Provost Frye comments on review procedure

In response to questions I have received, I would like to offer the following clarification of our review procedure:

Deans and vice presidents are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the president and (in the case of deans) the provost, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees. Historically, appointment and review was a purely "executive" process with no regular cycle and with no provision for systematic advice from faculty or other constituencies. Beginning about six or seven years ago, we introduced a procedure for systematic review of such officers every five years, which provided an opportunity for faculty and other constituents to offer their advice. Ordinarily this advice is solicited by inviting confidential letters evaluating the dean or vice president in two broad areas: strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments in the current term; and qualifications to provide leadership for the coming five years. The letters are advisory only. They are not a "vote" or "referendum." Response rates usually range from 25 percent-50 percent. But their value depends more upon the substantive content and quality of the advice given than upon numbers. In my experience, they are remarkably thoughtful and fair and provide an excellent means of giving members of the community a voice in selecting our leaders and signaling to them their concerns and aspirations.

Thus, the purpose of the five-year cycle of review is both to garner information that will help the president and provost in their decision and to help incumbents improve their performance. Above all other considerations, we look for evidence of vision, commitment to academic excellence, and effective leadership. While renewal of appointment is often the result, and in that sense expected, it is explicit that renewal is dependent upon the results of the review. In addition to the five-year review, we try to provide incumbents with informal evaluation and direction from time to time, as warranted.

The procedure is published in chapter 2, page 45 of the Faculty Handbook.

Billy Frye

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Return to the April 22, 1996 contents page