Faculty Handbook

Appointment, Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion Recommendations

Last updated: 4/23/2016

IV. ACADEMIC HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES (Cont.)

* The Office of the Provost sends this policy annually to deans, directors, and chairpersons to assist them in reappointment, promotion and tenure decisions. During its annual review, the University Committee on Faculty Affairs and the University Committee on Faculty Tenure can suggest changes.

**See President’s Statement on Core Values

***See Faculty Rights and Responsibilities policy in the Faculty Handbook


Michigan State University is a research-intensive, land‑grant university of international scope. It is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), whose members are recognized worldwide for the quality and breadth of their scholarship, research, and undergraduate, graduate and graduate-professional educational programs. MSU is one of only 18 universities that are designated as both land-grant and AAU.

“Bolder by Design,” is MSU’s strategic planning initiative that will position the university as the nation’s leading land-grant research institution. Based upon our core values of quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity,** the University is dedicated to educating tomorrow's leaders and scholars through our undergraduate, graduate, graduate-professional and lifelong education programs. Through its faculty, MSU will create knowledge and find new and innovative ways to extend its applications, to serve Michigan, the nation, and the international community***. The faculty must infuse cutting edge scholarship into the full range of our teaching programs. At MSU, faculty are expected to be both active scholars and student-focused educators, demonstrating substantial scholarship and ability to promote learning through our on-campus and off-campus education and research programs. The essence of scholarship is the thoughtful discovery, transmission, and application of knowledge, including creative activities, that is based in the ideas and methods of recognized disciplines, professions, and interdisciplinary fields. What qualifies an activity as scholarship is that it be deeply informed by the most recent knowledge in the field, that the knowledge is skillfully interpreted and deployed, and that the activity is carried out with intelligent openness to new information, debate, and criticism.

MSU is committed to improve continuously. To do so requires that academic personnel decisions must result in a progressively stronger faculty — a faculty who meets continuously higher standards that assure enhanced quality within a national and international context. This process begins with vigorous, effective recruitment and selection of new faculty who are encouraged and helped to grow professionally. These new faculty members are evaluated by demanding standards and required procedures for reappointment, tenure and promotion recommendations. Our policies, procedures, criteria, and decisions on recruitment, reappointment, award of tenure, promotions, and salary changes must be guided by the goal of enhancing academic excellence. These decisions, in large measure, will determine MSU’s reputation and prominence for many years to come.

Initially, a review of the mission and goals of the University, college, and unit and their related personnel needs, fiscal constraints, and any other relevant factors must occur to determine if the applicable position(s) should be retained even if the performance of the probationary period is acceptable. (See statement on Non-Tenured Faculty in the Tenure System, Faculty Handbook). If so, the unit initiates recommendations for appointment, reappointment, promotion, and tenure, following rigorous evaluation at the unit level, including peer review. All involved in these deliberations must apply high standards of performance consistent with appropriate expectations of faculty at leading research-intensive, land-grant universities. Faculty must be both active scholars and student-focused educators and must meet academic standards that assure enhanced quality of the unit for years to come. Individual personnel actions recommending tenure should result in the improvement of academic unit quality. For example, anyone considered for tenure should meet or exceed the requirements of the unit for tenure and be in the top echelon of peers at a similar career stage nationally or internationally in the field or discipline. Chairpersons and directors make the unit-level recommendations. Unit-level recommendations are subject to review and approval or disapproval at the college and university levels. Recommendations are to be based on explicit unit criteria and quality evaluations that are consistent with college and university policies and goals.

As provided in the Bylaws for Academic Governance, the faculty, operating in the advisory mode, is to provide advice to the chairperson/director as described in unit bylaws. Each department, school, and comparable unit is required to have procedures and criteria that are clearly formulated and relevant to evaluating the performance of faculty members (see Statement on Non‑Tenured Faculty in the Tenure System, Faculty Handbook). The Bylaws for Academic Governance includes the following statement that is of fundamental importance:

A department chairperson or school director serves as the chief representative of his or her department or school within the University.  He or she is responsible for the unit’s educational, research, and service programs-including the outreach components of all three; budgetary matters, academic facilities, and personnel matters, taking into account the advisory procedures of the unit.  The chairperson or director has special obligation to build a department or school strong in scholarship, teaching capacity, and service. (2.1.2.1.)

Chairpersons or directors make judgments taking into consideration peer evaluations and other supporting information, yet unit administrators are responsible as individuals for the recommendations made.

Unit standards and criteria for appointment, reappointment, tenure, promotion, and salary changes must serve the objective of continuously improving the academic strength and quality of the faculty, taking into account the mission and goals of the department, school, college, and University, including the MSU commitment to diversity and inclusion.   Departments/schools and colleges are required to review regularly their standards, criteria, and procedures to this end.

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. Assessment should take into account the quality of outcomes as well as their quantity; it should also acknowledge the creativity of faculty effort and its impact on students, on others the University serves, and on the field(s) in which the faculty member works. In many cases, faculty demonstrate excellence through individual scholarly activities. Collaborative scholarly efforts, cross-disciplinary activities, and the integration of scholarship into the creation, application, and dissemination of knowledge are also recognized as relevant dimensions of faculty performance.

Deans independently review each recommendation for appointment, reappointment, promotion, and tenure and in each case will focus primarily on how effectively the individual performs academic duties. They approve or disapprove recommendations, taking into account unit, college, and university criteria and other factors such as quality, progress, resources, program needs, percent of tenured faculty in the unit, and any other relevant university policies and goals (see below).

The Office of the Provost will review each recommendation. In each case the Office of the Provost also will concentrate primarily on the evidence of the individual’s effectiveness in the performance of academic duties. Within this context, faculty must demonstrate substantive and sustainable achievement in both teaching and research, and the infusion of this scholarship into outreach programs, where applicable.

In addition, the Office of the Provost will consider, as applicable, the following elements, relating to quality and either individual performance or institutional, contextual factors:

The factors that relate most closely to individual performance include, but are not limited to:

The factors that relate most closely to institutional, contextual factors include, but are not limited to:

Deans and directors are to assure that unit administrators in their college make clear to the concerned faculty, in a timely fashion, the procedures and criteria that they will use in making tenure system reappointment and promotion recommendations. Forms for "Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action" outline many of the activities that are relevant to decisions on promotion, tenure and reappointment. As stated above, "academic administrators have the special obligation to build academic units strong in scholarship, teaching capacity, and public service". To discharge this responsibility, academic administrators must apply rigorous standards in making reappointment, tenure, and promotion recommendations. The achievement and performance level required must be competitive with faculties of leading research-intensive, land‑grant universities of international scope (hereafter referred to as peer universities):

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.

2.  A recommendation for promotion from assistant professor to associate 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 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 and/or international 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 and/or international stature and to predict continuous, long-term, high-quality professional achievement.

Bearing in mind the University's continuing objective to improve its faculty, the unit and college must refrain from doubtful recommendations of reappointment, tenure, or promotion. The dean must evaluate carefully each recommendation to ensure that it is well grounded and fully justified.

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