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Faculty Guide for Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Review

 

Overview of the Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Process 1

MSU has a multi-level review process for reappointment, promotion and tenure (RPT) decisions.  Recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure are made in the department according to unit, college and university bylaws, policies and procedures.  Recommendations that do not involve the award of tenure are reviewed successively by the dean, the provost and the president, who makes the final decision. Recommendations that involve the award of tenure are reviewed successively by the dean, the provost, and the president, who makes the final recommendation to the Board of Trustees for action.

The RPT process includes the following steps:

  1. Faculty member and department chairperson/school director complete their respective parts of the Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action form.
  2. External peer evaluation (letters of reference), if required by unit procedures.
  3. Faculty member has an opportunity to confer with the department/school peer review group before a decision is made.
  4. Department/school peer review group provides advice to the chairperson/director regarding reappointment, promotion and tenure decisions.
  5. Department chairperson/school director conducts an independent evaluation, taking into consideration peer evaluation, and forwards a recommendation to the dean.
  6. College-level reappointment, promotion and tenure committee provides advice to the dean about department/school recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure.
  7. Dean independently reviews each recommendation for reappointment, promotion and tenure and forwards a recommendation to the provost.
  8. The Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources and the Senior Associate Provost consult with the provost on the dean's recommendations.
  9. The Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Senior Associate Provost, and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies jointly review each recommendation with the applicable dean and approve/disapprove the recommendation on behalf of the Office of the Provost.  Approved actions that do not involve an award of tenure are forwarded to the president for final action.
  10. Board of Trustees takes action on recommendations involving the award of tenure.

The RPT process is initiated by the provost each year in early November with a distribution of materials to be used for that year's review cycle, including a list of faculty for whom tenure action is required.

Criteria and Standards

Decisions to promote and tenure faculty members are the most important made by the University, for they will determine MSU's reputation and prominence for many years to come.  Departments, schools and colleges are expected to apply rigorous standards and to refrain from doubtful recommendations of reappointment, tenure or promotion.

Departments, schools and colleges are required to base decisions about reappointment, promotion and tenure on criteria and procedures that are clearly formulated, objective, relevant, and made known to all faculty members.  These procedures are also required to include a means by which a probationary tenure system faculty member is evaluated and informed annually of his/her progress.

Faculty are reviewed according to the criteria and standards in department/school bylaws or other relevant documents, college bylaws or other relevant documents (if any), and the University's statement on "Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Recommendations."  It is critical that faculty learn about the standards and criteria in their department/school and/or college. The department chairperson/school director should provide this information upon initial appointment in the tenure system or as soon as possible thereafter.

The University's statement requires that achievement and performance levels must be competitive with faculties of leading research-intensive, land grant universities of international scope.  Expectations of excellence are embodied in the following standards for reappointment, promotion and tenure:

  1. Reappointment with award of tenure:  Each tenure recommendation should be based on a clear record of sustained, outstanding achievements in education and scholarship across the mission, consistent with performance levels expected at peer universities.

    a.  For the faculty member appointed initially as associate professor on a probationary basis in the tenure system who has established such a record, the tenure recommendation is effective upon reappointment after one probationary appointment period.
  2. A recommendation for promotion from assistant professor to associate professor in the tenure system (with tenure) should be based on several years of sustained, outstanding achievements in education and scholarship across the mission, consistent with performance levels expected for promotion to associate professor at peer universities.  A reasonably long period in rank before promotion is usually necessary to provide a basis in actual performance for predicting capacity to become an expert of national stature and long-term, high-quality professional achievement.

    A recommendation for promotion from associate professor to professor in the tenure system should be based on several years of sustained, outstanding achievements in education and scholarship across the mission, consistent with performance levels expected at peer universities.  A reasonably long period in rank before promotion is usually necessary to provide a basis in actual performance to permit endorsement of the individual as an expert of national stature and to predict continuous, long-term, high-quality professional achievement.

Recommendations for reappointment, promotion or tenure are based upon a faculty member's scholarly contributions.  In particular, assessment of faculty performance should recognize the importance of both teaching and research and their extension beyond the borders of the campus as part of the outreach dimension, as appropriate to the particular responsibilities assigned to the faculty member and the missions of the unit.

Time Table for 2013-14 Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Actions

This is the University schedule; departments/schools and colleges may have internal due dates.

On or Before

August 5, 2013

 

Office of the Provost sends advance copy of Timetable and list of faculty for whom tenure action is required, i.e., faculty whose probationary appointment ends on August 15, 2013.

November 11, 2013

 

Office of the Provost distributes materials electronically to initiate tenure system reappointment and promotion recommendations, including a list of faculty members for whom reappointment recommendations are required.

Date to be determined

Chairpersons and directors inform individual faculty members in a timely manner when their completed Form D "Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action" and supporting materials have been forwarded to the dean.

February 28, 2014

 

The following forms are sent from the Dean through the web application to Academic Human Resources:

Form A: "Tenure System Reappointment

Recommendations."

Form B: "Promotion List."

Form C: "Documentation of Annual, Written, Tenure

System Faculty Review."

Form D: "Recommendation for Reappointment,

Promotion or Tenure Action" and an

updated curriculum vitae  for each

faculty member listed on Form A and Form B

Deans request chairpersons and directors to inform individual faculty in a timely manner of whether or not the dean has approved the department's recommended action and that the dean has forwarded a completed "Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion, or Tenure Action" form to the provost.  Even if the dean does not approve the department's recommended action, all review materials in support of such an action will be made available for review by the provost and her/his staff.

Mar 10-April 18, 2014

 

Deans' conferences with the Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, Senior Associate Provost and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies to review individual recommendations

May 1, 2014

Provost notifies deans of recommendations accepted for recommendation to the president and the Board of Trustees.

May 2-8, 2014

Deans notify chairpersons and directors, who notify faculty members, of actions taken by the Office of the Provost and the president on recommendations not involving the award of tenure.

May 30, 2014

Final lists of reappointments and promotions involving the award of tenure are prepared and forwarded by the Office of the Provost for recommendation to the president and for the agenda for the Board of Trustees.

June 20, 2014

Meeting of the Board of Trustees.

June 23, 2014

 

Notification to deans of final approval for actions involving the award of tenure; deans notify chairpersons and directors, who notify faculty members.

October 15, 2014

Delayed actions due.

Date to be determined

Those with delayed reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure actions should be informed as soon as possible following final action by the president or Board of Trustees.

December 15, 2014

Deadline for notification to faculty who are not reappointed.

Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action Form

This (required) form, referred to as Form D, outlines many of the activities that are relevant to decisions on promotion, tenure and reappointment.  It provides the opportunity to document, provide evidence for and assess faculty scholarship in the functional areas of instruction, research and creative endeavors, and service within the academic and broader community, as well as in cross-mission initiatives.

Sections I, II and III of Form D are summary evaluations completed by the chairperson, director and/or dean.  The following materials are completed and submitted by the faculty member:

  1. Evidence of scholarly activities as requested in Section IV
  2. A reflective essay about accomplishments over the reporting period (5 page maximum)
  3. A curriculum vitae as a more complete listing of scholarly activities and works
  4. Other evidence as required by the unit (such as letters from reviewers) or desired by the faculty member

Annual Review

All tenure system faculty must be evaluated and informed annually, in writing, about their progress.  The Faculty Review policy provides principles and guidelines for implementing these reviews.

Peer Review/College-Level Committee Review

Unit Level

Each department and school is required to establish procedures so that its faculty can provide advice to the chairperson/director regarding recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure.  University guidelines for the composition of peer review committees are included in the statement on Peer Review Committee Composition and External Evaluations.

College Level

Each departmentally organized college is required to establish a college-level reappointment, promotion and tenure committee that is charged to provide advice to the dean about department/school recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure.  College-level committees are required to incorporate a set of principles that are included in the statement on College-Level Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Committees.

Joint Appointment

Only the primary unit will make a recommendation for reappointment, promotion or tenure for a faculty member with a joint appointment.  However, the chairperson/director of the primary unit is obligated to consult with the chairperson/director of all joint units prior to submitting a recommendation.

External Letters of Reference

External letters of reference are required for all reviews of tenure system faculty involving the granting of tenure or promotion.  External letters of reference are required in order to ensure that individuals recommended have an achievement and performance level that is comparable with faculties of peer institutions.  The statement on External Letters of Reference provides principles and procedures that must be applied uniformly to all faculty in the unit for soliciting external letters of reference.

Confidentiality of Letters of Reference

Letters of reference, as part of an official review file, are held in confidence and will not be disclosed to a faculty member under consideration or to the public except as required by law or University policy.  In all such instances, the information made available will be provided in a form that seeks to protect the identity, privacy, and confidentiality of the evaluator.

University-level Review

All recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure are jointly reviewed by the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Senior Associate Provost, the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and the applicable dean.  In addition to reviewing recommendations against the standards and criteria of the department/school and/or college and the University, the Associate Provost, Senior Associate Provost and the Vice President assess the candidate's independent role in research and scholarship and the commitment to seek external funding, as appropriate to the discipline and assignment of the faculty member.

Additionally, the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources and the Senior Associate Provost consult with the provost on the deans' recommendations.

Early Promotion/Tenure

A promotion or tenure action is not considered "early" if justified by a record of performance at another university or during a fixed term appointment at MSU that is required by immigration regulations or other relevant reason, provided the performance meets MSU standards.  Early promotion/tenure is based on an exceptional record of accomplishments at MSU that is based on department/school/college and University criteria.  Early promotion/tenure is reserved for extraordinary cases.

Visa Status/Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals (those holding non-immigrant status) may be appointed within the tenure system, but may not be awarded tenure unless they have acquired permanent resident status or complete a Tenure Policy Exemption Agreement.

Alternatively, an extension of the probationary appointment is automatic if a tenure decision is required before permanent resident status is obtained and the candidate has been recommended for tenure.

Stopping the Tenure Clock/Extension of the Probationary Appointment

Automatic

The tenure system probationary appointment is extended automatically for one year for the following reasons:

  1. Leaves of absence with or without pay that are six to twelve months.
  2. Changes in appointment to 50% time or less for one year.
  3. Upon request from a faculty member for reasons related to the birth or adoption of a child.  Automatic extensions for this reason are limited to two separate one-year extensions. The request for an automatic one-year extension related to the birth or adoption of a child must be submitted within two years of the birth/adoption but no later
    than the due date for submission to the department/school of the dossier for the next reappointment/promotion/tenure review.
  4. Immigration/visa status that does not permit the award of tenure for candidates who have been recommended for tenure.
  5. An extension recommended as an outcome of a hearing and/or appeal conducted pursuant to the Faculty Grievance Policy.

Requests

Extension of the probationary appointment may be requested from the University Committee on Faculty Tenure for reasons related to childbirth, adoption, the care of an ill and/or disabled child, spouse, or parent; personal illness, to receive prestigious awards, fellowships, and/or special assignment opportunities, or other such serious constraints.  

The procedure for requesting an extension of the probationary tenure system appointment is included in the statement on Implementation Practices (Stopping the Tenure Clock).

Delay in Reappointment Decision

On an individual case basis, there may be justification to delay the final reappointment, promotion, or tenure decision until the fall (final recommendations are due on or before October 15).  Upon the request of or after consultation with the faculty member, the department/school chairperson/director and dean may concur that another review will be held early in the fall for the purpose of reviewing additional information and making a final recommendation.  The request for a delay must be approved by the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources.

Effective Dates

The effective date for reappointment with tenure is the first of the month following final approval by the Board of Trustees.  The effective date for reappointment without tenure is August 16 of the year following the recommendation, e.g., for recommendations made in April 2006, the effective date is August 16, 2007.

The effective date for promotion with or without the award of tenure is the first of the month following final approval by the Board of Trustees.

The effective date for non-reappointment is August 15 of the year following the recommendation, e.g., for recommendations made in April 2006, the effective date is August 15, 2007.

Promotional/Tenure Base Salary Increases

Central support for promotional increments for tenure system faculty is provided at $2,000 per promotion from assistant to associate professor and at $2,500 per promotion from associate to professor.  For those appointed at the associate professor rank but without tenure, $2,000 will be provided upon receipt of tenure.  If unit promotional policy exceeds the above funding, units are responsible for the additional amount.  Promotion/tenure salary increases are effective with the general increase, normally October 1, and are in addition to the annual merit increase.

Negative Decisions

The decision not to reappoint a non-tenured faculty member does not necessarily imply that the faculty member has failed to meet the standards of the University with respect to academic competence and/or professional integrity.  This decision may be contingent, wholly or in part, upon the availability of salary funds and/or departmental needs.


A faculty member who is not recommended for reappointment must be notified in writing by the chairperson/director and/or dean as soon as possible and no later than December 15 preceding the expiration of the appointment. Upon written request of the faculty member, the administrator of the basic administrative unit making the decision must transmit in writing the reasons for the decision.

Appeal Procedures

The administrative review procedure is an informal process providing an avenue for faculty/ academic staff to request an independent assessment from their department chairperson/school director, dean, and Office of the Provost on personnel matters such as salary status, reappointment, promotion and tenure.

If a non-tenured faculty member believes that the decision not to reappoint was made in a manner that is at variance with the established evaluation procedures, he/she may, following efforts to reconcile the differences at the level of the basic administrative unit and the dean of the college, initiate an appeal in accordance with the Faculty Grievance Policy. The time frame for initiating a grievance begins upon receipt of notification of the negative decision from the dean or department chairperson/school director.

Survive and Thrive in the MSU Tenure System Workshop

The Office of Faculty and Organizational Development in the Office of the Provost sponsors this workshop each fall.  This workshop is for probationary tenure system faculty to provide assistance in functioning successfully within the tenure system at MSU.

The workshop has the following objectives:

  1. To expand faculty members' understanding of key concepts, topics and issues within their department and about University reappointment, promotion and tenure procedures
  2. To discuss approaches to documentation and record keeping for reappointment, promotion and tenure purposes
  3. To provide practical information on making choices, balancing conflicting demands, managing departmental politics
  4. To provide an opportunity for communication and problem-solving among faculty and academic administrators

Data - 5-year Summary of Promotion and Tenure Actions University-wide

Over the five reappointment cycles from 2008 through 2012 there have been 16 associate professors reappointed with tenure; 350 assistant professors reappointed for a second three-year probationary appointment; 213 promotions to associate professor; 149 promotions to professor; and 40 individuals not reappointed.  Additionally, extensions of the probationary appointment were approved for 5 associate professors and 26 assistant professors.

Generally, at Michigan State, the tenure rate for starting cohorts is about 70%, i.e., faculty members who have resigned or are no longer appointed in the tenure system are included in the base calculation.  The tenure rate is approximately 90% for faculty who are reviewed in a given year.

Tenure/Promotion Recognition Dinners

Each fall the Office of the Provost hosts a recognition dinner ceremony in honor of faculty members promoted to the rank of professor and for those awarded tenure.

Post-Tenure Review

Post-tenure review is implemented through several existing policies and procedures (contained in the Faculty Handbook), including a clarifying interpretation by the University Committee on Faculty Tenure on the meaning of the term "incompetence" in the disciplinary and dismissal policies.  Performance is monitored through the use of annual written performance evaluations as required by the policy on "Faculty Review."  Work performance, as determined in such reviews, is to be reflected in annual merit salary adjustments and as a basis for advice and suggestions for improvement.  Although not triggered by a fixed number of years of low performance, discipline in a variety of forms may be invoked under the "Policy and Procedure for Implementing Disciplinary Action where Dismissal is Not Sought."  In more serious cases, the "Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Cause Procedure" can be invoked.


University-level policies/forms relevant to the reappointment, promotion and tenure process


Footnote:

1 Web links to all relevant policy statements and forms are listed at the end of this document

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