CHS Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

Approved May 10, 2019

The College Promotion and Tenure Guidelines (and departmental guidelines) at the candidate’s time of hire will be used to evaluate faculty for tenure and/or promotion to assistant or associate professor; the faculty member may elect to be reviewed under more recently approved guidelines, if such guidelines exist. A faculty member seeking promotion to professor may choose to be reviewed under current guidelines or those immediately preceding them. Faculty choices should be in writing and included in the peer committee report.

The ordering and numbering of the sections of this document follow that of the Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures for Virginia Commonwealth University.

1.0 Goal, Objectives and Authority

The promotion and tenure guidelines for the College of Humanities and Sciences affirm the college's commitment to promoting excellence in teaching, scholarship and service among its faculty by establishing procedures and criteria for evaluation. Furthermore, this document reaffirms the university's commitment to fostering academic freedom of thought, teaching, learning, inquiry and expression. The guidelines conform to the Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures of Virginia Commonwealth University, procedures specific to the college and its programs. The College Promotion and Tenure Guidelines are governed by the university document in matters not specifically addressed herein. The central purpose of the guidelines is to establish and define the standards for appointment, promotion, and tenure within the college.

The document addresses the faculty member's three basic responsibilities: teaching, scholarship and service within the context of the university, profession and community. It outlines the procedural and substantive criteria that measure the quality of the faculty member's performance in these three areas.

The best judges of a faculty member’s contribution are colleagues both within the university and within the profession. This document along with the university and approved departmental guidelines is designed to facilitate such peer evaluation. In doing so, it strives to ensure established standards of faculty performance while protecting the rich blend of unique talents and diverse accomplishments that constitute the very core of the college and the university.

Throughout this document, the word ‘department’ and its cognates will be used to refer to a department, school, or any other academic unit in which promotion or tenure is granted. In a similar fashion, the term ‘chair’ will refer to the person responsible for evaluation of the candidate.

1.3 Relationship of the College and its Departments to University Promotion and Tenure Policy

Each department shall supplement the criteria and procedures in the College Promotion and Tenure Guidelines to reflect the appropriate additional concerns of the department and the discipline. The College Promotion and Tenure Committee is responsible for reviewing departmental guidelines and for forwarding them to the University Promotion and Tenure Policy Review Committee. All departmental documents, along with copies of the University Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures and College Promotion and Tenure Guidelines, will be made available to all faculty members of the department.

Given the importance of the promotion and tenure process and the time constraints on its successful completion, departments are encouraged to begin work by the end of the spring semester prior to formal review in the fall. An early start is in the best interest of the candidate and of the department. Candidates for mandatory review should be reminded early in the spring semester of their upcoming review. For faculty desiring to put themselves up for promotion or early tenure, departments should set a reasonable deadline (e.g., April 15), to inform the department chair. The department chair, in consultation with the dean, should determine the makeup of the peer committee. The dean should formally charge all peer committees by May 15. Since the process of identifying and soliciting outside reviewers is critical, this work should be initiated by late spring or early summer. The peer committee chair is responsible for organizing this matter according to all applicable guidelines.

2.1 General Criteria and Criteria Definitions for Tenured, Tenure-Eligible, and Term (Non-Tenure)

Faculty Members

The College Promotion and Tenure Guidelines are designed to promote distinction in teaching, scholarship, and service for all faculty. The criteria defined in section 2.2 of this document provide general guidance for evaluating candidates for promotion within the College of Humanities and Sciences. For tenured and tenure-eligible faculty, specific guidelines are provided. For term (non-tenure) faculty, the criteria for promotion focus upon the candidate’s mix of duties. Departmental guidelines must further define specific criteria for the ratings of Excellent, Very Good, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory in each category of professional activity and will determine whether specific contributions be regarded as teaching, scholarship, or service since there can be overlap among these areas.

2.1.1 Application of Criteria and Criteria Ratings for Tenured and Tenure-Eligible Faculty

For tenured and tenure-eligible faculty, promotion and tenure guidelines in the College of Humanities and Sciences focus on excellence in teaching and scholarship.

2.1.1.1 Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Tenure Track

Successful candidates for promotion to or tenure at the rank of associate professor must be excellent in teaching or scholarship. Promotion to or tenure at the rank of associate professor requires one of the following patterns:

  1. Excellent in teaching, Very Good or above in scholarship, Satisfactory or above in service;
  2. Excellent in scholarship, Very Good or above in teaching, Satisfactory or above in service. Each department may determine which of the patterns for promotion to associate professor are acceptable for promotion or tenure candidates subject to the requirements stated above.

2.1.1.2 Associate Professor to Professor, Tenure Track

Successful candidates for promotion to or tenure at the rank of professor must be judged Excellent in teaching or scholarship and at least Very Good in the remaining two categories.

2.1.2 Application of Criteria and Criteria Ratings for Promotion for Term (Non-Tenure) Faculty

A term (non-tenure) appointment is defined by the University Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures as “. . . a full-time appointment to the faculty for a specified mix of duties and does not lead to tenure.” Promotion materials must define how faculty efforts have been partitioned among teaching, research, and service.

2.1.2.1 Instructor to Assistant Professor, Term

For promotion from the rank of instructor to assistant professor, term faculty members must hold appropriate credentials as specified in departmental guidelines. Term faculty members hired at the instructor level will typically be eligible to be considered for promotion after three years of full-time faculty experience at VCU. Exceptions may be granted by the department chair, in consultation with the dean, based on such considerations as prior service at another academic institution, receipt of a terminal degree, or exceptional performance.

To be promoted to assistant professor, the candidate is expected to have performed all required academic duties. The departmental guidelines shall determine the role of departmental faculty in the review process. The chair, in accordance with departmental guidelines, will submit the unit’s recommendation directly to the dean, who will make a recommendation to the provost; the College Promotion and Tenure Committee will not participate in the process.

Successful candidates for promotion to the rank of assistant professor must excel in their primary area of responsibility. Promotion to the rank of assistant professor requires an evaluation of Excellent in the area of primary responsibility, and at least Satisfactory in the remaining two areas, if applicable, as defined in departmental guidelines.

2.1.2.2 Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, Term

Term assistant professors will typically be eligible to be considered for promotion after five years of full-time experience in rank. Exceptions may be granted by the department chair, in consultation with the dean, based on such considerations as prior service at another academic institution or exceptional performance in keeping with the University guidelines, as agreed upon at the point of hire. Term faculty at the assistant professor rank seeking promotion must undergo a pre-promotion review by a peer committee during a spring semester at least two years prior to promotion review, following the guidelines specified in section 3.2.3.1. For promotion from the rank of assistant professor to associate professor, term faculty must follow the same review procedures as specified in section 7.0 with the exception that external review is required only if research is designated as the primary responsibility. Areas of responsibility in teaching, research, and service are designated by reported percentages of effort devoted to each.

Successful candidates for promotion to the rank of associate professor must excel in their primary area of responsibility. Promotion to the rank of associate professor requires an evaluation of Excellent in the area of primary responsibility; Very Good or above in an area of secondary responsibility, if applicable; and Satisfactory or above in an area of tertiary responsibility, if applicable.

2.1.2.3 Associate Professor to Professor, Term

For promotion from the rank of associate professor to professor, term faculty must follow the same review procedures as specified for tenured and tenure-track faculty with the exception that external review is required only if research is designated as the primary responsibility. Areas of responsibility in teaching, research, and service are designated by reported percentages of effort devoted to each.

Successful candidates for promotion to the rank of professor must be rated Excellent in their primary area of responsibility and at least Very Good in a secondary area, and at least Very Good in a third area, if applicable.

2.2 Criteria for Tenured, Tenure-Eligible, and Term (Non-Tenure) Faculty Members

Both promotion and tenure across all faculty categories will be based on an evaluation of teaching, scholarship, and service.

2.2.1 Teaching

Candidates engaged in teaching must meet or exceed the basic standards for effective teaching. They must demonstrate mastery of their subject matter and be adept at communicating this understanding to their students. Most fundamentally, their students should learn. Their success in teaching should be documented by the following indicators:

  1. Involvement in teaching: data pertaining to courses taught and number of advisees; information on students supervised in such activities as independent study, practice, internships, field work, and thesis and dissertation research; membership on honors, thesis, and dissertation committees; honors courses taught; colloquia, guest lectures, workshops, and so on.
  2. Appropriate teaching practices: written documentation of teaching methods and practices, including a statement of educational philosophy and description of goals and student learning outcomes for classes; and copies of course materials, such as syllabi, tests, handouts, classroom exercises, sample lecture notes, graded examinations and other written work to document teaching activities. The peer committee should review these documents and appraise their quality. The candidate is responsible for providing appropriate materials or explaining their absence.
  3. Teaching Performance: evaluations completed by both (a) students, including quantitative summaries of student evaluations of instruction (e.g., average ratings of the candidate on the items: course evaluation, instructor evaluation, and learning achieved during the course), and (b) colleagues, based on observation of classroom performance, guest lectures, colloquia, public lectures, or other teaching. Judgments about classroom performance based upon quantitative data should take into account contextual considerations such as course level, course rigor, and student participation. The peer committee may also elect to survey students or former students, either by e-mail or other digital methods or through interviews. The candidate also may request that the committee undertake this survey. The survey should be representative; this need not be interpreted as requiring a detailed statistical survey. Any letters received about the candidate’s teaching or mentoring must remain confidential; these can be viewed only by members of the committees or other individuals responsible for reviewing the candidate’s case for promotion or tenure.
  4. Advising and mentoring: number of advisees (when applicable); participation as advisor on undergraduate thesis, graduate thesis and dissertation committees; any reports (both favorable and unfavorable) from advisees pertaining to advising. The committee should survey students and others to determine the candidate's effectiveness as an advisor, and consult with the person chiefly responsible for departmental advising. Any letters received from students about the candidate’s advising or mentoring must remain confidential, to be viewed only by members of the committees or other individuals responsible for reviewing the candidate’s case.
  5. Curriculum development activities: description of courses developed or substantially changed. Innovations in teaching courses or topics should also be noted. Committees should recognize the fact that not all candidates have equal opportunity to develop new courses or techniques.
  6. Self-development: improvement of teaching skills, including participation in workshops dealing with teaching skills; attendance at conferences on teaching; continuing education enrollments.
  7. Service contributions in teaching: administrative duties or service that focuses primarily on teaching, such as participation on any departmental, college, or university committees and task forces dealing with teaching.
  8. Specialized teaching: non-classroom based teaching, such as:
    • public teaching (presentations to the community at large, including speeches, workshops, educational newspaper articles and interviews);
    • individualized instruction, including mentoring and tutoring workshops for colleagues and advanced students;
    • community engaged teaching (partnerships involving faculty or students that address community-identified needs);
    • distance education;
    • interdisciplinary teaching.
  9. Awards and honors: department, college, university, state, and national and international awards for teaching excellence.
  10. Publications dealing with teaching in higher education:
    • papers and texts published or presented on educational topics;
    • manuals developed for classroom use;
    • papers published or presented with student co-authors (both graduate and undergraduate);
    • textbooks.
  11. General contributions: practices and activities designed to improve the quality of education, including participation in forums on teaching, development of new educational programs, mentorship of other teachers, curricular reform, membership in or leadership of state or national committees or organizations that examine questions of teaching methods and curriculum, grant activities related to higher education, consultations at other universities regarding teaching, leadership in faculty development, development of educational models adopted elsewhere, or conducting workshops for colleagues at professional meetings.

A rating of Excellent for promotion to assistant professor requires evidence of high-quality performance in areas one through three, reflecting success in teaching, and evidence of commitment to improving educational practices. Candidates achieving a rating of Very Good in this category shall have a sustained record of effective teaching performance as indicated by items one through three above. Candidates achieving a rating of Satisfactory in this category shall have demonstrated competent and professional performance of their teaching responsibilities. Candidates whose teaching does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

A rating of Excellent for promotion to associate professor requires evidence of high-quality performance in areas one through three, reflecting success in teaching, and evidence of commitment to improving educational practices. Additional contributions such as curriculum development, service contributions in teaching, and specialized teaching are also required indicators of excellence at this level (items four through eleven above). Candidates achieving a rating of Very Good in this category shall have a sustained record of effective teaching performance as indicated by items one through three above, and contributions toward the ongoing success of the instructional mission of the college. Candidates achieving a rating of Satisfactory shall have demonstrated competent, professional, and reasonably effective performance of their teaching responsibilities. Candidates whose teaching does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

A rating of Excellent for promotion to professor must also be based on high-quality performance in areas one through three. In addition, a candidate must have broader contributions to teaching practices. Such contributions as research into pedagogical practices, curricular reform, national-level service in teaching, public teaching, and mentorship of other teachers (categories eight through eleven above) are indicators of excellence at this level. Candidates achieving a rating of Very Good shall have demonstrated a clear commitment to and a sustained, consistent record of effective performance in the instructional role as indicated by items one through three above with additional contributions from the remaining categories. Candidates achieving a rating of Satisfactory shall have demonstrated dutiful and reasonably effective performance of their teaching responsibilities. Candidates whose teaching does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

2.2.2 Scholarship

Candidates involved in scholarship should make a substantive contribution to the discipline that reflects high standards of quality in creativity, scholarship, and professional competence. Success in scholarship should be documented by the following indicators:

  1. The primary criterion in the area of scholarly activity will be research and scholarly productivity as measured by the quality and quantity of published articles, monographs, books or creative work. Works accepted for publication will be counted as published for the purposes of the review. Candidates also may provide materials that have been submitted for publication, but these must be accompanied by evidence of their status (e.g., to be revised and re-submitted, or provisionally accepted).
  2. Departmental guidelines may specify nontraditional means of contributing to knowledge through activities that enhance the profession, including public service activities or community engaged scholarship that build on and extend an individual's scholarly work. Those contributions may take the form of workshops and seminars, consultancies, publishing in professional or popular venues, creative activities, or in other ways adding to the knowledge of those who practice the profession or who are educators in the field. Such activity includes research and scholarly accomplishments related to teaching, such as grant-funded innovations in teaching, peer-reviewed publications on teaching innovations and educational research, if permitted by the departmental guidelines.
  3. Additional factors to be considered may include the following:
    • Success in securing funding for research and other scholarly activity, and the nature of the funding.
    • Participation on review panels for outside funding agencies.
    • Service as either editor or referee for professional publications.
    • Participation in paper-reading sessions, seminars, colloquia or other activities at professional meetings.
    • Educational research, including the development of innovative teaching methods incorporating technology into education and novel interdisciplinary courses.
    • Other items specified by departmental guidelines, for which specific criteria for evaluation has been provided.

All candidates are expected to be actively engaged in scholarly endeavors and to contribute to the expanding knowledge of their discipline.

To receive an Excellent rating in scholarship, a candidate for promotion to assistant professor should show a pattern of accomplishment that indicates progress toward a national and/or international reputation. A rating of Very Good requires a pattern of ongoing scholarly activity, contributions to scholarship in the candidate’s field, and the potential to attain a national and/or international reputation. A rating of Satisfactory requires demonstrated professional competence and contributions to scholarship in the candidate’s field. A candidate whose scholarship does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

To receive an Excellent rating in scholarship, a candidate for promotion to associate professor should show a pattern of accomplishment that indicates substantial progress toward a national and/or international reputation. A rating of Very Good requires a pattern of ongoing scholarly activity, a significant contribution to scholarship in the candidate’s field, and the potential to attain a national reputation. A rating of Satisfactory requires demonstrated professional competence and a significant contribution to scholarship in the candidate’s field. A candidate whose scholarship does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

To receive an Excellent rating in scholarship, a candidate for promotion to professor should demonstrate a pattern of accomplishment that is distinguished, one through which the candidate has earned a national and/or international reputation. A rating of Very Good requires a pattern of accomplishment that indicates substantial progress toward a national and/or international reputation. A rating of Satisfactory requires a pattern of ongoing scholarly activity and a significant contribution to scholarship in the candidate’s field. A candidate whose scholarship does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

2.2.3 Service

Professional service is the application by faculty members of knowledge, skills, or expertise developed within their discipline or profession as scholar, teacher, or practitioner, that benefits students, departments, the campus, the university, the discipline, the profession, or society.
The candidate's service contributions in any or all of the following categories should be documented:

  1. Service to the department: Candidates are expected to meet departmental obligations for service, such as serving on departmental committees or taking on special assignments as requested by the department chair.
  2. Service to the institution: Shared governance responsibilities that help sustain or lead academic endeavors. Examples include but are not limited to: serving as the member or leader of a task force; being an elected member in faculty governance; holding a leadership position in faculty governance; representing the university in a public media forum; serving on an accreditation committee; and serving on or chairing search committees at the college or university level. Other examples include service on college or university committees, especially such forms of service as membership on particularly sensitive and important committees, leadership in college or university bodies, or offices in the college or university governance structure. Other faculty and administrators who have served on committees with the candidate may be asked to evaluate the quality of work.
  3. Service to students: Activities that assist students beyond those considered under the section of teaching. These may support both academic and social activities or organizations. Examples include but are not limited to: advising students on academic paths and educational goals; serving as the faculty advisor for a student chapter of a professional organization; serving as a faculty mentor for a student, student club or other non-professional activity that may have both academic and social components; providing seminars for students on improving study habits, writing, and speaking skills, or integrating knowledge across disciplines; providing tutoring sessions for general education students or majors; assisting students in the transition from school to work through formal career counseling, job seeking assistance; and providing letters of referral or recommendation.
  4. Service to the community: Professional activities that contribute to the community beyond the immediate university environs. Examples include but are not limited to: providing services to the community through a university laboratory or center; making research understandable and useable in professional and applied settings; engaging in economic or community development activities; participating in collaborative endeavors with schools, industry, or civic agencies; assisting neighborhood organizations; bringing programs in the humanities or sciences to the community; providing public policy analysis; participating in governmental meetings or on review panels; appointments to governmental commissions or taskforces; communicating in popular and non-academic publications or media; technical reports; and expert testimony.
  5. Service to the profession: activities designed to enhance the quality of the profession. Examples include but are not limited to: furthering the work of a professional society or organization; serving as an elected officer of a professional society; serving or chairing professional society standing or ad hoc committees; organizing a professional conference, workshop or symposium; participating in accreditation activities for other institutions; editing a professional journal; reviewing for professional journals; writing promotion and tenure letters; reviewing for funding agencies; serving on review panels for awards; and establishing professional or academic standards.

Standards for service shall be defined by the department. Departments should recognize that junior faculty members normally have less opportunity for service than their more senior colleagues. Candidates seeking promotion or tenure need not have contributions in all of the areas listed above, but positive contributions in some of these areas are required.

To receive an Excellent rating in service, a candidate for promotion to assistant professor must provide evidence of sustained, high-quality service that is significant and substantive in one or more of the above categories. To receive a rating of Very Good, the candidate must provide evidence of effective and significant contributions in one or more of the above categories. To receive a rating of Satisfactory, the candidate must present a record of service reflecting a commitment to the goals of the department. A candidate whose service does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

To receive an Excellent rating in service, a candidate for promotion to associate professor must have a record of sustained, high-quality service that is significant and substantive in at least two of the above categories. To achieve a rating of Very Good, the candidate must provide evidence of effective and significant contributions in at least two of the above categories. To achieve a rating of Satisfactory, the candidate must present a record of service reflecting a commitment to the goals of the department, college and university. A candidate whose service does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

To receive an Excellent rating in service, a candidate for promotion to professor must possess a superior record of departmental, college, university, or professional service. A candidate shall have been active in two or more of the categories identified above. A candidate should have demonstrated effective leadership and individual initiative in order to attain this rating. To achieve a rating of Very Good, the candidate will require a sustained record of effective professional service within the university, at the local level, and to the larger professional community. To achieve a rating of Satisfactory, the candidate must present a record of professional service both within the University and to the professional community. A candidate whose service does not meet any of the standards above will receive a rating of Unsatisfactory.

3.0 Defining Appointments

3.1 Tenured Appointments

See VCU Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures for details.

3.2 Probationary (Tenure-Eligible) Appointments

For hires with existing experience as tenured (or equivalent) faculty, all tenure and promotion materials must be submitted to the dean within three years for individuals hired at the rank of associate professor and two years for individuals hired at the rank of professor. Extensions to the length of these terms must be approved by the dean and forwarded to the provost. Examples in which extensions may be warranted include military or government service or family and medical leave.

3.2.1 Alterations of the Typical Probationary Period

See VCU Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures for details.

3.2.2 Extensions of the Initially Agreed Upon Probationary Period

See VCU Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures for details.

3.2.3 Evaluation of Probation for Tenure-Eligible Faculty

It is the policy of the college to review tenure-eligible assistant professors in the second semester of their third academic year of appointment. The purpose of the review is to provide a timely assessment of the faculty member’s performance and constructive suggestions for improvement. The review should also ensure appropriate documentation of performance in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. The third-year review is more comprehensive than and separate from the annual review by the department, but less elaborate and formal than the full review by a peer committee for tenure and promotion. Recognizing that two and a half years may not be sufficiently long to determine definitive patterns of performance, the third year is seen as a good point at which to evaluate progression toward eventual promotion and tenure or whether this outcome seems unlikely. The third-year review is conducted primarily at the department level and consists of reports prepared by a review committee and by the chair. The review committee shall be appointed by the chair and consist of at least three tenured faculty members in the department. If there is an insufficient number of individuals within the department to fulfill these requirements, individuals from a similar department may be selected. The faculty member under review will prepare and submit a dossier with information relevant to teaching, scholarship and service (see section 2.2) early in the second semester of their third academic year of appointment. The committee will then evaluate the progress of the faculty member toward meeting the criteria for tenure in the department, guided by the faculty member's work plans developed in accordance with the Faculty Roles and Rewards Policy. The review committee will submit a signed report evaluating progress in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service to the department chair. If the committee finds the faculty member's progress to be unsatisfactory, then it should state its concern in the report and make recommendations. The department chair will then write the chair evaluation of the faculty member’s progress toward tenure in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. The faculty member will receive these reports and discuss them with the chair as to perceived strengths and weaknesses in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service, as well as plans for improving performance in these areas in the near future. Both reports will then be forwarded to the dean.

3.2.3.1 Pre-Promotion Review for Term Faculty

It is the policy of the college to review term assistant professors at least two years prior to promotion review. The purpose of this pre-promotion review is to provide a timely assessment of the faculty member’s performance and constructive suggestions for improvement. The review should also ensure appropriate documentation of performance in the specified area(s) of responsibility. This review is more comprehensive than and separate from the annual review by the department, but less elaborate and formal than the full review by a peer committee for promotion. The timing of this review is intended to evaluate progress toward eventual promotion or whether this outcome seems unlikely. The pre-promotion review is conducted primarily at the department level and consists of reports prepared by a review committee and by the chair. The review committee shall be appointed by the chair and consist of at least three full-time faculty members in the department at or above the rank to which promotion is sought, including at least one tenured faculty member and at least one term faculty member. If there is an insufficient number of individuals within the department to fulfill these requirements, individuals from a similar department may be selected. The faculty member under review will prepare and submit a dossier with information relevant to the specified area(s) of responsibility (see section 2.2) during a spring semester at least two years prior to promotion review. The committee will then evaluate the progress of the faculty member toward meeting the criteria for promotion in the department, guided by the faculty member's work plans developed in accordance with the Faculty Roles and Rewards Policy. The review committee will submit a signed report evaluating progress in the specified area(s) of responsibility to the department chair. If the committee finds the faculty member's progress to be unsatisfactory, then it should state its concern in the report and make recommendations. The department chair will then write the chair evaluation of the faculty member’s progress toward promotion. The faculty member will receive these reports and discuss them with the chair as to perceived strengths and weaknesses and plans for improving performance in the specified area(s) of responsibility. Both reports will then be forwarded to the dean.

7.0 Academic Review Procedures for Promotion and Tenure

7.1.1 Peer Evaluation

  1. Each candidate will be reviewed by a peer committee. All faculty members of peer committees for tenured or tenure-eligible candidates shall be tenured. Peer committees for term faculty must include at least one tenured and one term faculty member.
    1. For tenure-eligible faculty, the department chair, in consultation with the dean, will appoint a committee of at least five members, of which at least three will be full time faculty members of the candidate's primary department. There will be at least one student member and one faculty member from another department, both of whom also shall have full voting rights. For term faculty, the department chair, in consultation with the dean, will appoint a committee of at least four members. At least two will be full time faculty members of the candidate's primary department at or above the rank to which promotion is sought, including at least one tenured faculty member and at least one term faculty member. There will be at least one student member and one faculty member from another department, both of whom also shall have full voting rights. In all cases, if there is an insufficient number of individuals within the department to fulfill these requirements, individuals from a similar department either within the university or from an external institution may be selected. The department chair will identify the peer evaluation committee members in a letter to the candidate, and will send copies to the committee members, one of whom will be named as chair of the peer committee. Along with this letter the department chair will send copies of the university, college, and department documents concerning tenure and promotion.
    2. In cases where faculty members at the associate professor or professor rank are to be reviewed for promotion, tenure, or promotion and tenure, the same procedures shall be followed as described in section 1.a (above). If tenure is proposed as a condition of the initial appointment of an associate professor or professor, then the dean and the chair of the College Promotion and Tenure Committee must be informed as early in the process as possible. Whenever possible, faculty promotion and tenure or new faculty hires should have tenure status reviewed or granted through the normal process. If this is not possible then the procedure outlined in section 7.1.5 should be followed.
    3. For tenure-eligible assistant professors, candidates in their sixth year must be evaluated simultaneously for tenure and for promotion to associate professor. A faculty member may be considered for tenure at most once prior to the mandatory tenure review. For term faculty, unsuccessful candidates for promotion to the rank of associate professor must wait at least two years from the time of decision before reapplying. For tenured or term faculty, unsuccessful candidates for promotion to the rank of professor must wait at least two years from the time of decision before reapplying.
    4. Candidates will have the right to challenge for cause any member of the peer committee evaluating and reviewing them for promotion, tenure, or promotion and tenure. Such challenge must be presented in writing to the department chair within five working days of notification of the composition of the committee. After evaluating the challenge in consultation with the dean, the chair has ten days to respond in writing whether or not the person challenged is to remain on the committee. Such challenge and response will become part of the candidate’s file.
  2. The department chair will request that each candidate for promotion, tenure, or promotion and tenure provide the following:
    1. A curriculum vitae, which shall include all relevant information pertaining to the following items:
      • Education (including appropriateness of education for the particular profession or discipline involved).
      • Academic appointments and other significant work experience.
      • Membership in professional organizations.
      • Professional service to community organizations, continuing education activities and consultations involving professional services with community groups.
      • Special awards, fellowships and other honors.
      • Grants and contracts, indicating role (principal investigator, consultant, participant) and amount of award.
      • Major university, college and departmental committees.
      • Significant teaching, research, professional and administrative experience.
      • Scholarly contributions. Books shall be identified as monographs, texts, bibliographies, edited volumes, etc. Articles shall be identified as refereed or non-refereed, review articles, semi-popular or popular magazine articles, etc. Other examples of scholarship include: professional reports, published abstracts, journal editorships, proceedings or symposia editorships, invited lectures, conference paper presentations, participation as a panel chair or discussant, translations, creative writing, bibliographical research, etc. Such items should be clearly identified. When possible, all manuscripts should include digital identifiers such as DOI’s. When available and appropriate, evidence should be provided of the significance of the contribution to the body of knowledge, including but not limited to quantitative measures of impact (e.g., total citation count, h-index, journal impact factors, library holdings).
      • Exhibits, films, tapes, compositions, performances, etc.
      • Brief narrative statement (if necessary to expand or amplify any point not adequately covered elsewhere).
    2. Documentation of involvement in teaching, teaching practices and classroom performance.
    3. All appropriate publications and published reviews of such materials.
    4. Evidence of leadership in professional activities.
    5. Peer committee report and chair report from the candidate’s third-year review, where appropriate.
    6. A list of names of persons, inside or outside the university, whom the committee may wish to contact for information on the candidate's scholarship, teaching, or service.
  3. In order to address the specific criteria enumerated in both the college and departmental guidelines, the peer committee will seek the following:
    1. A minimum of three letters from persons outside the university who are in a position to evaluate the candidate's contributions in scholarship. Letters may also be sought on teaching and service. The list of outside reviewers will be compiled by the peer committee, with input from the candidate. The determination of the pool of outside reviewers should enhance the goal of developing a composite view of the candidate that reflects broad-based, fair and impartial expert opinion. The outside reviewers should be identified as early in the promotion and tenure process as possible. Letters to outside reviewers should be sent by the peer committee chair. A copy of the letters sent to the external reviewers should be included in the committee's report. Each reviewer should be sent a copy of the university, college and department promotion and tenure guidelines. Only the committee can request letters from potential external reviewers. The committee report must clearly describe how the reviewers were chosen and their association with the candidate. A concise statement of the professional qualifications of each reviewer must be included in the report. Ordinarily each reviewer should be asked to submit a curriculum vitae along with his/her letter of evaluation. If a curriculum vitae is not included, the committee’s report should include an explanation regarding its absence. The candidate will be informed of the names of outside reviewers prior to these individuals being contacted, and the candidate will have the right to challenge for cause. Such challenge must be submitted in writing to the committee chair within five working days of the candidate being notified of the names of the individuals. The committee, having evaluated the challenge, will respond to the candidate in writing whether or not the individual challenged will still be contacted to be an outside reviewer. Such challenge and response will become part of the file. The letters from the outside reviewers, in their entirety, will become part of the committee's report.
    2. Information pertaining to teaching effectiveness, including documentation of involvement in teaching (data pertaining to courses taught and number of advisees, etc.), quality of teaching practices (e.g., statement of teaching philosophy, copies of material used in classes), and the quality of classroom performance (e.g., student evaluations).
    3. Written evaluations by colleagues, with a summary included in the report. Such evaluations may come from colleagues within the department or from others.
    4. Documentation from prior academic or professional positions (e.g., prior teaching experience, previous service activities). The committee report must describe which material is included and the purpose for this material in the case for tenure or promotion.
    5. Other such documentary materials as are necessary and useful in evaluating the candidate.
  4. The candidate has the right to appear before the peer committee but is not required to do so.
  5. The committee will appoint a secretary to keep a record of its meetings and a list of data requested and received, people interviewed by the committee, etc.
  6. The committee will protect, to the extent allowable by law, the confidentiality of letters, comments, and survey responses provided by students, peers, and external reviewers. This information may be viewed only by the committee members and other individuals responsible for reviewing the candidate’s case for promotion and/or tenure.
  7. The discussion and votes of the committee will be confidential. Records, documents, minutes and other pertinent materials will be held in confidence by the committee until submitted to the department chair and later will be kept in the dean's office until the final disposition of the matter.
  8. At the end of its deliberations, the committee will take anonymous votes on each of the main categories of the evaluation, rating the candidate in each area as Excellent, Very Good, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. The committee will then take a separate vote on whether or not to recommend promotion, tenure, or promotion and tenure. The committee's recommendation must be consistent with its evaluation of the individual areas.
  9. The peer committee's report will include an evaluation of the candidate in the major categories, summaries of information solicited, letters from external reviewers and other data the committee deems important for further review. The results of the separate votes discussed in section 8 (above) will become part of the committee's report. Individual members of the committee have the right to file minority reports, which will be forwarded as part of the package. The peer committee report and any minority reports shall be written so as to protect confidentiality. The peer committee report and supporting documents will be forwarded to the department chair.

7.1.2 Department Chair

  1. The department chair will prepare a separate evaluation of the candidate in the major categories, using the ratings Excellent, Very Good, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory, and in such other areas as the chair deems important for a full review.
  2. The department chair will forward this evaluation and recommendation, along with the peer committee's report and supporting documents, to the College Promotion and Tenure Committee.
  3. If allowed under departmental guidelines, the candidate may have an opportunity to review the reports of the peer committee and department chair and to provide a written response, which will become part of the candidate’s file.

7.1.3 The College of Humanities and Sciences Promotion and Tenure Committee

  1. The College Promotion and Tenure Committee will be drawn from all tenured professors and associate professors in the college. The committee shall be fully constituted early in the fall semester. It is composed of seven members, but no more than one from any single department. Individuals are not direct representatives of their department. Four members are elected by the faculty, one each from the humanities, the social sciences, and the mathematical and natural sciences, and one at-large member. Members shall serve staggered, three-year terms. Each department may nominate no more than two candidates per vacancy. Each faculty member of the college may vote for one candidate for each vacancy; the person receiving the highest number of votes is then elected to the College Promotion and Tenure Committee. The at-large member may not be a member of a department that is already represented. No department may have an elected representative on the committee for consecutive terms. After the faculty has elected its four members, the dean will complete the committee's membership by making one new appointment to the committee early each fall. In selecting appointees, the dean shall act with an awareness of diversity. The dean's appointments will be submitted to the Faculty Council for approval. The dean will convene and charge the committee at its first meeting. The dean also will establish a time schedule for each of the stages in the evaluation process. The committee will elect its chair and secretary and keep records of the proceedings.
  2. The College Promotion and Tenure Committee will review reports from the peer committees to determine whether the candidates meet the overall standards of the university, college, and department. The committee will prepare its own report and will forward it to the dean. The committee's written assessment and recommendation will use the ratings of Excellent, Very Good, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory. Members of the committee will absent themselves from discussion of candidates if their participation would create an appearance of a conflict of interest (e.g., program colleague, collaborator, etc.). The committee will have the same rights as the dean to refer a file back to the peer committee or department chair as specified in the University Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policy and Procedures (section 8.1), in which case the correspondence will become a part of the candidate's file. The committee has the responsibility of ensuring that the peer committee and the department chair have followed appropriate policies and procedures and that the candidate has been treated fairly.

7.1.4 Faculty with Joint Appointments

The review of faculty who hold joint appointments should be based upon their division of responsibility among the departments, which should be clearly outlined at the time of appointment. The department in which the individual's tenure line belongs must play the dominant role in the review process and in that sense the two or more departments are not "equal." However, the second department must be able to influence the proceedings, since the suitability of the individual in that department is as critical as in the primary one. One or more members from the secondary department(s) must serve on the peer committee, unless specific justification is provided for deviation from this requirement. The membership of the peer committee must be agreed upon by all chairs prior to the submission of the proposed committee to the dean. The chair from each department must provide a letter regarding the individual's contributions to the program.

The peer committee should make special efforts to obtain information about the contributions made by the faculty member under review to all relevant departments in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. The percentage of the candidate’s time devoted to each department must be documented and explained in the peer committee report and in the chair reports. Because of the joint nature of the appointment, the committee should be particularly sensitive to the multiple demands on the candidate and take this into account in its evaluation. The candidate must not receive a negative evaluation in any area simply because most of the work was not rendered in the primary department; the totality of the candidate’s work must be considered.

The rank of the chair of secondary departments does not affect the chair’s ability to participate in the review process as outlined above. Neither the chair of the primary department nor the chair of the secondary department(s) shall be a member of the peer committee.

7.1.5 Expedited Cases

Whenever possible, faculty promotion and tenure or new faculty hires should have tenure status reviewed or granted through the processes described above. When this is not possible and a rapid decision to hire with tenure is needed or a retention counter-offer with promotion and/or tenure must be made quickly, an expedited review may take place in accordance with the procedures described below. These procedures make it possible for faculty review to be completed in a compressed time period. Expedited promotion and tenure review requires the following:

  • peer committee review;
  • department chair review;
  • College Promotion and Tenure Committee review;
  • recommendation from the dean to the provost; and,
  • review by the provost. In expedited review, the department chair and dean will appoint the peer committee consisting of no fewer than three faculty members who are members of the department. The committee reviews the nomination and provides the chair with a recommendation in a timely fashion. Once the chair receives the committee’s recommendation, the chair reviews the nomination and makes a recommendation to the dean in a timely fashion.

Materials submitted in a dossier for expedited review should be as similar as possible to those normally included in a promotion or tenure dossier, including a complete, detailed curriculum vitae, letters from external reviewers, documentation of teaching practices and performance (e.g., teaching evaluations), a statement of research interests and accomplishments, and prior service activities. For external hires, letters from at least three external reviewers must be part of the dossier. These letters may be the same as the reference letters used in the hiring decision provided they address the candidate's suitability for the faculty rank and tenure.

8.0 Administrative Review Procedures for Academic Personnel Actions

8.1 The Dean

Having received the reports and all supporting documentation from the peer committee, the chair, and the College Promotion and Tenure Committee, the dean will prepare the dean's report. The candidate will then have another opportunity to review all documentation and decide whether to add comments or exercise other available options as described in the University Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures. When the file is complete, the dean will forward it to the provost.

9.0 Appeals Process

See VCU Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures for details.

12.0 Amending the College Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

Amendments to these guidelines and suggestions for technical changes may be requested by any faculty member in writing or at a regularly scheduled Faculty Council meeting, by the dean, or by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee.

Amendments will take effect only after this sequential procedure has been followed:

  1. review and approval by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee;
  2. announcement of the proposed changes to the college faculty followed by a commentary period, coordinated by the Faculty Council;
  3. review and approval by the Faculty Council;
  4. a vote by ballot of the full-time faculty, coordinated by the Faculty Council, requiring approval by a majority of those voting for adoption.

Technical changes to these guidelines, including changes intended for clarification or consistency with university promotion and tenure policies and procedures, will take effect only after this sequential procedure has been followed:

  1. review and approval by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee;
  2. review and approval by the Faculty Council;
  3. announcement of the proposed changes to the college faculty followed by a two-week commentary period, coordinated by the Faculty Council;
  4. if at least ten percent of the full-time faculty object during the commentary period to a change designated as technical, the change(s) will be put to a vote of the entire faculty, coordinated by the Faculty Council.

Dates of Approved Changes to College P&T Guidelines

April 15, 1988: College of Humanities and Sciences Faculty Status Committee; May 9, 1988: College of Humanities and Sciences Executive Committee; May 16, 1988: Approved by the Faculty Council

April 19, 1994: Revised and approved by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee; July 1, 1994: Revised and approved by the Faculty Council

February 5, 1997: Revised and approved by the Faculty of the College of Humanities and Sciences; June 6, 1997: Document reformatted and revised by the chair, College Promotion and Tenure Policy Committee

May 16, 2002: Revised and approved by the Faculty of the College of Humanities and Sciences

March 17, 2003: Recommended by the Faculty Council; May 2003: Approved by vote of the Faculty of the College of Humanities and Sciences

March 30, 2005: Recommended by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee; April 11, 2005: Recommended by the Faculty Council; May 5, 2005: Approved by vote of the Faculty of the College of Humanities and Sciences; April 26, 2006: Approved by the University Promotion and Tenure Policy Review Committee

December: 11, 2013: Recommended by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee; January 13, 2014: Recommended by the Faculty Council

January 31, 2014 [PDF]: Approved by vote of the Faculty of the College of Humanities and Sciences; May 28, 2014: Approved by the University Promotion and Tenure Policy Review Committee

May 10, 2019: Amendments approved by vote of the Faculty of the College of Humanities and Sciences

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