Faculty Promotion and Tenure
- NSHE Code Chapter 3; University of Nevada, Reno Bylaws 3.3 and 3.4; and college and department bylaws govern the processes of academic faculty promotion and tenure.
- 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).
Directions for Preparing and Submitting Applications for Promotion and/or Tenure
- This instructions document on the Office of the Provost website contains detailed directions for applicants, chairs, and deans regarding the application form; required and optional supporting materials; formal letters of evaluation from personnel committees, chairs, and deans; recording of votes; and external peer-review letters.
- A minimum of four and maximum of eight external peer-review letters are required for all applications for tenure and for promotion to associate professor (Rank III) or full professor (Rank IV). For promotions within Rank 0, requirements vary depending on the nature of the appointment. For Rank 0 research faculty, no fewer than three external letters are required. For Rank 0 instructional faculty and Rank 0 faculty whose assignment is clinical, external letters may be required by the college but are not required by the university.
- It is the responsibility of the department chair to obtain external peer-review letters. These letters should be solicited under the following guidelines. The initial contact may be made via email or phone, but each reviewer should then receive a formal letter (which may be sent electronically) following the template provided in the Directions for Preparing and Submitted Applications for Promotion and/or Tenure on the Office of the Provost website.
- Reviewers for tenure applications should be selected by the department chair in consultation with the tenured faculty of the department; reviewers for promotion to full professor, in consultation with the department's full professors. The chair should allow and encourage the applicant to suggest potential reviewers. It is recommended that the candidate submit a list of 5 or 6 potential reviewers. The candidate should bear in mind that half or more of the reviewers will come from individuals not on the candidate's list. The reason for this is to avoid selecting a set of reviewers that are strongly biased in favor of the candidate. Therefore, the candidate should think carefully about how many reviewers to put on the list, and who to include. For example, if the candidate lists the top 20 people in the field, the committee may have relatively few additional qualified reviewers to call upon. The candidate may also submit names of potential reviewers the candidate feels should not be used.
- Reviewers should be experts in the applicant's area of research and should not be closely associated with the candidate for promotion. Avoid reviewers that have or could reasonably be perceived to have a conflict of interest. For example, they should not be a current or former research collaborator, a former graduate mentor or thesis advisor, co-authors, or a former contemporary at another institution. Avoid reviewers who hold a position at an institution where the candidate has earned a degree, performed postdoctoral research, or had any other official appointment, regardless of whether the reviewer's appointment overlapped with that of the candidate.
- Do not solicit letters from more than one individual as a single institution.
- Minimize the number of reviewers from non-U.S. universities. Researchers from non-U.S. universities often do not understand the U.S. tenure system and the importance of writing a detailed evaluation. Thus, any non-U.S. reviewer should be selected with care, with the recommendation being to limit the number to 2 or less.
- For tenure candidates, reviewers from universities must be tenured faculty, preferably full professors, in programs at institutions with a research stature that is comparable or superior to that of the University of Nevada, Reno. At least half should come from institutions classified by the Carnegie Foundation as R1. Reviewers from institutions that are classified below R2 should be avoided.
- For application for promotion to full professor, reviewers from universities must be full professors.
- For application for promotion to associate professor, reviewers should preferably be full professors, with no more than one being an associate professor.
- In certain cases, it may be appropriate to solicit reviews from individuals who are not in programs of equal or higher stature or desirable to solicit reviews from individuals who are not affiliated with academic institutions. In such cases, the department chair should explain their stature and suitability in the brief summary of the reviewers' qualifications that is part of the application packet.
Early Consideration for Tenure
- Faculty should normally come up for tenure during their sixth year. An early award of tenure is rendered only in exceptional circumstances.
- Deans and chairs are advised not to allow new hires to bring in time in rank from other universities. Coming in with credited time only shortens the probationary period unnecessarily with no added advantage to the candidate.
- Do not encourage newly hired faculty to apply for tenure early. If they want to do so, then they should meet with their department chair, who should then consult the dean. If the dean views the record as an extraordinary record, then the dean should consult the provost.
- 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 tenure-track faculty member, a recommendation will not be supported before 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.
- On the rare occasions when individuals do go up early (generally with experience in an equivalent position at another institution), they 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.
- The NSHE Code outlines the process and timeline for reconsideration from an adverse decision regarding promotion, salary, or tenure.
Extending the Probationary Period
- The NSHE Code allows the probationary period to be extended upon the approval of the president. Requests to extend the probationary period must include written justification and should use the form on the Office of the Provost website.
- A tenure-track faculty member who seeks an extension to the probationary period should make the request early at the time of the circumstances that might justify an extension, not immediately prior to coming up for tenure.
Progress Toward Tenure and Third-Year Review
- The Code requires that tenure-track faculty be evaluated in writing regarding progress toward tenure no later than the third full academic year in rank. UNR Bylaws 3.4.4(b) requires that all tenure-track faculty be evaluated in writing regarding progress toward tenure annually following the third-year review (i.e., that there be written fourth- and fifth-year reviews) and that these reviews include "the program of improvement that must be undertaken to be considered for tenure at a later date." Best practice is to provide annual reviews of progress toward tenure beginning in the first academic year in rank.
- The third-year review should include a thorough analysis of the probationary faculty member's work to date that identifies the program of improvement that must be undertaken.
- The provost requires that probationary faculty in their third year prepare the Application for Promotion and/or Tenure, following the instructions found on the Office of the Provost website, as part of the third-year review process.
- The NSHE Code requires that the chair and dean conduct third-year reviews "in consultation with the appropriate tenure review committee or promotion committee." Following consultation with the departmental committee, the department chair should prepare a written review and submit it to the college, with a copy to the faculty member. Following consultation with the college committee, the dean should prepare a written review and submit it to the provost, with a copy to the faculty member.
- The chair should meet with the faculty member and discuss the third year review.
- Reviews of faculty progress toward promotion and tenure should include honest, direct, candid, and productive feedback.