Article I – Introduction
The University of Michigan – Dearborn has set forth core principles and procedures for the promotion and tenure process. These procedures are designed to support high academic standards in awarding promotion and/or tenure, and to ensure a comprehensive, rigorous, and fair review of the candidates. Achieving and maintaining the high academic standards the University of Michigan – Dearborn is known for is built upon the leadership of the Provost, deans, and department chairs working with tenured faculty to successfully implement and adhere to these procedures.
It is one of the most important responsibilities of tenured faculty members to take an active role in the review, deliberation and voting process for promotion and/or tenure of their colleagues. All deliberations will be held in strictest confidence at each level of the promotion and/or tenure review process. Unit files about the promotion and tenure process should be retained for a period of six (6) years plus the current fiscal year.
Article II – Campus-Wide Promotion and Tenure Procedures
Process and Policy
Upon the receipt of a casebook from a unit, the Provost shall review and evaluate its contents. The Provost shall make a recommendation on a promotion and/or tenure case based on the evidence presented in the casebook, any additional information, and/or evaluations that may be solicited. The Provost’s recommendation may be in support of or in opposition to any or all of the recommendations made at the department or unit levels. The Provost shall inform the unit dean of said recommendation. In the event that the Provost makes a negative recommendation subsequent to positive recommendation(s) made at the department or unit levels, the Provost shall also provide to the unit dean a letter of rationale.
Areas of Evaluation and Ranking for Promotion and Tenure
All candidates for promotion and/or tenure at the University of Michigan-Dearborn shall be evaluated in three areas: teaching, research, and service. In official documents recommending promotion and/or tenure, the following ranking for each area will be used: 1) excellent, 2) significantly capable, 3) competent, or 4) unacceptable. Each unit in its promotion and tenure policies and procedures shall be responsible for clarifying the ranking designations and determining the minimum ranking(s) for a candidate to be considered for promotion and/or tenure.
After a quorum – as defined by the unit or department-level bylaws or promotion and tenure policy – has been determined, all voting shall be by written, secret ballot.
At the end of the presentation and discussion of a candidate’s case for promotion and/or tenure, ballots shall be distributed by the voting tellers with four choices of ranking: excellent, significantly capable, competent, and unacceptable.
An individual vote shall be held for each of the categories of teaching, research, and service where faculty shall rate the candidate using the rankings excellent, significantly capable, competent, or unacceptable. The ballots on each rating shall be collected by the tellers after each vote, but not tabulated until all three category votes have been cast. Once every category has been discussed and voted on, the tellers shall tally the ballots and report the results immediately.
A successful candidate for promotion and/or tenure must receive, by a majority of the votes cast, the minimum ranking in each category (i.e., teaching, research, and service), as stipulated in the college and/or department level promotion and tenure policy. That means a positive recommendation of the unit is based on the support of more than half of those voting on the question. For example, if a college requires that a candidate for promotion to full professor must receive an excellent rating in either teaching or research, along with a significantly capable rating in service, then more than half of the votes cast must indicate a rating of excellent in either teaching or research along with at least significantly capable rating in service, for a candidate to receive a positive recommendation.
According to the 11th Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, “It is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law that the right to vote is limited to the members of an organization who are actually present at the time the vote is taken in a regular or properly called meeting, although it should be noted that a member need not be present when the question is put. Exceptions to this rule must be expressly stated in the bylaws.” In the spirit of this principle of parliamentary law, in order to permit for absentee voting, each college must expressly authorize it in its bylaws or promotion and tenure policies, specifying the circumstances when it may be exercised and outlining transparent and consistent processes.
Because of the importance placed on each member being present and being able to take part in the deliberations, the university permits remote voting after synchronous attendance in the discussion of the candidate’s promotion and/or tenure case in exceptional circumstances, such as non-local sabbaticals or family emergencies. The college must develop procedures for granting the opportunity to vote remotely as well as the method for the voting process. Such processes must be transparent and uniformly applied to all cases.
The tellers are required to inform the dean in writing of the vote counts on each of the three ballot questions.
Conflict of Interest
University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty members and administrators shall recuse themselves from all decisions and votes regarding a candidate if there is a past or current relationship which compromises, or could have the appearance of compromising, their judgment with regard to the candidate. The following list, while not exhaustive, illustrates the types of relationships which constitute a conflict of interest:
A past or ongoing romantic, sexual, or familial relationship
An advising relationship (e.g.., the faculty member having served as the candidate’s PhD or post-doctoral advisor)
A direct financial interest and/or relationship
Any other relationship that would prevent a sound, unbiased decision
General Campus-wide Criteria for Promotion and Tenure
The University of Michigan-Dearborn endorses the teacher-scholar model rather than the research-scholar model. We seek faculty who value and are committed to excellence in teaching and research. We believe the two are inextricably linked, and that on-going research contributes to the intellectual vitality characteristic of quality classroom instruction. The foci of evaluation for junior faculty will thus be on effectiveness in teaching and research performance; however, service should not be neglected. Of particular importance is the assessment of the candidate’s potential for significant and continuing contributions to the discipline, department, unit and campus. For promotion to Professor with tenure, continued high-quality in both teaching and research is expected and is in keeping the teacher-scholar model as described above.
Based on the teacher-scholar model, each unit shall be responsible for identifying unit-specific promotion and tenure criteria at the Associate Professor and Professor levels given that defining an abstract and universal standard such that would satisfy all units collectively is neither desirable nor possible.
Each unit shall address the differences in evaluating tenure track and clinical instructional faculty for promotional purposes. Clinical instructional appointments are without tenure and therefore are not subject to the tenure process, but may be promoted in line with these procedures and the policies established by the units. Clinical instructional appointments shall be a fixed term not to exceed seven years in duration and may be renewed.
Procedures for Negative Recommendations
At all stages of the promotion and tenure process, a statement of rationale shall be written for negative recommendations regarding promotion and/or tenure cases rendered. In situations where the department promotion and tenure committee or unit executive committee are rendering the negative decision, it shall be the duty of the committee, not the department chair or dean, to write the statement of rationale. All candidates shall be provided a copy of the rationale and given an opportunity to include in their casebook a rebuttal to such rationale. The casebook along with the rationale shall then move forward.
In cases of a negative tenure decision, it is the University’s expectation that, except in unusual circumstances, the faculty member will be given a terminal year following the year in which the negative decision is reached.
Processes for non-reappointment of tenure track faculty without tenure, clinical instructional faculty and lecturers (non-bargained for) shall follow the practices as defined in Standard Practice Guide (SPG) 201.88.
All units shall follow the casebook instructions provided by the Office of Academic Human Resources at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. At the beginning of each fall term, the Office of the Provost shall provide the units with an updated copy of the casebook instructions.
As stipulated in the “Guidelines Regarding University of Michigan Policies that Govern Time to Tenure Review (‘Tenure Clock’) and Related Matters,” the University of Michigan-Dearborn adheres to a “tenure clock” where each college shall conduct its tenure review in the sixth year of the tenure track faculty member’s career at the University. Each year of service at the University is counted toward the tenure clock unless the faculty member petitions for childbearing/dependent care responsibilities (SPG 201.92); or receives approval from the dean and Provost for an exclusion based on health, personal emergencies, and other extenuating circumstances (SPG 201.13); or, if a member’s appointment drops below eighty percent (80%) for an academic year and receives prior approval from the dean and the Provost.
Faculty members may be evaluated early in the promotion and tenure review process if their unit dean and the Provost approve the request (e.g. specified in a hire letter). The criteria for promotion and/or tenure shall not vary regardless of the timing of the review from what is prescribed in these procedures and unit policies.
Faculty Grievance Procedure
Information regarding the appeals process to petition against procedural irregularities in the promotion and tenure process can be found in the Dearborn Administration Guide (DAG), Sec. 201.8-1.
Article III – College Level Promotion and Tenure Procedures
Each unit of the University of Michigan – Dearborn shall promulgate its own procedures for promotion and tenure cases. Such procedures established shall conform to the Bylaws of University of Michigan Board of Regents, University of Michigan – Dearborn Promotion and Tenure Procedures, SPG, and DAG. Said procedures must be written in order to ensure a comprehensive, rigorous, and fair process. Said procedures shall be made available in print and on the unit’s website.
Each unit shall prescribe procedures regarding the executive committee’s review of promotion and tenure candidates. At a minimum, the procedures shall include the process of selecting an advocate and detailing the advocate’s responsibilities during the executive committee review stage. The advocate shall not be a member of the executive committee but normally be a tenured or emerita/emeritus faculty member preferably from the candidate’s discipline, during the executive committee review stage. The role of the advocate includes understanding a candidate’s casebook and being able to defend its merits to the executive committee. In the event of a negative recommendation at the department level, candidates may choose to identify themselves as their own advocate or designate a tenured or emerita/emeritus UM-Dearborn faculty member.
In the event of a negative recommendation rendered by an executive committee, the candidate shall be provided a copy of the recommendation along with a rationale and given the opportunity to include a rebuttal which will be placed in the casebook.
Each unit shall stipulate in its procedures, regardless of the recommendation made by the executive committee, that the dean conducts an independent review and shall write a letter of recommendation.
In the event of a negative recommendation rendered by a dean, the candidate shall be provided a copy of the recommendation along with a rationale and given the opportunity to include a rebuttal which will be placed in the casebook.
If the dean and executive committee both render positive endorsements of a promotion and/or tenure case, then only a letter of recommendation from the dean shall be required.
Each unit may determine the format and content of the letters of recommendation provided they do not conflict with the casebook instructions issued by the Office of Academic Human Resources at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Annual and Mid-Term Reviews
Each unit shall be responsible for promulgating procedures for reviewing Assistant Professors under consideration for re-appointment annually through year five beginning with their hire year, including a comprehensive mid-term review.
The annual and mid-term review letters for Assistant Professors must include information regarding the candidate’s progress toward tenure in the areas of teaching, research, and service and, if necessary, provide recommendations to help the candidate address areas of concern. The procedures created by the unit must adhere to the automatic review process for non-reappointment decisions stipulated below:
- In the event of an issuance of Notice of Non-Reappointment, the department promotion and tenure committee shall provide a written rationale for its recommendation. The candidate shall be given an opportunity to provide a written response to the department’s rationale. Both documents shall be forwarded to the unit’s executive committee for consideration. The executive committee shall consider the merits of the rationale along with the candidate’s written response in order to make a recommendation to the dean who shall render a final decision.
Each unit shall also be responsible for promulgating procedures for reviewing Associate Professors progress toward promotion to Professor.
Article IV – Department Level Promotion and Tenure Guidelines
Each department’s procedures shall ensure a comprehensive, rigorous, and fair review of the promotion and tenure candidates. As such, tenured faculty who participate in the promotion and tenure process shall uphold high standards of responsibility and ethical behavior. Their responsibilities include the obligation to give careful attention to the materials of a promotion and/or tenure case and to share the results of that deliberation with eligible departmental colleagues. Ethical behavior includes a clear obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings, since confidentiality makes honest and open discussion possible.
Each unit or department shall prescribe procedures regarding the department’s promotion and tenure committee’s review of promotion and/or tenure candidates. The role of the advocate may be further refined by the department, provided it does not conflict with the unit’s prescription.
Each department, unless stipulated in the unit-level procedures, shall determine its own voting procedures for promotion and tenure cases.
In the event of a negative recommendation rendered by a department promotion and tenure committee, the candidate shall be provided a copy of the negative recommendation along with a rationale and given the opportunity to include a rebuttal which will be placed in the casebook.
Regardless of the recommendation made by the department promotion and tenure committee, the department chair shall conduct an independent review and shall write a letter of recommendation.
In the event of a negative recommendation rendered by a department chair, the candidate shall be provided a copy of the negative recommendation along with a rationale and given the opportunity to include a rebuttal which will be placed in the casebook.
If the department chair and department promotion and tenure committee both render positive endorsements of a promotion and/or tenure case, then only a letter from the department chair shall be required.
Each unit or department shall be responsible for promulgating procedures for selecting at least five external reviewers for each casebook, of which no more than half of those invited to write a letter can be from the list recommended by the candidate.
A judgment by the department promotion and tenure committee to not send a promotion and/or tenure case to external reviewers shall be treated as a negative recommendation and in such instances a statement of rationale shall be written. The candidate shall be provided a copy of the rationale and given the opportunity to write a rebuttal which will be placed in the casebook. In such cases, the dean of the college shall make the determination on whether a candidate’s case shall be sent for external review.
Each unit shall ensure that the evaluators not be asked to advise on the tenure/promotion actions, but rather be invited to pass judgment on the published papers and other materials resulting from scholarly activity. Those chosen for this purpose should have the scholarly credentials to offer an objective expert opinion, and in general they ought to come from institutions of high caliber, where research and publication are appropriately esteemed. Ordinarily, they should be scholars whose work is not closely identified with that of the candidate, for example, as a dissertation advisor or as a coauthor. It is the responsibility of the candidate to make known any special association or relationship with the evaluator(s).
Each unit shall indicate in its procedures that the evaluations should be regarded as advisory rather than binding, since the final responsibility for assessing research, as well as for assessing teaching and service, remains with promotion and tenure committees and the appropriate administrative officers of the University.
Article V – Date of Effect
To ensure continuity and clarity of tenure and promotion processes on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, these procedures shall take effect at the start of the 2015-2016 academic year, September 9, 2015.
These procedures were last amended November 15, 2017, and are available for download.
Policy owned by: Provost