Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Nov. 7, 1997

Faculty Senate will see revised P&T document next week

by Linda Charles

The much-awaited revisions to a proposed promotion and tenure policy will be presented to the Faculty Senate at its Nov. 11 meeting.

One result of the revision process is there now are two documents -- one on the evaluation of faculty and a second on promotion and tenure. The senate committee originally incorporated both topics into the same policy, but separated them during revisions.

The committee recommends that the two documents remain separate during the approval process.

The original draft of the proposed promotion and tenure policy was unveiled last spring. The revised policy changes the thrust of tenured faculty reviews and expands the definition of scholarship.

Evaluation process

The original proposal called for tenured faculty to be reviewed every five years at the departmental level. Those whose performances were deemed inadequate were to be referred to their DEOs to develop a plan for improvement. A second unsatisfactory review could signal the possible need for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Under the revised plan, every five years, tenured faculty would receive a comprehensive peer review. The committee based the review procedures and criteria on national American Assn. of University Professors (AAUP) guidelines, designed the procedures to safeguard academic freedom and used different criteria than those used for promotion and tenure.

The committee recommends that the reviews be flexible enough to acknowledge different expectations among disciplines and stages of faculty careers. Under the proposal, reviews would be confidential, faculty would have an opportunity to respond and development plans would not be imposed unilaterally.

Under the committee proposal, peer involvement in the review could range from a faculty group reviewing and commenting on an evaluation report written by the DEO to a faculty group conducting the review and writing an evaluation report for use by the DEO. External letters would not be expected but could be requested by the faculty member being reviewed.

The committee calls for two other mandatory reviews. Third- year reviews of faculty on tenure-track appointments would give constructive, developmental feedback to faculty regarding their progress in meeting departmental criteria for promotion and tenure. The committee also proposes evaluations of department executive officers for their administrative responsibilities and accomplishments.

In addition, the committee proposes that all reviews focus on the faculty member's accomplishments within the context of the responsibilities of his or her position and departmental criteria.

Promotion and tenure process

The second document on the promotion and tenure process stresses the importance of tenure and academic freedom.

"The public is best served when faculty are free to teach, conduct research, provide extension/professional practice services and engage in institutional service without fear of reprisal or without compromising the pursuit of knowledge and/or the creative process," the document says.

The document broadens the definition of scholarship to include all aspects of faculty activity -- teaching, research/artistic activities, extension/professional practice and, when appropriate, institutional service. Currently, scholarship is defined more narrowly as research and artistic activities.

The original proposal broadened the definition to include intellectual work in teaching, research/artistic activities or extension/professional practice that is communicated to various audiences and validated by peers.

The revised document spells out in more detail what constitutes scholarship. A faculty member would obtain tenure by excelling in scholarship and the beneficiaries of his or her scholarship could be peers, undergraduate and graduate students, users, patrons, the public and others.

The proposed policy calls for scholarship to be critically evaluated by professional peers, including those outside the university.

The committee also revised the qualifications for academic rank for associate and full professor. The criteria for associate professor is excellence in scholarship, effectiveness in the assigned areas of responsibility and satisfactory institutional service. The criteria for full professor includes national distinction in scholarship, effectiveness in areas of responsibility and significant institutional service.

Approval process

The two documents will be presented to the Faculty Senate Tuesday. At last month's meeting, the senate agreed to submit the policy to a full faculty vote. The procedure for that has yet to be determined, and the senate could reconsider that decision.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in 260 Scheman. It is open to the public.

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