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FINAL DRAFT (5/30/97)


Post-Tenure Review Process


Tenure is critical to sustaining institutional excellence. It requires years of probation during which the candidateís promise of future performance is exactingly assessed. It allows scholars great freedom to pursue lines of inquiry independently. And it encourages in the faculty a spirit of institutional service and responsibility. Tenure does not insulate the incumbent from any and all subsequent forms of evaluation. In fact, few professions are practiced so publicly: before students in teaching; before oneís peers in published work; and before oneís colleagues in departmental and institutional government.

At present, however, the University has no formalized system to gather and consider the fruits of these various evaluations on a regular basis after tenure is awarded subsequent to promotion to full professor. The establishment of such a practice would be salutary insofar as it would afford an opportunity: (1) to do justice to those whose merit has not been sufficiently recognized; (2) to recognize changes in the circumstances and interests of faculty in a constructive manner; and (3) to detect and address developing problems. The first point acknowledges that scholarly work, recognized as excellent at the time, might have been produced when the University had few rewards to distribute, or that the importance of the work to the discipline did not become apparent until long after it appeared, and that both might have been neglected in the short time-frame of subsequent annual salary recommendations. The second acknowledges that a professional career may take many unanticipated turns. The third recognizes that problems can and should be discerned and dealt with in a responsible, respectful manner beneficial to both the faculty member and the University.

In sum, tenure involves responsibilities as well as protections, and a properly constructed review process for tenured faculty will reflect this fact. But it must be appropriately structured: It should minimize unnecessary bureaucracy; it should rest on the principle of peer review; and it should be conducted in a constructive and collegial manner.

The review process for tenured faculty set out in this document proceeds from the premise inherent in the award of tenure that the vast majority of tenured faculty continue to fulfill the promise of excellence that justified their earning of tenure. It is as sensitive to instances in which merit has been insufficiently recognized as to cases in which there are reasons for concern. In the latter, it insists upon the rigorous observance of due process. Overall, it demonstrates that the University of Illinois is a faithful steward of the public trust.

The review process described here proceeds from the establishment of policy that each academic unit frame a statement articulating in reasonable detail the expectations it has for faculty after (as well as before) the granting of tenure, taking due account of the diversity of teaching, research, service and professional activity that may be appropriate. All units should already have statements of criteria for tenure and promotion, and for consideration for salary increases; this larger statement of expectations should reflect these other documents. Provision should be made to review these statements every five years at both the unit and college level to assure their continuing appropriateness and conformity to campus standards. These statements should be communicated to the faculty.

As in the granting of tenure, the post-tenure review process is primarily the responsibility of the tenured faculty of the academic units. It should involve but not devolve upon the unit executive officer. Executive officers should submit reports on post-tenure reviews to the dean of their college, for transmittal in due course to the Provost. Steps should be taken to render the entire process part of the academic routine, to emphasize the constructive potential of such reviews, and to keep the process minimally intrusive or disruptive. Accordingly, the system takes advantage of information that should be collected in due course as part of annual performance reports, supplementing it as may be necessary to do justice to both the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty reviewed.

Annual Reviews

All units should conduct annual reviews of their faculty. Documentation from annual faculty reviews will provide the foundation for periodic post-tenure reviews. Though the specifics may vary from unit to unit, annual reviews should include:

a. reports submitted by faculty members describing their yearís activities with reference to the expectations mentioned in unit statements on salary increase policy and on standards of performance; and

b. commentary from the unit (which may be succinct when more extended comment is not warranted) prepared either by the executive officer or the unit body organized for this purpose. The commentary should be communicated to the faculty member under review.

Post-tenure Reviews

Subsequent to the granting of tenure at this University, each tenured faculty member should be given a post-tenure review every seven years. (A comprehensive review undertaken for promotion within this period will satisfy this requirement.) These seven-year periodic reviews should be conducted by Post-Tenure Review Committees (Review Committees) of tenured faculty who are not themselves being reviewed in the year in which they serve on the Review Committee. Units should determine how they wish their Review Committees to be constituted, with due regard to individual competence and continuity of service. Large and highly diverse units may choose to have several such committees; while small units with relatively few tenured faculty may join together for this purpose.

1. The point of departure for the seven-year review should be the documentation routinely collected over the previous six years, including the faculty memberís annual reports and departmental commentaries and the reviews prepared annually by units in connection with salary recommendations.

2. The unit executive officer should meet with the Review Committee early in the process to charge the Committee and to engage in preliminary discussion of the faculty under consideration.

3. Faculty undergoing such a periodic review will be given the opportunity to submit statements to the Review Committee to supplement their files of annual reports and related documents. They also will be given the opportunity to meet with the Review Committee during the course of the review.

4. The Review Committee should submit written reports to the unit executive officer, meeting with the executive officer if that is desired by either party. These reports may draw attention to insufficiently recognized merit, to changes in interests or activities that may call for institutional or individual adjustments, or to other areas of concern.

5. Executive officers should consider if any steps are warranted in response to the reports, carrying out such further consultations as might be appropriate. In the unusual case in which steps are contemplated beyond receipt of the report and communication to the faculty member of its substance, these should be discussed with the faculty member and (as may be appropriate and warranted) also with the unit executive or advisory committee and the dean before any action is taken.

a. If a case has been made for more substantial recognition of merit, the executive officer should explore ways in which this might be accomplished.

b. If a faculty memberís performance is deemed by the Review Committee to depart from the unitís performance criteria, the circumstances should be explored with the faculty member. If problems have arisen because of inadequate institutional support for the faculty memberís teaching or research, ways of addressing these problems should be explored. When appropriate, the executive officer will work with the faculty member to create an agreed-upon plan to take change in interests or activity into account or to address any specific deficiencies. The plan will be explicit with respect to both expectations and the time in which these are to be met. The plan will be in writing, signed by both parties, placed in the facultyís memberís personnel file, and monitored as an explicit part of future annual and periodic reviews. Additional forms of monitoring may also be provided for in the plan.

c. If a plan cannot be agreed upon, or if such plans have been ineffective, the executive officer, in consultation with the Review Committee, the unit executive or advisory committee, the dean, and others as may be appropriate (e.g., legal counsel), should take steps to explore the situation more thoroughly. If appropriate, mediation may be considered. If a mutually agreeable resolution cannot be achieved, other outcomes may be pursued, including reassignment of duties or the initiation of sanction proceedings. Any such action must conform to the standards and procedures of applicable University Statutes and General Rules.

A Concluding Remark

Experience may suggest ways in which the process here can be improved. A review process of the kind, however, will be a valuable addition to existing practices associated with tenureóindeed, it builds upon them. It is in complete accord with the principles of peer review and academic due process, and provides a further way to implement the facultyís commitment to the best interests of the university and the public it serves.