Part 3 – Information for Tenure-Track Assistant Professors (UCAPT)

3.1 Standards for Tenure

Standards and expectations are discussed in Section 2.

3.2 Timeline for Tenure

The offer letter should provide each newly appointed tenure-track faculty member with a Tenure Decision Date, as detailed in Faculty Handbook section 4-D(1). The Tenure Decision Date is one year before the end of the probationary period.

3.3 Pre-Tenure Reviews

Tenure-track faculty members undergo regular performance reviews (concerning progress toward meeting tenure standards) and annual reappointment. Because they are appointed on a series of one-year contracts, tenure-track faculty members may be non-reappointed in any year with notice, as detailed in the Faculty Handbook sections 4-F(3) and 3-B(5). If it appears in any year that an individual is unlikely to meet the standards for tenure, not renewing the contract is fairer to the candidate and better for the department. Schools are asked to consider the question of non-reappointment especially carefully at the mid-probationary period review, as well as in the year before the tenure decision. No tenure review is conducted if the candidate is non-reappointed before or early in the academic year of the mandatory tenure decision (or fiscal year, for fiscal year appointments). If the candidate withdraws from consideration before the tenure decision, the process is not completed.

There is a particularly thorough review midway through the probationary period (in the third year for most schools). One purpose of this review is to evaluate the candidate’s accomplishments to date and prospects for tenure, in order to determine if the candidate is making sufficient progress toward tenure to have his or her contract renewed through the mandatory Tenure Decision Date. This internal review is similar to the review completed at the time of tenure consideration. While it has not been customary to use external reviewers, a department may do so if this would be useful. By the time of the mid-probationary period review, the candidate should submit to the department a brief statement describing the intended focus or contribution of his or her research and scholarship, including any substantive or methodological cross-disciplinary aspects. Departments and schools should forward the mid-probationary period review to the Provost’s Office in May of the year in which it was conducted.

In all reviews, it is desirable for department chairs, deans, and faculty committees to include constructive criticism rather than conveying unalloyed optimism about a candidate’s prospects for tenure. The Provost, not the department or school, decides on tenure.

3.3.1 Year 5 or 6 Review

The year before the tenure decision (generally the fifth year), or early in the year of the tenure decision (generally the sixth year), each candidate should discuss the process with the department chair or dean in order to consider whether the candidate should go forward for tenure evaluation or seek other career paths. If the school offers advice to the candidate at this time it is necessarily based on the evidence available and, whether encouraging or not, does not demonstrate bias.  If the case goes forward, advice given at this meeting should not be included in the dossier. The candidate may decide that he or she does not wish to be considered for tenure; in this case, the candidate must notify the dean of this decision in writing.

The school may decide the year before the tenure decision to issue a terminal year letter.  Similarly, if the school decides to do so early in the tenure decision year, it may issue a letter that the following year is a terminal year. In either of these situations, there will be no full tenure review.

3.4 Revising the Tenure Decision Date

If a tenure-track faculty member believes the Tenure Decision Date was not properly set according to the Faculty Handbook, or if the individual believes there is justification for an extension or revision of the Tenure Decision Date (such as leaves of absence or special circumstances), it is important that the individual make a written request promptly, as soon as the reason arises. Such requests are submitted by the individual through the department chair and dean to the Provost, and they are considered by the Committee on Probationary Deadlines and Leaves, which advises the Provost. Only the Provost, on the President’s behalf, has authority to change the Tenure Decision Date. See Faculty Handbook section 4‑D(1.5).

A tenure-track faculty member may also apply for an extension of his or her Tenure Decision Date due to parenting or primary caregiver responsibilities. This request is submitted by the individual through the department chair and dean to the Provost. See Faculty Handbook section 9-D.

3.5 Early Tenure Review

A dossier put forward for tenure earlier than usual does not need to meet any enhanced standard; number of years in rank is not a part of the University’s requirements for tenure.

Whether a review is conducted early or at the usual time, a negative decision by the Provost on tenure will result in the issuance of a terminal year letter. A candidate who chooses to request consideration for tenure prior to the Tenure Decision Date should make this request in writing to his or her chair and dean. In the request, the candidate should also acknowledge that a negative decision will result in a terminal year letter. This memo must be submitted before the candidate’s early review has begun. Rarely, the Provost may permit a case to be withdrawn and resubmitted by the Tenure Decision Date or another date as the Provost determines.

The Provost may decide on promotion to associate professor separately from the grant of tenure. When a promotion to associate professor is considered separately from the grant of tenure (either in an individual case or under school-specific policy), if the decision on promotion is negative, a terminal year letter will be issued.