IX. D. The Tenure (and Promotion to rank of Associate Professor) Review

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  • Amended by Faculty approval, February 5, 2013
  • Amended by Faculty action, February 16, 2011

Overview: The tenure review process is a comprehensive assessment of the work of a faculty member. It is a review of the work of the candidate since the beginning of his or her appointment as well as an attempt to gauge a trajectory of the candidate’s career at the college. A candidate for tenure must hold the Ph.D. degree or other appropriate terminal degree.

At the start of the year of the review, the candidate for tenure prepares an updated portfolio, together with some supplemental materials described below. The Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion, the candidate’s Department Chair, and the Dean’s Office then work together to gather all of the documentation required for the review. A number steps are involved in this process:

  • The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Faculty Development and the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion assemble a Teaching Evaluation Committee, working in consultation with the candidate’s Department Chair.
  • Four external reviewers are secured to assist in evaluating the candidate’s scholarship. The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Faculty Development and the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion select two outside reviewers from a list created by the candidate. The Associate Dean, in consultation with the Chair of the candidate’s department and with the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion, selects two additional reviewers. The Associate Dean contacts outside reviewers to secure their agreement to participate in the process of assessment and forwards the materials to be reviewed.
  • The Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion obtains a list of students taught by the candidate. These students receive a survey about the candidate’s teaching effectiveness. A similar list is prepared to include all of the advisees served by the candidate. These students will receive a survey about the candidate’s work as an advisor.
  • The Chair of the Teaching Evaluation Committee convenes the committee, reviews the process of visitation, and oversees the timely preparation of letters for the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion.
  • The Chair of the Committee on Tenure and Promotion invites those non-departmental colleagues named by the candidate to submit letters of evaluation concerning service to the College.
  • The Chair of the Department reviews the process of evaluation at the departmental level with the senior members of the department early in the semester of review, and oversees the scheduling of class visits for senior faculty not appointed to the Teaching Evaluation Committee. He or she then convenes the Department meeting to discuss the candidate’s performance at the end of the review process, and oversees the timely submission of letters for the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion.

When all of the review materials have been assembled, the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion evaluates the candidate’s record of teaching, scholarship, and service. Deliberation by the Tenure and Promotion Committee usually occurs late in the fall semester of the review year. This committee makes a recommendation for or against the granting of tenure to the Dean of the Faculty by February 15. The Dean and the President undertake their own, respective, evaluations of the candidate’s record. The Dean’s review of the case is completed by early March. The Dean forwards his or her recommendation, along with the Tenure and Promotion Committee’s recommendation, to the President for review. The President’s decision, if positive, results in a recommendation for the granting of tenure and promotion that is sent to the Board of Trustees at their April Meeting. Tenure is granted to members of the Rhodes Faculty by the Board of Trustees on the recommendation of the President (typically at that same meeting).

In completing the assessment and determining that a recommendation in favor of granting tenure is appropriate, the consensus of the Chair of the department, the Dean of the Faculty, and the President must be that there is a clear need for continuing a permanent position in the area of the faculty member’s expertise and teaching competence.

Normally no member of the Faculty may teach more than seven years at Rhodes without having been granted tenure; exceptions are made only in those special circumstances where a term contract is appropriate.

Promotion to Associate Professor normally accompanies a positive tenure decision as a natural consequence of meeting the standards for tenure. On rare occasions promotion to associate professor may occur before completion of twelve semesters of full-time teaching as a way to recognize an unusually effective member of the Faculty. While such early promotion to Associate Professor requires evidence of outstanding contributions to the College, it does not guarantee a positive tenure review.

Tenure may be offered with the initial appointment of a senior academic to the Rhodes Faculty; in this case expedited reviews by the appropriate academic department, the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion, and the Dean of the Faculty are required.

A number of people or groups have roles in this process, and the responsibilities of each of these are outlined below.

The responsibilities of candidates for tenure are as follows:

1. Preparation of materials for the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion:

  • An updated portfolio in which candidates present relevant materials in support of the application for tenure.
  • The names of four members of the Faculty nominated by the candidate to serve on the Teaching Evaluation Committee; these members are to be tenured Faculty from both the department and/or related departments.
  • The names of at least six outside evaluators of professional work. All of these persons should be recognized scholars in the discipline. None should have a personal stake in the career of the candidate. The candidate provides a description of the extent of personal acquaintance, if any, the candidate has with each of the scholars named. At least two of the outside evaluators will be selected from this list.
  • The names of three members of the Rhodes community (tenured faculty members, and staff members) who can provide evaluations of service to the College.

2. Preparation of materials for the candidate’s department (including the Teaching Evaluation Committee):

  • An updated portfolio
  • Materials describing courses being offered in the fall semester of the review, for example, syllabi, exams, laboratory exercises, class schedules, with notations about recommended times for classroom visitation during the semester.

3. Preparation of materials for the Dean of the Faculty:

  • The names of at least six outside evaluators of professional work. All of these persons should be recognized scholars in the discipline. None should have a personal stake in the career of the candidate. The candidate provides a description of the extent of personal acquaintance, if any, the candidate has with each of the scholars named. At least two of the final evaluators will be selected from this list.
  • Four copies each of the current curriculum vita, all published work, evidence of creative activity, and other materials related to professional research and/or creative activity to be sent to the outside evaluators.

The responsibilities of the senior members of the candidate’s department are as follows:

  • Senior members review the materials prepared for the department by the candidate. Senior members should be especially mindful of the particular expectations for scholarship formulated by the academic department of the candidate. These have been established to present, in more detail, expectations for scholarship that must be met for a positive review at the departmental level.
  • Senior members will observe at least one class during the fall semester of the review year. (Those senior members appointed to the Teaching Evaluation Committee will observe more classes, and their specific responsibilities are described below.)
  • Senior members may seek further information, not gathered as a result of the processes described above, when that information is essential in making a reasoned judgment about the candidate’s performance. While candidates for tenure cannot be privy to student, faculty, or outside colleague comments on their performance, they must be informed if the department has questions about matters which the candidate can reasonably be expected to answer or clarify. In such instances, the candidate makes a written response which becomes a document available throughout the review process.
  • As a group, senior members meet with the chair of the department to discuss the performance of the candidate, as measured against the College’s standards for reappointment with tenure. At the close of this meeting, each senior member will indicate whether or not, in her/his judgment, the candidate has met the College’s standard for excellent work in all three areas of evaluation: teaching (as defined in Handbook section 7A), scholarship (section 7B, and further clarified in the departmental expectations), and service (section 7C). The purpose of this meeting of senior departmental colleagues is to provide the candidate a clear and direct indication of the judgment of their departmental colleagues, while still preserving confidentiality, and so senior members are asked here only to judge whether the candidate has met the College’s standards for promotion and tenure, or not. This meeting will take place no later than November 1.
  • Following this meeting the department chair will prepare a very brief letter to the candidate summarizing its outcome. This letter will not contain names or number of votes. This departmental letter shall be conveyed to the candidate by November 15, with copies sent to the Dean of the Faculty and the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion.
  • Each senior member of the department writes an individual letter of assessment, covering all three areas (teaching, scholarship, and service) and forwards the letter to the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion and to the Dean of the Faculty. These letters are due by November 15.

The responsibilities of the Teaching Evaluation Committee are as follows:

  • Committee members review the materials prepared for the Committee by the candidate.
  • Committee members will coordinate with the candidate to schedule visits to classes during the fall semester of the review.
  • Each member of the Committee will visit a minimum of three different class sessions. The Committee will meet with the candidate at the conclusion of the class visits to discuss its observations and findings.
  • Each member of the Committee then prepares a letter detailing his or her observations of the classes. When a member of the Teaching Evaluation Committee is also a senior department member, the letter writer should identify himself or herself as such and write a single letter. This letter will include a more substantial discussion of the candidate’s teaching than will the standard evaluation letter. All letters are forwarded to the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion and to the Dean of the Faculty. This letter is due by November 15.

The responsibilities of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion are as follows:

  • In the event that a member of the Committee is from the same department as (or has served on an ad hoc evaluation committee for) the candidate, that member is excluded from the discussion and formulation of the Committee’s recommendation.
  • The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Faculty Development and the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion select two outside reviewers from a list created by the candidate. The Associate Dean, in consultation with the Chair of the candidate’s department and with the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion, selects two additional reviewers.
  • The Committee will apply the College’s standard of excellence in all three areas of assessment as described in Section VIII in assessing the performance of the candidate being reviewed over the entirety of his or her appointment at the College. The committee will be especially mindful of the particular expectations for scholarship as formulated by the academic department of the candidate.
  • The Committee will request letters of evaluation of service/campus citizenship from three outside-of-the department colleagues/staff members selected by the candidate.
  • The Committee will distribute special surveys to the candidate’s advisees and students. In the assessment of teaching, only students with grades A through D- will be included; no students with Pass/Fail grades will be included, and no one credit-hour courses will be included. In addition to the special survey, the Committee will also review the record of teaching, as measured by the college-wide evaluation instrument, during the entirety of the candidate’s probationary years at the College.
  • The Committee may seek any further information, not gathered as a result of the processes described above, where that information is essential in making a reasoned judgment about the candidate’s performance. While candidates for tenure cannot be privy to student, faculty, or outside colleague comments on their performance, they must be informed if the committee has questions about matters which the candidate can reasonably be expected to answer or clarify. In such cases, the candidate makes a written response which becomes a document available throughout the review process.
  • The Committee may consult materials compiled for the second-year, and/or the fourth-year reviews.
  • The Committee will make a recommendation in regard to appointment with tenure and promotion to Associate Professor to the Dean of the Faculty normally by February 15 (a copy of the recommendation is provided at the same time to the President). A positive recommendation means that the committee has established to its satisfaction that the candidate has met the College’s high standards in teaching, scholarship, and service and that based on this comprehensive review the pattern of excellence evidenced in the candidate’s teaching, scholarship, and service can be expected to be a distinguishing mark of the candidate’s continued work at the College.
  • By mid-February the committee will inform the candidate in writing of its recommendation, positive or negative, with an explanation of the Committee’s reasoning in reaching its recommendation.

The responsibilities of the Dean of the Faculty are as follows:

  • The Dean will review all information collected in the process of assessment.
  • The Dean will weigh the recommendation of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion, requesting from the Committee or its chair additional information, if needed, to clarify the Committee’s recommendation.
  • The Dean will apply the College’s standard of excellence in all three areas of assessment as described in Section VIII in assessing the performance of the candidate being reviewed over the entirety of his or her appointment at the College, and will be especially mindful of the particular expectations for scholarship as formulated by the academic department of the candidate.
  • The Dean will make an independent recommendation for or against the granting of tenure which is then submitted, along with all materials collected in the process of assessment, to the President by early March. The Dean will meet with the President to discuss the recommendation.
  • In Mid-March the Dean will meet with the candidate and communicate his or her recommendation for or against the granting of tenure, along with that of the President.
  • At the end of the meeting, the Dean will provide the candidate with a letter summarizing his or her recommendation.
  • The Dean will inform the Chair of the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion and the candidate’s Department Chair of both the Dean’s own recommendation and that of the President.

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.