and vote on that candidate’s dossier. Further, all University Committee meetings are held in compliance with the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, creating regular process from year to year, notwithstanding new chairs and new members. 

The School/College Committees on Rank & Tenure 

Each school and college has an elected, peer-review committee which evaluates the applications of candidates of that school/college for promotion and tenure. Membership on the rank and tenure committee of the school or college is governed by the Faculty Handbook. All committee members must be tenured members of the regular faculty of the school/college. The only administrator who may serve, ex officio, on a school/college committee is an associate dean for academic affairs, or equivalent, of that school or college; such ex officio membership must be stated in the bylaws of the school/college. 

Members of the school/college committees can be found in the school and college pages linked under “Related Links.” Contact information for the annually-elected chair of each school/college committee and the names and terms of the elected members are noted in those pages. 

The school/college committee is responsible for reading all dossiers submitted by the candidates of that school/college; the committees are charged with reviewing the contents of the dossiers, evaluating the candidates’ qualifications, as measured by the standards of the school/college (and department or division, if any) for the action the candidate seeks. The school/college committee reports its findings in a letter to the dean of the school or college; the report includes the outcome of the secret ballot vote of the committee on the qualifications of the individual candidate for tenure and/or promotion. The letter also states the evaluative conclusion of the committee’s review and the reasons for that conclusion. Dissents from the majority view should be included in the letter, as should reasons for any recusals; and, as a best practice, the letter should be signed by the full committee membership. 

The Dossier 

The dossier itself is a collection of all the evidence of the candidate’s achievement in teaching, scholarship, clinical work (where applicable), and service, accumulated over the years of the candidate’s career at the University. The particular components of the dossier that must be included for the application to be complete are listed in the Faculty Handbook, at Article III, Sections G.10.a and b; the university standards for evaluating the candidate’s dossier can be found at Sections G.10.c through G.10.h, under “Related Links.” 

One optional component of the dossier is the Faculty Profile; the candidate is invited to submit this personal statement but is not required to do so. A Faculty Profile, which will be read by all persons evaluating the candidate’s dossier, should be used to provide information the candidate wants to have considered that would not otherwise be included in other components of the dossier. The candidate, in setting out whatever information the candidate wants the department chair, school/college committee, dean, University Committee on Rank & Tenure, and the President to consider when reviewing the candidate’s dossier, should keep in mind that the President – as well as the University Committee – will be reading all dossiers from all the schools and college. Shorter personal statements may prove more effective than longer ones. At the Rank and Tenure Forums, the U-CR&T recommends statements of 4 to 6 pages as sufficient – and effective. 

The Decisions of the University President

The President makes the decision about whether to grant the candidate’s request for promotion or tenure. All decision points prior to the President’s consideration of a candidate’s dossier are judgments about whether to recommend a candidate to the President for the action sought – promotion and/or tenure. 

Throughout the process in which a candidate’s application for promotion and/or tenure is reviewed – by peers, students, department chair, school/college rank and tenure committee, and the University Committee on Rank & Tenure – each point of review is one where a recommendation to the university president is made by the reviewer or reviewing entity. Thus, at the close of the review process, the President has multiple recommendations to consider: There may be unanimity among the reviewers; often, though, there are differences of emphasis and evaluation among the reviewers. 

It is the President alone who makes the decision of whether to extend permanent employment to the candidate, in the conferral of tenure, or to advance the candidate in rank from assistant to associate professor or from associate professor to full professor. The more complete the picture that the President has about the candidate, from student reviews accumulated over semesters and years to the review by the University Committee of the candidate’s completed dossier, the better the President can assess whether to grant the candidate’s request for tenure or promotion or both. 

Some of the information before the President will be quantifiable, some will not. The quality of the content of the dossier may be assessed differently by the various reviewers. Given the possibility of differing opinions among reviewers, the candidate best uses the application process by putting together a coherent, honest, complete picture of her/his career at the University, showing clear, convincing evidence of contributions of teaching, scholarship, service, and clinical service, where applicable, that merit the action requested. 

Unsuccessful candidates are notified by their deans in advance of the March 31 deadline for the President’s announcement of the conferrals of tenure and advancements of rank. It is the longstanding practice of the University that the President communicates the names of the unsuccessful candidates and the areas of concerns presented by their dossiers to the Provost (and to the Academic and Health Science Vice Presidents before the University adopted a provost model). The Provost then relates the President’s identified area(s) of concern for each unsuccessful candidate to his/her dean. The Faculty Handbook requirement that the deans counsel unsuccessful candidates from their schools or colleges is of critical importance, facilitating the candidate’s remedy of the concerning area(s) in advance of any subsequent attempt at tenure and/or promotion as applicable. The candidate is cautioned that all areas of evaluation must evidence achievement sufficient for meeting the standards of the school/college in any subsequent application. 

The candidate who has been well mentored and chooses well when to submit his/her application; who fulfills the duties contracted with the University in her/his employment; who knows and has met the published standards and/or guidelines and/or expectations of her/his department, division, school/college, and University; who participates in and contributes to the mission of the University; and who effectively communicates these achievements in her/his dossier likely will be successful.