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Tenure review preparation guidelines

Some candidates have provided thousands of pages of supporting material while others present fewer than a hundred pages. In addition, some candidates provide limited proof of teaching effectiveness and some chairs have presented little information beyond that provided by the candidate.

This document seeks to explain the nature of the tenure process at Augustana and to offer suggestions that may result in more standardized tenure presentations and more effective and transparent case preparation for candidates and chairs.

An overview of the tenure process

The tenure process is described in Chapter 3 of the Faculty Handbook. When the president and the Faculty Welfare Committee consider candidates for tenure, at least four considerations are taken into account:

• The performance of the candidates.

• The current staffing and future needs of the departments involved.

• The likelihood that the college could attract more qualified candidates.

• The financial situation of the college.

It is important to be aware that, while any of these factors may have an important influence on the decision to award tenure or not, only the first factor is within the control of the candidates. Considerations such as the financial condition of the college fall primarily to the administration and the board.

Evaluating a candidate's performance 

In evaluating a candidate's performance, the committee typically considers the same three prevailing performance criteria.

The first of these criteria is teaching effectiveness, which also involves any student advising and mentoring done by the candidate. The committee asks for the opinions of colleagues who observe the teaching of the candidate, and looks at grading tendencies, syllabi, and the variety and difficulty of the courses taught. Evidence of student learning is another important element of a case for teaching effectiveness. Yet another measure is student course evaluations (SRIs).

The second criterion is professional expression and development, an umbrella term used to signify all of those activities which reveal the presence of an active, imaginative and developing intellect. Evidence of professional expression might include publications, professional presentations, public presentations of artistic creations and performances, the receipt of research grants, the completion of a professional certification, conference presentations and invitations to lecture at other institutions.

Evidence of professional development might include service to professional organizations, journals or conferences, attendance at professional conferences and workshops, completion of professional certification, and continuing education in relevant areas.

The final criterion is service to the college and to the community. The college has always held that the responsibilities of its professionals extend beyond the limits of their classrooms and disciplinary interests. This means that the committee looks for evidence that the candidates' presence has enriched the on- and off-campus communities in which they live. While community service is encouraged, it is voluntary; that is, lack of active community service will not be viewed negatively by the Faculty Welfare Committee or the president. Campus service, however, is a central expectation for tenure-track faculty.

The remainder of this document offers a list of suggestions which will help the candidate and his or her advocates generate the best possible evidence for the committee's consideration.

Guidelines for preparation of a tenure case

1. Responsibility of the department chair

A. To guide the candidate's preparation

Few candidates will have gone through this process before, so even what seem like self-evident, common-sensical observations may be news to them.

As chair, your responsibilities begin as soon as faculty members are hired. Years before a junior colleague actually stands for tenure, you should be helping them become the best possible educator they can be and assisting them in building the portfolio and evidence that illustrate their development. You should help tenurable faculty members prepare for their tenure review by:

  • Providing the candidate with a copy of the department's statement of expectations for teaching, scholarship, and service as they begin their first year at the college, and answering any questions about them;
  • Observing their teaching and helping them administer IDEA course evaluations regularly, beginning with their first year at the college;
  • Coordinating teaching observations of the candidate by the tenure committee (the tenured members of the department, or a separate committee in the case of departments without three tenured faculty);
  • Helping them interpret the results of student evaluations;
  • Helping them improve their teaching in response to justifiable student critiques;
  • Providing them with opportunities to participate in the life of the college and with guidance on the importance of factors beyond classroom teaching and,
  • Providing an annual review of their progress, including a letter and conversation with the candidate. See Faculty Handbook section 3.1.1 for details.

In the year before the candidate's tenure review, the chair should at minimum:

  • Explain the nature of the tenure review process;
  • Review the available teaching evaluations and observations of teaching made by tenured faculty with the candidate; and,
  • Help the candidate stay within reasonable quantitative limits in the submission of material. If you need help in defining "reasonable" limits, please be in touch with your division chair.

B. To generate information from colleagues and students

The information gathered by this process should be recorded as precisely and uniformly as possible. The use of a standardized form may be useful for both the chair and the committee.

At minimum, the chair should begin this process in the spring term of the year preceding the tenure review. Activities during this term should include:

  • Interviews with graduating seniors, especially majors, and,
  • Interviews with departing colleagues.

During the two terms before the tenure hearing, the department chair should attempt to directly observe the candidate's teaching on more than one occasion, survey current students and alumni who had the candidate as a teacher, and consult with faculty colleagues who have observed the candidate's teaching.

Upon receipt of the candidate's review materials in advance of the tenure review, the tenured members of the department should review those materials, and then the chair should meet with the tenured members of the department so they can review the report put together by the candidate and the information gathered by the chair. The long-term needs of the department should be discussed, as well as the merits of the candidate.

Following the meeting, each tenured member of the department should vote in a secret ballot whether he or she supports a tenured appointment for the candidate.

C. To report to the Faculty Welfare Committee the recommendation of the department

No later than three weeks after the due date for the submission of the tenure candidate's materials to the dean's office, the department chair will submit to the Faculty Welfare Committee a written report including the number of tenured faculty members in the department who support the granting of tenure, the number who are opposed and the number of abstentions. Further, this report will summarize the evidence for whether or not the candidate meets the performance criteria as established in the departmental statement of tenure expectations and in the Faculty Handbook.

The report should also assess the indications of promise for continued growth in effective teaching and scholarly and professional achievement, as well as the ways the interests, training, and capabilities of this individual meet the long-range needs of the department. The report will reflect the collective assessment of the tenure committee, and should be vetted by the tenure committee before submission.

This departmental report should be treated as confidential and should be shared only with the tenured members of the department, the candidate for tenure, and the Faculty Welfare Committee.

D. To inform the candidate of the nature of the department's report

The department chair will share the department's report in advance of the tenure review, and should address any questions and concerns the candidate has about the report in advance of the tenure review.

The department chair is responsible throughout the candidate's probationary period for notifying the candidate of unfavorable information at the earliest opportunity. Fairness demands that a candidate have as much time as possible to assess and respond to any information that may damage the candidate's prospects for tenure, or to withdraw from the tenure process if he or she considers a favorable outcome unlikely.     

If the department is unable to give unqualified support to a candidate's tenure case, or if the chair learns of information that may affect the candidate's case, the chair must provide the candidate with a verbal summary of areas of concern, as well as to document those concerns in the departmental report to the Faculty Welfare Committee. It is the obligation of the department chair to share these concerns in advance of the tenure review, with sufficient time for the candidate to respond. See Faculty Handbook section for details.

2. Responsibility of the candidate for tenure

The primary responsibility for preparing an effective tenure case rests with the candidate, not with the department chair. As a result, you should take the initiative whenever necessary to make sure that your chair is well informed about the progress of your career. Make sure that he or she (as well as other tenured faculty) has the opportunity to observe your work and to gather necessary evidence as specified in the guidelines for chairs (e.g., surveys of current students and alumni, feedback from departmental colleagues, etc.). If you need advice or counsel, any of the division chairs or the chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee would be pleased to offer assistance.

The college's decision about your tenure candidacy reflects not only judgments about what you have accomplished, but also judgments about what you are likely to accomplish in the future. We must ask not only who you are, but also who are you going to become. Indeed, the greatest challenge in this entire decision-making process is trying to predict whether an individual, after several years of probationary employment, will still be vital and flexible after 10, 20, or 30 career years at the college.

In this sense, then, you are well-advised to build a case that projects the constructive role you could play as a member of your home department, your own probable growth and maturation as a teacher and advisor, an academic professional, and a contributor of service as an Augustana faculty member in the general sense. It may be useful to keep the forward-looking nature of our deliberations in mind as you decide how best to present your case. In particular, you may wish to use your oral presentation as an opportunity to highlight these issues.

The written material discussed below should be submitted to the department chair and the dean of the college by the due date specified by Academic Affairs. Preparation for your tenure case should begin no later than the spring term preceding your tenure review.

As a general matter, you will be expected:

A. To provide a report (nine copies: one for each member of the Faculty Welfare Committee, one for the president, one for archives). In addition, please provide electronically in separate files (1) a copy of your personal statement, (2) CV, (3) IDEA summary reports, and (4) weightings sheet. Details for each of these report components are below. Please provide with these electronic documents either via email or on a flash drive.

The primary document in support of your candidacy will be your report to the Faculty Welfare Committee. This report will be distributed to each member of the Welfare Committee.

At minimum, the report must include:

  • An updated curriculum vitae.
  • A personal statement discussing those things which you have accomplished in the preceding years, those things which you hope to accomplish in the near future and your view of how you contribute to your department and to the life of the college. This statement should be about 10-15 single-spaced pages.
  • A compilation of teaching evaluation summaries (or SRIs). There are two particular factors to keep in mind here. First, it is most useful for the committee to be able to assess teaching over a period of years, not just in the term or two before the tenure hearing.  As a result, you must begin using and collecting IDEA teaching evaluations as early in your Augustana career as possible. Second, it is most helpful from the committee's perspective to receive complete and objective data summaries. The IDEA course summary reports represent the best source of such information. If you intend to make your own compilation of data, you need to address the question of whether your compiling technique guarantees the complete and accurate inclusion of all student data. Please contact Mark Salisbury if you are interested in this option. This option may complement, but not substitute for IDEA evaluation data.
  • Aweightings sheet which serves two functions. First, the candidate and department chair collaborate to produce weightings which accurately reflect their joint conception of the contributions of the candidate to the department and the college with regard to relative emphasis on teaching, professional activity and service. Second, in the event of a favorable tenure decision, the weightings will be used as part of the formula for determining merit pay. These weightings will not be used in the determination of the tenure decision.

The CV, personal statement, SRI summaries, and grading tendencies data are required elements for each pre-tenure review as well as the tenure review. The weightings sheet is required only for the tenure review.

B. To provide supporting materials

The dean's office will accept supporting material from each candidate and will make this material available for review by the members of the Faculty Welfare Committee. As a general rule, the supporting materials file contains any relevant material which cannot be duplicated for all members of the committee. The exact nature of appropriate supporting material is highly dependent upon your individual career.

Among the typical supporting materials which you might consider:

  • The original student evaluation forms for your courses.
  • Evidence of student learning. This usually comes in the form of samples of student work that illustrate learning outcomes connected to the objectives you set for your classes. Samples of student work should display a range of student outcomes (e.g., not just "A" work, but at a variety of grade levels). They can also illustrate growth or improvement of student performance over time (e.g., multiple paper drafts; pre- and post-test results). It is helpful to include a brief cover statement on such samples, to inform the reviewer how the samples address your learning objectives and what specific qualities to look for in the samples. Evidence of student learning can also come in the form of data you collect from students based on relevant instruments (e.g., pre- and post-testing, student knowledge surveys, etc.), if feasible and desirable.
  • Copies of syllabi and other class documents.
  • A representative sample of your professional work. This might include books or book chapters, articles, conference presentations, or reproductions of creative work (e.g., pictures, audio and/or video formats of creations or performances). In selecting material for inclusion, remember that the background and training of the members of the committee varies widely.
  • Reviews of your professional work or other evidence of its quality.
  • Evidence of your contributions in the area of departmental, campus, professional, and/or community service.
  • letters from former students who may be able to attest to your role in their personal and professional growth.          Please also provide two copies of an inventory of your supporting materials (i.e., a sheet listing the contents of your supporting materials "package"). One copy will remain with the materials, and one copy will be kept in the Dean's office.

The quantity of supporting materials should be great enough to give an educated outsider the ability to draw a full and accurate picture of your career. This is rarely accomplished in less than a hundred pages and rarely requires more than a few hundred.

Materials can include:

  • Letters of support from colleagues on campus, including those with whom you have served on committees and those who have observed your teaching.
  • letters of support from colleagues at other institutions who can may be able to attest to the role of your contribution to your discipline. In order to guarantee the greatest level of candor and credibility, you should not have the opportunity to read individual letters. Ask your writers to address their letters directly to the chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, and assure them that their letters are absolutely confidential and that you will not have access to them.

C. To prepare an oral statement

Tenure hearings last approximately one hour. The first part of each hearing consists of an oral presentation by the candidate. These presentations typically take about five minutes or less and care should be taken to avoid needless repetition of information already submitted in the written materials. You may wish to:

  • Provide important updates on relevant points occurring after the submission of your materials.
  • Draw attention to particular strengths of your case, particularly those factors whose significance might not be immediately grasped by someone from outside of your field.
  • Respond to those factors which might reflect negatively upon your case (e.g., a relatively small number of professional activities or undistinguished teaching evaluations).
  • Discuss your role in the future of your discipline, department and college.

At the conclusion of your oral presentation, the committee will have an opportunity to raise questions with you for another 20 to 30 minutes concerning your time at and experiences with the college. At the conclusion of this discussion, you will leave the hearing. Your department chair will remain to discuss the merits of your case with the Faculty Welfare Committee, and to answer any questions they may have.

3. Responsibility of the division chair

To give advice and guidance to the candidates for tenure and to their department chairs.

  • To observe the candidate's teaching.
  • To survey faculty members in their division who are familiar with the work of the candidate, particularly the tenured members of the candidate's department, to confirm the departmental vote and to understand the reasoning that informs a department's positive or negative tenure recommendation.
  • To perform the responsibilities of the department chair when the department chair does not have tenure.

Revised 12-04-15