Ten Pointers on the Promotion and Tenure Process (for chairs and candidates)

These guidelines are suggestions and elaborations only. For more information consult the relevant sections of MUPIM, the Provost's Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure, and your department's governance document.

  1. Look at the timeline posted on the Provost's website to know what has to be done and when. It's never too early to start planning.
  2. The candidate and chair will come up with a list of ten potential external reviewers. They should not be friends, co-authors, dissertation committee members, or others who know you very well. Include a brief statement about your relationship with the individual—for example "I co-chaired a session at a professional meeting with this colleague". It is not unusual to be professionally acquainted with potential reviewers, and knowledge about the relationship can help identify the best possible reviewers for your case. Don't keep anyone on the list who is borderline too close and expect to "hold them as last resort" – very often we go to #10 on the list. Write a paragraph about each potential reviewer that includes academic appointment and rank, credentials, especially publications record (titles and presses of major books, number of articles, grants, where relevant). The chair sends the full list to CAS for approval. There is often some discussion between the dean's office and the department regarding the names.
  3. A potential reviewer must hold the rank that a person would achieve after promotion. For those applying for tenure and promotion to associate professor, while it is acceptable to have an external reviewer at the associate level, we recommend you limit the number of associate reviewers. Where you have a very strong associate professor as reviewer with expertise that overlaps well with the candidate, it is reasonable to use such a person. However, in our experience reviews from full professors generally carry more weight. For those going up for promotion to full professor it is ok for one of your external reviewers to be a repeat from your previous promotion, but in general the reviewers should be new. It is ok to include individuals from your earlier list who were not selected. Reviewers in research positions that are non-University organizations are acceptable, but again you probably would not want more than one person in that category as an actual reviewer.
  4. Once the list has been approved, four names are selected in this order, per CAS Manual of Operations: 1. Dean's representative 2. Dept. chair 3. Dept. P&T committee 4. Candidate. If any of them decline, the individual or group that chose them picks again. Reviewers need to be chosen in May and review packets should go out by the middle of June. Some chairs, concerned about getting the needed four letters, have solicited more external reviewers as a back-up plan. All letters received must be included in the packet, and CAS and University reviewers do ask why a candidate has additional reviews. We recommend phone conversations and verbal commitments from reviewers, rather than the extra solicitation model. In some cases chairs might receive a letter in which the reviewer identifies information that could compromise the integrity of the letter, such as a statement about a personal friendship with the candidate. This situation, or indeed any problematic letter, should be called to the attention of CAS immediately and may result in an additional letter being solicited.
  5. For promotion to Professor, the candidate should demonstrate excellence in teaching and scholarship, and strength in service. (For regional campus faculty the order of scholarship and service may be reversed.) One question we often get from those considering promotion to Professor is: How Much Scholarship Is Enough? MUPIM is brief and says that the cumulative record is considered when determining if someone has an established record in the discipline. In actuality, in the CAS and on the University P & T committee, the reviewers are most interested in the accomplishments of the candidate after their last promotion. While the entire body of work is taken into consideration, the emphasis is clearly on the accomplishments after tenure with the general expectation that the candidate will have produced a body of work that at least meets, but preferably exceeds the production that was expected prior to tenure. Exactly how that is defined will vary by department.
    Associate professors considering promotion are strongly encouraged to request a formative review from their department’s promotion committee, as described in MUPIM.
  6. Materials sent to reviewers will vary by discipline and by level (promotion and tenure vs. promotion). For promotion to Professor, MUPIM states that promotion is based on the candidate's "cumulative record" of contributions to the field. Instructions to reviewers ask for emphasis on the "recent" work, that is, work done since tenure (and not included in the tenure dossier). Materials sent to reviewers should include at least the most important of the scholarly or creative work done since tenure, and possibly all of that work. They may also include key items from the pre-tenure period though this should not be the focus of the case.
  7. The candidate will assemble the final P&T dossier in June and July. This is an arduous task, similar in scope to writing an article, but it is critical. A good dossier makes the process much easier and therefore much better for the candidate. The opening narrative describing your teaching/research/service philosophy is important and sets the stage for the review. Candidates should have their dossier carefully reviewed by colleagues. Associate deans are also available to review drafts. In general, avoid disciplinary jargon as most committee members will not be familiar with your field.
  8. A few specific tips about the dossier—
    Teaching—(for candidates at both levels) Materials must provide evidence of teaching effectiveness including student evaluations and data from at least one alternative evaluation tool such as SGIDs, SALG data, peer reviews, or teaching portfolios. Ideally, one such alternative evaluation should be done at least every two years, but at the very least there should be two of these in the file, completed since the last promotion. Student evaluations need to be presented comprehensively in a table and include the number of students in the class, the number of respondents and departmental means, where appropriate. The evaluation results should include the six University questions and the five CAS questions; other questions may be included, space permitting. All courses taught since the last promotion should be included. Candidates should also document reflection on all forms of assessment of their teaching. Do not present direct quotes from students. It is as important for the candidates to reflect on their teaching assessments as it is to report the assessments. Reflection should include specific examples of how the individual changed their approach to teaching as a result of evaluations, or explanations of unique features of classes that might bias student evaluations. (for chairs) Chairs should place student evaluations in the departmental context, particularly for similar courses. Chairs who systematically review student comments may include a representative example from the comments.
    Research or Creative Activity — The research section should include the quality of the journals (impact factors, where available, acceptance rates) and the candidate’s role in the publication, e.g. percentage contribution. If there are co-authored works, explain the order of authors that is typical of your discipline—e.g. is the first author always primary? Note articles published with student authors.
    Papers and books that have been accepted for publication should be included, but not book contracts. Accepted grants and those that have been submitted should be included, along with grant scores and funding rates. Publications documented to be under review may be included in your dossier, and in the materials sent to reviewers. However, only those works accepted for publication by the time of the CAS personnel committee meeting will be considered by that committee.
    The dossier should clearly delineate scholarship that has been completed during the candidate's time at Miami. Candidates who have taken years of credit should count scholarship completed during the credit years as well. Candidates for promotion to full professor should clearly distinguish publications that appeared subsequent to tenure from those that were part of the tenure package.
    Service— This section should carefully describe the nature of the service and its impact on the University, the profession and the community. Some contextual explanation of professional service is often helpful.
  9. (For chairs) The chair and the department promotion and tenure committee review the dossier and supporting materials, including the external letters. Once a determination has been made, the chair and department reviews are forwarded to CAS. Some departments have two letters, some have one. The chair's letter should not be a line by line review of the dossier. We have had 6-7 page chair letters that "summarize" a 20 page dossier, which does not help the review process. The chair's job is to place the candidate's materials in the context of the department and discipline and make a recommendation. How should these evaluation scores be understood for your department? How are the journals? How are edited books viewed in your discipline? The chair should not ignore issues of concern, such as if one of the external letters raises an issue. In such an instance the chair should explain the issue and discuss whether they agree or disagree with the reviewer. The chair's letter is not a letter of advocacy. It is a professional letter of review that can appropriately conclude with a recommendation. It should, however, be as objective as possible. A measured, balanced assessment is more convincing than a blanket rave. The chair and committee letters should make sure to use the MUPIM language (such as "excellence," "strength,") precisely, as any deviation sends an unclear message.
  10. The dossier, external letters and the chair and any committee letter(s) are forwarded to the CAS P&T committee. The committee consists of six senior faculty members and is chaired by an Associate Dean. The committee meets in October and makes a recommendation to the Dean. The Dean's decision is communicated to the candidate by the end of November and there is a 10-day period included to allow for an appeal in the case of a negative decision. By December 1, the Dean's recommendations are forwarded to the all-University committee for a decision by the end of January. Important new material (such as major publication acceptance) may be added to the dossier up to the point where the Dean's recommendations go to the University in early December. Positive recommendations are forwarded to the Board of Trustees at their February meeting.

Revised 2/1/17