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Faculty Promotion and Tenure

 Guiding Principles

  • The faculty, department chair, and dean should determine at the time of hire into the program the faculty member's professional responsibilities in terms of teaching, scholarship, and outreach engagement or service. These expectations should be made clear to new faculty.
  • Each college should have a clear process for promotion and tenure.
  • Units should endeavor to uphold academic standards and values appropriate to peer institutions (Carnegie doctoral/research extensive, high research).

Eligibility for Tenure

  • The candidate must have received an "Excellent" in research or teaching, and at least a "Satisfactory" in the other area and in service in order to be eligible for consideration for tenure.

External Reviewers

  • External reviewers should hold a higher professorial rank than the faculty member they are evaluating. It is most desirable to select individuals from peer or aspirant-peer institutions. Independent reviewers are required; they should not be closely affiliated with the candidate.
  • Associate professors can be selected if they are acknowledged experts in the field.
  • Assistant professors should not be selected.
  • Tenure-track or non-tenured faculty are not typically selected as outside reviewers for tenure-track applicants but may be appropriate for promotion of Rank 0 faculty.
  • The chair should select 4-6 outside reviewers.
  • Although chairs may select reviewers from a list provided by the candidate, they should consult with department faculty to identify appropriate reviewers.
  • The reviewers should evaluate the quality of the candidate's artistry/scholarship.
  • The department chair, in his/her evaluation letter, should address how the external reviewers were selected and briefly explain why they are appropriate reviewers.
  • The department chair should endeavor to explain and contextualize the reviewers' reports and draw conclusions based on their analysis.
  • It is important to get the external review letters back early enough in August in order to meet the university's deadline of November 1st for providing promotion documents to the Provost.

P&T Applications

  • During the recommendation for tenure, the procedures shall include a review of the faculty member's annual evaluations and any rejoinders to those evaluations and/or peer reviews (NSHE Code).
  • The annual evaluations should demonstrate a productive record that has built up over time to an "Excellent" level. That doesn't preclude achievement of a level of excellence early in their career.
  • Copies of the external letters must be included in the application package.
  • Copies of the progress toward tenure letters from the department chair and dean during the probationary period for candidates applying for tenure should be included.
  • In assessing a candidate going from associate to full professor, consider their time in rank: six or more years is typical. What has been their degree of productivity during their time in rank? What has been the quality of their performance to establish a pattern of sustained productivity? What is their national/institutional reputation? Are they considered an academic leader in their field?  Have they contributed service or outreach with impact?
  • Report all votes that are taken by departmental faculty and personnel committees.
  • Probationary faculty may apply for tenure during the seventh year only with prior approval from the president. Generally, probationary faculty will not be allowed to apply in the seventh year.

Early Consideration for Tenure

  • Faculty should normally come up for tenure during their sixth year. An early award of tenure is rendered only in the most exceptional circumstances.
  • It is advised not to allow new hires to bring prior service credit (time in rank) from other universities. Coming in with credited time only shortens the probationary period unnecessarily with no added advantage to the candidate, and they must go up on the earlier schedule stated in the offer letter.
  • Do not encourage newly hired faculty to apply for tenure early. If they want to do so, then they should meet with the chair, the dean, and the director of other units to which they are assigned. If the Dean believes that the candidate has an extraordinary record, then the provost should be consulted.
  • For positive early tenure decisions, the provost will require demonstration of an extraordinary record of achievement. If the record is simply commensurate with the sort of normal progress that one should expect of a new faculty member on their way to tenure, a recommendation will not be supported before the sixth year, which is the normal time for tenure decisions. In all cases, the university is looking for demonstration of unequivocal excellence in scholarship and teaching.
  • Consideration is given for scholarly and creative activity produced at other institutions. However, it supplements the record of accomplishments done here during the probationary period, which is more heavily weighted.
  • In rare occasions individuals who do go up early (generally with experience in an equivalent position at another institution) should not do so until they have established at least a three-year record at the university. Exceptions may be made for those holding senior rank.

Reconsideration

  • NSHE Code, Title 2, Chapter 5, Section 5.2.3 and 5.2.4 provides for the process and timelines for reconsideration from an adverse decision regarding promotion, salary or tenure. For complete details of the process refer to the Code.
  • The third-year review is an important document during reconsideration. Chairs and deans need to be thorough and explicit during the annual evaluation and third-year review processes, and be careful to identify areas in which faculty members should improve.

Modifications to Tenure Clock

  • Although seldom approved, it is possible to have modifications to the tenure clock.
  • If a tenure-track faculty member requests modification to the tenure clock, it should be done early at the time of the event justifying the extension, and not immediately prior to the time they are coming up for tenure.  (See the University Administrative Manual at 2,723.)

Progress Toward Tenure and Third-Year Review

  • The Code requires that an assistant professor be evaluated in writing by the department and/or the dean regarding progress toward tenure no later than the end of the third full academic year in rank, and annually thereafter. Best practice is to provide annual reviews beginning in their first year.
  • The chair should meet with the faculty member and discuss the annual progress review.
  • The dean should write a letter back to the faculty member following the third-year review and meet with the candidate and chair to discuss his/her progress.

General Comments

  • An associate professor shall be evaluated in writing by the department and/or the dean regarding progress toward promotion no later than the end of the sixth full academic year in rank. The above specified times shall not be construed as a minimum time in rank before promotion.
  • In the reviews of faculty progress toward promotion or tenure, reviewers should strive for honest, direct, and candid feedback. Avoid mixed messages. Overly kind words can prove to be misunderstood if there is a subsequent negative recommendation for promotion or tenure.

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