GETTING RENEWED AND TENURED OR NOT
you're like most people, you'll find it somewhat stressful
to assemble and submit materials in support of your case for
renewal, tenure, or promotion. It's hard on the ego to put
out there for everyone to see what you've done - and what
you haven't done - and it's even scarier when you think about
what's at stake. In this situation it's crucial to get as
much information as you can about what's expected of you,
and to seek out help and support from people with experience
in the process. Colleagues in your department will be the
most valuable sources of advice because they know what works
in your particular subculture. What follows here are some
unofficial tips and suggestions based on my own experience
going through tenure and serving on the CAP in my department.
Renewal and tenure packages
1. Give yourself lots of time to prepare. Early in the academic
year prior to "coming up" for renewal or tenure, you should
get some clear information from your chair about the procedure
- what you need to do, and when. Questions to ask include
materials will I be asked to submit? (possibilities include
but are not limited to: CV; published work; unpublished
work or evidence of work in progress; TCEs quantitative
and narrative; statement of research, teaching, and service).
will evaluate my research? (useful to know, because you
may need to explain your work and your achievements in
ways that are accessible to people far from your own area
will my teaching be evaluated? Will colleagues visit my
classes? If so, who and when? (in some departments you
might be videotaped in the classroom; other departments
may rely solely on TCEs).
input if any will I have in the evaluation process? (e.g.:
for a tenure case, your department will normally ask you
to submit a list of names of possible external reviewers
of your work. You should also have an opportunity to provide
a list of people you want to exclude as reviewers. These
lists are extremely important, and you should prepare
them in consultation with trusted colleagues inside and
outside of your department. In my case, my PhD supervisor
had excellent advice of this matter).
2. Familiarize yourself with the procedures and follow them.
I think it's well established that women and members of
underrepresented minorities are most likely to lose out
when informal networks rather than formal procedures shape
outcomes. Fairness, in other words, is in our interest.
There's an official guideline describing what goes into
Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Packets the
last one I saw was a two-page list with that title. If your
chair hasn't given you a copy, you might ask for it. It's
useful to know which materials will be sent out from your
department to the dean and provost. That list also constitutes
a kind of informal map of the path your packet will follow:
past your departmental CAP, chair, college dean, PAC (Provost's
Advisory Committee), provost, and president. Additionally,
Carole Mooney in the Provost's Office has prepared 3 "dummy"
tenure packages, each showing the same candidate differently.
They're very useful in seeing how important presentation
can be to the outcome. You should be able to get these.
If not, contact WATCH.
Of the twelve items listed on the guidelines, only two are
prepared by you: "Form P" (with attachments) and the CV.
The P form is quite straightforward; it asks for certain
standard information to be included in a particular order.
Some things may appear on your CV or in the short statement
you are asked to write about your research, teaching, and
service. If so, you needn't repeat them on the P form itself,
but be sure to present information in the order requested,
so that the people who assess your CV know where to find
the things they're looking for. In general, follow the instructions
as closely as possible and go over everything with your
chair before you submit it. If your chair is unhelpful or
you don't trust his or her judgment, find someone in your
department who has served on the CAP and ask her or him
to look at your materials as well. If there's no one in
your department who can offer guidance, ask around among
your acquaintances and WATCH members to find someone who
has served on the PAC or who has experience on appeals boards
or other bodies that see files for renewal and tenure cases.
Leave yourself enough time to get input from other people;
it could save you from some costly or just silly mistakes.
3. Show yourself at your best, even if self-promotion embarrasses
you. When I came up for tenure, my chair urged me to leave
behind any inhibitions I might have about blowing my own
horn so that I could highlight my strengths. That was excellent
advice. Like a lot of people - maybe women more than men
- I think I needed permission to brag about myself. So give
yourself that permission and be sure to find a place on
your CV (in your statement about research, teaching, and
service; or among your attachments) to point to your achievements
and explain their significance. It helps to write your statement
in active voice and to use strong verbs that emphasize your
initiative and energy (e.g.: "I organized," "I developed,"
"I initiated," "I produced," and so on).
possible include evidence that people outside Notre Dame
recognize your accomplishments. In a tenure case, the
letters from external reviewers will do much of that work
for you, but there is still room in your statements to
quote briefly from someone who has praised you
often a word or phrase is all you need. This kind of thing
is also a good idea if you're up for renewal when no external
reports are included. Likewise a few well-chosen quotations
from students' evaluations of your teaching often serve
to illustrate claims you make about your own effectiveness
in the classroom.
this being said, keep your statement concise; your chair
should tell you what length is appropriate. Sometimes
less is more. In our department, statements of around
3-4 pages are common, with about half of that devoted
to research and the rest to teaching and service. Going
on too long or in too fulsome a fashion can make you sound
desperate rather than confident; here too, an experienced
set of eyes is essential.
the statements, the CV can be as long as it has to be
to include everything you've done. At least in the humanities,
people are impressed by long CVs. When I came up for renewal
(at a different university), I made my CV as brief as
possible, thinking that the people reviewing my case would
become impatient from too much detail. A senior colleague
who checked it over told me to redo it completely and
include everything independent studies I had supervised,
languages I spoke and read, conferences I had attended,
courses taught, presses for which I had reviewed manuscripts,
talks I'd given in the local community all of the
"little things" I had assumed were unimpressive and insignificant.
She also urged me to leave more space between sections
both to make the CV easier to read and to extend
its length. Instead of two cramped, cryptic pages, I ended
up with an eight-page CV that gave a clear idea of what
I'd been doing for the previous three years.
4. Be honest. In the desire to put one's best foot forward,
it can be tempting to go too far to misrepresent
things or try to make them appear to be more than they are.
Keep in mind that a lot of smart people with experience
evaluating academics will be assessing your materials. They
are likely to see through any efforts to pull the wool over
their eyes. Attempts to gild the lily can end up harming
your credibility, so check with your chair and experienced
colleagues to make sure that you've presented yourself accurately.
Once a case came before the CAP in our department that involved
a junior colleague who had listed all of his publications
under the heading "articles." In fact, the list included
things that couldn't really be counted as articles: book
reviews, pieces that appeared in newspapers, commentaries
for internet discussion lists. By the colleague's count,
there were more than ten articles, but the member of the
CAP that evaluated the case concluded that in fact only
two of those items qualified as refereed publications. As
you can imagine, the departmental evaluator viewed the entire
file more critically as a result of what was probably an
honest mistake on the part of a colleague eager to make
a strong case.
suggestion would be to use as many subheadings as you
need on your CV to indicate what the particular items
really are. Instead of a heading called "Articles" you
might need a large heading called "Publications" with
subheadings below such as "Articles in refereed journals";
"Papers published in conference proceedings"; "Book reviews";
"Electronic publications," and so on. Get copies of colleagues'
CVS to use as models and when in doubt, ask!
5. Keep things neat and organized. Some people are geniuses
at putting things in binders and files and labeling them
so that things are easy to find. Others struggle to be orderly.
If you're in the second category, ask one of your neat friends
to help you organize your materials. This may seem too obvious
even to bother mentioning, but it does make a difference.
If you pull your materials together at the last minute and
hand them in to your departmental CAP stuffed into file
folders, chances are they won't make a good first impression.
And after one or two CAP members look at them, they're going
to be in even worse shape. If you take the time to organize
your materials into a binder or something where you can
separate items with tabs and include a table of contents,
things are unlikely to get mixed up or lost.
orderly set-up will also help you weed out extraneous
materials. In one renewal packet that I saw, the candidate
had thrown in what seemed to be every email and note of
praise s/he ever received. Instead of strengthening the
case, those materials raised questions in the minds of
CAP members. Why in a case of renewal, when external reports
are not required, was the candidate so anxious to demonstrate
outside approval and in ways that appeared somewhat
unprofessional? (After all, those emails were not sent
with the view that they would be circulated). It would
have done the colleague in question more good to integrate
some of those words of praise into the statement of research
and just submit the supporting materials requested.
6. Think hard about the messages you want your packet to
send about you and make sure that the final product communicates
what you intend. Be especially careful when submitting unpublished
work or work in progress. There is a fine line here. On
the one hand, you want to show that you're productive and
demonstrate that you have an active, long-term research
agenda. On the other hand, you want to present yourself
as thorough and careful in your work and unfinished
projects aren't necessarily the best way to do so. Of course
one can be too cautious: according to some studies, women
tend to be more reluctant than men to put things out there
that aren't quite ready. You don't want to hold back too
much just because things aren't perfect. All I can do here
is urge you to talk to your chair and to colleagues you
trust as you decide exactly what to include.
University Appeals Committee was established as a faculty
body, independent of the Provost's office and the university
administration, to consider appeals from faculty who have
been denied tenure or contract renewal. The committee consists
of five full professors, one from each college of the university
and the Law School, each elected by faculty in that college.
When one of the members has prior involvement with a case,
directly or indirectly, that member must recuse himself or
herself and a replacement is elected.
Tenure and renewal appeals
A description of the University Appeals
Committee appears in the Faculty Handbook under "Academic
Articles, Article III, Section 4, Subsection f."
does the committee work?
The Appeals Committee cannot consider
questions about the quality of an appellant's work or whether
an reappointment or promotion should have been made; indeed,
the committee is prohibited from doing so. The committee
can only decide whether one or more of three errors has
been made during the tenure or renewal process: procedural
error, personal bias, or violation of academic freedom.
These are the only grounds for appeal to this committee.
If a faculty member alleges that one or more of these errors
has occurred, he or she notifies the Appeals Committee in
writing (with a copy to the Provost) by October 1 of the
year of the decision.
The University Appeals Committee reviews all documents provided
by the appellant. The Academic Articles specify that the
appellant must establish a prima facie case, "one which
has sufficient evidence to establish a violation of academic
freedom, personal bias, or procedural error, were such evidence
not contradicted and overcome by other evidence." The University
Appeals Committee, in this initial reading of the document,
will not make the final determination about whether such
a violation has occurred, but will rather determine whether
the appeal convincingly shows that the violation has likely
occurred. The University Appeals Committee votes on whether
such a case has been made.
If the majority vote that a prima facie case has been established,
the appeals process continues. The committee notifies the
provost, who in turn notifies the dean of the respective
college. An election is conducted by the appellant's college
council to choose three members of the Collegiate Appeals
Committee. This is the committee that will actually investigate
the evidence offered by the appellant that a violation has
occurred. Its members must be tenured, and they may not
come from the appellant's department, nor may they have
any prior involvement in the case. Though they are elected
by their college council, they do not have to be sitting
members of that council. One member of the University Appeals
Committee is selected to advise the Collegiate Appeals Committee
on the case.
The Collegiate Appeals Committee reviews the appeals document
and investigates its charges. It may interview witnesses
(all members of the committee must be present for such interviews).
It is likely, for instance, that the Collegiate Appeals
Committee will interview the appellant, the chair of the
department, and members of the Committee on Appointment
and Promotions. It is possible that other members of the
department, or other witnesses suggested by the appellant,
will be interviewed. The Committee may even call outside
witnesses; e.g., faculty at other universities who provided
reviews of the appellant's research. At the conclusion of
its investigation, the Collegiate Appeals Committee reports
its findings to the University Appeals Committee.
The University Appeals Committee, after reviewing the Collegiate
Appeals Committee's report, votes on whether a violation
has occurred. If the majority votes yes, the entire reappointment
or tenure case begins again. The University Committee notifies
the Provost in writing, and the Provost appoints a monitor
(who may have served on the Collegiate Committee). The monitor
is given access to a full copy of the Collegiate Committee's
report and tracks the case throughout its rehearing, attending
the meetings of the CAP as it deliberates the case again.
long does the process take?
The University Appeals Committee is
asked to come to a conclusion regarding a violation by December
31 of the year in which the appeal is made. If the case
is sent back to the appellant's department, it will follow
the usual route through the CAP, the department chair, the
dean, the Provost's Advisory Committee, the Provost, and
the President. The candidate will be informed of a final
decision before the end of the spring semester.
many appeals have resulted in an overturning of the original
In the five years the University Appeals
Committee has been in existence, it has only heard a handful
of cases. In two of those cases, the Committee voted that
a violation occurred and the cases were returned to their
departments to be reconsidered. In one of the cases, the
faculty member accepted appointment to another university
before the review was completed. In the other, the appellant
was informed that a negative decision by the CAP of the
department was made in the rehearing of the case.
it worth it, then, to file this kind of appeal?
The decision to appeal is, obviously,
one only the candidate can make. It is a time-consuming
and potentially draining undertaking, and it takes place
in a year when the candidate may already feel under tremendous
stress. It is difficult to prove that an error has been
made. For many appellants, however, filing an appeal is
also a chance to right a perceived wrong. A case which is
returned to a department for rehearing signals flaws in
the tenure or renewal process, and an appellant may feel
that educating colleagues about these flaws is an important
goal. A candidate for tenure or renewal who feels that a
violation has occurred may also opt to seek legal counsel,
outside the university appeals system.
there other appeals avenues within the university?
A member of the Regular Faculty who
feels that a decision against reappointment or promotion
is the product of sex discrimination may follow the appeals
procedure for sex discrimination (described in Appendix
A of the Academic Articles
and explained in Best
Practices in Appendix 15j, Sex Discrimination Suits Against
Notre Dame. A faculty member who alleges
sex discrimination may file both appeals simultaneously.
In the appeal to the University Appeals Committee, the charge
of sex discrimination would fall under the "personal bias"
grounds for an appeal.
do you prepare an appeals document?
The first step in preparing an appeals
document may be interviewing the chair of the department,
the dean, and the provost, about the process by which you
were denied renewal or tenure. (If you are filing a Frese
appeal alleging sex discrimination, this step is mandated.)
Get as much information as you can. Every department has
different procedures; get a copy of your department's procedures,
if you don't already have one. Ask questions. Take notes.
Make a list of all the evidence you can think of under the
categories of bias, procedural error, and academic freedom.
Colleagues who have served on the University Appeals Committee
or an on a Collegiate Appeals Committee may be willing to
review drafts of your appeal. These colleagues cannot tell
you about past cases - that information is strictly confidential
but they can give you some sense about whether they
find your arguments convincing. You may also be able to
locate a colleague who will be willing to serve as your
sounding board throughout this process (WATCH members may
be able to help you locate such a colleague).
Your appeals document can be as short or as long as you
need it to be. It should contain a strong argument in plain
English demonstrating that an error has been made in one
of the three categories. Sometimes in the case of
procedural error and personal bias, for instance
it may be hard to sort out which error has occurred. If
that is the case, say so plainly in the document. If you
allege, for instance, that one of your internal or external
reviewers is biased against you, the appointment of a reviewer
known to be biased may also constitute a procedural error
on your department's part.
In the case of procedural error, your department's written
procedures will be the basic guide, but these procedures
may be sketchy or general. Is there a procedure the department
should have followed, whether or not it is written down?
Were you given adequate time to prepare your tenure or renewal
materials? Were there any special circumstances?
If you are alleging personal bias (which may include, but
is not limited to, ethnic or gender bias), do you have any
written or e-mailed evidence to show a pattern? You may
be able to summarize conversations or encounters which convince
you of the bias. Describe these encounters fully and dispassionately.
If there are witnesses to the conversations or encounters,
let the Appeals Committee know. If colleagues are willing
to endorse your version of events, it is completely appropriate
to include their letters of support. Remember, the Collegiate
Appeals Committee will likely interview colleagues named
by you in your appeal.
should you include with your argument?
Include any evidence (including correspondence,
e-mails, teaching reports, and so forth) that is relevant
to your argument. Appellants have a tough job here - unlike
the members of the CAP and the Appeals Committee, they don't
have access to their tenure files. They don't know, for
example, who has reviewed the research or what conclusions
have been drawn about the teaching, and they do not have
access to the very documents that might support their appeals.
Appellants may feel they are shooting at moving targets
in the dark. If you have a strong hunch, lay it out clearly
in writing and support it as fully as you can; the tenure
file itself may contain some evidence to back your claim.
Remember that the Appeals Committee cannot make a judgment
about the quality of your research or teaching, but can
only decide whether one of the three errors that are grounds
for an appeal has been made.
there any other ways you can affect the appeals process?
All faculty members can strengthen
the appeals process by running for the University Appeals
Committee. We can also urge fair, even-handed colleagues
to let members of their college councils know that they
are available for nomination to the Collegiate Appeals Committee.
The work of the collegiate committees is intense but usually
accomplished in a month's time. The University Appeals Committee
generally meets throughout the fall semester. All faculty
members, but especially tenured faculty, should be actively
engaged in their departments' conversations about the tenure