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University of Memphis

Department of Journalism

Tenure and Promotion Policy

Revised April 2003


A.        The Department of Journalism adopts these guidelines, revised in March 2003, as unique criteria within the department when considering faculty for tenure and promotion under the provision of the University of Memphis Tenure and Promotion Policy. Meeting these guidelines means the faculty member is eligible to be considered for promotion or tenure; however, it does not guarantee it. The tenure and promotion process begins at the department level and requires an understanding of the objectives and aims, not only of the department, but also of the college and University. Departmental criteria are consistent with the policies of the University and the Tennessee Board of Regents, but they have been tailored to the demands of the Department of Journalism to allow the department to maintain the degree of specialization in its faculty that the profession requires.

B.         TEACHING
Effective teaching is an essential criterion for tenure, which will not be granted without clear evidence that this candidate is an effective teacher. Evidence of teaching excellence should include, but is not limited to, the following: command of subject matter, ability to organize and present subject matter in a logical and meaningful way; ability to motivate undergraduates; and ability to stimulate creativity in graduate students. The candidate should invite the departmental committee on tenure and promotion, either singly or in a group, to visit classes. The findings of the committee members may be augmented by class visits by the department’s chairman. The candidate should present evidence that his/her classroom methods and standards are effective to the department committee.
      Documentation of teaching should routinely include when available:

  • Statement of teaching philosophy.
  • Course materials.
  • Systematic student evaluations for each course each semester, including the summer and the previous spring semester.
  • Grade distributions plus any comments the faculty member chooses to make about the relationship between the grade distribution and the nature of the course.
  • Evidence of supervision of student projects and other forms of student mentorship.
  • Open-ended or other student input.
  • Student projects.
  • Teaching recognition.
  • Teaching scholarship.
  • Peer input.
  • Evidence of professional development in teaching.
  • Evidence of disciplinary or interdisciplinary program or curricular development.
  • Alumni surveys and student exit interviews.
  • Classroom performance that demonstrates effective teaching, which will be judged by colleagues in the Journalism Department through classroom visits initiated by the candidate.
  • Accomplishments of former students who have entered a media-related profession.
  • Signed letters to the faculty member by past and present students, their parents or employers.
  • Syllabi submitted by the candidate of his or her courses.
  • Innovative teaching methods documented by the candidate in application support materials.
  • Other supportive materials the candidate chooses to include in support of his or her application.

We are a professionally oriented department that places a strong emphasis on journalism and mass communication skills and applied research. These applied research activities are to be considered equally as important as traditional publications in scholarly journals; therefore, the Department of Journalism faculty has tailored its definition of scholarship/creative activity to the demands of the discipline. The Department values and encourages a variety of approaches to scholarship, both theoretical and applied. Many journalism professors engage in community-based scholarship, which applies the skills and knowledge of journalism and mass communication to community concerns. Journalism professors also engage in more traditional research, which includes publication of refereed journal articles and books as well as presentations of research at refereed conferences. Still other journalism professors may engage in a third category of scholarship, which is consistent publication in non-refereed sources.

  • Community-Based Scholarship, as defined by the Department of Journalism, includes significant projects that identify problems within the Memphis Metro Area and offer solutions to these identified needs within the community. Journalism faculty are engaged in community-based scholarly activities that involve obtaining grant or research funds, going out into the community to determine needs, using applied journalism and mass communication skills, conducting focus groups and surveys and ultimately devising on-going projects to meet those needs. This type of scholarship requires knowledge and application of research methods and a sizable commitment of faculty time and resources. These community-based research projects include, but are not limited to, such long-term efforts as the Scripps-Howard City-Wide High School Journalism Program (The Teen Appeal) and professor-driven community scholarship activities that have involved problem solving for the following organizations—Brooks Museum, the Mid-South Fair, Boys Club, Circus Circus, Community Foundation for Greater Memphis and the University’s Art Museum. A survey of Memphis City Schools in the early 1990s showed that journalism teaching and journalistic publications were almost non-existent within the city school system. To meet this need, a proposal for a citywide high school journalism program was devised, submitted and funded and has been ongoing since 1997. Another example of community-based scholarship is the problem-solving research conducted for the University’s Art Museum. After the use of focus groups and surveys, students and their professor proposed a plan that solved many of the Museum’s image problems through the integration of advertising, public relations and marketing techniques. Current Museum strategies educate the public, present a more positive image, create awareness and provide additional funding for the upkeep of the facility and its special collections. All of research activities were accomplished through an Integrated Communication class.
  • Traditional research in refereed journals is also considered a reliable indication of scholarly ability. Professional scholarly papers presented at international, national, or regional meetings are appropriate. Books published by reputable firms and articles in refereed journals, reviewed by recognized scholars, are more significant than those that are not subjected to such rigorous examination. It should be emphasized that quality is more important than quantity. Titles include, but are not limited to the following: Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, Journal of Communication, Public Relations Review, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Newspaper Research Journal, Journal of Advertising, Public Opinion Quarterly, Mass Communication and Society, and numerous other refereed publications in the field. In addition, editing and judging the research of other scholars in the field, as editors of a national refereed journal should be considered the same as having published in refereed journals.
  • Additionally, the Department of Journalism places importance on consistent publishing in non-refereed sources such as trade magazines including Advertising Age, Broadcasting Magazine, College Press Review, Columbia Journalism Review, Editor & Publisher, Educational Broadcasting Review, Folio, Photography, Publishers’ Auxiliary, Radio-TV News Directors Association Communicator, The Quill, Quill and Scroll, The Writer, Writers’ Digest and a number of other non-refereed publications in the field. Beyond these, professional association pamphlets, newsletters and magazines also publish articles and essays that are considered scholarly activity in the journalism field. A few of these include Journalism History, Associated Press Managing Editors’ publications, Presstime and dozens of other worthy publications. Examples of electronic publications include television documentaries, participation in television programs such as Meet the Press, Issues and Answers, including local productions of similar content, and mass media website development projects.  Because journalism is a professionally oriented program, the doing of journalism, and contributing to the advancement of professional journalism, is considered worthy activity for a journalism scholar.

Service is a term encompassing a faculty member’s activities in one of three areas: outreach or public service, institutional service, and professional service. Evaluation of service will encompass both the extensiveness and the effectiveness of the service. It will include service to the profession, service to the institution (the university, college, and department), and service to the community.

The outreach or public service function of The University of Memphis is the University’s outreach to the community and society at large, with major emphasis on the application of knowledge for the solution of problems with which society is confronted. Outreach primarily involves sharing professional expertise and should directly support the goals and mission of the University. A vital component of the University’s mission, public service must be performed at the same high levels of quality that characterize the teaching and research programs. Service to the community will include membership, offices and special contributions to civic and community organizations to the degree that such roles involve academic specialties. Examples would include: extensive outreach by teaching journalism to high school students; formulating an advertising/public relations campaign for the Mid-South Fair, Brooks Arts Museum and moderator for public service programming aired on WKNO-TV. Consideration will be given to the nature of the organization and the scope of responsibility taken on local, regional and national levels.

Institutional service refers to work other than teaching and scholarship done at the department, college, or university level. A certain amount of such service is expected of every faculty member; indeed, the University could hardly function without conscientious faculty who perform committee work and other administrative responsibilities. Institutional service includes, but is not limited to, serving on departmental committees, advising students, and participating in college and university committees. Some faculty members may accept more extensive citizenship functions, such as a leadership role in the Faculty Senate, membership on a specially appointed task force, adviser to a university-wide student organization, and membership on a university search committee.
Institutional service may be departmental, inter-departmental, college or university levels. It may be administrative or committee work or all-campus faculty activities. Not only will the nature and scope of the responsibility undertaken be a factor, but also considered will be the manner in which it was performed, its demand on the individual’s resources, and its effectiveness. Service to students will be included—advising, sponsoring student organizations, directing publications, and finding, evaluating and placing students in paid and unpaid internships within the profession both locally and nationally.

Professional service refers to the work done for organizations related to one’s discipline or to the teaching profession generally. Service to the profession includes, but is not limited to, association leadership, journal editorships, article and grant proposal review, guest lecturing on other campuses, and other appropriate activities. Although it is impossible to define the exact nature of significant professional service, clearly more is required than organizational membership and attendance; examples of significant service would be that done by an officer of a professional organization or a member of the editorial staff of a journal.
Professional service will include activities that contribute to advancing the journalistic professions. These activities include:

  • Membership and offices held in professional organizations and service on their committees.
  • Directing or teaching workshops, conferences, and seminars that relate to the faculty member’s professional expertise.
  • Consulting with organizations on topics related to the candidate’s expertise.
  • Other documented contributions to the profession, including speeches and appearances in the media.

The chair of the Department of Journalism will conduct an annual review and evaluation of each faculty member individually and will schedule a personal meeting to discuss that review and evaluation. During this same meeting, the faculty member and the chair will also discuss the faculty member’s plans for the coming year. After the chair has completed and signed the annual faculty evaluation report, he/she will give the form to the faculty member. The faculty member will be given an opportunity to read, sign, and/or offer a written response. The chair also may respond to the faculty member’s written comments. A copy of the Faculty Evaluation and Planning report, along with any comments from the faculty member and chair, will be forwarded to the dean of the College. Evaluations may be considered in determining whether to renew a faculty member’s tenure track appointment. The department chair may use the annual evaluation and review process as an opportunity to counsel tenure-track faculty during their probationary period. The mid-tenure review, discussed below, provides an additional opportunity for counseling tenure track faculty regarding any areas of concern and becomes a part of the faculty member’s application for tenure. Because a faculty member’s annual evaluations and mid-tenure review are a core part of the materials considered for the faculty member’s tenure and promotion review, copies of these evaluations and review should be included in the tenure and promotion file of all tenure-track faculty.

The purpose of the mid-tenure review is to provide meaningful feedback and direction to the faculty member to assist him/her in planning and organizing subsequent work activities. The procedure for the mid-tenure review will be the same as that used for tenure and promotion review and will occur in the spring of the faculty member’s midpoint in the tenure process. For example, for an individual required to serve a six-year period prior to going up for tenure, that would occur in the spring of the third year. The chair of the tenure and promotion committee will notify the faculty member in January before the mid-tenure review that spring. The candidate will submit a dossier at least two weeks before the formal review to the tenure and promotion committee, which will review the materials. The dossier should include documentation of the quality of instruction, scholarly activity as defined in one of the three areas as well as outreach/service. Each candidate’s accomplishments will be evaluated with respect to quality as well as quantity. In addition to the University’s traditional missions of instruction, scholarship and outreach/service, the candidate should have also demonstrated a willingness to work with colleagues in supporting the goals and missions of the Department, College, and University. The committee chair will prepare a written report that addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty member’s accomplishments in instruction, scholarship, and outreach/service and submit the report to the department chair. The department chair will prepare a written report that addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty member’s accomplishments in instruction, scholarship, and outreach/service. A copy of the two reports will be presented to the faculty member. The department chair and/or the Tenure and Promotion Committee Chair, will meet with the candidate to discuss the reports. The candidate has the opportunity to provide a written response to the review, which will then be forwarded with the review to the dean of the college. The candidate may request a personal meeting, and/or file an appeal of the committee and chair’s decisions, with the dean of the college.

A faculty member on a tenure-track appointment must serve in a faculty position at the University during a probationary period prior to eligibility for application for tenure. The standard probationary period is six years, unless otherwise prescribed in writing and approved by the dean, provost and president. The actual process begins in the spring of the fifth year, for a person on a standard six-year tenure calendar, when the candidate is required to notify the chair of the department that he/she will submit an application for tenure. Absent an approved exception, formal application for tenure must be submitted in the fall semester of the beginning of the sixth academic year. Exceptions that may affect the length of the probationary period are addressed in the University of Memphis Faculty Handbook.

  • Documented evidence of ability in instruction and/or public service and/or research.
  • Earned doctorate or terminal degree from an accredited institution in the instructional discipline or related area plus at least five years appropriate professional experience (excluding experience concurrent with and in the same institution where studies were taken for an advanced degree) in the instructional discipline or related area
  • Documented evidence of high quality professional productivity, which is leading to national recognition in the academic discipline.
  • Evidence of outstanding potential in instruction, public service, and research, or a combination of these.
  • Documented evidence of high quality productivity in one of the three defined areas of scholarly activity: community-based or engaged scholarship, publication in traditional refereed ventures, consistent publishing in non-refereed sources, plus quality teaching, outreach to the community and potential for national recognition in the academic discipline.
  • Evidence of good character, mature attitude, and professional integrity.


  • Documented evidence of ability in instruction and/or public service and/or research
  • Earned doctorate or equivalent terminal degree from an accredited institution in the instructional discipline or related area plus at least ten years appropriate professional experience (excluding experience concurrent with and in the same institution where studies were taken for an advanced degree) in the instructional discipline or related area.
  • Documented evidence of sustained high quality productivity in one of the three defined areas of scholarly activity: community-based or engaged scholarship, publication in traditional refereed ventures, consistent publishing in non-refereed sources, plus quality teaching, outreach to the community.
  • Documented evidence of national recognition in the academic discipline.
  • Evidence of good character, mature attitude, professional integrity, and a high degree of academic maturity and responsibility.

The absence of teaching excellence and superior contributions to student development or the absence of scholarly or creative activity may prevent advancement to full professor. Since there is no higher rank, promotion to professor is taken with great care and requires a level of achievement substantively beyond that required for associate professor. This rank is not a reward for long service; rather it is recognition of superior achievement within the discipline with every expectation of continuing contributions to the university and the larger academic community.

Candidates for tenure and/or promotion should submit their applications and supporting papers to their department chair, who will transmit the documents directly to the department’s tenure and promotion committee. This committee will evaluate the candidate’s accomplishments, applying to them all relevant criteria. The departmental committee will return the applications and supporting papers to the department chair along with its recommendations and reasons for those recommendations. The departmental committee on tenure and promotion will examine the material submitted by the candidate and decide upon a recommendation favoring or rejecting the request. The committee’s recommendation will be submitted in writing to the department chair. The department chair will inform the candidate in writing of the outcome of the vote. The departmental chair will forward the committee’s action on the recommendation along with his or her own recommendation to the tenure and promotion committee of the College of Communication and Fine Arts.

The Journalism Department chair and faculty will establish a tenure and promotion committee to evaluate and make recommendations on individuals eligible for tenure and/or promotion. Because the committee advises the department chair, the department chair will not serve on the committee.
According to university policy, “he tenure and promotion committee of the department consists of all tenured associate professors and professors. For promotion to professor, the subcommittee of tenured professors will make the recommendations.”

A.   Non-tenured faculty may not serve on the tenure and promotion committee.

B.   The department chair will appoint the committee and designate a chair.

C.   Three members, including the chair, will be the minimum size of the committee.

D.   In the case of promotion applications to full professor, if additional members need to be added to attain the minimum size because too few full professor are available within the department, the chair will appoint members from the next lower academic rank (associate professor). This unique departmental requirement is in accordance with university policy that stipulates, “for small departments, some alternative process may be needed” to the university requirement stipulated above that the promotion committee for full professor should be comprised of full professors. Such appointment, or any other committee composition adjustment necessary due to extraordinary circumstances, will be subject to approval of the Dean of the College of Communication & Fine Arts.

E.   Secret ballots will be used.

F.   The committee chair will complete the paperwork, including the supporting documents, and submit them to the department chair.

G.   The department chair’s recommendation is independent of the Tenure and Promotion Committee recommendation.

H.   If the department chair applies for tenure or promotion, the dossier goes directly from the department committee to the college.

I.   The department chair notifies applicant of the progress of the application.

These guidelines will be reviewed every five years or as needed.

Calendar for Tenure and Policy

Department of Journalism



1.   Candidate notifies Department chair of intent to apply for tenure and promotion.

March 1

2.   Department chair notifies faculty to form T & P Committee and appoints chair.     

April 1

3.   Candidate and T & P Committee independently develop list of external reviewers.  


4.   Department chair and T & P Committee finalize list of external reviewers.

April 30

5.   Candidate develops packet of research materials and vita to send to external reviewers

May 30

6.   Department chair sends letter, candidate’s materials and departmental T & P guidelines to reviewers.

June 5

7.   Candidate completes dossier, following university, college and departmental guidelines.


8.   Department chair collects all materials and submits to departmental T & P Committee


9.   T & P Committee chair schedules and leads T & P Committee review meetings, drafts committee recommendations for committee member review, finalizes the committee’s recommendation and submits the report with all materials to the department chair.


10. Department chair independently reviews the candidate’s dossier and provides a rationale for the selection of external reviewers. He/she provides his/her own recommendation and submits this document along with the T & P recommendation, the candidate’s materials and the rationale for the selection of outside reviewers to the dean of the college.


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