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Promotion and Tenure Procedures: Stop Keeping Faculty in the Dark

Posted in Tenure and Promotion

A number of my clients are now going through the process of promotion or tenure evaluation. None of these faculty understand the specifics about the process.  Yes, they know about the general procedures, but in every case the timing and the details of each step are not clear.

I can understand why a certain amount of privacy is important during the tenure/review process .  However, I have known of situations — including situations where people were denied tenure — when a more transparent explanation of the procedures would have made the difference between success and failure.  In at least one case, faculty under evaluation could have made a stronger case for themselves, as evidenced by recently accepted papers, etc. In another case, a botched review process would have been more evident, and corrections might have been made.

Apart from the issue of fairness, great transparency may go a long wait toward easing the anxieties of faculty undergoing review. It can help them determine when and how to go on the job market, what they should discuss with their family and colleagues, and how they might legitimately influence the review process if there is still time to provide new information about progress.

Keeping faculty in the dark during the review process does nothing for the faculty under consideration and certainly increases discourages people who may be tempted to leave academic science for industry.  This needs to change, and it can be changed.

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