Departments to Set New Tenure Standards
New policy will mostly affect new faculty
December 5, 2006 2:06 PM
The process of awarding faculty members lifetime employment is about to change.
The Academic Senate approved a revised Retention Tenure and Promotions Policy that allows individual departments to set up standards for determining the approval of faculty tenure. Previously, these decisions were based on university-wide guidelines.
Academic Senate Chair David Meredith said each department will still have to follow a set of guidelines in determining tenure. Among the main guidelines are the effectiveness of the teaching, professional achievement, and community-service work.
Current faculty members will be able to choose whether they wanted to be evaluated under the new policies set by the department or the old university policy.
“The people this will really affect haven’t been hired yet,” Meredith said.
According to the SF State Office of Public Affairs, about three of four eligible faculty members have been awarded tenure since the 1998-99 academic year. Last year, 15 of 16 eligible faculty members received tenure.
The devolution from university standards to department standards won't change the overall process of obtaining tenure. Currently, the process lasts about six months, and goes all the way from the individual departments making recommendations to the university president making the final call, Meredith said.
Faculty members usually become eligible for tenure by their sixth year of employment with the university. The department recommends tenure candidates to the college dean and the dean of faculty affairs. They gather information regarding their research, teaching, and service to be reviewed by a Retention and Tenure Committee composed of at least three tenured full-time faculty within their department.
The committee also reviews evaluations by students and other faculty members, which is placed in a separate file known as the Working Personnel Action File.
Upon reviewing the candidate’s information, the committee will write a letter that may or may not recommend tenure. Upon his or her review, the candidate can look at the committee recommendation and comment on it.
The department and department chair later give their recommendations to the college dean, who gives a recommendation to both the Tenure and Promotions Committee of the university and the provost of the university. The committee and the provost both make their recommendations to the university president, who reviews all of the information and makes the final decision regarding the tenure of a faculty member.
“Academia probably has the longest trial period of any job you can think of,” Meredith said. “Because it’s a lifelong job we offer to someone with tenure, we take an exceptionally long look.”
“It’s to the benefit of the students to ensure we get the best faculty we can,” he said.
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