Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

II. Standards

  • Tenure
  • Promotion to Associate Professor
  • Promotion to Professor
  • Promotion with Practice Ranks

III. Procedures

  • Nominations
  • Clarification of Terms

The College Handbook correctly notes that promotion is one of the "most important rewards in academic life" and that tenure is "the most important commitment the university can make to an individual faculty member...."

This document is to compile and update the procedures that we--as individual faculty, individual units, and a College--must follow and the standards we must apply in making tenure and promotion recommendations to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Chancellor, and the Board of Regents.

A number of sources (e.g., Bylaws of the Board of Regents, the UNL Guidelines for the Evaluation of Faculty: Annual Evaluations, Promotion, and Tenure, and memos from the Office of the SVCAA and Dean of A&S) have contributed to this document.

Principles

The UNL Guidelines for... Promotion and Tenure acknowledges that categorizing and measuring faculty work is difficult (I.). Characterizing the evaluation of faculty work as "inherently judgmental," it states that such evaluation "must be constrained by principles and procedures designed to protect academic freedom and to ensure accuracy, fairness, and equity." The Regents Bylaws contains principles that are relevant to evaluations of faculty work that influence tenure and promotion decisions. These principles are the following.

Equal Opportunity. Recruitment, selection, employment, transfer, promotion, demotion, training, and pay of all employees of the University shall be without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or political affiliation. The University will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to these factors. Merit will be the criterion by which qualifications for appointment, retention, or promotion are judged. The University will strive to achieve realistic affirmative action employment goals. (3.0)

(UNL has its own non-discrimination policy: It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln not to discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran status, national or ethnic origin or sexual orientation.)

Assignment of Duties. The service and teaching obligations of each full-time member of the instructional staff in any semester shall consist of such amounts of one or more of the types of service necessary for a successful University program, including teaching, research, directing and supervising research, advising or counseling, committee assignments, administrative duties, field work, extension activities, and other miscellaneous assignments as may be deemed reasonable in each instance by the department chair and Dean or director concerned, within standards approved by the Chancellor, the President, and the Board. (3.4.4)

Conflict of Interest. No employee of the University shall engage in any activity that in any way conflicts with duties and responsibilities at the University of Nebraska nor shall any employee hire or supervise a member of his or her immediate family without expressed written consent of the Board. (3.8)

Political Activities of Employees. Employees of the University enjoy the full right of citizens to participate in the political life of the State of Nebraska and the United States. The welfare of the University, however, requires that each employee perform University duties without the interference of outside activities....(3.9)

Patent Policy. The Board encourages members of the staff to seek patents on discoveries and inventions as a method of bringing recognition and remuneration to the individual and to the University....(3. 10)

Academic Responsibility. Membership in the academic community imposes certain obligations. These obligations include the following duties...: (a) To respect: (1) the dignity of others; (2) the right of others to express differing opinions; (3) the right of others to be free from fear, from violence, and from personal abuse; and (4) the right of the University community to be free from actions that impede its normal functioning. (b) To enroll, teach, and evaluate the work of students without regard to considerations such as age, sex, race, color, national origin, or religious or political beliefs. (c) To establish and maintain a classroom or laboratory atmosphere that encourages free inquiry and the free expression of ideas by students. (d) To present the subject matter of courses as announced to the students and approved by authorities responsible for the curriculum. (e) To study current developments and maintain competence in the areas of assigned courses; to examine, continually and critically, the subject matter of such courses, as well as teaching techniques and proposals for improving higher education. (f) To: (1) fulfill the assigned time schedule of all classes, including quizzes, laboratories, tests, and other meetings, unless absence is caused by an emergency or approved University business. Changes in the scheduled times shall be authorized by the Dean, director, or department chair, with the agreement of the enrolled students and in the interest of an academic objective; (2) be available at frequent, regular, and scheduled times for student consultation; and (3) inform students concerning the requirements, standards, objectives, and evaluation procedures at the beginning of each course. (g) To participate upon request in the activities of the University in the areas of student advising and public service, and as appropriate, in the activities of the department, the college, the campus, and the University. (h) To make every effort to indicate that members of the professional staff are not spokesmen for the University except when authorized so to act.

(i) To create and protect an atmosphere of intellectual honesty in the academic community. (4.1)

Academic Freedom. The University serves the people of Nebraska and the common good through learning, teaching, extension work, research, scholarship, and public service. Fulfillment of these duties requires the preservation of intellectual freedoms of teaching, expression, research, and debate. The right to search for truth, to support a position the searchers believe is the truth, and to disagree with others whose intellect reaches a different conclusion is the fiber of America's greatness. It is, likewise, the strength of a great University, and its preservation is vital. A teacher or researcher is entitled to freedom in research, and publication of the results of research, limited only by the precepts of scholarship and faithful performance of academic obligations. Members of the professional staff are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects.

Members of the professional staff are entitled to exercise their right to speak and act as citizens of the United States and of the State of Nebraska.

Members of the professional staff shall not suffer sanctions or be discriminated against with respect to the duration of association with the University, pay or other emoluments of their office, appointment, position, or their working conditions because of their enjoyment, or exercise, of their right of academic freedom, or in any case where such action would constitute a violation of federal or state civil rights laws or regulations. Staff members who violate laws prescribed by civil authorities may incur penalties attached to such laws. The University should not impose sanctions to duplicate the function of these laws. Where the University's interest as an academic community is clearly involved, the authority of the University may be asserted. The Board reaffirms the belief in, pledges support of, and directs all segments of the University community to sustain and follow the foregoing principles of academic freedom. (4.2)

Standards

The Guidelines require every major administrative unit to have written standards that should be used in making tenure and promotion decisions (4.5). The standards may be applicable to the entire administrative unit or to appropriate subdivisions (e.g., colleges and departments). After a unit's standards have received the necessary approvals, the standards must be published and disseminated to faculty and provided to each new faculty member when appointed (4.5). Thus, every faculty member must be given a copy of his/her unit's and the College's standards regarding tenure and promotion decisions; and every newly hired faculty must be given copies of these standards. The A&S Handbook notes that

In order to assure that this important process [i.e., the tenure and promotion process] be carried out in a fair and equitable manner, each department or school should have a systematic, well-defined procedure, known and understood by all faculty members, through which all faculty who are untenured and/or who have not reached the full professor rank are evaluated and considered as candidates for tenure and/or promotion.(p.27)

The Regents Bylaws require that written standards be relevant to teaching, extension work, research, scholarship, creative activities, and service. In addition, "[i]ntegrity, academic responsibility, and professional development should be included as they relate to these major areas" (4.5). The Guidelines add that individual faculty will be evaluated according to norms established for them related to the faculty's collective responsibility to teach, advise, engage in research and creative activity, make research findings and new knowledge known through publication or equivalent demonstration, and provide public and institutional service (III.B.). Individual faculty members will vary in the extent to which their responsibilities emphasize one or more parts of the University's mission and the criteria used to assess faculty performance must reflect these varying assignments (Guidelines, III.B.).

The chair is responsible for spelling out the general apportionment of a faculty member's major responsibilities in the letter of appointment (Guidelines, p. 4). The apportionment of responsibilities is to be reviewed periodically and may be changed by mutual consent (Regents Bylaws, 4.3) Within this general apportionment of responsibilities, the details of a faculty member's specific assignments or job description are subject to joint consultation but are to be determined by the chair, unit administrator, or director concerned (Regents Bylaws, 3.4.4). Every unit will refine the criteria by which it assesses teaching, research, and service in ways that reflect its mission and appropriate disciplinary considerations. The refined criteria will be applied to all faculty members equitably and reflect each member's particular responsibilities and assignments. How unit criteria apply to each faculty member's own set of duties should be clarified at the time of appointment and reviewed in the annual evaluation. Adjustments in the expectations for individual faculty may occur over time in keeping with changing institutional and personal priorities. Such adjustments shall occur in a timely fashion and with reasonable effort to assure mutual understanding, in line with changing institutional and personal priorities. However, no adjustments of unit or individual faculty norms must alter the University's fundamental criterion: all faculty must do scholarly or professional work that demonstrates creative achievement (Guidelines, III.B.).

Excellence in creativity and in significance of contribution is the most important standard by which to judge the extent of a faculty member's achievement (Guidelines, III.C.). Since what constitutes excellence in particular cases is a matter of judgment that varies from discipline to discipline, faculty members must be given reasonable assistance to understand the components of judgments of excellence. The A&S Handbook refers to the need to apply criteria flexibly because the importance of teaching effectiveness, research productivity, or creative activity and service varies among disciplines (p. 25). However, it requires all faculty members to show evidence of satisfactory teaching or associated activities, intellectual or creative activity related to their disciplines, and responsible participation in service or associated activities (pp. 25-26).

See Section III under "Faculty by Evaluation" for a statement on promotion and tenure standards in Arts and Sciences.

TENURE

"A 'continuous appointment' [i.e., a tenured appointment] is an appointment terminable only for adequate cause, bona fide discontinuance of a program or department, retirement for age or disability, or extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies. No person shall acquire a Continuous Appointment until official written notice has been received from the University that such an appointment has been awarded. Continuous Appointment as defined herein means academic tenure." (Regents Bylaws, 4.4.3) Regental policy also states that "tenure should be recommended only on the basis of demonstrated and documentable academic achievement, rather than on promise." (Regents Policies, R-P-4.3.1.)

The Guidelines define tenure as a long term institutional commitment to a faculty member that "requires a rigorous, in-depth assessment of the faculty member's accumulated accomplishments and a determination of whether the performance is likely to meet expectations for the indefinite future." (VI.A.) Typically, tenure is "based on the quality and quantity of work accomplished during the probationary period and is an expectation and prediction of the quality and quantity of a faculty member's future performance." However, it is important to note that a candidate’s "accumulated accomplishments" may not always occur in his or her official probationary period. For example, dual career situations often mean that a partner may not be in a tenure line position but may still be productive in a way (s) relevant to a tenure decision in the future. In addition, the "tenure clock" of a faculty member in his or her probationary period may be stopped for a personal reason (e.g., having a child and illness) but the faculty member may still be productive in a way (s) relevant to a tenure decision. (See Executive Memorandum No. 18 in the Appendix regarding University policy on interruption of the tenure clock in cases of maternity, disability, or family/medical leave.)

The candidate for tenure is required to demonstrate that an institutional commitment of tenure is justified. The A&S Handbook affirms that "tenure is the most important commitment the institution can make" and directs that recommendations to award tenure be made only if the candidate's contributions meet these standards and if the contributions are sustained over time, thereby demonstrating a clear promise of continuation. (p. 26)

In some cases, deficiencies in a candidate's record may not be apparent until near the end of the probationary period, especially with respect to scholarly activity. In cases where there has been a mutually agreed upon change of responsibilities, the quality of performance in a new area of focus may not be fully assessable until near the end of the probationary period. Changes in University priorities may "dictate" a higher minimum standard of performance than existed when a faculty member was first hired. However, "[a]djustments in standards or responsibilities...must not dramatically change in ways that make it impossible for the able and responsible candidate to meet them." (Guidelines, VI.A.)

Positive annual performance reviews that justify reappointing probationary faculty may not be cumulatively sufficient for tenure. Likewise, promotion is a positive recognition of one's work and reflects a level of personal achievement but is not a guarantee of tenure. (Guidelines, VI.A.)

PROMOTION TO ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

The UNL Guidelines state that:

the candidate should be an accomplished teacher, where teaching is an assigned responsibility, and have a significant record of scholarly and creative work in teaching, research, and service in keeping with the individual's job responsibilities. Time-in-rank as an assistant professor is ordinarily at least five years, and typically is six years. Earlier promotion is quite unusual and implies that a candidate has accomplished in the shorter time period what normally would be expected in the longer one.

In all but unusual circumstances, promotion of tenure eligible faculty to the rank of associate professor takes place at the same time as or before the tenure decision. However, since the decision regarding tenure is based upon broader criteria, the two actions take place separately and require separate decisions. While it is assumed that a faculty member who has earned tenure should also have earned promotion to associate professor, promotion in rank carries no guarantee regarding granting of tenure. (V.B.3.)

The A&S Handbook states that there should be clear evidence of significant contributions to the department, College and University in teaching, research, and service significantly beyond the level of accomplishment for promotion to assistant professor.

PROMOTION TO PROFESSOR

After noting that professor is the highest academic rank in the University, the UNL Guidelines state that the rank of professor is "reserved for those faculty members whose achievements are sufficient to merit recognition as distinguished authorities in their field and who hold the professional respect of their colleagues. Usually, the candidates have been awarded tenure." While the University wants all faculty to qualify eventually for promotion to full professor, no time requirements force faculty to seek this rank. Tenured faculty who are not professors may stay in rank for the rest of their careers. (V.B.4)

To reach the rank of professor, most aspects of a candidate's work must be judged excellent, i.e., there must be evidence of "a level of sustained creativity in the salient areas of the candidate's work." (Guidelines, V.B.4.) While the focus of this creative work may be national or local in scope, its quality should be sufficient to merit significant and national recognition. (See discussions concerning the use of candidate statements and external reviews in the preceding section and in the section on candidate files.) The successful candidate's record will show evidence of "sustained excellence over an extended period of time." (V.B.4.)

In a memo dated April 21 1998, SVCAA Edwards addresses expectations regarding recommendations to promote to full professor based primarily on excellent performance in teaching and/or service or outreach. In it, Dr. Edwards writes that the department "should take care to develop evaluation criteria, ways of measuring quality, and external validation that reflect standards as rigorous as (though different from) the standards applied in cases with a more traditional faculty profile." He notes that he reads the UNL Guidelines to permit consideration of such cases and that "sustained excellent performance that contributes to meeting any of the University's principal missions should be recognized through the promotion-to-full process." Finally, he stresses that the candidate for promotion and the department recommending it have the responsibility to provide "convincing evidence that these standards have been met."

The A&S Handbook requires "clear evidence of continued contribution in the areas of teaching, research, and service significantly beyond the level of accomplishment expected for promotion to associate professor." (p. 26) The Handbook goes on to note that promotion to professor will occur after the faculty member has attained a high level of achievement in scholarly or creative activity.

PROMOTION WITHIN PRACTICE RANKS

The College of Arts and Sciences has adopted the University's criteria, available at http://www.unl.edu/svcaa/documents/prof_of_practice_policy.doc, as the minimum standards for promotion to and among the ranks of Assistant, Associate, and full Professor of Practice. The faculty of departments may add to these criteria as appropriate to their own disciplines.

Procedures

These procedures are to be used in considering candidacies for promotion and for continuous appointment (i.e., tenure). Unless noted otherwise, the procedures related to promotion decisions are based on the UNL Guidelines (V.D) and the procedures related to tenure decisions are based on the UNL Guidelines (VI.D). Relevant units must coordinate their efforts to follow these procedures when candidates have joint appointments.

Tenure and promotion are separate concerns (Regents Policies, RP-4.3.1). When promotion is offered to a faculty member before his or her probationary period is completed, no promise of eventual tenure is implied by the promotion: "...tenure recommendations should be developed in a context as free of other concerns as is practical" (RP-4.3. 1). The Guidelines add that the "processes leading to promotion and...to tenure are distinct and should not be confused" (V.A.). Promotion primarily indicates a personal level of achievement. While this is also true in awarding tenure, the tenuring of a faculty member is based on an expectation and a prediction regarding his or her future development and performance and an institutional decision to make a long term commitment to him or her, subject to the Regents Bylaws. Thus, promotion is positive evidence of progress toward tenure but not a guarantee of being awarded tenure.

While assessments and recommendations on tenure and promotion must be separate, the procedures regarding tenure and promotion are very similar. For example, per the Guidelines (V.D.2&3 and VI.D.3&4),

  • Candidates are entitled to examine all materials in their files. 
  • Candidates are entitled to know the identity of everyone who reviews all or parts of their files, including the names of external reviewers. 
  • Anyone with relevant information may proffer it for inclusion in a candidate's file to the person responsible for conducting the review at any level of consideration. That person will decide whether to include the material after consulting with the candidate. Candidates must be informed of the content and source of new information that has been proposed for inclusion in their files and have a right to review, object to, and respond in writing to the material with the response becoming a part of the file. Candidates have five (5) working days to review, object to, and respond in writing to new information in their files. It is the responsibility of the individual who presides at each stage of the review process to delay any vote or decision until the candidate has had this time to respond. 
  • A candidate may ask a colleague for assistance in preparing appropriate documentation. The candidate and the advisor should be aware of the potential conflict of interest that may arise should the latter have to vote on the nomination later in the process. "An agreement to provide counsel and advice to a candidate does not imply a commitment to support the candidate's nomination." 
  • Departments and the College must provide due process in the consideration of a candidate's nomination. This includes giving a candidate five (5) days from when he or she is informed of an initial negative decision to request a reconsideration or an appeal of it. Candidates may request a reconsideration and a second recommendation at every stage of the review process at which they receive an initial adverse recommendation on tenure or promotion. In the College, candidates have the right to request a reconsideration of a first recommendation against tenure or promotion (before anything is forwarded to the next level of consideration)
    • at the department level by a tenure and promotion committee or any unit committee that makes a recommendation on tenure or promotion. The notice of a negative recommendation may be in the transmittal letter that the candidate receives from the committee chair to the unit chair or director or, if the unit chair or director presides at the committee review, in the transmittal letter of the unit chair or director to the Dean; 
    • by a unit chair or director in a transmittal letter to the A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee and the Dean; 
    • by the College Promotion and Tenure Committee in a letter to the Dean; or 
    • by the Dean in a letter to the SVCAA. 

Summary of key steps

Candidates must receive a written notice of positive or negative recommendation at each stage of the review process: by the faculty, the candidate's chair(s), the College of Arts and Sciences Promotion and Tenure Committee, and the dean. The notice must report on the deliberations that preceded the recommendation (e.g., assessments of performance). Everything in the notice becomes a part of the file.

Candidates who do not receive an initial recommendation for tenure or promotion have five (5) working days from the time they receive notice and a statement of the reasons for the negative recommendation to seek a reconsideration of the recommendation and to submit a rebuttal argument to the committee or official who made the negative recommendation. The committee or official must reconsider the candidate's file and, after deciding whether to change the initial recommendation, inform the candidate in writing of the decision. The candidate's request for reconsideration, the rebuttal argument, and the second recommendation become part of the candidate's file.

A candidate's request for reconsideration must specify whether it is for tenure and/or promotion. Participants in a review must not reconsider a recommendation on a candidacy if the candidate does not ask for a second recommendation on it. The same principle applies to candidate initiations of appeals after the termination of reviews for promotion.

To comply with campus deadlines, departments and the college must allow time for reconsiderations and appeals in the review processes for tenure and promotion.

When faculty members are candidates for both tenure and promotion: transmittal letters that notify candidates and others of recommendations for tenure and promotion may report recommendations for both tenure and promotion in the same letter as long as the letter clearly distinguishes the recommendations, votes and assessments for each candidacy. (Interpretation of the rules by the SVCAA's office.)

NOMINATIONS

1.a. NOMINATIONS FOR PROMOTION. Nominations may be made at the appropriate time by any member of the faculty, including the candidate. No person may be nominated without his or her consent, as indicated in a signed statement. Nominations made without the candidate's consent may be withdrawn by the candidate; withdrawn nominations must not prejudice the consideration of future nominations. Nominations are submitted to the department chair or director or to the unit's appropriate committee, depending on the bylaws of the candidate's department.

1.b. NOMINATIONS FOR TENURE. At the time the faculty member is proposed for initial appointment to a Specific Term position, the tenure notification date is established using the form, Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Tenure Decision Dates. This form specifies any credit given the individual as a result of previous experience. The form must be completed prior to submission of the appointment to the appropriate University appointing administrative officer for approval.

A faculty member with extensive academic experience may be offered a continuous appointment (or tenure) at the time he or she is hired, if the department (s), the A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Dean, the SVCAA, and the Chancellor approve prior to the extension of the offer.

The review process must be initiated in time to be concluded before the tenure notification date specified in the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Tenure Decision Dates. For a new faculty member without credit for prior experience, the Guidelines state that the review process would normally begin in the fall term of the sixth year of appointment.

The awarding of tenure before the mandatory time may be considered for the truly exceptional person. Early tenure implies that a candidate has exceeded in the shorter time period the type of sustained high level of performance that would be expected over the normal probationary period. Failure to be awarded tenure after early nomination will not prejudice later consideration. No person may be considered for tenure without his or her consent, as indicated in a signed statement. However, refusal to be considered at the mandatory time is equivalent to resignation no later than at the end of the probationary period.

2. Department deadlines will be adjusted annually based on campus and College deadlines. The deadlines must provide adequate opportunity for due process in the consideration of a candidate's file, including time to initiate and consider reconsiderations and appeals of negative recommendations. Nominations for tenure and promotion may occur in the same year and must involve separate votes.

Chairs and directors must set deadlines to ensure that the candidates and their units have enough time

  • to prepare a complete file;
  • to identify external reviewers and to solicit and collect reviews;
  • to give each candidate five (5) working days in which to review, object to, and respond in writing to existing and new material in his or her files before each unit or committee of appropriate unit faculty considers his or her file, for each unit or faculty committee to examine, discuss, and vote on a recommendation regarding the awarding of tenure and/or promotion for each candidate being considered;
  • (in units where the chair of a faculty committee writes a letter to the unit chair reporting the committee's assessment of a candidate's file:) for each unit or faculty committee to write a complete report to the chair (s) indicating separate votes on tenure and promotion and assessments of teaching, research, and service performance.
  • a. for each candidate to have five (5) working days after receiving the report in which to review, object to, and respond to recommendation (s) on his or her nomination (s) before it is sent to the chair and to
    • 1. request a reconsideration (s) of a negative majority faculty vote (s) and to submit a written rebuttal argument that will be part of the candidate's file when the unit or faculty committee reconsiders its negative decision (s); a candidate may attend a reconsideration to argue his or her case and to answer questions; a candidate's decision against appearing must not be used against him or her; the candidate must leave before vote (s) are cast; or
    • 2. submit a written response to the faculty report of a positive majority vote that will be included in the candidate's file;
      • b. for each unit or faculty committee to reconsider the file of a candidate who received an initial adverse recommendation (s) and seeks a reconsideration;
      • c. (if a reconsideration is requested) for each unit or faculty committee to write a complete report to the chair (s) of the results of its reconsideration, including separate votes on tenure and promotion and its assessments of the candidate's performance;
      • d. for each unit or faculty committee to transmit its first report (if the candidate does not request a reconsideration of an initial negative decision) or its final report (if the candidate sought a reconsideration) to the chair, with a copy to the candidate; and
      • e. to give each candidate five (5) working days before the chair considers the file in which to review, object to, and respond in writing to the faculty's transmittal letter.
  • to give each candidate five (5) working days before the chair considers a file to review, object to, and respond in writing to the possible inclusion of new material to the file;
  • for the chair to review the candidate's entire file and to write a letter to the Dean making his or her own recommendation with clearly stated assessments of the candidate's performance that explain his or her recommendation;
  • for the candidate to have five (5) working days before the chair's letter and the file are sent to the Dean's Office to review, object to, and respond to the chair's letter and to
    • a. request a reconsideration (if the chair's recommendation is negative) and submit a written rebuttal argument to the chair; or
    • b. review, object to, and respond to the chair's letter (if the chair's letter is positive);
  • (if a reconsideration of an initial chair's negative recommendation is requested) for the chair to reconsider the recommendation and write a second and final transmittal to the Dean with his or her recommendation with a copy to the candidate;
  • (if the chair's initial recommendation was positive) for the chair to write a final transmittal letter to the Dean with a copy to the candidate; and
  • after informing the candidate in writing of the right to take five (5) working days to review, object to, and respond to the chair's final transmittal letter after receiving it, and after waiting for the candidate to do so, the chair sends the file and all recommendations, votes, and performance assessments to the Dean's Office.

In setting unit deadlines and schedules, chairs should keep in mind that campus deadlines in the past required the files for candidates for tenure and promotion to be in the Dean's Office around mid-November and the files of candidates for promotion to be in the Dean's Office around early January.

The candidate and everyone in the unit (s) considering his or her file should have a copy of the schedule and deadlines. When candidates have joint appointments, the chairs or directors of both of the candidate's units must work together to set coordinated schedules and deadlines.

3. Candidates are responsible for preparing the files supporting their nominations. The building of a candidate's file should begin when the letter of offer is signed and materials are collected and analyzed for a probationary faculty member's first annual performance review and first reappointment. Department and program administrators and the Dean's Office are responsible for advising candidates on the form and contents of their files. The recommendations from each stage of the review become part of the candidate's file. Files must be organized to comply with instructions from the SVCAA and the Dean.

Unless they waive certain rights (e.g., rights related to external reviews), candidates are entitled to have access to all the materials in a file and to know the identity of everyone who reviews all or parts of their files. Candidates have five (5) working days to review, object to, and respond in writing to the possible inclusion of new material in their files with their responses becoming a part of the files prior to any further consideration. Units must keep a record (e.g., a sign-in list) of everyone who examines every candidate's file and send the record to the Dean's Office with the rest of the file.

4. The use of external reviews is controlled by procedures and expectations set out earlier. Letters soliciting such reviews must inform potential reviewers of the extent to which review contents and authors will be known to the candidate. Departments should ensure that the process of choosing and soliciting the cooperation of external reviewers occurs in a timely manner so that a candidate's file will be considered by campus and College deadlines. Experience indicates that it is useful to initiate the external review process during the late spring or early summer preceding the academic year in which the candidate's file will be considered.

5. Before unit faculty examine his or her file, the candidate must be given five (5) working days in which to review, object to, and respond in writing to existing and new material in his or her files. The letter informing the candidate of this right should be in the file.

6. DEPARTMENT CONSIDERATION. Nominations are first considered by the candidate's department (or departments or other units if the candidate has a joint appointment). When a candidate holds an appointment and has responsibilities in more than one unit, his or her file will be reviewed by the appropriate committee of colleagues in each unit who are able to make informed judgments about the candidate by virtue of their rank, credentials, and experience. The process of constituting such committees must be established at the time of the apportionment or reapportionment of a candidate's responsibilities.

6.a. REGARDING PROMOTION. Departments are organized in different ways to review nominations; the most common approaches involve all faculty who hold the rank equal to or higher than that to which a candidate aspires or an elected subset of this group (i.e., a tenure and promotion committee).

6.b. REGARDING TENURE. Nominations are normally first considered by a committee of the candidate's department (or departments or other units if the candidate has a joint appointment). The committee must be composed of faculty in the unit who are tenured or who are an elected subset of this group.

7. While the chair/director (s) of the candidate's unit (s) shall not vote, he or she normally participates in the unit's deliberations. Each unit shall have rules determining the chair/director's role. Regardless of what that role is, the chair/director must have the opportunity to meet with the committee to discuss its recommendation.

8. The discussions at unit meetings should be free, candid, and based only on the material in the candidate's file. See the section on candidate files for rules governing the inclusion of new material. The individual who presides at the unit's deliberations must inform the candidate if new material has been submitted for inclusion in the file and delay the discussion and vote on the candidate until the candidate has had the opportunity to review, object to, and respond to the material. The candidate must be given five (5) working days to respond to the possible inclusion of new material. The presiding official decides whether to include the new material after the five day period has elapsed.

9. The decision and vote on whether to recommend the candidate for promotion (or tenure) must be transmitted in writing to the unit chair/director (s) (or to the Dean if the chair presides in faculty deliberations) and to the candidate along with a synopsis of the discussion that preceded the vote. The synopsis must include an assessment of the candidate's teaching, research, and service performance using the explicit and inferred categories from the A&S Handbook: outstanding, superior, good, adequate, and inadequate. The synopsis must clearly describe the reasons for each recommendation. This is to give candidates an opportunity to prepare rebuttal arguments (if a majority of faculty vote against promotion or tenure) or to comment on assessments of their record and on faculty votes (if the majority faculty vote is positive).

10. Upon receipt of the faculty's transmittal letter, the candidate has five (5) working days in which to

10a. ask for a reconsideration and to submit a rebuttal argument if the faculty's recommendation is not to promote (or tenure) the candidate. Such requests must be granted as expeditiously as possible and the reconsideration must be completed in time to comply with the submission deadline to the next level of review. No negative recommendation from the faculty shall be forwarded to the unit chair/director (s) (or the Dean if the chair presides in faculty deliberations) until the reconsideration is complete. The candidate has five (5) working days to review, object to, or respond to a transmittal reporting on the faculty's reconsideration of his or her file; or

10.b. review and comment on the assessments of his or her performance and on the faculty's vote if the majority of faculty voted to recommend promotion (or tenure).

11. After the completion of faculty deliberations, including any reconsideration of an initial negative decision, the chair/director (s) will inform the candidate in writing of his or her right to take five working days to review, object to, and respond to the possible inclusion of any new materials in the file; this notification becomes part of the file. The chair will then decide whether to add the new material (if such was submitted) and will review the candidate's entire record and make a recommendation on promotion (or tenure). This recommendation must be transmitted in writing to the candidate and to the faculty committee and must use the explicit and inferred evaluative terms in the A&S Handbook. The transmittal must clearly specify the chair's reasons for the recommendation (s) so that a candidate who has received an adverse chair/director recommendation (s) can prepare a rebuttal argument; a candidate who has received a positive chair/director recommendation must have five (5) working days from when he or she receives it to review and comment on it.

Candidates who receive a negative recommendation (s) have five (5) working days upon receipt of the transmittal letter to ask for a reconsideration by the chair/director and to submit a rebuttal argument. If requested, the reconsideration must be completed as expeditiously as possible and in time to comply with the submission deadline to the next level of review. A candidate who receives a second negative recommendation must have five (5) working days from the time when he receives it to review, object to, and respond to it.

12. After the completion of reviews, including any reconsiderations, at the department level, the chair sends the file to the College. The Dean's Office will examine the file to make sure it is complete.

The A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee will examine the file in order to make a recommendation to the Dean. The Dean may participate in the Promotion and Tenure Committee's deliberations and may discuss its recommendations with the committee but he or she does not vote with the committee. All discussions should be free and candid and must be based on material in the file. The chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee must give the candidate five (5) working days to review, object to, and respond to the possible inclusion of new material in his or her file.

The purpose of the Promotion and Tenure Committee's review is to ensure that proper standards are being applied in the College and that the standards have been appropriately applied to the candidate. The committee's recommendation, vote, and a synopsis of the discussion assessing the candidate's record using the terms from the Handbook will be transmitted in writing to the candidate and the candidate's chair/director (s). If the recommendation is negative, the candidate has five (5) working days upon receipt of the transmittal to ask the committee to reconsider its recommendation and to draft a rebuttal argument using the synopsis of the committee discussion. The committee will conduct the reconsideration as expeditiously as possible and make a decision in time to meet the deadline for submission to the next level. The candidate has five (5) working days after receiving the committee's second and final letter (after the consideration) in which to review, object to, and respond to the letter. If a majority of the committee votes in favor of promotion (or tenure), the candidate also has five (5) working days upon receipt of the transmittal to review, object to, and comment on the committee's assessment of his or her record and its vote.

13. After the completion of Promotion and Tenure Committee deliberations, including any reconsideration of an initial negative decision, the committee sends a letter to the Dean reporting its assessments and vote (s). The Dean then informs the candidate in writing of the right to take five (5) working days to review, object to, and comment on new material if such has been submitted for the file; this notification becomes part of the file. After this time has elapsed and the Dean decides whether to add any new material, the Dean reviews the candidate's entire record to ensure that the College is applying proper standards and that they have been appropriately applied to the candidate. Based on this review, the Dean writes an independent recommendation and his or her reasons for it in a letter to the SVCAA and sends copies of the letter to the candidate, the candidate's chair (s), and the chair of the College Promotion and Tenure Committee.

If the Dean's recommendation is negative, he or she must inform the candidate in writing that the candidate has five (5) working days upon receipt of the Dean's letter in which to ask for a reconsideration and to submit rebuttal arguments. The letter must clearly specify the Dean's reasons for an adverse recommendation in order to give a candidate an opportunity to prepare a rebuttal argument. If requested, the reconsideration must be completed as expeditiously as possible and in time to comply with the submission deadline to the next level of review. Candidates who receive a positive recommendation from the Dean have five (5) working days in which to review, object to, and comment on the Dean's assessment of their records and on the Dean's recommendation.

14. TRANSMITTAL TO THE SVCAA.

14.a. REGARDING PROMOTION. If either the Promotion and Tenure Committee or the Dean recommend promotion, the file must be forwarded to the SVCAA for consideration.

If the Promotion and Tenure Committee and the Dean concur in a recommendation against promotion, the promotion process ends. The candidate and his or her department (s) each have a right to appeal the decision of the College to the SVCAA. The candidate and his or her chair/director receive a copy of the Dean's letter to the SVCAA that informs them of these appellate rights.

14.b. REGARDING TENURE. All tenure nominations must be forwarded to the SVCAA, regardless of decisions at the College level.

15. The SVCAA informs the candidate in writing of his or her right to take five (5) working days to review, object to, and comment on the possible inclusion of new material in the file; the notification becomes part of the file. After the candidate does or does not comment, the SVCAA decides whether to add material if any has been submitted for inclusion. The SVCAA then reviews the file, including recommendations from the College and the department (s), and makes an independent recommendation to the Chancellor. The SVCAA's review is to ensure that the appropriate promotion (or tenure) standards are being enforced across all UNL colleges and that they have been applied appropriately to the candidate. As part of his or her review, the SVCAA is encouraged to discuss problematic cases with the appropriate administrator or faculty committee before making a recommendation.

If the SVCAA recommends against promotion (or tenure), the candidate must be informed in writing of the recommendation and of his or her rights to have a written statement of the SVCAA's reasons for the adverse recommendation, to request a reconsideration by the SVCAA, and, regarding promotion nominations, to initiate an appeal to the Chancellor. Upon receiving this written notification, the candidate has five (5) working days in which to request the SVCAA's reasons, request a reconsideration by the SVCAA, and submit a rebuttal argument to the SVCAA. A candidate who receives a positive decision from the SVCAA has five (5) working days in which to review, object to, and comment on the SVCAA's written notification.

REGARDING PROMOTION. If a negative recommendation has been made by the SVCAA and any one of the reviewing parties (i.e., the department faculty committee, the chair/director (s), the A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee, or the Dean), the process ends. How-ever, the candidate, the department faculty, and the Dean each have the right to appeal to the Chancellor. The SVCAA must report his or her negative recommendation to these reviewing parties and inform them of their right to appeal to the Chancellor if the process ends.

REGARDING TENURE. All tenure nominations are forwarded to the Chancellor, regardless of the decisions at the College and SVCAA levels.

16. The Chancellor makes the final decision to award or not to award promotion or tenure. If the Chancellor decides against promotion or tenure, the SVCAA will transmit the Chancellor's decision in writing to the Dean, department (s), and the candidate. The candidate must be informed in writing that he or she may ask the Chancellor for the reasons for the negative decision and for a reconsideration by the Chancellor. The candidate has five (5) working days upon receipt of the Chancellor's notification in which to ask for the Chancellor's reasons for the adverse decision, request a reconsideration, and submit rebuttal arguments to the Chancellor. As with the earlier reconsiderations, it is expected that this reconsideration will be done as expeditiously as possible. Candidates who receive positive decisions from the Chancellor have five (5) working days upon receipt of the Chancellor's letter to review, object to, and respond to it.

A revision to Section 4.5 of the Bylaws passed by the Board of Regents on October 25 1996 states that the written standards of every campus regarding the awarding of promotion and tenure "shall not include any right of appeal to the Board of Regents, and to the extent that any such existing standards do include any provision providing for appeal to the Board of Regents, each such provision is hereby repealed." Thus, there is no right to appeal a negative decision by the Chancellor on promotion and/or tenure to the Board of Regents. (See the appendix for the text of this revision and the vote on it.)

The SVCAA informs candidates whether they have been promoted and/or awarded tenure.

17. WITHDRAWAL OF NOMINATIONS.

17.a. REGARDING PROMOTION . At any time, a candidate may request that his or her nomination be withdrawn from further consideration. Such request will be honored without prejudicing future attempts to secure promotion.

17.b. REGARDING TENURE. At any time a candidate for early tenure may request that his or her nomination be withdrawn from further consideration. Such request will be honored without prejudicing the candidate's consideration for tenure in the future.

18. If, at any point in a review, a candidate thinks that these procedures are not being followed, he or she may seek redress through discussions with responsible administrators. If such discussions do not resolve the situation to the candidate's satisfaction, the candidate may take his or her issue to the Conciliation Committee which will provide informal counsel and assistance to resolve the situation. If the candidate has procedural issues or believes that a negative recommendation has been made without sufficient consideration, he or she may file a formal grievance with the Grievance Committee. If the issue involves an alleged violation of an individual's academic freedom, the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee is empowered to investigate the allegations.

REGARDING TENURE. No procedural delays shall prevent a tenure recommendation involving notice of non-renewal from being submitted to the appropriate University administrative officer in time for his or her action by the appropriate deadline for notice of non-renewal. However, timely notice of non-renewal from the University in such circumstances shall not preclude either the completion of the appropriate review process or the later submission of a different recommendation to the Chancellor, if the review results so warrant.

CLARIFICATION OF TERMS

This is a clarification regarding the uses of the terms "reconsideration" and "appeal" in the Guidelines.

REGARDING PROMOTION. The Guidelines use different terms to refer to phases of the review process for promotion in which a candidate (and sometimes others) may seek a second recommendation after an initial adverse or negative recommendation.

A. A candidate may "request reconsideration" of an initial adverse recommendation by unit faculty, a chair or director, the A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Dean, the SVCAA, or the Chancellor.

B. A candidate (and others) "has a right to appeal" after the review process terminates when

  • the College Promotion and Tenure Committee and the Dean concur in an adverse recommendation, or
  • one of the reviewing parties and the SVCAA concur in an adverse recommendation.

(The Guidelines refer to concurring recommendations against promotion, not to concurring reasons for negative recommendations against promotion.)

Whether one term or the other is used is a function of whether a review is in process. A "reconsideration" is requested during the course of a review to change an initial adverse recommendation before it is transmitted to the next level of consideration. A candidate has "a right to appeal" after the review process terminates when either of the conditions noted in "B" above occur. In effect,

  • a candidate has four opportunities to request a reconsideration during a review in the College (to unit faculty, a chair/director, the A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee, and the Dean) and one reconsideration each from the SVCAA and from the Chancellor.
  • when the process terminates, a candidate has additional recourse by initiating an appeal to the SVCAA or to the Chancellor.

REGARDING TENURE.Throughout the "Mandatory Procedures" section of the Guidelines regarding tenure, there is reference to a candidate's right to request reconsideration of initial adverse or negative recommendations in the review process. However, one part of the section (VI.D. ( 12)) refers to a candidate's right to "pursue an appeal" of the SVCAA's decision to the Chancellor. In the entire section on tenure procedures, this is the only use of the word "appeal." Even when the candidate's right to seek a second and favorable recommendation from the Chancellor is discussed, the Guidelines indicate that the candidate has the right to "request reconsideration."

Given that the tenure procedures section of the Guidelines uses "appeal" just once and that it uses it and the phrase "request reconsideration" with reference to second decisions from the same official (i.e., the Chancellor), the terms are considered synonymous, interchangeable, and without substantive or procedural implications.