FAQ About the Tenure & Promotion Process

These FAQs are meant to supplement, NOT to replace, the College’s Policies and Procedures for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion located on the A&S website. For more detail on any of the following questions, please consult those Policies or contact Associate Dean Tricia McElroy.

What is the deadline for notifying the College of the intent to apply for tenure and/or promotion?

The College expects to receive all notifications of intent to apply for tenure and/or promotion by May 1 prior to the academic year of application. Chairs should use this form to notify Clark Hall. Departments are encouraged to require an earlier deadline for candidates to notify their chairs, in order to expedite the often time-consuming process of securing external reviewers.

I have a faculty member whose hire date is in January. How do we determine when she goes up for tenure?

If a faculty member begins his or her appointment in January, he or she can elect to start the tenure clock either the August before or the August after beginning their appointment.

If the faculty member chooses to begin their tenure clock the August before beginning his or her appointment, she/he would waive their first-year review, normally conducted in the spring semester of the first year. These faculty members would submit the dossier the first October after their appointment begins for the second-year review. Evaluations of the faculty would reflect that the first year review had been waived.

If the faculty member elects to begin his or her tenure clock the August after their appointment begins, his or her first-year review would be conducted according to the normal schedule for first-year faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. The dossier would be due the following January, twelve months after beginning his or her appointment.  It should be noted, however that any scholarly work published or grants received during the spring semester immediately following the faculty member’s appointment will not count toward tenure and promotion.

Faculty members beginning in January must decide within their first semester whether they will begin their tenure clock the August before or the August after appointment, and must notify their chair and the Dean in writing.

How do I go about finding external reviewers? How does this process work, and how is the candidate involved?

Once a candidate notifies the chair of his or her intent to apply for tenure and/or promotion, the chair should initiate a conversation about identifying reviewers. Candidates and chairs should keep in mind the following criteria:

  • The College expects a minimum of four external reviews.
  • Reviewers must be at or above the rank being applied for by the candidate.
  • Reviewers are expected to be a scholar or creative expert in the candidate’s field.
  • Reviewers should be from a variety of institutions, excluding where the candidate received his/her terminal degree. In no case should the reviewer have participated in the degree evaluation of the candidate.

A basic outline of the process follows – allowing for the variations and particularities associated with different disciplines and fields.

  1. The candidate generates a list of four to six potential reviewers. Although not required, a senior colleague (other than the chair and, ideally, in the same or a related field) may review the list and suggest other possibilities. Members of the Departmental Tenure/Promotion Committee can also suggest potential reviewers.
  2. The chair takes the resultant list and if necessary identifies additional possibilities.
  3. The candidate then meets with the chair to review the list. The candidate has the right to appeal to the chair not to consider some of the potential reviewers.
  4. The chair must request letters from at least two persons suggested by the candidate but is not limited to names furnished by the candidate. Should one or both of the candidate’s suggested reviewers not respond, the chair is not required to seek out other letters from the candidate’s list to be part of the final minimum of four.
  5. A letter signed by the candidate stating whether he/she waives the right to view external letters must be included in the dossier. In the online system, this is an option that can be selected during the process.
  6. The chair and the candidate should select appropriate materials to be sent to the reviewers.
  7. The chairperson requests the letters of review (See sample letter in the College guidelines), as well as a cv from each reviewer. Reviewers’ qualifications must be included in the dossier.
  8. The chair should prepare and include in the candidate’s dossier a summary chart of all reviewers contacted, whether they accept or decline, and identifying who requested each reviewer.

Should the candidate include any teaching materials in the dossier to external reviewers?

External reviewers are charged with evaluating faculty on the quality of their research, scholarship, and creative activity –so, the short answer is no. However, reviewers should be sent the curriculum vitae of the candidate as part of the dossier, which presumably includes information about teaching, and past candidates have included a brief summary of their teaching record in a cover letter to external reviewers.

I’m having a difficult time lining up enough external reviewers. Does the College offer a modest stipend for this academic service?

The College does not offer a stipend for external reviewers.

Am I still required to get hard copies of letters and CVs from the external reviewers?

Scans of external review letters, with the signature of the reviewer, are now acceptable. The Dean’s office will still happily accept hard copy letters of evaluation. When the chair receives the letters, he/she can scan them and upload the scans to the FAR. The physical letters are then forwarded to the Dean’s Office to be filed.

Are candidates required to use the online FAR dossier system?

Yes. At this point, all candidates should be applying for tenure and promotion through the online system.

But do such candidates have to upload ALL of their work, even that prior to their last promotion?

No. Candidates for promotion to full professor are being evaluated on their research, teaching, and service since their last promotion. The dossier process in the FAR automatically blocks previous information based on when the last promotion took place. It can be helpful, however, in their letter of application for candidates to spend a paragraph giving a broad overview of their career highlights.

What do I need to do to get candidates set up in the dossier system?

If candidates have already used the system, they can simply click the link to activate their dossier. If not, please contact Tom Wolfe (twolfe@ua.edu), and he will activate the link.

My candidate has a book. How can this be transmitted through the online system?

The College allows for materials in hard copy to accompany the dossier through the process. Once the departmental and chair reviews are complete, the chair should forward any such material to Clark Hall, so that the College committee and the Dean will have access to the material during their reviews. The material will then be sent to the Provost’s office for that final stage of review. The College cannot provide funds for candidates to purchase extra copies of their published work to send to external reviewers.

What dates do I need to keep in mind for the process for the fall semester?

Candidates must publish their completed dossier no later than October 1. The chair should then review the dossier for completeness and then activate the departmental committee if the dossier is ready. Should items be missing, the chair will unpublish the dossier so that the candidate can insert the missing data. The chair should activate the dossier for the departmental committee no later than October 15. The dossier, departmental committee report, the chair’s report, and any explanatory or rebuttal statements by the candidate must be published for the Dean’s Office. All of the material submitted by the department should reach the Dean’s Office by November 1.

In writing their evaluation of candidates, can departmental chairs and tenure and promotion committees quote from external review letters?

External review letters are strictly confidential – otherwise, how can we trust that we are receiving an honest and unbiased assessment of candidates for tenure and promotion. However, the chair may ask a reviewer permission to quote from a letter, but this permission must be secured before a letter is published to the candidate.

What if the candidate wants to add material after the chair has activated the departmental committee?

No new evidence is added to the dossier after it has been transmitted to the departmental committee. In extremely unusual circumstances, when new evidence becomes available which seems to the dean to be significant, the dean may reconvene the departmental and college committees and ask these committees and the departmental chair to assess the new evidence. Once a candidate publishes the dossier, no material should be deleted from it.