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What is the Promotion process at your institution?

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Promotion is generally a completely separate consideration than tenure. At some institutions, promotion coincides with tenure approval, while at others, promotion can happen even before tenure has been approved.

There is also a difference among the types of employment agreements. Contract faculty and typically adjunct faculty do not have tenure. But often there is the possibility for promotion. Is the three-legged stool (research, teaching, service) considered for your promotion assessment?

How does promotion work at your institution and what are the things that are expected of you to receive a promotion? Are the standards and requirements different for each level? Do they look at things, such as impact factor and influence on the discipline? What are the types of documents you are expected to supply? Are committees and outside reviewers involved?

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I have a long university document I can post if there is interest, but in short, promotions sit on a three legged stool of research, teaching and service.  

A research faculty member moves through the ranks of lecturer, senior lecturer, associate professor, to professor. Research is probably the property that is weighted most highly, and one will not move above Senior Lecturer unless you have research of international impact or are bringing significant sums of money to the institution. The promotions criteria and expectations are clearly described for each level. Promotions at the lecturer and senior lecturer level are assessed within our College, but those applying for Associate Professor and Professor must go up against a university-wide committee.

Associate Professor and Professor applications require 3 to 5 external assessments.

Off the top of my head I do not have a sense of success rates, but it is generally expected that it will take several attempts to be successful, and that the majority of researchers in the university will finish their career at the Senior Lecturer level.   

Sadly, while teaching is evaluated in promotions, in practice it is not ranked very highly. 


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At YSU, it is as follows:

1. Go up for tenure with a committee comprised of all tenured faculty. Rank is irrelevant here. Tenure application is comprised of evidence contained ina  4-inch three-ring binder and a presentation to tenured faculty. 

2. Find out the day of presentation whether there was a positive or negative vote on tenure. If positive vote, Chair documents the vote, writes letter of support, sends to Dean who then writes their own letter, then it goes to the Provost. Generally the tenure committee chair will provide information to the candidate to improve their evidence and ready it for promotion committees. 

3. One month later, go up for Promotion. Promotion application is comprised of evidence contained ina  4-inch three-ring binder and a presentation to Associate Professor level faculty and above. 

4. Find out the day of presentation whether there was a positive or negative vote on promotion. Vote results are then sent to Chair and Dean, who then compromise a College Promotion Committee, where candidate is then evaluated by Associate Professor level faculty and above across all the schools in the college.

5. Give a 10 minute presentation to College Promotion Committee. Sit through a 10-min Q&A with College Promotion Committee.

6. Regardless of vote, Dean has final say and can overturn both Department and College committees. Dean's final decision is then sent to Provost who then informs the faculty member via Memo. 

7. If not promoted, but tenured, rinse and repeat steps 3-6 until promoted. 

A few follow up points:

1. Promotion in department is based on definitions on Governance document. Which change moderately every 2-3 years, so there are shifting expectations.
2. We do not have external reviewers at any part of the tenure and promotion process, though external letters of support are encouraged. 
3. Impact factor and influence on the discipline are not very strongly influenced or assessed. 
4. Peer-Review is HIGHLY if not the most significant aspect of evidence that is critically evaluated. Peer review focuses on presentations, papers, exhibitions, competitions, and grants. Professional work is considered only IF the applicant had to compete via a proposal or bidding process for the work that they did. 


My personal evaluation: this sounds similar to the process at other colleges, with the main variable being the people involved. The entire process for me this year has been completely awful and has taken most of the focus away from the classroom and other responsibilities – even to that of my family. Furthermore, the erratic transition of change in my department, college, and university's culture has made this process difficult not just for creative arts faculty, but faculty from all across the university. Consequently, many INCREDIBLE junior faculty educators are finding new employment either well in advance of their tenure application or shortly before. 

Lately, I've felt that the constant shift in culture [and politics] has made this process more difficult for junior faculty across the board and that ultimately it will have major consequences on the RECRUITMENT and RETENTION of high quality, highly motivated faculty. 

I have opinions about this relative to my situation, an am happy to share if requested - but would prefer to keep those converastions off-forum.




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i am very interested in this topic for several reasons. i began at my university under guidelines for art faculty and the field has changed significantly since that time. they were still open enough as to accommodate design, but now, there are some differences. One of my colleagues is working with the AIGA DEC and mentioned this: https://educators.aiga.org/category/resources/promotion-tenure/

In general, we go up at the end of our 6th year for promotion and tenure, have 5 external letters from faculty in our area of specialization, and are evaluated externally ONLY on research. i feel the process is fair (in so far as this can be), particularly since faculty can select ½ the reviewers and the others need to know your kind of design. However, there are new things designers are working on that need to be factored in. Also, not everything has the level of peer review that a traditional academic will have. 

As RJ writes above, all the voting and letters are advisory until the president and board of trustees. a positive or negative vote can be overturned at any stage. and peer review can direct the path – I am in a department with 5 disciplines. It is the peer reviewers who have a lot of weight. If they are negative, it can go very badly. 

i have found it advisable to share materials with other colleagues to get them on board with your work prior to going up. 

Edited by Maria Rogal
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@Maria Rogal thanks for sharing your process – it's a bit more divergent then what I've experienced at other institutions or discussed with other colleagues. You raise a great point about sharing materials with colleagues. There needs to be a PK-style of presentations, internally with faculties, that shares this information with everyone at one time and in one place. There might be some groaning, but what a great way to establish an opportunity for all to be involved, feel included, and hopefully collaborate. 

I might propose this to my new Chair and see where it goes. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, this could go deep for me.

Context: I am at a state college in PA's system, we are under one CBA with a standard set of rules across all of our 14 universities besides a few local agreements that may differ.

Assistant to Associate Professor: Years 1 - 5, You get reviewed by students and faculty each semester and need to hand in a yearly report. At the end of the 5 years, you can submit for tenure and promotion, but they are not tied together. Meaning that some get tenure but not promoted, yes that is very weird. Most people get tenure but promotion is competitive as rank is tied into pay scale. Higher your rank, more you get paid. When you go up for either you hand in a multiple page narrative packet (it's like a book sometimes) and supporting binders that address Teaching, Scholarship, and Service. The Packet is reviewed by department faculty, then dean (both around Dec) and they both write a report that goes to a university level review committee made up of faculty from across the campus (different areas every year). So there is a good chance that the final committee could have no art or design people on it. That committee reviews all materials (ends around Apr) and ranks each candidate against each other, you get your number then, so it may say you are 5 out of 16. Then the provost reviews the numbers and materials and decides mid-summer where the cut off is and who gets promoted. Each year the number of people promoted to Associate professor changes, but it hovers around 45%, but only 25% for individuals that go up for the first time. It may take someone more than one year to get promoted.  

Once you get to Associate Professor you have to wait 5 more years to go up for Full Professor. It works very similar to above process-wise, but fewer people go up and fewer get promoted at this level. In many cases, individuals don't go up for full professor at all as they don't want to go through the process as it's crazy competitive. The past few years around 4 people across our university get promoted. 

Once someone earns full professor they get reviewed every 5 years just by their department and dean of their college, which isn't much paperwork compared to above. 


Edited by James Pannafino
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We are currently reviewing the tenure process as part of our new contract negotiation, so some items might change. 

We currently go up for tenure in our fifth year, we are also allowed to go up for a move to Associate Professor. If we don't get it in our fifth year we have an additional sixth year to go up again, if not granted tenure we have one more year to teach, then we are no longer employed at the University. Upon the August of your fifth year you submit a dossier to the department. It is a three ringed binder that covers 17 points. The main points are, research, publication and teaching. Other elements include letters, from within the university from tenured professors, and recommendations from outside of the university. (There is no external review). The publication is peer reviewed journals, and or jurors art exhibitions. Our current P&T process has a lot of gray area for what needs to be in the document. 

This process then goes through these steps: Department Review, Dean Review, P&T committee review, Provost Review, President Review, Board of Trustee Review. At any stage the reviewer can ask for additional documents or bring the applicant in for an interview. 




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