Keeping the Passion and Keeping a Job
Is post-tenure review a faculty development tool or a lurking threat?

Post-tenure review at other universities

Join the discussion
What's your opinion of post-tenure review at Emory? Should internal resources such as University Research Committee grants be closed to senior faculty? Can Emory support its faculty without reducing the motivation to push the envelope?

Resources, Risk & Reward
Getting what you need as a faculty member

Balancing Money and Biomedicine
An academic physician's ambivalence
Samuel C. Dudley, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine

I could do some things here that I couldn't do at other established seats of power
Carol Worthman, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology

If Charles Darwin had wanted to be comfortable, he never would have taken the voyage on the HMS Beagle.
Kim Wallen, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Academic Exchange September 1999 Contents Page

Scholars often say they came to the academy because of a passion--to sift through the rubble of pitched political battle, to shed new light on an age-old scientific mystery, to untangle the knotty language of a provocative poem.

But what happens when a faculty member loses that passion for teaching and learning and the vocation becomes merely a job? How does an institution safeguard against a decline in productivity, against mediocre work?

Some institutions have turned to post-tenure review as one answer. State legislatures have begun requiring many public universities to adopt such procedures in response to public pressure to scrutinize the system of tenure. It's a controversial practice: advocates say it defends and strengthens tenure in light of this scrutiny, while opponents argue that it threatens academic freedom by questioning a tenured professor's work.

Last year, The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) weighed in on the direction of post-tenure review, backing away from its prior position of dismissing the notion altogether. The aaup opposes any kind of formal, periodic review that could jeopardize tenure and offers "minimum standards for good practice," such as involving faculty in designing and conducting the procedures
and not using post-tenure review as "a re-evaluation or revalidation of tenured status." Moves to revoke tenure on the grounds of incompetence should be a separate process, the organization states.

Whether it's called by that name or not, each of Emory's nine schools practices some form of post-tenure review, although the procedures vary in rigor and implication. In the medical school, for instance, tenured faculty undergo a highly structured review three years after promotion to associate professor, then subsequently every five years. These reviews include a detailed dossier of activities, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses, and proposed goals and objectives. The dossier is evaluated in a formal meeting with the faculty member by a committee of other faculty.

Theology school tenured faculty also undergo a five-year review. The faculty member presents a portfolio for review by two peers, followed by several conversations with the dean and associate dean for faculty development. A letter to the review candidate summarizing those conversations then becomes the basis for the next review.

In the law school, post-tenure review consists of an annual assessment by the dean. According to Nathaniel Gozansky, associate dean, the law faculty has discussed establishing a peer review process that would take place every three to five years, but, he adds, "at this time those are very preliminary

Post-tenure review at other universities

University of California
Routine reviews are prompted by possible promotion or merit increase of salary. The department, dean, academic senate committees, and chancellor or vice chancellor contribute to the process. Criteria are teaching, research and creative work, professional competence and activity, and university and public service. The review can determine the level of merit increase or the promotion.

University of Wisconsin at Madison
Reviews are conducted at least every five years by one or more tenured faculty in the department. The outcome is a set of goals agreed upon by the faculty member and the review committee. These vary widely but might include spending more time on teaching, broadening research to areas with greater potential for extramural funding, or contributing more to the department's outreach mission.

Harvard Business School
The dean's request for the faculty member's statement on past work and a five-year plan initiates the five-year review. A conversation follows between the faculty member and the dean, who is advised by a small committee that also meets with the faculty member. While issues or concerns may be raised, the process does not have pre-determined outcomes.