Understanding the tenure process
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Understanding the Tenure Process. David S Dolling* Associate Dean for Academic Affairs * Veteran of two (personal) promotion processes plus a shepherd for many others during 9 years as chair of ASE/EM . Today’s Goal. Help you understand: 1) faculty performance review process

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Understanding the tenure process
Understanding the Tenure Process

David S Dolling*

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

*Veteran of two (personal) promotion processes plus a shepherd for many others during 9 years as chair of ASE/EM

Today s goal
Today’s Goal

  • Help you understand:

    1) faculty performance review process

    2) promotion and tenure process

Typical promotion questions
Typical Promotion Questions

  • How many papers do I need to have published?

  • How much money must I bring in?

  • How many Ph-D students must I graduate?

  • How many committees should I serve on?

  • How good an instructor must I be?

  • Or, in the end, wink, wink, is research the only thing that matters?


  • There are no answers to these questions, except to the wink, wink one…not true, not here at UT.

  • That is not the same as saying as there are no requirements for promotion and tenure…there are.

  • Requirements can be found in promotion dossier guidelines....you should ask about these, and review processes, when you interview

  • Step 1: find out about, and understand the process

If you know what is expected
If you know what is expected

it will:

  • give you clear goals to work towards over a period of time

  • help you see that some things need to be started early

  • put your mind at rest (to some extent)…..we all worry about things, its perfectly normal

Knowledge will also
Knowledge will also

  • set aside all the scary stories that seem to surround promotion and tenure

  • remember: at interviews with Deans, chairs, faculty…..it’s okay to ask questions

  • Interviewing is a two-way street…..chance for “us” to ask you and for “you” to ask us.

  • Ask whatever is on your mind……don’t let things fester

General remarks
General Remarks

  • Most major universities have similar processes for promotion and tenure

  • Details probably differ but the core issues (competence in teaching, research, service) are the same….different weightings

  • Use UT procedures as a model for “raising issues” and having some discussion

Background comments
Background comments

  • Engineering professors at research-focused institutions are “entrepreneurs”

  • The “College is a Shopping Mall” analogy

  • One of the most difficult things starting out is “marketing yourself”, “tooting your own horn”

  • It does not always come naturally, you have to overcome inhibitions, it takes practice, and more practice……but you can do it!

  • Performance reviews are a place to get started with “marketing”……early on

What are performance reviews
What are “performance reviews”

  • Faculty generally undergo an annual departmental performance review

  • Provide annual feedback on performance and progress, as seen by your colleagues (usually all full professors or some subset)

  • Skills needed here are basically the same as for promotion preparations

3 year review at ut
3-year Review (at UT)

  • Asst. professors undergo a “3-year” review.

  • Question: “are you on track for promotion and tenure?”

  • To let you know where you are doing well, where changes might be needed?

  • Largely from perspective of your colleagues

Marketing yourself
Marketing Yourself

  • Discussion: how can you make your colleagues “aware” of your work?

  • More general question: what can you do to start making your work known in the wider community, nationally and internationally???

Promotion process
Promotion Process

  • Towards end of 5th year* a “promotion dossier” is prepared

  • Dossier (UT) has sections written by:

    1) you,

    2) department members,

    3) department chair,

    4) external evaluators (letters)

    (* or earlier, depending on circumstances)

Before we discuss process what are the odds
Before we discuss process, what are the odds??

  • 1990-2004, 60 assistant professors recruited in UT CoE (not counting those now in promotion cycle)

  • What fraction were promoted to associate professor with tenure?

  • 22%.....87%.......43%........56%.....

  • one is correct…which one????

Promotion steps cont
Promotion Steps (cont.)

  • Dossier voted on by “department”

  • College committee votes on dossier

  • Dean reviews dossier

  • Dossier reviewed by President’s promo. committee

  • Dean meets with President’s committee

  • Promotions announced by President

Process is full of checks and balances
Process is full of Checks and Balances

  • Lots of them….it’s a multi-step, multi-person process

  • No one person can really negatively influence the result

  • So you refused to wash and wax the Mercedes of the senior faculty member in your area…….he/she is just one of a chorus of voices

  • And if the rest sing your praises, his/her dissent will be lost in the noise


  • Dossier has sections prepared by you, budget council, chair, external evaluators

  • Who are these external people???

  • Who finds them????

External evaluators ut process
External Evaluators (UT process)

  • Typically about 9 or 10, (colleagues at peer institutions and industry as appropriate)

  • About half of names taken from candidate’s list and half as “arm’s-length evaluations” picked by dept. chair/committee

  • Start developing your “network” early on…..then it is a “breeze” when the time comes for input

External evaluators
External Evaluators

  • How do you find them??

  • Any ideas????


  • Don’t be an island…..be seen, be heard!

  • Be an advocate (marketer) for your own work….make contacts with “important people” in your field (early on, not in year 5)

  • Participate in Conferences, workshops, review panels, serve on Professional society committees etc., etc.

  • These “invitations” can be investments not a grind in order to put “a tick in a box”

A way of life
A “way of life”

  • Build a network of people who know you and your work.

  • Do it over time as part of a “way of life”

  • You won’t even notice it happening but after a few years you will have a web of contacts at all levels and all over US and elsewhere

So i have a job what next
So, I have a job….what next??

  • Q: What should I focus my attention on?

  • Answer: what is institution's focus??

  • Answer: What is discussed in their promotion dossier guidelines?

  • This should tell you what defines a successful faculty member there?

  • Question….are you at the right place?

  • That’s why you ask questions before you accept the job……are the expectations they have for you, yours too??

Promotion dossier at ut has 6 components
Promotion dossier (at UT) has 6 components

  • CV, faculty annual report plus sections on:

  • Teaching

    3. Research, Publications/Evidence of Scholarship/Creativity

Sections 4 6
Sections 4 - 6

4. Academic Advising

5. Service

  • Honors/Evidence of Merit or Recognition

Understanding the tenure process

  • Letters from external evaluators

  • Chairman's Statement

Keep your cv up to date
Keep your CV up-to-date

  • as things happen add them in….it takes two minutes a day and you don’t forget them

  • you never know when one may be needed at short notice by your chair or a colleague


  • Question: What is addressed in the teaching section??

  • Answer: What the institution values about teaching


  • describe principal areas of teaching

  • discuss student course/instructor and peer evaluations

  • discuss balance between undergraduate and graduate teaching

  • discuss evidence of merit or recognition for teaching excellence

Teaching continued
Teaching (continued)

  • Course-Instructor Survey summary evaluations

  • Chart-summarizing instruction activities for all courses taught

  • info on MS, PhD supervision, supervising of undergrads and post docs, (at UT this is under teaching, not research)

Peer evaluation reports
Peer evaluation reports

  • explain methods of observation and inquiry

    review lecture style, organization, course content, student satisfaction, clarity of written materials prepared for classes, rigor and fairness of exams, availability and helpfulness of faculty member outside of class, and materials in Teaching Portfolio

Research publications other evidence of scholarship creativity
Research, Publications & Other Evidence of Scholarship/Creativity

  • What kinds of questions are asked here??

Understanding the tenure process
Focus is on quality Scholarship/Creativity(although quantity plays a role……1 paper in 5 years poses a problem unless>>>>Nobel Prize)

  • discuss the significance of research and its contributions to the discipline

  • Identify scholarly/creative contributions considered to be of major significance or outstanding quality

  • explain why contributions are considered to be of major significance or outstanding quality

  • indicate the quality of the outlets for a candidate's work

Research continued
Research (continued) Scholarship/Creativity

  • discuss research results, being careful for joint research to identify research results obtained by candidate vs. others

  • list of research projects, designation of individual or joint supervision, total funding, and funding under supervision of candidate

  • list of the five most significant works chosen for submission

Academic advising counseling and other student services
Academic Advising, Counseling and other Student Services Scholarship/Creativity

  • What kinds of questions are asked here??

4 academic advising counseling and other student services
4. Academic Advising, Counseling and other Student Services Scholarship/Creativity

  • academic advising responsibilities at both the undergrad and grad levels

  • mention other types of advising

  • individual instruction

  • advising majors for registration

  • orientation activities for new students

  • offering advice to students considering advanced degrees

  • offering help with internships and job placement

  • advising student organizations

  • recruitment and retention activities

  • compare candidates advising responsibilities with other faculty in the department (do they do their fair share, more, less?)

Service to the university and to the nation state and community
Service to the University and to the Nation, State and Community

  • What kinds of questions are asked here??

Service to the university and to the nation state and community1
Service to the University and to the Nation, State and Community

  • administrative and committee service (leadership, such as chairing a committee)

  • academic and professionally related public service- (service as part of a professional organization, identify role, such as elected office, editorship of highly respected, refereed journal)

Teaching portfolio a good idea
Teaching Portfolio…a good idea Community

  • For each course taught there should be examples of some of the following:

  • syllabi

  • handouts

  • problem sets

  • other written materials developed for courses

  • computer-assisted instructional aids

  • examinations

  • copies of edited and graded term papers for

    course with substantive writing component

Good luck
Good Luck! Community