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Promotion and Tenure Committee Guidelines

Promotion and Tenure Committee Guidelines for Promotion to Senior Professor of Practice, Third-Year Review, Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure, and Promotion to Full Professor

School of Science and Engineering Tulane University

Adopted: November 29, 2006
Amended May 7, 2008
Amended August 21, 2009
Amended September 2, 2010
Amended May 8, 2013


A. The Role of the Promotion and Tenure Committee

Faculty status, including the granting of tenure, is primarily a faculty responsibility. The School of Science and Engineering (SSE) Promotion and Tenure (P&T) Committee represents the SSE faculty in matters of evaluation of cases of Third Year Review, promotion to the rank of Associate Professor or Professor, and tenure. The Committee also acts on the recommendations of the Professor of Practice Advisory Committee on promotions to the rank of Senior Professor of Practice. The Committee and its composition are described in the SSE Constitution. The Dean of the School of Science and Engineering is not a member of the committee, but provides the provost with independent recommendations on cases decided by the committee.

The P&T Committee acts on cases forwarded to it by the department in which the candidate’s appointment resides. It is the obligation of the department to ensure that a candidate’s dossier is complete. Following the review and vote of the Committee, the dean will forward the committee’s decision, his/her own comments and recommendation, the department’s letter of nomination, and the dossier to the provost for a final decision on the case. In the case of promotion to Senior Professor of Practice, the dean will also include the recommendation of the Professor of Practice Promotion Advisory Committee.

B. The Role of the Department

All SSE department members with regular appointments at or above the rank for which a candidate is being considered are eligible to vote on the review cases in that department. However untenured faculty members may not vote on actions that involve the awarding of tenure. Departmental voting shall be by secret ballot, or by open (voice) ballot if no voting member objects.

A letter of nomination from the department shall contain a summary of the discussion, including the reasons for any negative vote(s) and shall indicate the number of faculty supporting the recommendation, the number opposing, and the number abstaining (or unable to vote for reasons of absence, etc.). Absentee and mail-in votes are not allowed. Signatures of those faculty members voting or abstaining shall appear on the letter of nomination. The letter of nomination shall state, above the signatures, that the signers have read the letter and agree with the vote tabulation. The original letter shall be submitted to the dean and is due with the candidate’s full dossier. In cases of promotion and/or tenure, the letter from the department should highlight the candidate’s achievements in each of the following areas: scholarship, teaching, and service. In third year review cases, the letter should address scholarship and teaching, and it may discuss service. If a candidate is proposed for early tenure, the reasons for this should be discussed in the letter. In cases of promotion to Senior Professor of Practice, the letter should address teaching and service.

The Department may seek additional information from collaborators of the candidate.  The departmental letter should specify the context in which this information was obtained.

For joint appointments, each department in which the candidate has an appointment will review the candidate and provide a letter of nomination in accordance with this procedure.

In all evaluations, if the P&T Committee recommendation counters the departmental majority recommendation, the P&T Committee shall return the case to the department for reconsideration with a written enumeration of specific reservations or differences of opinion regarding the merits of the case. The appropriate departmental faculty members must meet to decide whether they wish to reconsider their decision on the case. If so, the department shall have one week to respond in writing to the Committee’s opinions. Reconsideration by the department requires that a new vote be taken among the appropriate members following the voting procedure followed for the initial consideration. Letters of departmental reconsideration should indicate the number of faculty supporting the recommendation, the number opposing, and the number abstaining (or unable to vote for reasons of absence, etc.). Signatures of those faculty members voting or abstaining shall appear on the letter of reconsideration. If the department does not wish to reconsider the case, then it should return the dossier to the Committee with an explanation of that fact.

C. The Dossier

The dossier will be contained in a single three-ring binder provided by the dean’s office. The binder will consist of the following sections

  • Letters
    • Letter of nomination from the department
    • Brief biography of each external evaluator and reason for selection (not required for third-year review or Senior Professor of Practice)
    • External letters of evaluation (not required for third-year review or Senior Professor of Practice)
    • For tenure cases, third-year review letters from the Department and the SSE P&T Committee as well as the Dean's summary letter to the candidate, provided by the Office of the Dean.
    • For promotion to Senior Professor of Practice cases, a letter from the Professor of Practice Promotion Advisory Committee that addresses teaching and service and includes a recommended action.
    • Curriculum Vitae
  • Research (not required for Senior Professor of Practice)
    • Research activities since last P&T action (Digital Measures Annual Faculty Report standard format)
    • Candidate’s statement about past research accomplishments, including a description of ongoing research and publications in progress, and a five-year plan for professional research and scholarship
  • Reprints
    • No more than 5, selected by the candidate
    • Teaching
    • Teaching activities since last P&T action (Digital Measures Annual Faculty Report standard format)
    • Candidate’s statement about teaching, including personal philosophy of teaching, teaching responsibilities, teaching methods and strategies, methods to assess and evaluate students’ learning, assessment and evaluation of teaching effectiveness, course and curriculum development, innovations in teaching, and
  • Professional and Public Service
    • Professional and public service activities since last P&T action (Digital Measures Annual Faculty Report standard format)
  • Institutional Service
    • Institutional service activities since last P&T action (Digital Measures Annual Faculty Report standard format)
    • Discussion of responsibilities assumed for all institutional committee assignments

D. Third-Year Review

The purpose of the Third Year Review is to obtain a “mid-course” judgment on the candidate’s progress toward tenure. It is a rigorous review of published material, work in progress, a five-year research plan, and teaching performance. In some cases, the department and/or the Committee may find that the evidence does not indicate that the candidate is likely to develop a scholarly record or teaching strength deserving of tenure at the end of the probationary period, and will recommend termination.

For third-year review, the department report will focus upon scholarship and teaching. No university service activity is expected of faculty members at this stage of their careers beyond normal departmental service.

The Third Year Review will take place in the candidate’s third year in a tenure-track appointment. If the “tenure clock” has been stopped for an appropriate reason, the review will take place after completion of two years of full-time teaching and research. Such suspension of the tenure clock will be negotiated with the Dean. Exceptions to the timing of the Third-Year Review may also include negotiated probationary periods decided upon by the home department, the candidate, and the Dean at the point of hiring.

E. Awarding of Tenure

For an Assistant Professor, awarding of tenure is coupled to promotion to Associate Professor.  The tenure decision will normally be made in the candidate’s sixth year, allowing for a “grace year” if the decision is negative. In exceptional cases, or when an earlier consideration has been negotiated, a candidate may be considered for tenure early. A negative decision on an early tenure review shall not affect the candidate's original tenure clock.

The tenure review is a very rigorous review of the candidate’s scholarly output, teaching, and citizenship. The candidate will be expected to have shown a high level of scholarly productivity as judged by commonly accepted standards for tenure in his or her field. This judgment will be based on published work appropriate to the discipline and on letters from external reviewers solicited separately by the candidate’s department and by the Committee. The candidate and the department will also be expected to provide convincing evidence of effective teaching and of citizenship through involvement in departmental and university committee work and in professional organizations. The five-year plan provided by the candidate will be used to make a judgment on the likelihood that the candidate will continue to be a productive scholar after tenure is granted.

For promotion and tenure, the departmental report will focus upon scholarship, teaching, and service to the university and the discipline.

F. Promotion to Full Professor

Review of cases for promotion to the rank of Professor will proceed as in cases of tenure, and will consider the candidate’s scholarly output, teaching performance, and citizenship. In each of these areas the expectation of demonstrable excellence will be much higher. The departmental letter and external letters solicited by the department and by the Committee will be expected to show national or international visibility and leadership in the candidate’s scholarly field.

If fewer than three members of the department are eligible to evaluate a given case of promotion, the Chair of the Department shall advise the Dean of that fact. In that case, the Dean shall appoint an ad hoc committee of at least three members consisting of all eligible members of the candidate’s department and additional eligible SSE faculty members from departments best able to render an evaluation. The ad hoc committee shall be responsible for evaluating all activities typically evaluated by the eligible members of the department. The report of the ad hoc committee shall then be submitted to the SSE P&T Committee.

A departmental recommendation for promotion to full professor need not be submitted unless supported by at least three representatives senior to the candidate’s current rank. In a case without sufficient supporting votes, the candidate for promotion to full professor can present a request directly to the P&T committee for consideration of his or her case for promotion. The committee’s procedure shall be identical to that in cases for promotion presented by departments. The P&T Committee will, in this instance, receive the department’s report and external letters.

G. Promotion to Senior Professor of Practice

A Professor of Practice who is being considered for appointment to a third or subsequent three-year term is eligible for promotion to the position of Senior Professor of Practice. Appointment as a Senior Professor of Practice is for a five-year term, renewable subject to review.

Review of a candidate for the position of Senior Professor of Practice will be conducted by a five member Professor of Practice Advisory Committee. The Committee and its composition are described in the SSE Constitution.

The review conducted by the Professor of Practice Advisory Committee is a very rigorous review of the candidate’s teaching, teaching-related activities, and citizenship. The candidate will be expected to have shown a high level of excellence in teaching and teaching-related activities as judged by commonly accepted standards for teaching excellence. This judgment will be based on convincing evidence of effective teaching and of citizenship through involvement in departmental and university committee work and in professional organizations. A five-year plan provided by the candidate will be used to make a judgment on the likelihood that the candidate will continue to be productive and effective in teaching, teaching-related activities, and service.

H. External Evaluators (Not Required for Third-Year Review or Senior Professor of Practice)

The home department and the P&T Committee will each seek four external evaluators. For joint appointments, the departments in which the faculty member holds appointments will coordinate their effort to seek four external evaluators. A minimum of two for each group is required; however, four each from the department and the committee are preferred for each case that is being evaluated. These evaluators are selected because of their acknowledged expertise in the candidate’s area of research and are asked to comment on the quality of the scholarship and the productivity record of the candidate. External evaluators are chosen from among senior faculty at prominent research universities as well as appropriate experts at research laboratories, conservatories, and other institutions of renown.

The candidate may suggest no more than four names to the department, but the department will not rely exclusively on the names suggested by the candidate. The candidate should also clearly identify who were the directors of her/his doctoral and postdoctoral work. Under no circumstances can a dissertation adviser, former professor, postdoctoral mentor, or close collaborative colleague serve as an evaluator for a candidate’s case. The candidate may provide a short list (2 or 3) of scholars supposed not able to provide a fair evaluation of the scholarly work presented. Both the home department and the P&T Committee will avoid those individuals in their lists of evaluators. The department must provide to the P&T Committee the names of the four external evaluators they have solicited for reports on the candidate’s scholarship and any names of individuals whom they have contacted but who have declined to review the materials. The department may also submit a short list of suggested evaluators to the P&T Committee from which the committee will select no more than one or two, if any, for its list of external evaluators.

The identities of all outside evaluators should be regarded as confidential information to all but those voting on the recommendation. When soliciting the evaluator, the department and the P&T Committee must assure the evaluator that his/her letter will not be seen by the candidate under any circumstance.

To assure confidentiality, outside evaluations solicited by the P&T Committee will not be shown to members of the department or to the candidate. The Committee will, however, provide the department with a summary of key points from the external letters if the Committee recommendation differs from that of the department.

All letters of reference solicited and received by the department and SSE P&T Committee shall be forwarded to the Dean. Letters should follow the SSE template. For a sample of the letter click here. For letters of reference that are submitted electronically, the transmittal email should be submitted to the Dean along with a hard copy of the letter.

I. Committee Deliberations and Votes

Any member of the committee may vote on any case, if eligible and if there is no conflict of interest.

Eligibility requires status of the same rank or higher as the case being considered. Committee members at the associate professor level, for example, are eligible to vote on other faculty being considered at the associate level or third-year review, but not full professor cases.

Any member who is from the same department as a candidate in cases of third year review or cases of promotion and/or tenure shall be recused from the deliberations and votes of the committee regarding the case.

Any member who has professional or personal affiliations with a candidate that could affect his/her impartiality shall recuse himself/herself from the deliberations and votes of the committee regarding the case.

A valid vote by the committee on any tenure, promotion, or third-year review case requires participation by at least three-fourths of the eligible, non-recused committee members.

If a SSE P&T Committee member resigns from the University or takes a leave of absence or sabbatical for more than one academic semester, a special election shall be held as soon as possible to elect a replacement by the voting SSE faculty.  The elected faculty member shall complete the vacated term on the SSE P&T Committee.

J. Negative Recommendations

Candidates who receive a negative decision for Third-Year Review or for promotion and/or tenure may be granted a subsequent consideration by the Promotion and Tenure Committee on the basis of significant new evidence of scholarly or teaching excellence. For Third-Year Review cases and cases involving promotion to Associate Professor with tenure, the new material and a letter from the candidate requesting the subsequent consideration must be submitted no later than the last day of the penultimate semester in the candidate’s final probationary year. For cases involving promotion to Professor or to Senior Professor of Practice, the new material and a letter from the candidate requesting the subsequent consideration must be submitted no later than the last day of the semester following the delivery of the negative evaluation results. If the P&T Committee decides not to accept the case, then it goes no further in a review process.

If, however, the P&T Committee decides to accept the case for consideration, it will forward the new dossier to the home department for evaluation. At that point, the department and the committee will proceed through the same steps followed for a new case. In instances of the presentation of new evidence for scholarship, both the department and the Committee will obtain new outside letters from external reviewers (not applicable to Third-Year Reviews). All pieces of scholarship in the newly presented dossier must be accompanied by a letter provided by the editor of the press or journal by which it has been accepted for publication and establishing the date of acceptance of the piece in question. In cases of an unsatisfactory teaching record, new evidence of significant improvement in that record must be submitted. In cases of a scant record of service, evidence must be presented that the record has measurably improved. The departmental report and vote will be submitted to the Committee as usual, and the Committee’s report and vote along with the Dean’s recommendation will be submitted in normal fashion to the Provost.

K. Confidentiality

The promotion process, including the deliberations of departments and of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee, is confidential.  No department, ad hoc committee, or SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee member may share with either the candidate or any outside party other than those identified in these guidelines information concerning the deliberations.  The only exception is that the Department Chair and/or the Dean may share with the candidate guidance and advice resulting from the review and, at their discretion, may inform the candidate whether the department's vote was positive or negative.  In no case shall a candidate be told the vote tally.

School of Science and Engineering Deadlines

For all but mid-year hires involving a tenure decision:
  • August 15.  Candidate submits information on potential external evaluators to the home department.  This does not apply to third year reviews or promotions to Senior Professor of Practice.
  • September 15. Home department submits candidate's CV, 5 selected publications, the candidate's statement on research, and names of four external reviewers to the dean's office - does not apply to third year reviews reviews or promotions to Senior Professor of Practice.
  • October 1. Candidate submits dossier, exclusive of external evaluation letters, to home department(s).
  • December 1. Department(s) submit complete dossier, including external evaluation letters and departmental letter(s) of nomination, to the dean’s office.
  • February 1. School P&T committee submits decisions to the dean on third-year review, promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure, and Promotion to Full Professor cases.
  • Mid-February. School P&T committee decision and dean’s recommendation on third-year review, promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure, and Promotion to Full Professor cases submitted to the provost.
  • March 15. Professor of Practice Promotion Advisory Committee submits decisions to Promotion and Tenure Committee.
  • April 1. School P&T committee submits decisions to the dean on promotion to Senior Professor of Practice cases.
    Departments submit Professor of Practice reappointment recommendations to the dean.
  • Mid-April. School P&T committee decision and dean’s recommendation on Promotion to Senior Professor of Practice cases submitted to the provost.

For mid-year hires involving a tenure decision, all deadlines are 3 months later.

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764 sse@tulane.edu