Reviewing Faculty Candidates
Information for Chairs, Directors, and Deans
The purpose of this document is to identify practices that will support the duty of the rank and tenure committee in reviewing faculty candidates for tenure and promotion.
Chairs and deans provide invaluable support and advice to this process through their day-to-day interactions with faculty as well as formal reviews performed annually and at the mid-probationary and tenure reviews. By providing direct, evidence-based, and consistent feedback to faculty about the mission and vision of the department and the faculty member's role in that vision, chairs and deans play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of faculty and the College, while building evidence upon which the rank and tenure committee may make recommendations in the context of the Faculty Statutes. The comments below are focused on the process involved in assisting a candidate for tenure and promotion review. However, these suggestions are also targeted to the construction of the annual evaluation and mid-probationary review documents that you prepare.
We thank you for the work you do upon a faculty member's hiring and throughout their careers at the College to ensure we work towards a commonly understood mission and vision to the benefit of the College, the students, and the community we serve.
You are not required to answer these questions. They are intended as guiding questions only.
- As an outside group of educators, it is helpful if those evaluating the candidate comment on the teaching load of the faculty member with respect to the following:
- How does the workload fulfill the expectations of a full-time faculty member as stated in the statutes?
- If the candidate team teaches, how is that defined in your department or school? How is this reflected in load?
- How does the candidate's expertise assist you in fulfilling the course schedule - teaching across levels (undergraduate and graduate) or in different mediums (face-to-face or online), for example.
- Does your school encourage faculty to have a philosophy of teaching and learning?
- How does the student achievement of learning outcomes of courses taught by the candidate affect the progression of students within your department/school?
- Is the candidate engaged in the creation and revision of courses to meet current standards in your discipline?
- How does your department/program/school view advising? What are the expectations for faculty members?
- Is there anything about advising in your department/school/program that someone from outside your department/school/program needs to know in order to fairly evaluate the faculty member's advising efforts.
- How does your department/school/program know if faculty members are effective advisors?
- Does your department/school/program offer any professional development opportunities or other types of guidance to help faculty members grow and develop as advisors?
- How does this scholarship fit with the department's needs, interests, etc.?
- How does the department view the quality of the work? Make sure to tell us (R&T) whether this is a fringe area coming into its own or whatever that would help us understand.
- How does the department see this person's trajectory with respect to scholarship? Are they making appropriate choices about how to spend their effort (local – regional – national – international, etc.)
- How does the department view the publications themselves? Vanity press versus predatory publication versus tier-two, etc. Often the professional societies have resources that help identify this, and a little looking into the background of the publication will turn up a lot. We are not advocating that only top-tier journals be considered!
- How does this scholarship fit with what this person was brought here to do?
- Are there any issues about the scholarship of which the committee needs to be made aware? For example, how does the department view a faculty member's work when the scholarship is generated and driven by an outside consulting practice maintained by the faculty member?
Supervisors writing letters for a tenure case need not answer all of these questions but might find they help to stimulate thinking about the case with respect to the service portion of the candidate's dossier.
- How does the candidate's service fit with the needs of the College, profession, community?
- Is the applicant making appropriate choices about how to spend their effort regarding service?
- Does the applicant's emphasis on any one type of service require explanation?
- If an applicant is lacking in service can this be explained by a lack of opportunity, initiative, etc.?
Evidence of Effectiveness
High achievement and promise shall be judged in comparison to one's peers in rank, and relative to the expectations for the rank toward which the candidate is applying. Ideally, candidates will evince high achievement and promise in all four areas of effectiveness (teaching, advising, scholarship, and service) at every level of tenure and promotion. A balance in all areas is necessary for a positive outcome.
- Assistant professors applying for tenure must meet those qualifications as well as those for rank of senior lecturer.
- For tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor, emphasis should be placed on verifiable teaching effectiveness in both upper and lower division courses (as appropriate), and on scholarly activity which demonstrates that the candidate has successfully initiated and pursued a sustained program of scholarly work since joining our faculty at the College. Candidates should demonstrate achievement and promise which evaluators judge to be at least equivalent to that of the group of those candidates who were tenured and promoted to the rank of associate professor in the College over the previous few years. In that context, make sure to stay consistent. Assistant professors, during their probationary years, are well advised to focus on building demonstrable success in teaching and scholarship, while focusing their academic service contributions on departmental, school, and College needs.
- Candidates who seek promotion to professor should have advanced qualitatively, not just quantitatively, in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service beyond the levels when last promoted. They need to distinguish themselves in these areas.
- The rank of professor is reserved for distinguished leaders. Distinguished teaching is shown through a continued dedication to refining one's approach to teaching. Professors demonstrate a commitment to students and their learning. They think critically and systematically about their teaching. They are respected for their teaching expertise and may be used as a resource on teaching by their colleagues. Professors should also have a mature vision of themselves as scholars. They must qualitatively advance beyond the level when last promoted and which distinguishes them in their area of expertise. In addition, notable contribution in public service, government or industry is expected. Professors must also demonstrate leadership through service. They must make significant contributions to the committees on which they serve. Furthermore, they may be leaders in serving their community or their profession. Leadership in academic service is recommended to satisfy the service requirement for promotion to professor and is typically necessary as well as sufficient.
- The guiding principal for scholarship should be quality. Works in their final, published form should be given more weight. Refereed, juried, or peer-reviewed work should be given more weight than non-refereed work. Repetitive publication of essentially the same work should be given less weight. No greater or lesser significance should be attached to single author works as compared to multiple author works. The committee may ask for further information to clarify any apparent discrepancies in the components of the dossier provided by the candidate and the letters provided by the dean and chair.
Reflections, Notes, and Suggestions
Department Chairs and Graduate Program Directors
- Chairs/directors must arrange a schedule of classroom observations for all tenured members of the department/program. The candidate must approve this schedule.
- Chairs/directors must take responsibility for keeping track of whether all letters sought by the candidate for the dossier are received and included.
- A candidate must submit his/her dossier on or before 10/15 and the department must complete the departmental review by 11/1. Thus it is important to plan and coordinate times to carefully review the dossier, to meet and discuss the case, and to write letters in that two-week time frame.
- The discussion of a candidate's case should focus on the Criteria for Evaluation (section 3.9.6) and tenured members should articulate their evaluation of the candidate in each area. This discussion precedes and should inform an individual's vote.
- Consider scheduling two meetings of the tenured faculty – one to discuss and a separate meeting to vote. It can be helpful to have time to process information and/or to review information in the dossier following the discussion and prior to the vote.
- Always keep in mind that you are obliged to respect the confidentiality of the entire review process. This means that during and after the review, you cannot share information about the departmental review with a candidate nor with other non-tenured members of the department/program. The one exception to this is in the case of promotion. If a majority vote of the tenured faculty members of the department/program do not support the promotion case, the chair/director informs the candidate, who may choose to withdraw the application for promotion.
Department Chairs, Graduate Program Directors, and School Deans
- When you write your letter, clearly state whether you support the case for tenure and/or promotion. Using the Criteria for Evaluation (Faculty Statutes Part 9) provide evidence/documentation to explain your position.
- If your decision does not reflect the majority view in the department/program, clearly state the reasons for dissent.
- Although it is not a common practice, the rank and tenure committee may invite you to a meeting if the members believe you could provide some additional information or clarify possible issues that they encountered during their review of a case. If this does happen, the chair of the committee will request a meeting and typically will identify the nature of the questions they intend to ask at the meeting.
Information for Tenured Faculty Reviewing Tenure/Promotion Cases
Introduction and Faculty Statutes
Faculty play a critical role in shared governance. As articulated in the Faculty Statutes (section 3.8.1), "decisions regarding faculty positions are primarily a faculty responsibility … The primary responsibility of the faculty for such matters is based upon the fact that its judgment is central to general educational policy. Furthermore, scholars in a particular field or activity have the chief competence for judging the work of their colleagues; in such competence it is implicit that responsibility exists for both adverse and favorable judgments."
Each tenured faculty member should consult the relevant sections of the Faculty Statutes so that he/she recognizes his/her responsibilities when reviewing a faculty member as part of a mid-probationary evaluation, or a tenure and/or promotion application (Part 8 Faculty Rank and Privileges, Part 9 Faculty Evaluation, Part 10 Policies on Tenure, and Part 11 Promotion Procedures and Part 15 Faculty Grievance Procedures).
Part 9 of the Faculty Statutes outlines the faculty evaluation process. The Mid-Probationary Evaluation involves at least two tenured faculty other than the chair. The tenured faculty involved in the Mid-Probationary Evaluation must observe the faculty member in the classroom; must assess his/her scholarship, research, and/or creative work; and must write a letter of evaluation to which the faculty member may respond.
The departmental review of tenure (section 3.10.5) and promotion (section 3.10.6) involves all tenured members of a department or graduate program. Every tenured member of the department/program must observe at least one class taught by the candidate. The dossier must be made available to the tenured members for review. A meeting of the tenured faculty is then held to discuss the case. Following the discussion, a vote is taken, results are tallied, and results are communicated to those at the meeting. When considering tenure, each tenured faculty member must write a letter to the chair/director to explain his/her decision. When considering promotion only, if the vote is unanimous, the tenured faculty members can simply sign the letter prepared by the chair/director. If the department/ program vote is not unanimous for promotion, each tenured faculty member must write a letter to the chair/director to explain his/her decision. If fewer than a majority vote to recommend promotion, then the chair/director informs the candidate who can withdraw the application for promotion. If the candidate does not withdraw the application, then as described above, each tenured faculty member must write a letter to the chair/director to explain his/her decision.
All tenured faculty members involved in a departmental review are obliged to respect the confidentiality of the proceedings.
Consider these questions as you review your colleague's dossier which reflect his/her contributions to the College. They are meant to focus your attention on the essential contributions of the candidate as directed by the Faculty Statues.
- How do the courses taught by this candidate assist students in meeting the learning outcomes of the major/curriculum?
- Does the quality of the teaching performed by this candidate help prepare students for the next level of the curriculum in his/her major?
- Can you provide evidence of the candidate's meaningful interaction with students via academic advising and/or tutoring of students, designated advisees, and other students when appropriate? Can you speak to the candidate's participation in academic enrichment activities, including advising student groups?
- Is there anything unique about advising in your department, school, or program that will help the members of the rank and tenure committee better understand and evaluate the candidate's performance as an advisor?
- Do the service efforts undertaken by this candidate assist the departmental goals, the school mission, the college, the profession, the local community, etc.?
- Do the service efforts of the candidate support and inform the teaching and/or scholarship efforts of the candidate?
- How are the candidate's scholarly works (papers, presentations, posters, etc.) viewed within the candidate's discipline (or subdiscipline)?
- Taken collectively, is the quality and quantity of the candidate's scholarship sufficient to establish their expertise with respect to their responsibilities and role?
Reflections, Notes, and Suggestions
It is expected that tenured faculty members may have different perspectives that they will bring to the departmental review process. A variety of factors are at play. You may be a tenured faculty member who served as the candidate’s chair during the hiring process and/or for one or more of his/her years of service. You may teach some of the same courses and collaborate extensively on shared learning outcomes. You may have overlapping areas of research and thus can provide valuable information related to your area of expertise.
Early in the fall semester, identify a time that you can observe the candidate in the classroom.
A candidate must submit his/her dossier on or before 10/15 and the department must complete the departmental review by 11/1. Thus it is important to plan and coordinate times to carefully review the dossier, to meet and discuss the case, and to write letters in that two week time frame.
The discussion of a candidate’s case should focus on the Criteria for Evaluation (section 3.9.6) and tenured members should articulate their evaluation of the candidate in each area. This discussion precedes and should inform an individual’s vote.
Consider scheduling two meetings of the tenured faculty – one to discuss and a separate meeting to vote. It can be helpful to have time to process information and/or to review information in the dossier following the discussion and prior to the vote.
When you write your letter, provide evidence/documentation to explain your vote.
Always keep in mind that you are obliged to respect the confidentiality of the entire review process. This means that during and after the review, you cannot share information about the departmental review with a candidate nor with other non-tenured members of the department/program.
Although it is not a common practice, the rank and tenure committee may invite you to a meeting if the members believe you could provide some additional information or clarify possible issues that they encountered during their review of a case. If this does happen, the chair of the committee will request a meeting and typically will identify the nature of the questions they intend to ask at the meeting.