Tenure Track Faculty
Balancing demands for teaching, research, and service
Faculty members in departments have diverse career histories and developmental trajectories.
The department leadership should take this variation into account in determining teaching
and service assignments and in evaluating faculty members' expectations and accomplishments
in research, teaching, and service and contributions to the overall goals of the department.
Within the context of each discipline, junior faculty members must successfully learn
how to juggle the competing demands of teaching, research, and service if they are
to achieve regional, national, and international standing and to contribute to the
department in a productive and positive manner. When mentoring faculty, realistic
advice regarding the challenges of balancing demands should be explored.
Teaching: While most, if not all, faculty members contribute to the teaching program of the
department, prior teaching experience and research expertise should be taken into
account in determining teaching loads and assignments. For early career faculty members,
a balance between lower division and upper division (and sometimes graduate) classes
is often preferable. Ideally, all departmental faculty members will contribute to
teaching the undergraduate curriculum, especially introductory courses. To the extent
possible, the initial courses for new faculty should draw upon the individual faculty
member's research expertise and interests. When faculty members are hired in a research
area that is not well represented in the curriculum but a goal for the department,
new courses might be considered to reflect the new faculty expertise. Typically the
new faculty member takes the lead in developing such course/s.
Monitoring the effectiveness of teaching is critical. This is especially critical
during the initial years of employment to establish that quality teaching is an important
measure for the department and college. Effectiveness of teaching should be addressed
as part of the process for setting annual goals during the academic year and importantly
during the annual evaluation of faculty. When teaching issues have been identified,
recommendations for improvement should be discussed and their implementation tracked.
While teaching effectiveness is of particular concern with new faculty members, it
remains an important part of annual evaluation, mid-tenure review, tenure and promotion
decisions, and post retirement contracts. Thus, the chair should regularly monitor
teaching effectiveness of all faculty members especially at the time of annual review.
Service: Similar to teaching, service assignments within the department, college, and university
for early career faculty should be carefully weighed such that pre-tenure faculty
members are not overwhelmed with service responsibilities. Ideally, service for pre-tenure
faculty will primarily be related to departmental needs. At the same time, it is important
that all faculty become familiar with "service sector" work within the university
and contribute effectively to the service needs of the department, college and university.
In short, it is important for the department chair to carefully and purposefully balance
the demands of service assignments. At the same time, it is important to emphasize
that the faculty member is part of the department and that being a responsible member
of the department is essential.
Research: All faculty members need to be supported in their efforts to conduct research and
to disseminate the results of their research. Research productivity is an especially
important aspect of annual review discussions and evaluations.
In their annual review of tenured faculty, both Associate and Full Professors, Chairs
should assess and then discuss the current research program of each faculty member.
This discussion should go beyond "how many publications are coming out," but instead
focus on the research projects and what faculty members are particularly enthusiastic
about doing. In short, while "output" is important, addressing the hows and whys of
the research activities of each faculty member is perhaps more helpful. Helping to
sustain faculty enthusiasm for their research activities is an invaluable contribution
of the chair.
Chairs themselves need to attempt to balance teaching, research, and service in their
own careers while chair. In short, service to the department and the university should
not overpower attention to research and professional service. The chair and senior
faculty should remember that they serve as models for junior faculty. Further, helping
junior faculty learn how to plan/outline an explicit research program/agenda and their
other workload will help the chair understand how they are balancing competing demands.
Departmental Guidelines for Tenure and Promotion
Each department has its own guidelines for tenure and promotion. When guidelines are
revised, they are forwarded to the Dean's office for review. When approved at that
level, they are forwarded by the Dean's office to the Provost for review. When approved
at that level, they are posted on the Provost's website. When the department's tenure
and promotion guidelines are revised, faculty should be reminded that in future tenure
and promotion decisions, the new guidelines will be in effect. To keep current, the
guidelines should be reviewed within the department at least every 3 years by the
Mid-tenure review should be envisioned as an opportunity for the faculty member, the
chair, and the tenure and promotion committee members to delve deeply into the progress
the mid-tenure faculty member is making with regard to eventually meeting expectations
for tenure and promotion. Built from the record of the annual evaluations, the discussion
shifts from feedback from the department chair to a reading from the department's
tenure and promotion committee. Thus, the mid-tenure review should accomplish several
- Assessing how well the mid-tenure faculty member is proceeding in his/her tenure process
regarding teaching, research, and service
- Providing possible modification of the course of his/her work and/or encouragement
of the direction he/she is going in.
- Considering a modification in the mentoring process
- Asking the faculty member for suggestions for support that would make a difference
in teaching, research, and service productivity.
In short, the mid-tenure review should accomplish much more than an assessment of
where the faculty member is at that time and should be seen as a focused opportunity
to find supports and possible solutions when there appear to be problems in productivity.
When faculty accomplishments are substantial, these accomplishments should be recognized
and the faculty member strongly encouraged to continue in a similar vein.
Typically chairs serve in a mentor capacity for faculty members, especially at the
time of annual review. But it is important that another faculty member, preferably
a tenured one, serve as an "in-depth" mentor. This tends to work best when the faculty
member identifies someone who might play this role, but the chair also might have
recommendations for someone who would work well as a mentor. The important thing is
that the mentor and the faculty member need to be able to work together well and to
regularly confer. In some cases a faculty member might want to have a mentor from
another department. It also is possible to have more than one mentor. It is important
to try to get a mentor system set up for new faculty during their initial year. These
relationships work best when it is possible for the faculty member to address an array
of professional development issues with his/her mentor.
Early termination of a tenure-track faculty member
Late winter, the chair must decide whether to continue the employment of untenured
tenure track faculty members into the following academic year. Prior to initiating
the formal paperwork process, the chair needs to consider the possibility that an
untenured faculty colleague should not be "renewed" for another year. While early
termination only occasionally happens, there are times when a faculty member is not
making good progress as a productive member of the department with regard to teaching,
research, and service. When it becomes clear that there is not a good "fit" between
a faculty member and the department's expectations, the chair should discuss the situation
with the Dean well in advance of making the decision. The chair should have problems/issues
documented in prior annual evaluations, if possible.