Typically, college- or school-level review consists of three steps:
- Initial review by the dean's office
- School/college personnel committee review and recommendation
- Dean's review and recommendation
Following completion of the dean's report and a thorough review of the dossier and supplementary files to ensure all required documents are provided and in the correct locations, the dossier and supplementary file are forwarded to the Office of the Provost.
The dean’s office should carry out its own thorough review of the dossier for completeness and compliance. If corrections are required, they should be requested from the unit.
Common issues at this stage include:
- The candidate’s CV and statement must be signed and dated prior to being sent to external reviewers.
- The teaching section must include only the required information and not more. In particular, signed, written student comments must be provided only in the supplementary file.
- Brief biographies of the external reviewers must be included, in which any relationships with the candidate are clearly stated and consistent with statements made by the reviewers.
- If a central element of the candidate’s scholarship is an unpublished book manuscript, any correspondence with or updates from the candidate or the publisher should be included in the dossier.
- If the candidate is being considered for tenure, ensure that the current contract is included under the Conditions of Appointment tab.
- In cases of co-authored publications, the candidate’s statement and/or the department committee report and/or the department head’s report should establish the significance of author order. In the case of co-authored books, it is especially important to document the relative contributions of each co-author.
The dean’s office can and should anticipate likely questions from the school/college personnel committee and request appropriate clarifications from the department. Most often, such clarifications relate to publication details, but they could pertain to other matters, including teaching loads (including any release time granted) or the timing of the case. Clarification about credit for prior service, tenure clock stoppages, or leaves must establish clearly whether the case is “early” or “on-time.”
Following this review of the dossier for completeness and compliance, the dean’s office releases the file to the members of the school/college personnel committee for their review, recommendation, and vote.
The school- or college-level personnel committee is appointed or elected by a process determined by the dean. The committee discusses the case, prepares an independent report, votes, and then forwards the entire file, including its written report, to the dean.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows this step to be bypassed in schools or colleges whose deans choose not to convene a personnel committee. If a member of the personnel committee is in the same department as the candidate, they should participate in the discussion and vote at the department level but recuse themselves from the case at the level of the school/college personnel committee. Recused members should not attend committee meetings or participate in committee discussions or votes.
The personnel committee may make a request to the dean for additional information. The dean will determine whether to approach the department or candidate with a request for additional information.
Since the dean convenes the personnel committee, the specifics of the committee’s function are best established by the dean. However, keep in mind the following general guidance.
The personnel committee should review, evaluate, and critically discuss the full file, including the external evaluations, the materials contained in the supplementary file, and the department-level reports and recommendations, leading to an independent evaluation and recommendation. The committee’s recommendation need not coincide with the recommendation of the department head or the department committee.
The college-level personnel committee necessarily brings something of a “generalist” analysis to the case because committee members will not be specialists in the candidate’s area of scholarship. Thus, the committee will to some extent be “reviewing the reviews,” but committee members are both expected and empowered to go beyond that, contributing their own impartial and objective analysis of the case based on the established criteria.
The college-level personnel committee should include a critical appraisal of the department-level analyses and recommendations, always reviewing the candidate’s record in light of the expectations presented in the department’s approved promotion criteria policy.
- Do the external reviewers represent an appropriate and balanced group of experts?
- Have any discrepancies or contradictory opinions within the external reviewers’ letters been directly addressed, or have comments from an “outlier” reviewer been neglected simply because they are not consistent with other comments received? Could the “outlier” be identifying real and critical issues in the case—whether for or against the awarding of tenure and/or promotion—that were missed by the other reviewers?
- Has the candidate’s record of scholarship and/or creative activity been fully and properly evaluated in the appropriate context, including evaluations of the quality and impact of the journals or venues in which work has appeared?
- Is the candidate’s record of intramural and extramural grant or fellowship support appropriate, and has it been appropriately discussed?
- Is the candidate’s teaching record appropriately discussed, or are there issues that were understated or underappreciated, including possible discrepancies between student and peer evaluations?
- Have Student Experience Survey comments submitted by students, peer reviews, instructor’s reflections, and the candidate’s teaching statement been appropriately reviewed and considered? Have the candidate’s teaching and service portfolios been appropriately reviewed and evaluated?
Personnel Committee Report
The personnel committee’s report should objectively and honestly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate and should include analysis, not advocacy.
The personnel committee report should not duplicate material presented by the department-level reports. Rather, it should provide additional insights that help to interpret the file, particularly in cases of conflicting opinions among the external reviewers, department faculty, and/or the department head.
The report should include an appropriate discussion of the candidate’s record of service, as summarized in the candidate’s CV and statement and documented in the service portfolio. The report should also include commentary on the candidate’s contributions to equity and inclusion and any evidence of these contributions provided by the candidate.
The personnel committee report often includes the votes and signatures of each member of the committee, but the committee should clarify this issue with the dean. If a candidate has waived access to the dossier, only the vote tally will be revealed in the dean’s evaluation, though in cases of unanimous votes, there is, of course, no way to avoid revealing the actual votes of each member, since committee membership is not confidential.
The outcome of the school/college-level personnel committee vote should be entered on the Voting Summary sheet and included in the dossier, with any explanatory notes included.
The dean will prepare an independent report and recommendation and then meet with the candidate to 1) discuss the case, 2) review the recommendations made by the department committee, the unit head, and report the aggregate vote of the school/college-level personnel committee (if applicable), and 3) convey the dean’s recommendation.
Experience suggests that the dean’s report is the single most useful document to a candidate considering a written response because it distills a complex dossier into a set of specific evaluations that led the dean to support or oppose the granting of tenure and/or promotion.
Meeting with the Candidate
The candidate must be provided with at least three days' advance notice of the meeting with the dean. This notice may be by letter, email, telephone, or in person and should clearly identify the reason for the meeting (e.g., “I would like to meet with you to discuss my recommendation regarding your promotion and/or tenure case.”).
Following the meeting with the dean, the candidate may request a redacted copy of the dean’s report.
Requesting File Access
Faculty seeking access to their review file should contact Employee Labor Relations (ELR) at firstname.lastname@example.org at the conclusion of the personnel review process to assure the process and file are complete. ELR will work with the deans to provide access to the file in accordance with the employee’s signed waiver letter or in the absence of a waiver process.
Candidate’s Written Response to the Dean’s Recommendation
The candidate may provide a written response to the dean’s report within 10 days of the meeting with the dean. This response should be submitted by the candidate to the dean and should be included at the front of the candidate’s primary dossier. The dean may reconsider the case and their own recommendation in light of the candidate’s response, and this process should be reflected in the file. However, the dean is not required to respond to the additional material from the candidate.
While a written response is typically provided only by candidates whose tenure and/or promotion is not supported by the dean, all candidates have the option to respond in writing at this time.
Forwarding the Dossier to the Office of the Provost
The dean’s office should ask the candidate if they intend to provide a written response to the dean’s report. If no response is planned, the dean’s office should immediately forward the entire file to the Office of the Provost, following the office’s outlined procedures.
If a response is expected, hold the file until either the response is received or the deadline for submission has passed, then forward it to the Office of the Provost.
The dossier and supplementary file should be carefully reviewed before being sent to the Office of the Provost, ensuring that it is complete and complies with all formatting requirements.