Faculty Evaluation, Promotion, and Tenure

Faculty Evaluation, Promotion, and Tenure Policy

The transition from the old (LRT) policy to the revised (P&T) policy affects every faculty member’s career. Faculty members need to know the details of the P&T policy, including how it aligns with SUU’s mission, how departmental evaluation criteria may be revised, how P&T Mentorship Teams will support faculty development, and how the evaluation process will be navigated. The P&T Transition Team will provide clear communication so faculty members can be confident in their understanding of this important policy.


  1. The revised Policy 6.1 definition of Faculty Engagement (full definition below*) focuses on evidenced-based contributions that meet SUU’s student-centric mission. The policy also describes a developmental approach to the evaluation, promotion, and tenure process by utilizing Promotion & Tenure (P&T) Mentorship Teams. To prepare for full implementation of the revised Policy 6.1 beginning in Fall 2019, faculty, departments, and colleges/schools are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these ideas and collaboratively revise their departmental evaluation criteria and other processes accordingly.
  2. The revised Policy 6.1 improves the allocation of mentorship, evaluation, and oversight responsibilities​. For example, departments have the responsibility to align departmental evaluation criteria with SUU’s student-centric mission to encourage contributions that match the Faculty Engagement definition*. Departments also have the responsibility to create a process by which P&T Mentorship Teams are constructed so that Associate and Full Professors can provide effective guidance to Lecturers and Assistant Professors. Deans have the responsibility to ensure departmental evaluation criteria align with SUU’s student-centric mission and have parity with other criteria across the college/school. The Provost’s Office has the responsibility to ensure criteria have parity across the university.
*Faculty Engagement - Faculty at SUU actively engage with students in ways that deepen learning and enhance the overall university experience. Faculty engagement consists of evidence-based curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities that help students become informed, responsible, and productive members of society who explore diverse ideas, disciplines, skills, cultures, and places. Efforts in faculty engagement may include, but are not limited to, using evidence-based teaching practices, mentoring student projects and creative endeavors, coauthoring student-generated scholarly papers or professional presentations, participating in scholarship, utilizing High Impact Practices as defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, supervising alternative breaks or other formalized community engaged learning projects, supervising student clubs and other organizations, providing educational opportunities for the university community, implementing cooperative educational programs with community partners, and participating in programs that enhance students’ global perspective. Faculty engagement also extends to meaningful participation in service/leadership and the shared governance of the university, faculty Promotion and Tenure (P&T) Mentorship Teams, service/leadership opportunities outside the university, and scholarly contributions in their fields of expertise. The specific types of activities and expected level of faculty engagement are outlined in departmental evaluation criteria.
  • During the 2018-2019 academic year, we will remain on the old policy (LRT) while we transition to the revised policy (P&T).
  • Some departments will “opt in” to the revised policy in Fall 2018.
  • All departments can revise their departmental evaluation criteria to align with the P&T policy.
  • All departments will create a new document describing their mentor selection process.
  • The Transition Team will support departments throughout the year in four areas:
    • Faculty Engagement
    • Departmental Evaluation Criteria
    • Mentorship
    • Preparation of Faculty Engagement & Contribution Plans/Reports

Departments will be responsible for two documents:

  1. Departments will revise their departmental evaluation criteria in alignment with the revised Policy 6.1 and with SUU’s mission. The revision should consider the definitions of Faculty Engagement, Teaching Effectiveness, Service/Leadership, and Scholarship found in Policy 6.1, VIII, as well as Policy 6.28 Faculty Professional Responsibility. Departments have the opportunity to revise acceptable faculty contributions, which may include contributions that fall in the overlap between Teaching Effectiveness, Service/Leadership, and Scholarship. Guiding questions include:
    1. What contributions would indicate that a faculty member in your department meets the definition of Faculty Engagement?
    2. How can your department ensure faculty members contribute to SUU’s student-centered mission in a manner that addresses Teaching Effectiveness, Service/Leadership, and Scholarship?
    3. How can your department allow for and/or encourage contributions that fall in the overlap between Teaching Effectiveness, Service/Leadership, and Scholarship?
    4. How will these contributions be evaluated? Note: The Provost’s Office recommends evaluation processes that are not simply based on numerical scores. For example, course evaluations provide student feedback for faculty, but they should be interpreted in context, and other forms of evaluation such as peer evaluation and self evaluation should be considered when evaluating teaching effectiveness. Likewise, a simple number of publications or committees may not tell a complete story of a faculty member’s contributions, so all contributions should be considered in context.
  2. Departments will create a new document in alignment with the revised Policy 6.1 defining how Promotion & Tenure (P&T) Mentorship Teams are constructed. The P&T Mentorship Team document will include answers to these guiding questions:
    1. Who will determine the P&T Mentorship Team for each incoming faculty member? Will the decision be made randomly, by a committee, by the department chair, or by some other process?
    2. How much input will the incoming faculty member provide during the creation of the P&T Mentorship Team? What type of information will inform the process? Potential information might include the faculty member’s specific interests and goals, the faculty member’s strengths and areas of improvement, the potential mentors’ interests and strengths, etc.
    3. How many Associate and/or Full Professors will be on each P&T Mentorship Team? Note: The minimum is two for tenure-track faculty, and one for non-tenure-track faculty.
    4. Will a faculty member’s P&T Mentorship Team rotate in membership, or will it remain consistent until the faculty member advances to the rank of Associate Professor?
      1. If the membership rotates, what is the rotation process?
      2. If the membership remains constant, how will a mentor be replaced if the mentor retires, goes on sabbatical, or leaves the university for another reason?
    5. Will P&T Mentorship Teams in this department be restricted to Associate and Full Professors from within the department, or will they include Associate and Full Professors from other departments? If faculty from other departments are eligible, are faculty from other colleges/schools eligible?
    6. What will be the process for mentored faculty to request new mentors? Note: This, too, must align with the revised Policy 6.1.
    7. If a faculty member requests an ad hoc committee to evaluate the Mid-Point Review and/or Tenure Application, how will the ad hoc committee be selected? Will it be restricted to faculty within the department and college/school?

Seven departments “opted-in” to the P&T policy during Fall 2018. Below are some of their suggestions for other departments to help plan for full implementation in Fall 2019. Examples of departmental evaluation criteria, processes to create P&T Mentorship Teams, and Faculty Engagement & Contribution (FEC) Plans can be found in this site's navigation.

Communication & Dissemination

  • The new policy requires two changes in cultural mindset:
    • Opportunity to integrate categories (Teaching, Scholarship, Service/Leadership)
    • Developmental, forward-looking evaluation process (as opposed to punitive, defense-based evaluation process)
  • The first year of the new P&T process will be reminder-intensive. Be clear with faculty about the timeline. Have patience as we work out the bumps in the road.
  • Departments should find a faculty member who has a passion about the new policy who can lead the departmental evaluation criteria revision and the mentorship team creation process.
  • It’s okay to try some experiments, learn from those experiments, and iterate change.
  • We need to get away from asking the question: “How much does this contribution count?”

Mentorship

  • We must validate mentors’ contribution, both in our culture and in their 5-Year Plans. Mentorship is a major contribution to the culture of the department and of the university.
  • P&T Mentorship Teams should be established in the spring. Departments must collaborate with other departments when recruiting mentors from outside of the department. The mentors should average between 2 and 3 mentees (exceptions may occur).
  • We need dedicated time during Welcome Week for mentorship.
  • A initial face-to-face meeting (before first draft of FEC Plan) between mentors and mentees will reduce overall time required.
  • Mentors should give one set of feedback (as opposed to two separate, possibly conflicting sets of feedback). Mentors should guide mentees to create reasonable plans aligned with departmental evaluation criteria.
  • Mentors should provide scheduled feedback throughout the year in a process defined at the department level. Some departments are including scheduled classroom visits.
  • One department’s mentors meet early in the process to align, or “norm,” their expectations.
  • One department chair plans to check in with all mentees in January.
  • One department’s mentors plan to meet in early May to discuss issues, changes, etc.

Faculty Engagement & Contribution Plans (and FEC Reports)

  • Departments can add parameters to the FEC Plan template and FEC Report template to provide guidance according to their particular departmental evaluation criteria.
  • FEC Plans should contribute to equitable distribution of workload across the department.
  • FEC Plans should focus on how faculty plan to contribute, not on defending their record.
  • Mentors and department chairs should be clear about when FEC plans are complete.