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University of Virginia UVA Arts & Sciences Default

Procedures for Renewal, Promotion, and Tenure (Tenure-Track)

Updated May 2017

This memorandum summarizes procedures for the renewal, promotion, and tenure-review of faculty on the tenure-track in the various departments of the College of Arts & Sciences. In local terminology, they are "elected" to their positions; the election refers to the action taken by the Board of Visitors. Their positions are of two types, "with term" and “without term." In a position with term, a definite time period is specified in the letter of appointment from the University to the individual. A position without term specified is the equivalent of a tenured position. The probationary period for tenure is the faculty member's period of service at the University of Virginia as a full-time employee in term positions. This memorandum discusses procedures to be followed for faculty members serving the probationary period, as well as the procedures for faculty members undergoing evaluation for promotion to full professor. All are commonly designated "tenure-track" faculty.

Terms of Appointment

The probationary period cannot exceed seven years, excluding stoppages approved in writing by the offices of the Dean and the Provost. A faculty member whose probationary period extends for more than seven years, or whose probationary period extends for seven years without notice of termination of appointment being given by the end of the sixth academic year, is granted a position without term at the same rank. The University does not follow the A.A.U.P. recommendation to count prior service at other institutions.

A department may choose not to recommend re-election of a faculty member whose term expires, subject to the following safeguards.

1) Written notice of termination of appointment must be given at least one year in advance for any faculty member who will have served more than two years upon the expiration of the term of appointment. This written notice is the responsibility of the Chairperson of the department and should be a simple unqualified notice that the appointment will be terminated at the appropriate date. The other parts of the Standards of Notice of the A.A.U.P., for appointments expiring after one or two years of service, are strongly recommended to the departments. These specify that a faculty member terminated at the end of one year of service should be notified by March 1, while those terminated at the end of two years should be notified by December 15.

2) The faculty member should be notified that renewal of appointment is under consideration and should be given adequate opportunity to submit materials for consideration.

3) The question of renewal should be adequately considered, and action taken must not be for reasons which are discriminatory on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation.

The initial appointment for untenured faculty is normally for a period of four academic years. Those appointed for an initial four-year term are tenure-track faculty. When an initial one-year appointment is made as Acting Assistant Professor it may be extended by a three-year appointment as an Assistant Professor. Departments will consider tenure-track faculty for renewal of term in the third year of service. The department may recommend a three-year renewal of appointment, or termination at the end of four years. Departments are expected to use high standards of scholarship, teaching, and service for those recommended for a full seven-year probationary period. Candidates for reappointment to a full seven-year probationary period should be evaluated on the basis of teaching, research and service. The standards are: excellence or potential for excellence over the next three years in research and teaching; adequacy of service. As a minimum, the candidate's personal statement, annual reports, teaching evaluations, and works published since appointment should be considered. The Chair should meet with a candidate recommended for reappointment and convey to him or her the substance of the Chair's report to the Dean. A written memo of this conversation should be sent to both the candidate and to the Dean.

Rights and Considerations

The rights of the faculty member during consideration for promotion and tenure include the right to submit appropriate materials, the right to adequate consideration, and the right to action not discriminatory on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. Alleged violations of rights at the departmental level should be discussed with the Chairperson; if no agreement ensues, the faculty member may petition the Dean to serve as mediator. Alleged violations of rights at the level of the Promotion and Tenure Committee or the Dean should be discussed with the Dean. If it is agreed that a violation of rights may have occurred, an agreement for reconsideration will ensue. If no agreement ensues, the faculty member may either petition the Provost or request mediation by the "grievance committee," the Committee on Faculty Relations of the Faculty Senate.

At all levels, the major considerations for renewal of contract and promotion to tenured rank are

a) excellence of scholarly work,

b) excellence of teaching and advising,

c) service to the university and the discipline. Excellent service will not compensate for less than excellent teaching and/or research.

The needs of the University in the various fields of specialization may also be a relevant consideration.

Procedures for Promotion and Tenure

During the sixth year of the probationary period, tenure-track faculty members must be considered for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor without term; all candidates who have completed the probationary period are entitled to full review. Departments may choose to consider outstanding faculty members for tenure before the sixth year. The probationary period of a tenure-track Assistant Professor originally appointed at mid-year is counted from the beginning of that academic year unless there is written agreement to the contrary. Favorable consideration runs through four levels:

i) consideration at the departmental level in accordance with departmental policy culminating in a vote of tenured departmental faculty of Associate Professor rank or higher,

ii) consideration of all those recommended by the various departments, and possibly certain others, by the ad hoc A&S Promotion and Tenure Committee and by the Dean,

iii) consideration by the Vice President and Provost of the recommendations of the Dean,

iv) consideration by the Board of Visitors.

The Departmental Level

Early in the sixth year, or before, the faculty member is informed that consideration for promotion to tenured rank is being initiated and is invited to submit materials. Candidates should be notified well in advance of the departmental deadline for submission of materials. Normally this deadline should be on or about August 15. The department proceeds through its consideration process, arriving at one of the following recommendations:

a) a recommendation for promotion or non-promotion to tenured rank, submitted to the Dean at a date subject to annual notice but not later than the end of the first semester.

b) a recommendation for termination of appointment.

The Dean's Level

Whether the recommendation is positive or negative, departments should submit the following materials to the Dean for those recommended:

One electronic copy of:

1) a Chair's cover letter that includes:

a) an assessment of the candidate's national reputation in his/her field,

b) a statement of how the recommended promotion would affect the tenure pattern of the department,

c) a brief statement of the internal procedures of the department in taking the promotion decision: what ranks voted, the result of the vote, and the Chair's interpretation of the collective will of the department. The Chair should state the major reasons why the department voted as it did, explaining and summarizing the discussion during the tenure meeting. The Chair should also provide his/her own assessment of the candidate, including the candidate's strengths and weaknesses and the Chair's reasons for voting one way or the other.

2) a curriculum vitae, dividing publications into the following categories:

a) books,

b) articles,

c) digital projects,

d) popular articles and other publications,

e) project reports.

Work accomplished since appointment should be separated from the work that preceded it, upon which the initial appointment was based. (In the case of a dissertation that has been readied for publication, information is requested concerning the extent and nature of the revisions.)

3) a prose statement from the candidate describing work in progress and teaching and research plans, preferably not more than two or three pages.

4) a copy of the Third-Year Review

5) an analysis made within the department, normally by an ad hoc committee, assessing:

a) the candidate's teaching performance based on the department's established procedures for course/teaching evaluation. Documentation of teaching performance should be supplied in the form of a summary of all existing evidence and an interpretation of that evidence in the context of the department. Include a list of courses taught and number of students in each course. Please provide all course evaluations since the third-year review for every course taught by a candidate for promotion to Associate Professor.  Teaching includes advising duties, so please do not omit an assessment of advising when you address this category. Number and kinds of advisees should be specified.

b) the merit of the candidate's published work and career trajectory, including the promise of future research. This analysis should include thorough discussion of the specific strengths and weaknesses of each major work of scholarship. If a proper assessment cannot be made within the department, an independent evaluation should be sought from outside in consultation with the Dean's Office.

c) the candidate's service to the department, the University, the profession, and the Commonwealth.

6) eight to ten letters, solicited from outside experts competent to assess the candidate's work and professional standing, accompanied by a spreadsheet identifying all referees solicited for references and providing a brief description of their qualifications to assess the candidate's work. (One person should be designated to solicit and receive such letters.) The letter requesting appraisal should be neutral in tone; a sample copy should be included in the dossier. Please see the weblink here for sample letters to external reviewers. In the dossier, include (1) a list of the reviewers with brief comments on their credentials; the list must be divided explicitly and clearly into reviewers suggested by the candidate and those suggested by the ad hoc committee. (2) a record of the written approval of this list from the relevant divisional Associate Dean; (3) a copy of the sample letter sent to external reviewers; (4) a copy of all e-mail and paper correspondence from prospective reviewers (both acceptances and declines), and finally (5) the review letters themselves. In addition to the list in (1) above, indicate clearly on each letter whether the recommender was the choice of the candidate or that of the department. Please note that tenure and promotion dossiers will be returned to department chairs if all of the materials and information listed in 1-5 above are not included.

7) a limited number of student letters may be included.

8) all available reviews of the candidate's published work, in their full range, favorable and unfavorable, together with any reader's reports on manuscripts submitted for publication.

9) course evaluations since the third-year review.

10) pdf digital copies of all publications to date (with the exception of books-see next item)

11) Two hard copies each of all hard-bound books published to date.

For faculty in the fine and performing arts, please see the Addendum below for a list of additional materials and their preparation for review.

The Promotion and Tenure Committee

Each year the Dean appoints a Promotion and Tenure Committee consisting of about ten full professors. The purpose of this committee is to advise the Dean on these matters in general and, specifically, to make recommendations to him or her for promotion to Associate Professor and to Professor. It will consider:

l) recommendations for promotion by the departments acting through their Chairpersons, whether or not he/she concurs in it.

2) recommendations for promotion by any faculty member for any faculty member, including himself or herself.

3) recommendations for promotion by the Chairperson, not acting for the membership of the department.

4) recommendations for promotion by ad hoc committees appointed by the Dean in specific cases.

After the committee members have individually studied the materials on the various candidates, the committee meets to discuss and evaluate them in detail. The Chairperson or recommender of each candidate may be invited to appear before the committee to answer any questions. The Dean presides and is present at all meetings of the committee. When the interviews and discussions are completed, the committee votes on each candidate. Following the final deliberations, the Dean decides whether or not to concur in the recommendations of the committee. The process is completed by the Dean's report to the Provost.

In the case of a negative tenure recommendation in the sixth year, effective with the 2009-10 cycle, the Dean’s Promotion and Tenure Committee will not consider a resubmission of the case in the seventh year.

The Provost's Level

School recommendations for tenure and promotion are considered by the Provost with the advice of a University-wide Promotion and Tenure Committee. In practice, the Office of the Provost will generally approve those school recommendations for which there is sufficient evidence from the file that the above-mentioned criteria have been met. If it is not clear from the file that the criteria are met, the Dean will be notified that the recommendation is being held for further study, areas of weakness in the file will be noted, opportunity for submission of additional material will be granted, and the Provost's Promotion and Tenure Committee will review the files and advise him/her on whether or not to approve the recommendation. This committee may choose to obtain additional information to clarify the case.

The Office of the Provost will exercise similar care in considering outside tenure hires.

The Office of the Provost will also be concerned with school processes and planning, and urges the following school goals in this area:

1) careful selection processes in the area of promotion and tenure, which are suitably aimed at ensuring excellence,

2) adequate planning by the school, taking into account a satisfactory tenure ratio and the appropriate relationship of tenure recommendations to this plan,

3) adequate consideration that school need exists for each without-term appointment brought forward.

Promotion to Full Professor

The process for Associate Professors seeking promotion to the rank of Full Professor will follow the same steps described above, with the following amendments.

Candidates for the rank of Full Professor must demonstrate a sustained and substantial record of scholarship or creative work with clear establishment of a national and/or international prominence. Research portfolios should typically include a significant advance beyond the body of work on which tenure was based.

There is no third-year review.  Instead departments should regularly review the progress of Associate Professors toward attaining the national prominence and distinguished performance levels in teaching, research and service consistent with promotion to Full Professor.

Although time in rank is itself not a sufficient criterion for promotion, departments should conduct a review no later than at the end of the candidate's fifth year in rank at UVA to determine whether or not it would be appropriate to develop a formal promotion case for consideration by the Dean. If in the judgment of the department the candidate is not ready for promotion consideration, the department should make recommendations to the candidate for further professional and scholarly development, and should reconsider the case at regular intervals.

The portfolio should include all elements needed for a tenure case, as described above, except that:

1) In the CV, work accomplished since tenure should be separated from the work that preceded it, upon which the promotion to associate or initial appointment at the associate rank was based.

2) Course evaluations for the past six semesters or since the appointment to associate rank.

3) The third-year review document is not required.

4) Only books published since tenure should be provided (two copies).

5) Materials such as journal and book articles, as well as unpublished manuscripts, that are provided in the form of “pdf” documents should include all materials completed since tenure.  Selective articles published prior to tenure may be included to give reviewers an opportunity to gauge progress and trajectory since the early-career-stage, but no comprehensive submission of such materials is expected.

Ian Baucom, Dean
College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences