Promotion and Tenure

Promotion and Tenure

First and foremost, read the collective bargaining agreement regarding procedures for tenure and for promotion. These procedures are binding upon you and upon the university. The CBA spells out when you are eligible to seek tenure and promotion (to Associate Professor and to Professor levels), specific steps to take when compiling your dossier, the materials required for the dossier, etc. Also plan ahead; you should start preparing your materials long in advance of the September deadline for P & T applications.

Promotion and Tenure is consistently ranked as university faculty members’ most stress-inducing issue. The expectations for promotion and tenure are seldom clear-cut except at universities with little to no expectation of scholarship.

UNF faculty should know that, historically, the university has tried very hard to support junior faculty members so that they are well prepared when ready to apply for promotion and tenure. More often than not, faculty seeking promotion to Associate Professor with tenure are not surprised by the outcome, in part because they have received ample feedback about their progress during their time at UNF. Faculty must receive a Progress Toward Tenure Report each year from their chair. Though this report is not binding, it should serve as a barometer of one’s progress. The third year review should also point out any and all areas that faculty need to address if they are to find success in being promoted.

When to Apply for Promotion (to Associate Professor) With Tenure:

The normal timeline for faculty at UNF to apply for promotion and tenure is in September of their sixth year as a full-time faculty member. In some circumstances, faculty may be granted an additional year before applying (thus applying at the beginning of their seventh year); to get an extension, the faculty member should request it–with a strong rationale for why an extension is justified–as well in advance of the normal P&T timeline (e.g., the beginning of the 6th year).

A faculty member who has met or exceeded her/his department’s and college’s normal expectations for promotion and tenure may apply for P&T any time after their third year in residence at UNF. Historically, junior faculty have been tacitly discouraged from “going up early”; it has been erroneously suggested that anyone seeking early promotion and tenure must far exceed the requirements expected of a faculty member applying in the sixth year. The CBA is clear in this regard: anyone seeking promotion and tenure–regardless of their longevity at UNF–must be evaluated on the same criteria; it is in violation of the contract and unethical for any P&T committee, the Chair, the Dean, or the Provost to use different criteria for different faculty members. Furthermore, there is little risk for highly-qualified individuals for attempting to seek promotion and tenure early; the applicant may withdraw her/his application at any point up to the Provost’s decision (a once-only opportunity). To that end, anyone seeking early promotion and tenure is strongly encouraged to:

  1. Compare her/his overall record of teaching, scholarship, and service to the dossiers of the strongest departmental colleagues who have recently been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure;
  2. Discuss the options for early P&T with more senior departmental colleagues and with the Chair;
  3. Consider the likely makeup of the departmental P & T Committee and each member’s support of the applicant;
  4. Consider early a list of scholars who might be willing to provide external letters of reference for the dossier (and whether or not the candidate’s record would warrant a positive letter);
  5. Honestly evaluate the relative weight of service to the department, college, and university and how the University P & T Committee might view that record.

Preparing for Promotion and Tenure

The CBA outlines the materials and the structure required in the P & T dossier. The requirements noted in the CBA are the basic or foundational requirements; faculty members are encouraged to include materials beyond these requirements. More importantly, faculty members are strongly advised to provide incontrovertible supporting or supplemental evidence to back up their CVs. One’s dossier should be very well organized and should provide reviewers with easy access to documents supporting things stated in a CV. With the possibility of submitting dossiers in electronic format coming soon, we suggest that applicants link items in the CV directly to supporting evidence.

Our Recommendations:

SCHOLARSHIP

  • Be sure to follow university and discipline specific research protocols.
    • Any and all research involving human subjects or animals must be reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Maintain records of IRB notices and approvals, informed consent documents, and all other critical procedural information.
  • Be completely truthful about the kind of scholarship you have done and the outlets where it has appeared (e.g., international, national, regional journal status).
    • Include all relevant scholarship on your CV and within your dossier but differentiate between each form/kind of scholarly activity and outlet.
      • Do not claim “peer reviewed journal” for edited journals or solicited manuscripts. Similarly, clearly differentiate between international, national, and regional outlets.
      • Include journal/research outlet data (especially the journal’s acceptance rate, readership, and impact factor) and be careful not distort any of these.
      • Do not present non-academic published pieces as scholarly accomplishments. Include such pieces in the dossier but separate from scholarship. In cases where you believe such pieces should count as scholarship, provide a strong but concise rationale for the dossier’s reviewers.
      • Clearly note any and all self-published works.
      • If publishing in open access journals, examine the journal’s acceptance rate, readership, impact factor, and citations. Newer journals and journals with less rigorous peer review tend to have very low impact ratings, very few citations, very few volumes, and frequently very high acceptance rates. Never submit to predatory publishers or journals (such outlets do nothing for one’s scholarly record but do promote the corruption of the academy more generally).
    • Presentations: only include professional/academic presentations you have been invited to give. Lists of presentations to departmental faculty, to student groups, etc. can go under Service in the dossier (if you choose to list them at all). In short, including minutiae on one’s CV and within a P & T dossier tends to detract rather than add to one’s application (it may appear to be “padding” one’s record).
  • NOTE: it is important to have a relatively stable record of scholarship. Dossier reviewers are legitimately skeptical when a faculty member has a little scholarship other than a bevy of recent publications immediately preceding application for promotion and tenure.

TEACHING

  • Include a concise, honest, and well written teaching summary to explain your teaching philosophy and your specific teaching contexts to those reviewing your dossier.
    • Do not assume that teaching is similar across the different contexts of the university or that faculty in other colleges and departments understand specifically what you teach.
    • Explain any nuances and/or pedagogical techniques that are unique. Also provide a rationale as to why you use said approach(es), and general feedback you have received on them.
    • Remember that teaching does not start and stop at the classroom door; highlight additional work you have undertaken to assist students in their learning.
    • Proofread carefully: spelling, grammar, and syntax problems can undermine the contents of one’s summary.
  • Include data about one’s teaching effectiveness (such data may be copied from annual evaluations if this behooves the candidate).
    • ISQ Data:
      • When discussing or presenting ISQ data, note (and remember) that ISQs are but one component of an evaluation of teaching effectiveness.
      • Provide a summary of ISQ data (overall mean, course mean, departmental mean, etc.) if doing so is beneficial to your application.
      • In ISQ data, explain any outliers in terms of semesters, courses, years, etc.
    • Include unsolicited teaching feedback in the dossier (emails, notes, and cards from students, etc.)
    • Include peer evaluations and how you used feedback to improve your instruction.

 SERVICE

  • Create a detailed and accurate list of service rendered to the department, the college, the university, professional associations, and to the community at large in chronological order. In the narrative, describe major accomplishments during each form of service. Be sure to document such service with letters from committee chairs or other officials.
  • Note any special roles you have played within your department
    • Directing or chairing particular programs within the department
    • Program Area Leader
    • Chairing search committees
    • Serving as a subject expert to media
    • Other roles (bylaws revisions, program changes, recruitment, etc.)
  • Though most of your service will likely be at the department level, be sure to have a well rounded dossier in which you demonstrate service to the greater community.
    • Highlight your service–and especially any offices held or committees chaired–in our organization (UNF-UFF) and in the Faculty Association.
    • Note work on college or university APC committees (faculty reviewers realize that these committees involve a lot of work).
  • Ideally, your service should be balanced in terms of level of service and throughout the time you have been at UNF.

PROOFREAD your curriculum vita and all other dossier materials. Typographical errors, misspelled words, and syntax errors reduce the impact of the issues and activities they describe. 

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