Handbook Table of Contents | Constitution | Faculty Policies | Degree Policies
The criteria for recommendations on appointment and tenure decisions can only be stated in general terms. This is a reflection of the nature of the decision-making process and of the changing character of the University. It is essential, however, that the recommendations be informed by an orderly and fair process of evaluation in which the appropriate faculty members, the department heads, the College committees, and the Dean participate, acting as objectively as possible on the available information and exercising their best judgment.
Recommendations for initial appointment, reappointment, promotion, and the granting of tenure are to be based on an estimate of the contributions - actual or potential, depending on the nature of the decision - of the candidate to the academic excellence of the University and the College. In general, a recommendation for an affirmative decision will be made if
As stated in (a) above, there are two basic areas in which a candidate's quality of performance is to be evaluated: Teaching and Other Educational Activities, and Research and Other Scholarly Activities (cf. UP Criteria: Criteria). Thorough consideration is to be given to the candidate's qualifications in each of these areas. With infrequent exception it is expected that, to justify a recommendation for an affirmative decision, a candidate must be excellent, having regard to his or her current stage of development, in both teaching and other educational activities, and in research and other scholarly activities.
It is understood, however, that people may follow varied paths in pursuing their careers. Outstanding contributions in the field of education, or distinguished scholarly activities, may be more compelling arguments for appointment or retention than extensive achievements in research, and may provide a primary justification for a recommendation for an affirmative decision.
It is expected that each evaluation for reappointment, promotion, or the granting of tenure will be based on evidence of solid growth beyond the point reached at the preceding decision. The provisions of the University Policy (UP Criteria: Application of criteria) describe in some detail the level of achievement required for various appointment and tenure decisions.
Teaching is an essential component of the University's work. As characterized by the University Policy,
Teaching, a principal function of the faculty, is direct educational involvement with students inside or outside the classroom, laboratory, or studio, and includes such activities as classroom, laboratory, or studio instruction, seminars, independent study supervision, and supervision of graduate and postdoctoral research. It also includes the advising and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students. (UP Criteria: Criteria, A. Teaching and Other Educational Activities)
The University Policy describes Other educational Activities as including
development of new or reformed courses, curricula, degree programs, and training programs; educational publications, textbooks, and other instructional materials; and technical and critical popularization. (UP Criteria: ibid.)
The College has a responsibility to the students and to the University to ensure that there is serious, detailed, and effective discussion of the teaching performance and qualifications of every candidate for an appointment or tenure decision.
The evaluation of teaching and of quality in other educational activities thus includes the consideration of such factors as:
As stated in the University Policy,
Competence in teaching should be documented by means including colleague evaluations and meaningful student evaluations obtained through surveys and solicited and unsolicited written opinions. (UP Criteria: ibid.)
When eliciting student opinions, a serious effort should be made to avoid bias and to obtain responses from mature students, past and present, reflecting some retrospection.
It is recognized that documenting the quality of teaching at other institutions, in the case of a candidate for initial appointment who has previous teaching experience in higher education, is considerably more difficult than documenting research or other activities; recognition of this fact should not excuse those responsible for assembling the information from making a thorough effort to collect evidence on this point. In the case of a candidate for initial appointment who has no formal teaching experience, a judgment on the promise of teaching quality must be made as carefully as possible from all available information.
The Mellon College of Science expects that its faculty members will make independent contributions to research and to scholarly work in their fields. There should be concrete evidence of the ability to initiate and to carry through to completion research whose worth is recognized by others in the field. It is indeed expected that a candidate for an appointment or tenure decision will have achieved a national or international professional reputation commensurate with the rank of the appointment.
The University Policy states that, with regard to Research, Scholarly, or Artistic Activities (omitting items not relevant to the Mellon College of Science),
Competence in the activities of this category should be documented by the record of accomplishment, including publications and inventions; the record of recognition, including awards, prizes, honors from professional societies, and critical reviews of publications and research proposals; and the considered opinions of outstanding experts in the candidate's field, both inside and outside the University. (UP Criteria: Criteria, B. Research, Scholarly, or Artistic Activities)
When judging an individual's contributions to research, it is essential to take into account the diverse organizational formats in which research is carried out in different fields, especially when evaluating participation in a collaborative research effort, whether occasional or institutionalized.
In accordance with the University Policy (UP Criteria: ibid.), the considered opinions of outside experts carry increasing weight as the level of the decision rises. The College shall require outside opinions for all appointment and tenure decisions except for the following: reappointment at the rank of Instructor; promotion from the rank of Instructor to the rank of Assistant Professor; reappointment at the rank of Assistant Professor. Outside opinions may, however, be requested even in such a case if the department or the Dean or a College committee judges that they might contribute significant information.
The following provisions recite, with application to the Mellon College of Science, corresponding provisions of the University Policy (UP Criteria, C. Other considerations).
Candidates for appointment and tenure decisions may also carry out professional activities that should be considered: e.g., professional practice, consulting, public service, service in professional and technical societies, and editorial work on professional journals and other publications. Insofar as such activities either contribute to, or are an extension of, either of the two categories of activities described earlier in this section, they should be considered when evaluating qualifications under each of these two categories.
It is expected that every faculty member will contribute, by means of his or her expertise and the commitment of reasonable time and effort, to the functioning and welfare of the University community, and of the College and his or her department in particular, through such activities as chairing or serving on committees and councils, providing professional supervision of educational, research, and other scholarly University resources, etc. Quality of contributions in this area of Service is to be considered (as well as substantial failure to attend to it), in addition to the main two categories of activities described above.
Between 1 January and 1 July of every calendar year, the Dean communicates to each department head the list of all faculty members in the respective department
The reappointment or promotion decisions, in Case (a), and the tenure decisions, in Case (b), that are required by the University Policy (UP Term and Timing) are termed mandatory decisions, and every mandatory decision process is regarded as automatically initiated on 1 July of the year in question.
All reappointment, promotion, and tenure decisions (other than tenure decisions accompanying initial appointment decisions) that are not mandatory under the preceding definition are termed optional decisions. These include early decisions for faculty members without indefinite tenure and decisions on promotion to the rank of Professor.
Every optional decision process is initiated either by a decision of the department head with the agreement of the candidate, or (except for reappointment decisions) at the written request of the faculty member, submitted to the department head. Optional decisions are subject to the pertinent provisions of the University Policy (UP Term and Timing: Early decisions). In order for an optional promotion or tenure decision to be assured of consideration in time to become effective on 1 July of a given calendar year, it should be initiated on or before 1 September of the preceding calendar year.
Every initial appointment decision process (including, if appropriate, an accompanying tenure decision process) is formally initiated by a decision of the department head. This decision to initiate the process must be preceded by steps, undertaken with the permission of the Dean and conducted in accordance with statutory provisions and University personnel regulations, to obtain applications and nominations (by means including posting and advertising) and to examine them; the decision to initiate the process should also be based on consultations with departmental faculty, including, if appropriate, recommendations of departmental committees. An initial appointment decision process may be initiated at any time; the determination of the effective date of the resulting appointment will, however, depend on timing the initiation so as to permit the process to be carried to completion in an orderly manner.
The department head obtains and assembles the documentation required for the departmental deliberation on each appointment and tenure decision, consulting with the candidate regarding those matters that are wholly or in part the candidate's responsibility. The required documentation is outlined in the appended Checklist, which is an integral part of this Policy; the department head or the candidate may, however, supply documentation not included in the Checklist when it is judged to be relevant to the case. The candidate must be invited to suggest (but may not impose) names of people who should be asked to provide a considered opinion, in addition to those chosen by the department head after consultation with departmental faculty.
The departmental recommendation on a proposed appointment or tenure decision shall be determined on the basis of a discussion and a vote at a meeting, or meetings, of specified faculty members in the department, according to the following rules.
At the meeting or meetings to determine the departmental recommendation on an appointment or tenure decision, the department head or a faculty member with indefinite tenure designated by the department head presides, whether he or she is, under these rules, entitled to vote or not.
In the following table, the specification of the nature of the decision in question is followed by the specification of those faculty members in the department who are entitled to vote on the recommendation.
|Decision||Faculty members entitled to vote|
|Initial appointment or reappointment at the rank of Instructor; or initial appointment at, or promotion to, the rank of Assistant Professor.||All Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, and Professors.|
|Reappointment at the rank of Assistant Professor; or initial appointment or reappointment at, or promotion to, the rank of Associate Professor.||All Associate Professors and Professors.|
|Granting of tenure at the rank of Associate Professor (this vote to be preceded by the appropriate one referred to in the preceding paragraph if the granting of tenure is to accompany an initial appointment at, or a promotion to, the rank of Associate Professor).||All faculty members with indefinite tenure.|
|Initial appointment at, or promotion to, the rank of Professor; or granting of tenure to a Professor appointed without indefinite tenure.||All Professors (excluding those without indefinite tenure).|
Transfer appointments and the conversion of appointments in other units into joint appointments shall be treated, for the sole purpose of this table, as initial appointments.
In addition to all the faculty members entitled to vote on a recommendation, the following are entitled to participate in the deliberation preceding the vote, and therefore also to have access to all the documentation of the case: Professors and Associate Professors Emeriti and Emeritae who would be entitled to vote except for the circumstance of their retirement; and members of the research faculty and lecturer track appointees, according as regular faculty members of equivalent rank and without indefinite tenure would be entitled to vote. Other regular, research, or lecturer track faculty members (in the department or not) not entitled to vote may be invited to participate in some or every part of the deliberation by decision of those entitled to vote. The participation of faculty members not in the department may be particularly appropriate for the evaluation of interdisciplinary contributions by the candidate.
The discussion leading to a departmental recommendation regarding an appointment or tenure decision is to be governed by the criteria formulated in the University Policy (UP Criteria) and in the section of this Policy entitled "Criteria", and by no other considerations.
The discussion is to be based primarily on the documentation provided by the department head. Any faculty member, student, or other member of the University community may, however, communicate relevant information and/or his or her opinion to the department in writing. The participants in the discussion may also instruct the department head to request or secure additional opinions or factual information before concluding the deliberation. All materials obtained in any of these ways become part of the documentation of the case.
At the conclusion of the departmental deliberation, those participants entitled to do so proceed to vote:
If they regard it as appropriate, they may also vote on the inclusion of any specific relevant points in the recommendation.
The manner of voting is subject to the following conditions:
In all other respects, the manner of voting is governed by a standing departmental policy or, if there is none, by agreement of the participants entitled to vote.
The participants entitled to vote may also instruct the department head on the manner in which the result of the vote is to be reported.
With the exception of the case of a deliberation and vote on an initial appointment decision that does not produce a departmental recommendation for an affirmative decision, a report on the departmental deliberation and vote, and on the resulting recommendation, is prepared by the department head and signed by every participant entitled to vote. Faculty members entitled to vote on the recommendation who were absent will have the reasons for their absence recorded in the report.
The signatures must be preceded by the following statement:
The undersigned faculty members participated in the deliberation on the departmental recommendation regarding the [appointment/reappointment/promotion/tenure] decision concerning N, and certify that the report of the department head truly reflects the decision made at the departmental meeting. These signatures do not indicate approval or disapproval of the recommendation.
Individual faculty members, including those unable, or not entitled, to participate in the deliberation, are of course free to communicate their opinions in writing, either as part of the departmental documentation or directly to the Dean.
The department head may add to the report a separate recommendation; such a separate recommendation must, however, be communicated for information to all those entitled to participate in the deliberation.
If the deliberation and vote regarding an initial appointment decision do not produce a departmental recommendation for an affirmative decision, the process is thereby terminated. The department head informs the Dean in writing of this outcome, and the file, containing the complete documentation and a record of the termination, is closed.
In every other case, the department head's report containing the departmental recommendation and the required signatures, is communicated to the Dean together with the complete documentation.
Every year the Dean specifies a date, no later than 30 September, on or before which the departmental recommendations on all mandatory decisions must be communicated to the Dean. Departmental recommendations on optional decisions as well as on initial appointment decisions should be communicated on or before the same date or, if this is not feasible, on or before another date specified by the Dean.
The obligation to notify a faculty member of the departmental recommendation on an appointment or tenure decision, as well as to provide, at his or her request, a statement of reasons for the recommendation, is mandated and governed by the University Policy (UP Procedure: College and School Policies, B. Procedure).
In accordance with the provisions of the University Policy (UP Procedures: General rules, and College and School Policies, B. Procedure), there are two levels of thoroughness of the procedures for dealing with departmental recommendations on appointment and tenure decisions. A summary procedure is prescribed for: initial appointment and reappointment at the rank of Instructor; initial appointment at, and promotion to, the rank of Assistant Professor; and transfer appointment, without promotion, of a faculty member already appointed with indefinite tenure. A comprehensive procedure is prescribed for all other cases, viz.: reappointment at the rank of Assistant Professor; initial appointment and reappointment at, and promotion to, the rank of Associate Professor; initial appointment at, and promotion to, the rank of Professor; and all tenure decisions.
If a summary procedure is prescribed, the departmental recommendation is considered by the Dean, who may request, at his or her discretion, additional information and/or opinions, including the opinions of departmental or College committees, before formulating his or her own recommendation as provided for below.
If a comprehensive procedure is prescribed, the Dean submits the departmental recommendation together with all the accompanying documentation to the appropriate Ad-Hoc Committee and, together with that Committee's report and recommendation, to the Review Committee, before formulating his or her own recommendation, according to the following rules.
On or before 1 September of every year, the Dean appoints two Ad-Hoc Committees on Faculty Appointments (called Ad-Hoc Committees for short), viz., the Ad-Hoc Committee on Appointments Without Indefinite Tenure and the Ad-Hoc Committee on Appointments With Indefinite Tenure (called the Ad-Hoc Non-Tenure Committee and the Ad-Hoc Tenure Committee for short, respectively). The members of these Committees serve until the successor Ad-Hoc Committees have been appointed. Occasional or permanent vacancies are filled by the Dean in such a way as to preserve the prescribed composition of the Ad-Hoc Committees.
Each Ad-Hoc Committee consists of between five and eight members, all of whom are faculty members in the University, with at least one faculty member from each of the departments of the Mellon College of Science. The appointments should be made with a view to including some member or members within the general area of activity of each candidate whose case is to be examined; in exceptional cases this may require the appointment of an additional member. The inclusion of a faculty member not in the Mellon College of Science may be appropriate for the evaluation of interdisciplinary contributions by a given candidate, and requests for inclusion of faculty members from outside the college may be initiated by a department head or by the Dean. A department head should not be appointed a member of an Ad-Hoc Committee, unless no other qualified faculty member is available from that department. The Dean designates one member of each Ad-Hoc Committee to chair it.
The members of the Ad-Hoc Tenure Committee must all be faculty members with indefinite tenure. The members of the Ad-Hoc Non-Tenure Committee must be faculty members with the rank of Associate Professor or Professor, and should include at least two Associate Professors without indefinite tenure, if available.
The Ad-Hoc Non-Tenure Committee makes recommendations on reappointment at the rank of Assistant Professor and on initial appointment and reappointment at, and promotion to, the rank of Associate Professor when made without indefinite tenure.
The Ad-Hoc Tenure Committee makes recommendations on all tenure decisions; on initial appointment at, and promotion to, the rank of Associate Professor when made with indefinite tenure; and on initial appointment at, and promotion to, the rank of Professor (including the exceptional case of initial appointment at that rank without indefinite tenure).
When the departmental recommendation is to make an initial appointment at, or promotion to, the rank of Associate Professor with indefinite tenure, the Ad-Hoc Tenure Committee makes the recommendation, but may instead recommend (taking the place of the Ad-Hoc Non-Tenure Committee) that the proposed initial appointment or promotion be made, but without indefinite tenure, if such an appointment is permitted under the provisions of the University Policy.
Each Ad-Hoc Committee reviews thoroughly each of the cases submitted to it by the Dean and prepares a written report and recommendation, being as specific as possible in stating reasons for the recommendation and reflecting any significant diversity of opinion in the Committee. The recommendation shall be based on the materials in and accompanying the departmental recommendation, as well as on any additional information and/or opinions obtained by the Committee (it being the responsibility of the Committee chair to request and secure such additional material). The report supporting the Committee's recommendation shall address the qualifications of the candidate within the criteria formulated in the University Policy (UP Criteria) and in the section of this Policy entitled "Criteria". It is not the role of the Ad-Hoc Committee to effect new policy or planning decisions through its report.
Each Ad-Hoc Committee adopts its own rules and procedures for carrying out its evaluations and for deciding on recommendations. The Committee's report and recommendation on each case is signed by all members of the Committee and submitted, together with all the documentation, to the Dean.
The Mellon College of Science Review Committee on Faculty Appointments (called the Review Committee for short) consists of the Dean, who presides; each Associate Dean who is a faculty member with indefinite tenure; the College's department heads; the Chair of the Faculty Organization of the Mellon College of Science, or the Chair-Elect if the Chair is unable to attend; and two senior faculty members appointed by the Dean on or before 1 September of each year, and from time to time if vacancies occur.
The Dean presents to the Review Committee each case subject to a comprehensive procedure, together with the report and recommendation of the Ad-Hoc Committee and all the documentation. The Review Committee discusses the case and votes on a recommendation to the Dean.
The manner of voting is determined by the Review Committee, subject to the following conditions:
In the absence of a contrary determination, the vote is by show of hands, with abstentions permitted.
The Review Committee may also instruct the Dean on the manner in which the vote is to be reported; in the absence of such an instruction, this decision is left to the discretion of the Dean.
The Dean acts on every departmental recommendation regarding an appointment or tenure decision by formulating his or her own independent recommendation; if the decision is subject to a comprehensive procedure, this recommendation is formulated after the action by the Review Committee.
The Dean's recommendation, his or her report on the action of the Review Committee, the report and recommendation of the Ad-Hoc Committee (the latter two in the case of a comprehensive procedure), the departmental recommendation, and all the documentation, together constitute the College recommendation on each case, which is transmitted by the Dean to the Provost for the implementation of the provisions of the University Policy (UP Procedures: General rules, and University Committees).
The Dean informs the department head and the members of the Ad-Hoc Committee and the Review Committee (if applicable), in confidence, of the recommendation made on each case.
The obligation to notify a faculty member of the College recommendation on an appointment or tenure decision, as well as to provide, at his or her request, a statement of reasons for the recommendation, is mandated and governed by the University Policy (UP Procedure: College and School Policies, B. Procedure).
It is the responsibility of each department head, under the general supervision of the Dean, to implement the mandate of the University Policy that
every faculty member of a rank other than that of Professor is annually given reasonably reliable and detailed information on his or her performance in relation to the department's and the College's goals and resources, and with a view to the prospect of a reappointment, promotion, or tenure decision, as appropriate in each case. (UP Procedure: College and School Policies, B. Procedure)
Except for such access to, and disclosure of, information as is mandated or explicitly permitted by the University Policy or by this Policy, all information concerning documentation, deliberation, and votes regarding appointment and tenure decisions is to be held by all participants and administrators in strict confidence to the extent permitted by law.