VIII. Standards for Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion


  • Amended┬áby Faculty approval, October 14, 2009.
  • Endorsed by vote of the Faculty, 8 May 2002.
  • Altered in view of changes in Section IX by the Faculty.
  • And in view of changes recommended by the Faculty and Educational Program Committee of the Board of Trustees, October 2002.
  • Altered by action of the FEC, November 2002 to remove direct reference to salary administration, except for the introduction.
  • Approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, April 15, 2003.
  • Altered by action of the FEC, May 2004, to include a grandfather clause governing change of criteria for tenure; approved by the Dean of the College and the President, June 2004.

Section VIII establishes the standards of evaluation assigned to each of the three areas of faculty work. Assessments using these standards provide the basis for decisions on retention, tenure and promotion. The College expects a record of excellence in all three areas of assessment (indicated below). Candidates for tenure and/or promotion must meet the standard in each area.

If evaluation criteria are changed within the two-year period prior to tenure evaluation, a tenure candidate may, at his or her request, be evaluated by the criteria in effect during the year of the candidate’s fourth-year review. Such a request must be submitted to the Dean in writing as a part of the tenure application.

Personal circumstances may arise that warrant a delay in the tenure review of a faculty member. Examples may include, but are not limited to, the birth or adoption of a child or the need to care for a partner or family member who is seriously ill. In such cases, a faculty member is eligible to request a one-year postponement of the tenure review. This postponement will not change what is expected in the cumulative record of the faculty member in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service at the time of tenure consideration, even though the candidate will have been in the probationary period longer than six years. This extension of the probationary period is independent of and different from any full or partial leave of absence, although faculty who meet qualifications for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would also be eligible to request an extension of the probationary period. An extension of a faculty member’s service to seven or more years does not de facto grant tenure.

The faculty member wishing to request a postponement of the tenure review must submit this request in writing to the Dean of the Faculty, copying the department Chair. Requests normally will not be granted if made after the first Friday of March in the calendar year during which review materials are due to be submitted to the Tenure and Promotion Committee. In consultation with the department Chair and the Director of Human Resources, the Dean of the Faculty will determine whether the extension will be granted. The Dean will issue a written reply to the faculty member, copying the department Chair and the Director of Human Resources, within one month of the day the request was made. Requests for more than two postponements normally will not be granted.

Teaching: Effective teaching is central to Rhodes’ educational mission. Teaching includes traditional classroom and laboratory instruction (disciplinary or interdisciplinary), leading internships or fellowships, and supervising directed inquiries, honors projects and/or other forms of student research or creative activity. In evaluating Faculty performance in this area, the following standards apply:

  • A faculty member sustains in his or her classes a consistent engagement with matters of substance and importance in the subject area.
  • A faculty member demonstrates command of the subject material and the critical issues surrounding it.
  • A faculty member constructs syllabi that make grading policies and course goals clear.
  • A faculty member designs student assignments and projects that demonstrably advance course goals.
  • A faculty member organizes courses in ways that reflect an effective pedagogy, and result in successful educational outcomes.
  • A faculty member develops in students the ability to think critically on the subjects studied and to communicate effectively about these subjects.

Scholarship: Appointment to the Rhodes Faculty is made with the expectation that a faculty member brings with him or her a commitment to advancing scholarly knowledge or producing creative works in his or her field. In evaluating a faculty member’s performance in this area, the following general standards apply:

  • A faculty member demonstrates his or her ongoing engagement in original research or creative activity by the regular appearance of professional work in refereed publications or in juried exhibits/performances. The faculty member is also encouraged to demonstrate effective professional citizenship.
  • Each academic department of the College establishes specific expectations for performance in original research or creative activities and professional citizenship that are appropriate to its discipline or disciplines. These departmental expectations are subject to review and approval by the Dean of the Faculty.
  • The quality and the quantity of juried or peer-reviewed work are both important indicators of achievement in scholarship. The quality and quantity of a candidate’s scholarly work is evaluated internally by departmental colleagues and externally by peer evaluators within the candidate’s discipline(s). All of these evaluations are considered in determining the case for tenure.

Service: The operation and welfare of the College involve a number of important responsibilities corporately invested in the Faculty. The governance structure of the College serves to distribute these collegial duties in a fair and effective manner. Normally, major leadership responsibilities (such as chairing standing committees, academic departments, or academic programs) should be assigned to senior faculty members. In evaluating a faculty member’s service, the following standards apply:

  • A faculty member is an effective advisor to students and regularly advises both incoming students – through the students’ declaration of major – and continuing students within the major. Aiding students who seek post-graduate scholarships and/or admission to professional and graduate schools by providing counsel and, where appropriate, preparing letters of reference is also expected.
  • A faculty member participates in the administrative work of his or her department. This work includes participating in Faculty development and evaluation activities, curriculum reviews and implementation of curriculum changes, overseeing library and other academic resources, aiding in the recruitment of students and new Faculty, and supporting departmental co-curricular activities.
  • A faculty member participates in the governance of the Faculty and the College. Faculty members are expected to serve the College through such channels as membership on standing committees of the Faculty, administrative committees of the College or Board of Trustees, ad hoc committees or task forces, engaging in and/or providing leadership for appropriate co-curricular activities, and/or activities that develop and sustain the College’s connections to the Memphis community. Faculty members are also expected to work with other departments to help with Faculty recruitment, development, and evaluation.

Levels of assessment: As noted above, the College expects a record of excellence in all three areas of assessment. Faculty work is assessed as either meeting or not meeting the high standards expected by the College. In the second- and fourth-year reviews particular attention will be paid to the trajectory of work exhibited by the probationary faculty member with an eye towards the level of achievement necessary for a successful sixth-year review.

The importance of the three areas of the work of the Faculty: Each faculty member is required to be involved in teaching, research/creative activity, and service throughout his or her career at the College. Care should be taken by the faculty member and those in academic administrative positions to insure that no one component, over extended periods of time, threatens to compromise a faculty member’s overall performance.

The College therefore affirms the following:

During the probationary years (normally, the first year through the sixth year of service to the College): The focus at this stage should be on a faculty member’s work as a teacher and scholar/artist – on becoming skilled in the classroom and established as an authoritative contributor in one’s discipline. Service to the College is not a substitute for meeting the standard in teaching and in research or creative activity, so care should be taken to ensure that a junior faculty member’s service involvements do not interfere with his or her development as a teacher and scholar/artist. Service activities early in a faculty member’s career should focus on developing skills and competency as an advisor to students and as a departmental colleague. By the beginning of the fourth year, service should normally expand to include work on college-wide committees and/or on campus-wide initiatives.

Following the probationary years (normally, the seventh year of service until retirement): Becoming a senior member of the Faculty entails assuming a more prominent role in Faculty governance (e.g., as department chair, college-wide Faculty committee chair, initiator of curricular reform or program development).

Concentrated efforts in pedagogical and/or curricular development may take away time from research/creative activity and service. The awarding of a major grant may involve a reduction in teaching load and in service commitments for the grant period. While such shifts are appropriate, they should be carefully monitored. The post-tenure evaluation cycle provides room for such shifts while also monitoring them to prevent more extensive involvement in one area from damaging a faculty member’s performance in other areas.

Normally, heavy service commitments should not last longer than six consecutive years in order to ensure that every faculty member remains an active and energized teacher and scholar. Care should be taken by each faculty member and those in academic administrative positions to ensure a profile for each faculty member that is in keeping with the College’s standards. The equitable distribution of workload across the Faculty is done with the intention of making possible this profile.