Promotion and Tenure
Policies and Procedures
- The University sponsors workshops to facilitate discussion of the issues that affect faculty development. All probationary faculty and others who will seek promotion are strongly advised to attend these events.
- In addition, the College offers a workshop for staff members who physically prepare the papers. New executive officers should meet with Associate Dean Marya Schechtman to clarify issues of content and procedure.
- University Policies, Procedures, and Forms for promotion and tenure can be found on the website of the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
- Requests for information about college policies should be directed to Associate Dean Marya Schechtman, 6-4687, or to Assistant Dean Beth Allen, 3-2504.
The link below provides the schedule for all Promotion and Tenure cases, Mid-Probationary Reviews, and Lecturer Promotions for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Click the link for more details:
New faculty will obviously need some acclimation. There are orientations at the Campus and College level, but much of the support for the professional development of junior faculty will come most appropriately from the Department.
Each faculty member coming in should be assigned a mentor in accordance with Campus, College, and Departmental policy.
It is usually appropriate to make sure that junior faculty do not take on a heavy service burden while they are getting their research program underway, and EO’s should keep track of what these faculty are asked to do. It is especially important to be vigilant when junior faculty have joint appointments. EOs should ensure that the service required is proportional to the percentage of appointment and remain aware of the faculty member’s service obligations elsewhere.
Throughout the probationary period EOs should provide junior faculty with feedback on their performance. It is also important to be on the lookout for life events or other circumstances in which it would be appropriate to request a tenure hold or rollback.
Holds and rollbacks can take some time to process, and must be requested in proximity to the event by which they are justified. It is therefore crucial that the process be started promptly in any case where it seems as if adjustment of the tenure clock is warranted.
The Mid-Probationary Review is a mandatory part of the promotion and tenure process, which serves to provide an assessment to tenure-track faculty members of their progress toward tenure at the mid-point of their probationary period and provides a record of the mentoring they received in the department that makes up part of the official promotion and tenure packet. This review should give the candidate an honest appraisal of where he or she currently stands relative to the benchmarks for promotion to associate professor with tenure, as well as concrete suggestions for the remainder of the probationary period. It is important to be as specific as possible about the kinds of activities and accomplishments that are likely to lead to a positive outcome, taking care not to imply any guarantees. The review must be conducted no later than the middle of the probationary period. This will typically be in the Spring of T3 but may vary with individual circumstances. It is important that it be undertaken at a point late enough to permit reasonable review of a faculty members’ progress toward tenure since the initial appointment, and early enough to give useful guidance to him or her in preparing for any subsequent review.
LAS requires that departments complete Mid-Probationary forms that are similar to the campus promotion and tenure forms and are organized around assessment of the three main categories of teaching, research, and service. We do this both so that the departments and candidates are aware of and can systematically organize the types of records and information that will be needed as they progress toward tenure, and to help Executive Officers make informed recommendations about areas of strength and/or concern based on the trajectories shown through looking systematically at collected records such as student teaching evaluations, research activities, and service contributions. Much of the information in the LAS Mid-Probationary forms is used for departmental and College purposes only. The Executive Officer Statement at the end of the packet is the formal record which, along with the candidate’s acknowledgement of having seen the Review, is forwarded to campus to be used both at the time of the review and as part of the future promotion case.
If in the estimation of the College there is insufficient evidence at the time of the Mid-Probationary Review to adequately assess a candidate’s progress toward tenure, or the report reveals areas of concern, a second review in the following year may be requested. This is not uncommon and serves only to provide more information where it is useful. In the event that a second review is requested, the Executive Officer statement in the second review replaces that of the first in campus records and in the promotion and tenure packet.
Please review the links above to both the LAS Mid-Probationary Review forms and campus guidelines. If you have any questions about the timing of a review or the process please contact Associate Dean Marya Schechtman, email@example.com, or Assistant Dean Beth Allen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparation of the Tenure Case
Preparation of the tenure case should start no later than beginning of Spring term in the year before the year in which the university review would take place. Typically the papers are prepared by the Executive Officer, but in some cases the Executive Officer can appoint an alternate paper preparer in accordance with departmental bylaws. If the Executive Officer has a conflict of interest an alternate paper preparer must be appointed. Executive Officers should consult the LAS Promotion and Tenure Spring Checklist as they begin preparing the case.
By early spring the Executive Officer or paper preparer should select and approach potential external reviewers to line up the required 5-8 letters from external evaluators. Referees should be full professors from Research I institutions with scholarly accomplishment in the candidate’s field. Deviation from these requirements should occur only when absolutely necessary, and the reasons for such deviation should be fully explained and justified in the biosketch section associated with that letter in the forms. The candidate may provide a non-binding list of individuals who are, in his or her opinion, not suitable reviewers. The candidate cannot provide a list of potential reviewers, and the names of those solicited and those who write letters should be treated with the strictest confidentiality.
It is important to request reviews early, and in most cases it is prudent to approach more reviewers than are required on the assumption that some will be unable to provide a letter. This is a bit of a balancing act, since in the end you want no more than 8 letters. Should you get “yes” answers from more than 8 external reviewers all of the letters received must be included in the dossier.
In the case of joint appointments, the two units/departments should work together to settle on a list of external reviewers. After this point, however, the further steps of review for this candidate should be undertaken independently by each of the units.
The solicitation of letters is a two-step process. It is very important that before sending any materials you ascertain the willingness of the referee to supply a letter and determine whether there is a conflict of interest which would make the potential referee inappropriate. Obvious conflicts of interest include a close personal relationship, serving as the candidate’s mentor or trainee, or substantial collaboration. Other cases can be trickier. When in doubt about whether a disclosed relationship constitutes a conflict of interest you should feel free to consult the college. The two stages of Campus and LAS template letters for the solicitation of a review can be found here. All correspondence with the potential referees must be included in the dossier, so it is crucial to hold on to all of the letters or emails involved in the solicitation process.
After an external reviewer has agreed to provide a letter, the candidate’s materials should be supplied as quickly as possible. These should include a CV, current research statement, and a sample of recent publications and other scholarly works, as well a copy of the Statement of LAS Norms, Expectations, and Standards of Excellence and the unit/department norms and standards. It is very important for the EO or paper preparer to look over the materials that are being sent to make sure that they are complete and accurate. More than once missing or misleading items sent to reviewers have complicated and/or compromised a tenure case. An LAS template letter to accompany materials can be found online.
If the candidate has substantial collaborations, it is of the utmost importance to solicit collaborator attestations. The purpose of these attestations is to inform subsequent review committees of the nature and quantity of the contribution the candidate made to the collaborative enterprise. These are not additional letters of recommendation, and if they are written as such college and campus committees with be left with unanswered questions about the research profile of the candidate. You should therefore do your best to impress upon collaborators that their attestations should speak directly and only to the question of the candidate’s role in the collaboration. We recommend you see page 16 of Part III of the P&T Guidelines for information and sample request letters and forms if you are considering requesting a collaborator attestation. If you are in doubt about whether a collaborator attestation is required feel free to contact the college.
Department Review and Vote
In Fall term of the year during which the university review will take place the candidate must be reviewed by a promotion and tenure committee selected according to departmental bylaws from some or all of the tenured faculty in the unit. The committee must have at least 3 members eligible to vote by campus, college, and departmental bylaws. The Executive Officer is not eligible to vote and faculty with conflicts of interest in the case should recuse themselves. In units that do not have 3 eligible voters the EO should inform the college and the Dean will work with the unit to form a committee including members from other UIC units with the relevant expertise. After review of the case the committee should vote on whether to promote the candidate and grant indefinite tenure. It is very important that the discussion and vote be scheduled in such a way that all, or at least most, eligible voters can attend. Committees do not always know how to read a large number of “absent” votes, and this can complicate review. The votes of the review committee must be communicated promptly and in writing to the candidate.
Executive Officer Statement
After the departmental vote the EO must prepare a recommendation for or against promotion with tenure, along with a justification for the decision. The forms for this statement are found in the P&T packet, and it is important to follow the format laid out there. This statement is one of the most crucial elements of the packet, and it is considered very carefully by subsequent review committees, who depend upon this statement to help them interpret the information provided. It is therefore crucial to provide a statement that makes a clear case for the recommendation, explaining in detail how the result was reached. In particular, it is necessary to speak directly to features of the packet that are likely to raise questions. Split votes by the departmental committee must be addressed in this statement, and significant numbers of absences or abstentions should also be explained. If there are statements in the letters that suggest a different assessment (i.e. negative statements in the letters if the EO recommendation is for promotion and positive statements if the EO recommendation is against), the statement should explain why those statements do not provide sufficient reason to alter the recommendation. If there are problematic teaching evaluations, the EO statement should explain how they are to be interpreted and what steps are being taken to improve teaching. More generally, the statement should make clear and explicit reference to the benchmarks for teaching, research and service found in the department norms and in the profession and should make the case in each domain that the candidate has or has not met those benchmarks. Where appropriate, reference to the mid-probationary report should also be included (e.g., if the candidate has been successfully following recommendations made there or, alternatively, has failed to follow such recommendations).
It is customary in these statements to refer or quote from external review letters. The campus has recently instituted a policy that when this is done the names and institutions of the referees should not be included. This is to protect the confidentiality of their identities. Since the letters are numbered, a convenient alternative is to use these numbers should you wish to refer to the content of the letters.
In the case of joint appointments the EO of each unit should write a statement and these should be sent to the home department for inclusion in the packet.
If the EO recommends in a way that disagrees with the majority vote of the promotion and tenure committee, the departmental committee should provide a separate letter explaining the basis of its vote to be included in the packet along with the EO statement.
The candidate must be informed promptly in writing of the EO recommendation, but should not be shown the statement.
LAS Executive Committee Review
During finals week of Fall term the College Executive Committee meets to review and vote on all of the promotion and tenure cases in LAS. The exact dates will be provided at the beginning of the academic year. EO’s will be asked to give a presentation of their cases, and must arrange to be available during these days. The EO presentation is frequently a central part of the case. In preparing for the presentation you can take for granted that the Executive Committee will have read the packet carefully. If questions arise as they are reading those will be sent to the EO to be answered in advance. Your initial presentation should therefore be very brief (5 minutes or so). You do not need to present all of the information in the packet, but only give the highlights of the case for or against. The committee will then have the opportunity to ask questions. Often these are very detailed, so as EO you should be thoroughly familiar with the details of the case and prepared to answer questions. Adequate preparation for this event can make the difference in a decision.
After the EO presentations for all of the cases in LAS have been heard the committee will vote on whether to recommend promotion and tenure and the Dean, advised by the vote, will provide a recommendation and supporting statement. The candidate will be informed promptly in writing of the Executive Committee vote and the Dean’s recommendation. The packet containing the vote and recommendation will then be forwarded to the campus for the next stage of review.
Advanced Notification of Cases
A list of all mid-probationary reviews and promotion and tenure (P&T) cases to be considered in the current academic year, including any that may lead to non-retention, must be submitted to the College. ALL units must:
- Notify the College of promotion and tenure cases and mid-probationary reviews in your unit, even if there are no cases pending. Submit the (1)Tenure-Track and Research Non-Tenure Track Expected Promotion and Tenure Reviews form AND (2) Clinical Non-Tenure Track Expected Promotion and Tenure Reviews form included in the P&T Forms packets, along with the Expected Mid-Probationary Review Form, electronically as a PDF to Beth Allen. NOTE: For faculty with joint appointments, both departments submit a form but the home department is responsible for coordinating the P&T process
- Submit at the same time as the above either (a) a statement that departmental procedures for promotion and tenure are unchanged from last year or (b) a copy of your revised procedures for promotion and tenure and for mid-probationary reviews. Please highlight any changes implemented since last year. If a special committee oversees the process, please indicate how its members are selected and provide the names of this year’s members.