3.3.4 Tenure

A. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to specify the procedures for recommending tenure and for implementing policies as set forth in The University of Texas System Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, Rule 31007.

B. Persons Affected

Tenure track faculty, Faculty, Department chairs, Deans, Provost, President

C. Definitions

Not applicable.

D. Policy and Procedures

A. The Concept of Tenure

Tenure is a faculty status that assures faculty they will be able to perform their professional institutional responsibilities without fear of arbitrary dismissal. Academic freedom and professional security, the products of tenure, are needed to assure the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations. To ensure academic freedom, tenured faculty shall remain tenured until retirement or resignation unless terminated because of:

  1. abandonment of academic programs or positions (Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 31003, Section 2)
  2. financial exigency (Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 31003, Section 3), or
  3. good cause in accordance with Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 31008, Section 1

B. Regulations Governing the Award of Tenure

  1. Recommendations regarding tenure of all tenure-track faculty, including administrators holding faculty status, shall be made through consistent application of established procedures set forth in this document with final approval by the Board of Regents.
  2. A tenure-track appointment is one in which the appointee's principal responsibilities are teaching, professional achievement, and professional service.
  3. Tenure-track appointments are non-tenured full-time appointments to the faculty. Upon hiring, the tenure-track appointee shall be placed into one of three ranks:
    1. Professor
    2. Associate Professor
    3. Assistant Professor
  4. Tenure is not granted below the rank of Associate Professor.

C. Tenure

  1. Regents’ Rules

    University of Texas System rules regarding tenure, promotion and termination of employment may be found in Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 30000. 

  2. Importance of Tenure to U.T. Tyler and Faculty

    Decisions to grant tenure are the most critical in the professional life of the faculty member as well as U.T. Tyler. The granting of tenure not only denotes a status of continuing appointment, but is also a statement of confidence in the future achievements of the individual. The decision to grant tenure depends in part on what the candidate has achieved in teaching, research/creative activity, and service, and to a greater degree, on a pattern of performance indicative of a lifetime of continued accomplishment and productivity. Thus, the decision to grant tenure requires careful and deliberate planning by each faculty member who expects to be considered for such action, as well as responsible, objective and informed consideration by all who are involved in review and recommendations.

    While tenure criteria should be viewed as guidelines for faculty development, more importantly, they are standards for a summative judgment about the individual's lifelong commitment to U.T. Tyler and to the academic life. The recommendation to grant tenure is an acknowledgment by peers that the candidate is accepted as a life-long member of the academic community. Therefore, the tenure process is a collegial one, and the judgment of faculty colleagues and responsible administrators is required. All recommendations on tenure shall begin at the lowest level of organization in which the candidate resides (department, school, or college), and pass sequentially through the recommending levels. However, in colleges that are organized without departments or schools, nothing in this document shall be construed as requiring a review at a level lower than the college. For purposes of this document, department chair is synonymous with school director.

  3. Department/School/College Policies

    Because the needs and goals of each program vary widely, the level of faculty involvement in teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service may also vary from program to program. To this end, each department/school and/or college shall develop written tenure policies of their own. The tenure policies developed by each department/school and/or college shall be consistent with the provisions described here and shall include:

    1. Definitions and criteria of excellence in teaching, research/scholarship/creative endeavor, and service;

    2. Qualitative and/or quantitative standards by which such activities and achievements shall be judged; and

    3. A listing of activities and achievements properly associated with tenure, promotion to Associate Professor, and promotion to Professor.

      In the development of the criteria and policies for tenure, the tenured and tenure-track faculty within that department/school and/or college shall be consulted. Such policies, both at the departmental and college level, should be reviewed at least once every five years to ensure that they are consistent with U.T. Tyler's and each respective college's expectations and reflect the variance in the responsibilities and assignments of individual faculty members. All tenure policies must be in compliance with University of Texas System and U.T. Tyler rules and be approved by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President.
  4. Performance Standards for the Granting of Tenure

    1. There can be no simple list of accomplishments that, when achieved, guarantee that a faculty member will obtain tenure. Tenure is not a right to which a faculty member is entitled, nor is tenure granted simply as a result of a record of satisfactory annual evaluations.
    2. To be tenured, faculty must achieve a strong record in 1) teaching and 2) research/scholarship/creative activity. The faculty member further is expected to demonstrate outstanding achievement in one of these areas. The faculty member is also expected to have a satisfactory record of service to the University, profession, and/or community. In addition to demonstrating quality in these traditional areas, the candidate for tenure must also demonstrate professional collegiality.

      1. Teaching. To qualify for tenure, faculty members must have a consistent pattern of effectiveness in teaching. Tenure will not be granted unless the candidate is deemed to be a strong teacher and demonstrates a commitment to lifelong improvement of his or her teaching skills. Thus it is vital that information concerning teaching effectiveness, gathered from multiple and flexible assessment methods, be part of the tenure review.

      2. Research/Scholarship/Creative Activity. The purpose of research/scholarship/creative activity is to make a substantive contribution to the body of knowledge and understanding in one's discipline. For tenure to be granted, a faculty member must have established a strong, consistent, and progressive program of research/scholarship/creative activity and must evidence a commitment to continue making contributions throughout his or her career.

      3. Service. To qualify for tenure, the candidate must display evidence of commitment to service to the University and to the profession and/or the civic community.

      4. Collegiality. U.T. Tyler defends the concept of academic freedom, which assures each faculty member the freedom to criticize and advocate changes in existing theories, beliefs, programs, and policies, and guarantees faculty the right to support any colleague whose academic freedom is threatened. Collegiality is a professional, not personal, criterion relating to the performance of duties within a department. Collegiality should not be confused with sociability, likability or conformity to certain views. Instead collegiality addresses such issues as the faculty member’s compatibility with department missions and goals, an ability and willingness to work cooperatively within the department and college, a willingness to engage in shared governance, and a high standard of professional integrity in dealing with colleagues and students on a professional and personal level.

        The University subscribes to the following description of collegiality from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) statement on professional ethics:

        As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas, professors show due respect for the opinions of others. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution. 

  5. Appointment and Promotion

    The weight of the decision to grant tenure rests on a pattern of performance indicative of a lifetime of continued accomplishment and productivity. The recommendation of tenure for an assistant professor normally shall be concurrent with the recommendation for promotion to associate professor. However, a recommendation for promotion does not require a recommendation for tenure. Recommendation for promotion and tenure must be voted separately.

  6. External Letters of Review

    External letters of review from peers outside the University will be required for tenure-track faculty members applying for associate professor and/or tenure who began their tenure-earning service at U. T. Tyler on or after August 1, 2007. All departmental/school and college tenure and promotion policies must adhere to this same implementation date.

    A recommendation for tenure must include supporting evidence that the individual's contributions have had an impact on the discipline; that is, the research/scholarship/creative activity should have made a significant contribution to candidate’s discipline and be recognized by professional colleagues. To that end, the dossier for tenure of all candidates after the implementation dates described above must include a minimum of three (3) outside review letters, with a minimum of one (1) letter from the candidate’s list of external reviewers.

    Letters of review should be solicited from disinterested scholars of appropriate rank or stature not affiliated with U.T. Tyler who serve in the faculty member's field of training, specialty, or a closely related field. Individuals who may have a bias or perceived bias, such as dissertation committee members, co-authors, classmates, former students, research collaborators, departmental colleagues, and friends should not serve as external reviewers.

    Reviewers will be nominated by the department chair and the candidate. The candidate should provide the department chair with the names of at least five (5) potential reviewers as well as a statement of their credentials and clarifying the nature of any prior contact the candidate has had with any suggested reviewer. The department chair will likewise compile a list of at least five (5) additional qualified reviewers. Chairs will also disclose their relationships with potential reviewers to the dean of the college. The final selection will be made by the dean of the college. The dean will select three (3) potential reviewers from each list (candidate and chair), resulting in a total of six (6) potential reviewers. Understanding that not all reviewers will agree to participate or that reviews will not arrive in a timely manner, the final list will contain no fewer than five names. At least two (2) reviewers must be from the candidate’s list. The final list of names of external reviewers is to be kept confidential from the candidate.

    The department chair shall contact the external reviewers to request their willingness to participate in the external review process. If the reviewers agree to participate, the department chair shall prepare and mail letters requesting outside reviews. Letters shall follow the standard template approved by the University. In the case where an insufficient number of reviewers are unable to participate, alternate reviewers may be selected by the dean.

    Reviewers will be provided with the candidate’s c.v., appropriate reprints and other representations of the candidate’s scholarship, and a summary of the candidates teaching and service responsibilities since arriving at U.T. Tyler. The contents of all outside review letters will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law and University regulations. Candidates will be informed when reviews are received and may have access to them. The department chair will place all reviews into the candidate’s dossier before the departmental committee begins its review. Outside letters received after the departmental committee begins its deliberations will not be included in the review process without the approval of the dean.

    The department chair shall prepare a summary of the outside review process that will be included in the candidate’s dossier. This summary shall list the name, position, and organization of each person from whom evaluations were requested. For those whose letters are included in the dossier, the summary shall include relevant information about the reviewers' professional/academic qualifications for evaluating the candidate for tenure and/or promotion.

  7. Consideration of Tenure

    Because the tenure process is a collegial one, the judgment of both faculty colleagues and responsible administrators is required. There should be no recommendation regarding tenure without formal consultation with the tenured faculty of the department/school and/or college in which the faculty member will hold rank. To that end, each department/school and/or college shall adopt procedures governing the consideration of faculty member seeking tenure. At minimum, such procedures shall include the following:

    1. All cases for tenure shall pass sequentially through the recommendation levels as described below.

    2. Faculty eligible to vote are those with tenure in the case of a faculty member being consideration for tenure. Where there are fewer than three eligible faculty in a department, the dean, in consultation with the candidate, will select eligible faculty from similar or related departments.

    3. The tenured faculty of the department shall vote by secret ballot on the tenure of the faculty member being considered. The outcome of the vote and the vote count shall be recorded.

    4. A college committee of tenured faculty shall vote by secret ballot on the tenure of a faculty member being considered. The outcome of the vote and the vote count shall be recorded.

    5. The appropriate administrator at each level of review shall inform the faculty member in writing of the vote or recommendation before the file is sent forward to the next level.

    6. No person shall serve as a voting member of any tenure committee during an academic year in which he or she is under consideration for tenure, nor shall any individual make a vote or recommendation on his or her tenure nomination.

    7. Voting members shall leave the room during deliberations on a faculty member with whom they share a significant personal or professional relationship and shall abstain from voting or making a recommendation concerning that faculty member.

  8. Tenure Process

    The institutional tenure decision-making process begins with the faculty member being considered and ends with the President. A faculty member should consult the dean regarding the timetable for the process.

    1. Request for Early Decision
      Faculty members may request consideration of an early tenure decision by presenting a written request to the department chair by June 1, prior to the academic year during which the tenure decision is to be made. If the Department chair makes a positive recommendation to the dean for early tenure, it must be justified with evidence that the candidate meets the written criteria established for those who apply for tenure during their sixth year of service. If the Department chair denies the faculty member’s request for early tenure, the faculty member may request that the dean review the department’s decision. The dean will not recommend early tenure unless the evidence of accomplishment meets the written criteria established for those who apply for tenure during their sixth year of service. There is no appeal beyond the College dean.
      A denial of early tenure shall not prejudice action on tenure at the completion of the usual probationary period.
    2. Faculty Responsibility
      It is the responsibility of all faculty to be aware of departmental, college, U. T. Tyler and U. T. System rules and regulations regarding tenure. The faculty member who is to be considered begins compiling his or her files in the summer. The documentation of professional accomplishments shall be submitted in accordance with the criteria, standards and guidelines established by the department and/or college.
      At no time after the deadline for submission of the materials may additional materials to be used in the review process be placed into or withdrawn from the file without the permission of the dean.
      A faculty member being reviewed may withdraw from further consideration for tenure promotion at any point in the process by submitting to the dean a written request for withdrawal. Withdrawal from consideration of tenure in the sixth year of the probation period may be done only by formal resignation, which is effective no later than the end of the subsequent, or seventh, year.
    3. Departmental Recommendation
      The departmental recommendation for or against tenure is the responsibility of the tenured faculty. For all cases of tenure that are reviewed at the departmental level, there shall be a recommendation and a record of votes of faculty qualified to participate. That recommendation and vote shall be forwarded to the department chair.
    4. Department Chair
      The vote of the qualified faculty in the department is advisory to the department chair. After making an independent judgment on the tenure, the chair shall submit his or her recommendation and written summary to the chair of the college committee. The department chair will notify the affected faculty member if his or her recommendation differs from that of the department faculty. In cases where the chair's recommendation and that of a departmental faculty differ, the faculty may submit a dissenting report to the college committee.
    5. College Committee
      Committee members shall individually review the file of the faculty member being reviewed, taking into consideration the departmental criteria and guidelines for tenure. The recommendation of the members and a vote count are recorded and forwarded by the committee chair to the dean along with the file of the faculty member and the department chair's recommendation and summary.
      Committee members shall leave the room during deliberations on a faculty member with whom they share a significant personal or professional relationship and shall abstain from voting on or making a recommendation concerning that faculty member.
    6. Dean
      The dean, after review of the faculty member’s file and, if appropriate, consultation with the department faculty, department chair and college committee, prepares his or her recommendation. Before submitting the recommendation to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the dean will notify the affected faculty member of his or her recommendation and provide him or her a copy of the college committee's recommendations.
    7. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
      After review of all materials and consultation with the dean and any other appropriate individuals or groups, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will prepare his or her recommendation regarding tenure. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will notify the candidate of his or her recommendation. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs’ recommendation, along with all previous recommendations, shall be forwarded to the President.
    8. President
      After review of all recommendations, the President will prepare his or her recommendation regarding tenure. The President will notify the affected faculty member of his or her recommendation and provide the candidate an opportunity, within two weeks of notice, to discuss the recommendation. Recommendations for tenure are then forwarded to the U. T. System for appropriate review and required action.

E. Responsibilities

Not applicable.

F. Review

The Divisional Head for this policy is the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. This policy shall be reviewed every five years or sooner if necessary by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Faculty Senate President, the Council of Academic Deans, and a committee of faculty members designated by the Faculty Senate.

ORIGINALLY APPROVED: 12/01/2001
LAST AMENDED: 03/20/2009