June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Faculty Development Constituent Committee
This paper is a Work in Progress Paper that summarizes the work being done at the University of TOWN School of Engineering to re-vision, draft and assess a promotion and tenure process and criteria that serve as a powerful professional development tool for faculty. As part of the re-visioning process, a literature review on promotion and tenure was conducted to assess the history, philosophy, relevance and best practices related to tenure and promotion of faculty. Additionally, promotion and tenure by-laws from approximately 25 engineering programs at small, medium and large universities were examined. Finally, a robustness assessment was conducted on a component of the revised promotion and tenure policy to determine if it provided for consistency in evaluation. This paper will summarize the re-visioning process and resultant policies, the key points obtained from the literature review and review of existing policies, and the results from the robustness assessment.
The landscape of higher education is undergoing significant change (Trinkle, 2011, O’Meara, Eatman and Petersen, 2015). The legitimacy and need for tenure has been called into question, institutions are increasingly relying on contingent faculty such as lecturers and faculty of practice, and universities are faced with multiple competing priorities such as an increased need for faculty to engage in entrepreneurial and revenue generating activities, increased demand by students and parents for high quality classroom experiences, and public scrutiny of higher education (Ehrenberg & Zhang, 2005; O’Meara & Braskamp, 2005). For tenure track faculty members, a primary goal is to achieve success in being promoted and granted tenure. Although the concept of tenure at universities has been around since the medieval days, the process used for assessing faculty for the purpose of promotion and tenure is typically a bit unclear (Karran, 2009, Hibel, 2016). For the most part, faculty understand that they need to excel in scholarship, teaching and service. However, most promotion and tenure documents lack clarity and have no real measure for ensuring that the policies are applied in a consistent and fair manner (Yedidia & Bickel, 2001.) Even though most tenure track faculty members aspire to engage in professional activities that would make them well qualified for being promoted and granted tenure, the lack of clarity in the documents make it difficult for these faculty to discern what these activities might be. As a result, many current promotion and tenure documents serve as a summative evaluative tool as opposed to a tool that would be useful for faculty development. This is very unfortunate. If being promoted and granted tenure is so important to a faculty member, then the tenure and promotion process could also be used to help encourage faculty to engage in activities that are highly valued by the institution while also helping the faculty member define a clear developmental path along their career trajectory. In an effort to address this issue, the University of TOWN School of Engineering, is currently engaging in a significant promotion and tenure re-visioning process including rewriting their Promotion and Tenure Procedures. Among numerous other goals, the policies and procedures are being developed to be formative as well as evaluative and to include tools to aid in career planning, self-assessment and reflection. Additionally, the policies and procedures are being developed to incorporate best practices in faculty evaluation, tenure and promotion such as clarity in expectations of faculty and tools to promote consistency in the evaluations, and better ensure a faculty member receives candid, constructive and frequent feedback from diverse faculty and administrators, and the inclusion of practices that recognize a variety of different faculty contributions (Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, 2014; American Council on Education, 2000) Finally, the policies and procedures are being designed to span the entire career of the faculty member from hire to retire. The authors prefer to disseminate this Work in Progress paper in the form of a lightening talk. The authors also request permission to exceed the four page limit for this submission.
American Council on Education. (2000). Good practice in tenure evaluation: Advice for tenure faculty, department chairs, and academic administrators. American Council on Education, Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED457764.
Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. (2014). Benchmark best practices: Tenure & Promotion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education. Ehrenberg, R. G. & Zhang, L. (2005). Do tenured and tenure-track faculty matter? Journal of Human Resources, 60(3), 647-659.
Hibel, A. (2016). Tenure in academia, the past, present and future. Retrieved from https://www.higheredjobs.com/higheredcareers/interviews.cfm?ID=459
Karran, T. (2009). Academic freedom: In justification of a universal ideal. Studies in Higher Education, 34(3), 263-283.
O’Meara, K.A., Braskamp, L. (2005). Aligning faculty reward systems and development to promote faculty and student growth. NASPA Journal, 42:2, 223-240.
O'Meara, K., Eatman, T., & Petersen, S. (2015). Advancing engaged scholarship in promotion and tenure: A roadmap and call for reform. Liberal Education, 101(3). Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/2015/summer/o%27meara
Staley, D. J. & Trinkle, D. A. (February 2011). The changing landscape of higher education. Educase Review 46 (1), 16-33. Yedidia, M. & Bickel, J. (2001). Why aren’t there more women leaders in academic medicine? The views of clinical department chairs. Academic Medicine, 75(5): 453-465.
Pinnell, M., & Crosson, K., & Altman, A., & Hart, E., & Schilling, M. R. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Can Faculty Assessment and Faculty Development be Accomplished with the Same Instrument? Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33574
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