Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Oct. 4, 1996

Senate committee takes on tenure, promotion issues

by Linda Charles
Early peer review of probationary faculty is one issue under study by a university committee reviewing promotion and tenure criteria and procedures.

The committee also is examining the relationship between a land-grant university and promotion and tenure criteria, the definition of scholarship, the role and evaluation of teaching and peer review of tenured faculty.

Early peer review, probably within the third year, would provide a "much-needed" viewpoint by peers with similar responsi-bilities and commitments prior to the formal tenure review, said Olivia Madison, associate professor of library and chair of the Committee to Review ISU Promotion and Tenure Criteria and Procedures. The committee was appointed by the Faculty Senate and the provost in April.

Since faculty who are not going to receive tenure must be notified before their sixth year begins, early peer reviews would provide untenured faculty with both peer and administrative guidance as well as time to make improvements in identified areas, Madison said.

While some departments conduct preliminary peer tenure reviews and peer reviews of tenured faculty, there are no university-wide requirements for either type of review, she said. The university does require annual administrative reviews for all faculty, plus the currently mandated tenure and promotion reviews.

Recent battles over tenure, such as those in Minnesota (see story on page 4), are on the committee members' minds as they work. Minnesota regents have unveiled a proposal that would allow them to cut faculty base salaries for reasons other than financial emergency and to fire tenured professors when their programs are eliminated or restructured and officials believe they will not be able to retrain or reassign them.

While the committee has received no word that the Iowa Board of Regents wants any radical changes in the promotion and tenure policy, "it's impossible for the committee to work in a vacuum," Madison said. Incidents such as those occurring at the University of Minnesota will have some effect on the committee.

The Iowa regents have asked their institutions to review promotion and tenure criteria.

"It is clear to me that our board is interested that we have a document that reflects our institution as it is today and in our future," Madison said.

The committee, she added, "is making a concerted effort to look at what is best for Iowa State in how we evaluate faculty performance and maintain a faculty that overall is representative of the university's goals and mission."

The committee discussion will focus on six general areas:

1) Land Grant/Research I
2) Teaching
3) Scholarship
4) Professional Practice / Extension /Outreach / Technology Transfer
5) Institutional Service
6) Tenure

Between now and March 1997, the committee will draft a preliminary report for formal input from the Faculty Senate, interested groups and individuals. Madison also noted that faculty input is welcome anytime and can be directed to any member of the committee.

All colleges and administrative levels are represented on the committee. The 16 members are: Madison, Benjamin Allen, Donald Beitz, Camilla Benbow, James Bernard, Susan Carlson, Susan Carpenter, Mary Huba, Dean Isaacson, John Kozak, Paul Lasley, Mary Littrell, David Martin, Riad Mahayni, Anton Netusil and Kirk Smith.

Next spring, when the preliminary report is unveiled, faculty input will be sought formally through the Faculty Senate and at least one open forum. The final document is expected to be presented for approval to the Faculty Senate next fall. It then will go to the administration and on to the regents for final approval.

"Our goal," Madison said, "is approval by the Faculty Senate. If we have done our homework, reflect the faculty and administration, listen carefully and gather wide input, we should be in a strong position."

Iowa State homepage

Inside Iowa State,, University Relations
Copyright © 1996, Iowa State University, all rights reserved
Revised 10/3/96