Part IX. – THE RANK AND TENURE COMMITTEE PROCEDURES

The following are the internal operating procedures of the Rank and Tenure Committee in effect at the time this Handbook was published. Revisions are made periodically by the committee and are on file in the Office of the Provost.

Section 1. CONSIDERATION FOR TENURE

  1. Initiating Consideration for Tenure
    1. The provost provides a list of faculty in their sixth qualifying year of service, including credit toward tenure for service elsewhere. All these are automatically considered, subject to the terms and conditions of tenure eligibility in the Bylaws, Article V, Section 1.A.
    2. In exceptional cases, a dean or chair may recommend consideration before the sixth year. The faculty member may decline such early consideration.
  2. Gathering Information and Recommendations for Tenure
    1. The candidate provides the basic materials for the tenure file, including summaries of student evaluations, third-year reviews, and annual reviews. The candidate is informed by the Office of the Provost if any crucial documents are missing or incomplete so that the candidate may attempt to complete the file.
    2. Candidates submit a current resumé, a self-assessment based on the criteria for tenure, an official transcript showing conferral of highest degree, and any other material they feel is directly relevant to their case (e.g., abstracts of publications, special syllabi, reviews of performances). Candidates do not normally meet with the committee, but they may ask to do so if they think it essential.
    3. Candidates provide the names of three members of the PLU faculty outside their discipline, and of three persons off-campus who have knowledge of their professional performance. The committee sends a request for a recommendation to each of these, together with a copy of PLU’s criteria for tenure.
    4. The candidate’s chair or dean provides a comprehensive recommendation, including both a detailed analysis of the candidate’s record with regard to each criterion and a discussion of the candidate’s role in the future of the department or school. Normally the chair or dean should consult with the faculty of the department or school in preparing this recommendation. Some schools or departments may use a faculty committee to formulate the recommendation.
    5. Faculty within the candidate’s department or school are all asked to give a written recommendation directly to the committee, guided by the criteria in the Faculty Constitution and Bylaws. If the response rate is low, the committee asks the chair or dean to encourage faculty to reply.
    6. A list of candidates for tenure is distributed to all faculty with an invitation to submit a signed recommendation about any candidate. The committee is especially interested in information from faculty who have worked with the candidate in professional or service activities: team-teaching, research projects, committees, or task forces.
    7. All recommendations and other data are kept in a special tenure file locked in the Office of the Provost. Only members of the committee, the provost, and the president have access to this file, and they are bound to maintain its confidentiality. For example, neither the candidate nor a chair or dean is told about the particular contents of any letter or even if a particular individual has submitted a recommendation. The purpose of this strict confidentiality is to secure the most candid and substantial recommendations.
      The committee is conscious of its obligation to corroborate claims made in confidential documents. In exceptional cases, those who have written recommendations may be asked to meet with the committee for discussion or otherwise to provide additional information.
    8. The committee uses as much informed opinion and accurate data as it can. Special attention is given to the comprehensive recommendation from the chair or dean, and to the individual recommendations from faculty within the candidate’s department or school. Also crucial is evidence of the quality of teaching, including but not limited to teaching and course feedback forms.
  3. Deliberation for Tenure
    1. Throughout its deliberations, the committee is concerned with these questions: Are recommendations being made with regard to the criteria for tenure specified in the Faculty Constitution and Bylaws? Is there clear evidence that the candidate will be a permanently valuable teacher and scholar (or artist, performer, coach, etc.) in their discipline? Have recommendations for or against a candidate been based on this kind of evidence? Are the standards for achieving tenure being kept consistent across the university?
    2. The process of the committee’s deliberations is as follows:
      1. The committee checks each candidate’s file to see if it is complete. If not, every effort is made to obtain crucial documents.
      2. Each committee member reads all information submitted for all candidates, though the discussion of each case is organized by one member of the committee. Discussion focuses on the criteria for tenure and on the long-term needs of the department or school. If recommendations are contradictory or not fully supported with reliable evidence, additional material is often sought from the candidate, from the chair or dean, or from others who may have the needed information or perspective.
      3. Committee members realize that any personal relationship with candidates or with those recommending them must not interfere with the obligation to make thoughtful and just decisions. Members express their personal opinion of a candidate only after all the information provided to the committee has been discussed.
      4. By faculty legislation (May 9, 1986), no faculty may serve on the committee the year they are considered for tenure. (Although current committee members may be considered for promotion, no member so considered participates in any review of the information or recommendations pertinent to their candidacy.)
      5. After thorough consideration of all evidence for a particular candidate, a vote is taken by secret ballot. Advisory members (e.g., students) do not vote. The results of this first ballot are only preliminary.
      6. After preliminary votes on all candidates, each case is reviewed again, with attention to any new evidence and to the consistency of applied criteria. Then a final vote is taken on each case by secret ballot.
      7. The committee first reports the affirmative or negative character of each final ballot (but not the exact proportion of yeas and nays) to the provost, who is then invited to discuss with the committee those cases in which their judgment differs. An attempt is made to reach a consensus or at least to specify clearly the reasons for any disagreement. In some cases, the committee may decide to reconsider its recommendation.
      8. The committee then reports the affirmative or negative character of its recommendation (but not the exact proportion of yeas and nays) to each candidate, to that candidate’s chair or dean, and to the president.
      9. In the case of a negative recommendation from the Rank and Tenure Committee, the candidate may request reasons for that recommendation from the chair of the committee, after a 24-hour waiting period. These reasons reflect a process in which professional peers have reviewed requested material and exercised their best judgments about whether or not a case has been sufficiently made. As communicated to the candidate, however, the reasons for a negative recommendation will be quite general. This is to protect the confidentiality of those who have written about the candidate. It also reflects the fact that the committee is comprised of individuals who may weigh factors of a case differently. Thus, in communicating the reasons for a negative recommendation to the candidate, the committee chair may, for example, specify which area (teaching, scholarship, or service) was of primary concern in the committee’s deliberations, and indicate one or several points of concern within that area. The chair of the committee will communicate the reasons orally. If this communication takes the form of a meeting, the candidate and the committee chair may each request a witness. The candidate may subsequently request that these general reasons be confirmed in writing. The candidate should consider that it may not always be to the advantage of the faculty member to be informed of the reasons for non-reappointment, particularly in writing.
      10. In the case of a negative recommendation from the provost, the candidate may request reasons for that recommendation from the provost, after a 24-hour waiting period. The procedures shall parallel those used by the Rank and Tenure Committee as described above (Section 1.C.2.i). If the candidate requests a reconsideration by both the Rank and Tenure Committee and the provost, these requests should be submitted simultaneously.
      11. A candidate or the candidate’s chair or dean may request in writing that the committee reconsider its decision. The committee is obliged to reopen the case, but is unlikely to change its recommendation unless there is substantial new evidence. If, after reviewing new evidence, there is any change in the committee’s recommendation, that change is immediately reported to the president and the provost
      12. A candidate or the candidate’s chair or dean may request in writing that the provost reconsider their decision. The provost is obliged to reopen the case, but is unlikely to change their recommendation unless there is substantial new evidence. If, after reviewing new evidence, there is any change in the provost’s recommendation, that change is immediately reported to the president.
      13. After reviewing both the committee’s recommendations and those of the provost, the president meets with the committee and the provost separately. In any case for which the president is reluctant to accept the committee recommendation or the provost recommendation, an attempt is made to reach consensus. The committee and/or the provost may choose to reconsider their respective recommendations in private or in consultation with each other before resubmitting them to the president. Any change in the committee’s recommendation is immediately reported to the candidate, the candidate’s chair or dean, and the provost. Any change in the provost’s recommendation is immediately reported to the candidate and the candidate’s chair or dean.
      14. Finally, the president decides on each case and forwards both their recommendations and those of the committee and the provost to the Board of Regents. The board makes the ultimate decision to approve or deny tenure.
      15. If tenure is denied, a terminal contact is offered. In exceptional cases, the committee may reconsider its recommendation after such a contract has been signed, but only if such a request is made by both signatories to the contract—the president and the faculty member.

Section 2. CONSIDERATION FOR PROMOTION

  1. Initiating Consideration for Promotion
    1. The chair or dean normally submits a written nomination to the committee. Tenure candidates are not automatically considered for promotion.
    2. Nominations may come from the candidate’s chair, dean, faculty colleagues, or the candidate themself.
    3. The committee informs each nominee and gives each an opportunity to decline if the nomination seems to that person premature or otherwise inappropriate.
  2. Gathering Information and Recommendations for Promotion
    1. The procedures parallel those used for tenure cases as described above (Section 1.B.1-8).
    2. Faculty members who are candidates for promotion to associate professor during the semester in which they are candidates for tenure submit a single file. The candidate’s self-assessment statement in the file must speak to both the criteria for tenure and promotion and the qualifications for the rank of associate professor. On-campus and off-campus referees, as well as faculty in the candidate’s department/school are asked to submit separate recommendations for promotion and tenure; however, they may submit a single letter that addresses both tenure and promotion, if they choose. Faculty who are candidates for tenure in one semester and candidates for promotion in another semester may ask that the provost transfer any appropriate material from the tenure file to the promotion file. In cases where a faculty member is a candidate for tenure in one semester and for promotion in another, both on-campus and off-campus referees will be asked to submit new letters for the promotion process.
    3. The promotion file, like the tenure file, is available only to the committee, the provost, and the president. Otherwise its contents are strictly confidential.
  3. Deliberation on Promotions
    1. Throughout its deliberations on promotions, the committee is concerned with these questions:
      1. Are recommendations and decisions being made with regard both to the general criteria for tenure and promotion and to the specific qualifications for promotion to a particular rank as listed in the Faculty Constitution and Bylaws?
      2. Is there clear and substantial evidence that the candidate has met these criteria?
      3. Have recommendations for or against a candidate been based on this kind of evidence?
      4. Are the standards for promotion to a given rank, including time in service, kept consistent across the university?
    2. The committee’s deliberations on promotions exactly parallel those for tenure (Section C.2.a-o), except that there is no provision for appeal after the president has submitted their final recommendations, together with the committee’s and the provost’s, to the Board of Regents. A faculty member can of course be re-nominated in the future.

Section 3. CONSIDERATION OF NON-RETENTION OF NON-TENURED FACULTY

  1. In order to ensure that faculty rights and due process are respected with consistency throughout the university, the committee oversees all cases in which full-time or tenure-eligible faculty are terminated or offered terminal contracts.
    1. The provost sends to the committee the names of any faculty members being considered for termination or a terminal contract at least ten days before the deadline for informing that individual. A justified exception occurs when new and decisive information comes to light in the last ten days before the deadline. In all cases, the provost explains in writing the reasons for termination or a terminal contract.
    2. The committee considers each such case and decides on a recommendation which is sent to the provost at least five days before the deadline for notifying the individual involved. In some cases, the committee may ask to meet with the provost.
    3. If a terminated faculty member appeals, the chair of the committee represents its views in the appeal procedure. In cases where faculty rights or due process seem to be seriously infringed, the committee may decide to initiate an appeal even if the faculty member involved is not so inclined.

Section 4. CONTINUING CONCERNS ABOUT RANK, TENURE, AND RETENTION

  1. The committee believes that decisions about rank and tenure should reflect the collective judgment of the whole faculty. The committee is not merely a bureaucratic device for assembling data, nor should its recommendation be regarded as just one more opinion. Rather the committee strives to represent, through its careful deliberations, the will of the faculty to retain and reward those, and only those, who enhance our community through their excellence. Though the committee’s recommendations are not binding, they should carry the weight of the collective voice of the faculty as a whole.
  2. In order to meet this standard, the committee depends on all faculty to respond promptly and thoughtfully to requests for information and recommendations. It also expects administrators to carry out their duties carefully and promptly, including annual evaluations, third-year and other periodic reviews, and comprehensive recommendations.
  3. While one of its functions is to ensure university-wide consistency in standards for promotion and tenure, the committee is aware that there are significant differences in the ways various academic units weigh the relative importance of degrees, publications, community involvement, and other issues. Each academic unit must make explicit what it expects and then apply those expectations consistently in making recommendations. The continuing challenge for the community is to acknowledge those discipline-specific interpretations while maintaining equivalent university-wide criteria.

Section 5. DEADLINES FOR PROCEDURES OF THE RANK AND TENURE COMMITTEE (ADJUSTED ANNUALLY)

  1. Consideration for Tenure (adjusted annually)
    1. April 12: Provost sends list of candidates to the committee. Committee opens tenure file in the Office of the Provost for each candidate, including teaching and course feedback form summary reports and annual and third-year reviews.
    2. April 16: Committee informs candidates and their chairs and deans of current procedures/schedule.
    3. May 3: Committee holds meetings—one with candidates, one with deans and chairs—to review and clarify current procedures.
    4. May 17: Candidates submit names and addresses of referees on and off campus.
    5. June 3: Committee requests recommendations from the candidate’s department/school colleagues and from the candidate’s on-campus referees.
    6. June 10: Committee requests recommendations from off-campus referees.
    7. Sept. 3: All PLU faculty are sent a list of candidates for tenure.
    8. Sept. 6: Candidates submit their file.
    9. Sept. 16: Deadline for receipt of tenure recommendations. Committee begins deliberations on each case.
    10. Nov. 15: Committee completes deliberations and confers with provost.
    11. Nov. 20: Committee reports its recommendations to the president, candidates, and their chairs and deans.
    12. Dec. 2: Committee deliberates requests for reconsideration, if any.
    13. Dec. 9: Committee meets with president to discuss its final recommendations.
  2. Consideration for Promotion to Associate Professor (adjusted annually)
    1. March 8: Committee sends notice of April 30 deadline for nominations for promotion to associate professor to all deans and department chairs.
    2. March 29: Committee sends notice of April 30 deadline for nominations for promotion to associate professor to all faculty.
    3. April 30: Deadline for nominations for promotion to associate professor. Committee informs candidates and their chairs/deans; candidates may decline. Candidates, if they accept nomination, are asked to submit an up-to-date resumé, a self-assessment based on the Criteria for Promotion and the Qualifications for Rank, an official transcript indicating conferral of highest degree, the names of three PLU referees outside their department, the names of three off-campus referees, and other material they consider relevant. The provost opens a promotion file, including teaching and course feedback form summary reports, periodic reviews by deans/chairs, and other material as requested by the candidate.
    4. May 3: Committee meets—with candidates, and separately with their chairs/deans—to clarify procedures, especially the relationship between the tenure and promotion decision-making processes.
    5. May 17: Candidates submit names and addresses of referees on and off campus.
    6. June 3: Committee requests recommendations from faculty in candidate’s department/school and from the candidate’s on-campus referees.
    7. June 10: Committee requests recommendations from off-campus referees.
    8. Sept. 3: All PLU faculty are sent a list of candidates for promotion to associate professor.
    9. Sept. 6: Candidates submit their files.
    10. Sept. 16: Deadline for receipt of promotion recommendations. Committee begins deliberations on each case.
    11. Nov. 15: Committee completes deliberations and confers with provost.
    12. Nov. 20: Committee reports its recommendations to the president, candidates, and their chairs and deans.
    13. Dec. 2: Committee deliberates requests for reconsideration, if any.
    14. Dec. 9: Committee meets with president to discuss its final recommendations.
  3. Consideration for Promotion to Professor (adjusted annually)
    1. Oct. 10: Committee sends notice of November 30 deadline for nominations for promotion to professor to all deans and department chairs.
    2. Nov. 1: Committee sends notice of November 30 deadline for nominations for promotion to professor to all faculty.
    3. Dec. 3 Deadline for nominations for promotion to professor. Committee informs candidates and their chairs/deans; candidates may decline. Candidates, if they accept nomination, are asked to submit an up-to-date resumé, a self-assessment statement based on the Criteria for Promotion and the Qualifications for Rank, the names of three PLU referees outside their department, the names of three off-campus referees, and other material they consider relevant. The provost opens a promotion file, including teaching and course feedback form summary reports, periodic reviews by deans/chairs, and other material as requested by the candidate.
    4. Dec. 7: Committee meets with candidates (and separately with their chairs/deans) to clarify procedures.
    5. Dec. 10: Committee receives names of referees from candidates.
    6. Dec. 12: All PLU faculty are sent the list of candidates for promotion to professor.
    7. Dec. 14: Committee sends requests for recommendations to on-campus referees and to all faculty in the candidate’s department/school.
    8. Dec. 17: Committee sends requests for recommendations to all off-campus referees.
    9. Feb. 1: Deadline for promotion file to be complete. Committee checks for completeness and informs candidates of missing documents they should submit.
    10. Feb. 1: Deadline for receipt of promotion recommendations. Committee begins deliberations on each case.
    11. Mar. 29: Committee completes deliberations and confers with provost.
    12. Apr. 12: Committee reports its recommendations to the president, candidates, and their chairs and deans.
    13. Apr. 22: Committee deliberates requests for consideration, if any.
    14. Apr. 30: Committee meets with president to discuss its final recommendations.
  4. Consideration of Non-Retention
    1. Dec. 1: Committee receives from provost names and rationale for non-retention of second-year faculty.
    2. Dec. 10: Committee sends to provost its recommendations on non-retention of second-year faculty.
    3. Feb. 15: Committee receives from provost names and rationale for non-retention of first-year faculty.
    4. Feb. 25: Committee sends to provost its recommendations on non-retention of first-year faculty.
    5. Mar. 1: Committee receives from provost names and rationale for all terminal contracts.
    6. Mar. 10: Committee sends to provost its recommendations on terminal contracts.

Section 6. TENURE AND PROMOTION CRITERIA

Those preparing written evaluations of faculty members being considered for tenure or promotion are urged to read carefully the general policies, criteria, and qualifications set forth in the Faculty Bylaws, Article V, Section 1.B. It is understood that any existing departmental or school guidelines that are on file with the committee and are consistent with the Faculty Constitution and Bylaws will also be considered. Qualitative judgments should be supported by specific discussion and documentation wherever possible.