Typically career faculty promotion reviews have three levels of review:
Typically, department/unit review consists of three steps:
- Department/Unit committee review and recommendation
- Department/Unit review and recommendation
- Department/Unit head review and recommendation
Most unit policies indicate that a personnel or promotion committee will to carry out the initial review of the dossier. If there are too few eligible faculty members to form a review committee within the candidate’s unit, the unit head should consult with the dean (or vice president or vice provost, as appropriate) to establish a committee, drawing appropriate faculty members from outside the unit. While there is no requirement to consult with the candidate regarding the selection of members for such a committee, it is reasonable to do so in order to avoid any potential concerns about the appropriateness of the committee.
The unit committee should review, evaluate, and critically discuss the full file. Following this discussion, the committee should conduct a vote by signed ballot. The signed ballots should be confidentially retained; only the final vote tally is to be revealed in the committee’s report.
Given the wide range of positions and instructional responsibilities held by career faculty, it is difficult to provide general guidance for the review and analysis of a promotion file. Representative matters for consideration are listed below; relevant elements from this list should be complemented by other considerations appropriate to the particular candidate for promotion.
The report from the unit committee should provide an analysis of the case that goes beyond what may be gleaned from the candidate’s curriculum vitae. Since this is the first of several stages of internal review, it is important that the committee present all aspects of the case fully. The review should be one of analysis, not advocacy, and it should present a critical evaluation of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses relative to the standards of the unit and discipline.
Any discrepancies or contradictory opinions within the reviewers’ letters should be addressed in a forthright fashion. Simply ignoring negative remarks does not advantage the candidate, nor does the rejection of comments from an “outlier” reviewer simply because they are not consistent with other comments received. In the absence of meaningful engagement with such comments in the report, subsequent reviewers may be left wondering if the “outlier” was in fact the only reviewer who was able to identify a real and critical issue in the case—whether in support of or arguing against the promotion.
For instructional career faculty, the unit committee plays a significant role in the analysis of the candidate’s teaching record. For faculty evaluation occurring in Fall 2020 or later, please ensure teaching is evaluated using the Teaching Quality Criteria agreed upon by United Academics and the University. The committee must evaluate carefully all evidence related to teaching.
- The committee is cautioned regarding the reliance of numerical student evaluation data, as it has the potential for bias against women and faculty of color, and is also impacted by other aspects of the course unrelated to the faculty member, such as class size, subject, required or optional nature of course, and other elements. Therefore, numerical student evaluation data should not be the primary evidence to determine teaching quality.
- The committee should read available written student comments and provide an evaluative summary of this student feedback.
- The committee should read available peer reviews of teaching and provide an evaluative summary of this peer feedback.
- The committee should also review and comment on all materials submitted by the candidate documenting their teaching activities (i.e., teaching statement or Instructor Reflections, teaching portfolio, etc.).
- Ultimately, the goal of the committee is to combine the information they read from students, peers, and the faculty member themselves to obtain a holistic view of the faculty member's engagement in the tenets of excellent teaching, and the quality of the learning environment provided for the students.
For research career faculty, the unit committee’s evaluation will place significant focus on the expectations detailed in the candidate’s position description.
As appropriate, the report should include a discussion of the candidate’s record of service, as summarized in the candidate’s CV and statement and exemplified in the service portfolio.
The report must include commentary on the candidate’s discussion of contributions to equity and inclusion and any evidence of these contributions provided by the candidate.
The unit committee report must be signed by all members of the committee, and it must be dated.
If a unit committee carried out the initial review, that committee’s report should be reviewed and voted on by all eligible faculty within the unit. It is not expected that this review will be accompanied by a separate report, but the unit head’s report (discussed below) should include a summary of any meetings of the eligible faculty held to discuss the case. As for the unit committee vote, the vote by all eligible faculty must be by signed ballot, and the signed ballots should be confidentially retained, with only the final vote tally revealed in the unit head’s report.
Typically, tenure-related faculty and career faculty at or above the rank being sought are allowed to vote on career faculty promotion cases. These and other details, including who is allowed to review a promotion file and voting rights for faculty on leave are described in the unit's shared governance documents.
The unit head must prepare an independent report and recommendation. This report should consist of two parts: 1) an administrative summary of the unit’s handling of and position on the case, and 2) the unit head’s independent evaluation of the case.
Administrative summary: If the unit committee report does not do so, the unit head should provide a brief explanation of the unit’s review process and any special processes or considerations involved with the review. This summary should clarify any special conditions of the appointment or special duties and obligations for which the candidate’s performance is to be particularly evaluated. It should include an explanation of who in the unit was eligible to vote on the particular candidate (consistent with the unit’s shared governance policy), and it must include a summary of any formal faculty discussion preceding the official vote. Votes at the unit level on promotion cases must be by signed and secret ballot, with only the tally revealed to the voting faculty and recorded on the voting summary. The unit head should provide an explanation for any abstentions and/or reasons why some faculty may not have participated in the review and voting process (e.g., spouse, sabbatical leave, etc.).
Unit head’s evaluation: The unit head should include his or her independent evaluation and recommendation including analyses of scholarship, teaching, service (dependent on job description), and contributions to institutional equity and inclusion. This review should be independent from that of the unit committee, and the unit head’s recommendation need not coincide with either the unit committee or the vote of the eligible members of the unit. The unit head should objectively and honestly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. As discussed for the unit committee, the unit head’s review should be one of analysis, not advocacy. (As noted above, a candidate is not well-served when negative statements are ignored or comments from an “outlier” reviewer are rejected simply because they are not consistent with other comments received.)
It is neither necessary nor desirable to duplicate material presented by the unit committee. Internal reviewers will appreciate additional insights provided by the unit head that help them to interpret the file, particularly in cases of conflicting opinions among the reviewers and/or unit faculty. It is the responsibility of the unit head to independently analyze any such diverging opinions and to indicate the reasoning that led to his or her conclusions as to the merits of the case.
The report from the unit head must be signed and dated.
Forwarding the Dossier
Requests to provide additional information or clarifications to the file after it leaves the unit often contribute significant stress and anxiety to an already emotionally-charged process. Thus, the complete dossier and all supplementary files should be carefully reviewed to ensure all required documents are provided and in the correct locations before sending it forward.
Librarians and career instructional faculty for the most part do not represent complexities—their files will pass through the appropriate dean and then the Office of the Provost. Career research faculty, however, face a greater diversity of review pathways, depending on the nature of the appointment and the unit.
The appropriate vice president, dean, or director will review the file, may consult with appropriate persons, and may ask for and document additional non-confidential information. Once the file is complete a separate report is prepared, with recommendations, and shared with the candidate. The candidate has 10 days from receipt of the report to provide responsive material or information, which is included in the file. The file is then submitted to the Office of the Provost or the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. At any time prior to this point of the process a candidate may withdraw their file (unless the promotional step is required, such as for Librarians).
The provost or designee reviews the file and decides whether to grant promotion. The candidate is notified of the decision in writing. The member must receive three days notice of any meeting or hearing with a dean or the provost or designee regarding recommendations or decisions on promotion. The member may have a colleague or union representative present at the meeting as an observer.
Successful candidates for promotion assume new rank beginning with the next academic or fiscal year or the nearest next term of their employment should their contract not begin with fall term. Unsuccessful candidates may reapply for promotion after employment by the university for an additional three years at average of .3 FTE or greater, accrued at no greater than three terms per academic year. Unsuccessful candidates may appeal as provided by Article 21, Tenure and Promotion Denial Appeal.
Other than librarians, promotion is elective and not “up or out.” Unsuccessful candidates can continue employment at current rank as long as eligible to do so under Article 16, Contracts. Librarians should refer to their unit policies regarding the next steps following an unsuccessful promotion review.