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Faculty Senate

154 Administration Bldg.
Memphis, TN 38152-3370
Office: 901.678.2512
Fax: 901.678.4188
www.memphis.edu

 

November 24, 2009

Dear Colleagues:

President Raines and Provost Faudree have requested that the Faculty Senate consider a revision to the Faculty Handbook regarding language in the section on tenure and promotion (T&P) practices. The proposed revision addresses the statement acknowledging that “as departmental guidelines change, tenure-track faculty should receive information and support to deal with the changes.” The purpose of the revision is to specify the meaning of having adequate time to adjust to changes in T&P criteria and how that period is determined.

Please note that the proposed revision would apply only when there are changes in the evaluative criteria for tenure and promotion, not other changes in T&P procedures. For example, procedural changes—such as having letters of recommendation submitted in a new electronic format—would not be subject to this language.

Two proposals for the Handbook revision have been suggested:

1. The first version is a rule-based approach that specifies a set time period. In the current draft, the period is five years, but it could be altered to some other length of time. This proposal reads as follows:

“As departmental, college, and university standards for T&P evolve, the expectations for faculty members seeking tenure and promotion will also evolve. However, faculty members who apply for tenure or promotion must be given adequate opportunity to adjust to any substantial change in expectations that would affect the status of their candidacy. Therefore, when applying for tenure or promotion, candidates cannot be subject to revisions of the evaluative criteria in T&P guidelines  that are more recent than either (a) five academic years prior to their application or (b) the academic year in which they began service at the university, whichever time period is shorter.”

2. The second proposal uses a judgment-based model in which the length of time for adjusting to a change in T&P criteria is determined on a case-by-case basis using current university procedures. Those procedures would involve a recommendation by the department faculty followed by approvals from the college dean and provost. This proposal reads as follows:

“As departmental, college, and university standards for tenure evolve, the expectations for faculty members seeking tenure will also evolve. Therefore, when faculty members apply for tenure, they do so under the guidelines and criteria in effect at the time of the application. However, faculty members who apply for tenure must be given adequate opportunity to adjust to a change in expectations for tenure which have occurred since they were hired. The determination of what constitutes an adequate opportunity to adjust to a change will be made in the same manner as the university procedures for establishing department, college or university tenure and promotion criteria as described in the 2009 Faculty Handbook, Chapter 4 – Tenure and Promotion, Tenure and Promotion Overview, taking into consideration the significance of the change.”

The tenure and promotion process is of the highest importance for a university and the Faculty Senate wants to hear the views of all faculty concerning the proposed revisions to the T&P language in our Faculty Handbook. We therefore invite you to offer feedback and suggested changes to the proposals using this survey link. The survey is anonymous and your responses will not be identified with your name.

If you have questions about the survey, please contact Carolyn Featherstone <cafthrst@memphis.edu> in the senate office for assistance.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey S. Berman
President, Faculty Senate

 

 

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The University of Memphis
A Tennessee Board of Regents Institution
An Equal Opportunity · Affirmative Action University