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Monday, Jul. 9th 2018

Post-Tenure Review For College And University Faculty

The long-standing practice of awarding tenure to faculty members has been viewed by much of the public as a guarantee of lifetime employment for professors. This belief ignores the pervasive practice in American colleges and universities of conducting Post-Tenure Review on an annual basis and using the results of these reviews, or evaluations, in awarding merit pay increases or, in some cases, recommending discipline and even dismissal.

Post-Tenure Review typically addresses and evaluates three major areas of a professor’s contribution: TEACHING, RESEARCH AND PUBLICATION, SERVICE TO THE UNIVERSITY. Teaching and Research/Publication each typically count for 40% of the evaluation scoring in Post-Tenure Reviews. Service to the university counts for 20%. There is typically a Faculty Evaluation Committee in each department of the university that conducts the evaluations on members of their own departmental faculty. Ideally, these reviews at least attempt to be data driven and objectively based. The ratings on RESEARCH/PUBLICATION consider the number of articles, monographs, books or other publications which have been accepted by an accredited publisher such as a scientific journal or university publication.

Much more subjective means are employed to rate professors for POST-TENURE REVIEW of their teaching skills. Much of the rating depends on student surveys, conducted online and anonymously. Popular and fun professors tend to get better ratings and tougher and harder-grading professors tend to get lesser ratings. There is certainly a concern with lower university enrollments that the university should be more consumer-oriented and this tends to make deans and provosts concerned about offering popular professors to the student-consumer.

POST-TENURE REVIEW has been the subject of a recent (February 11, 2018) article in THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, by Audrey Williams June, who examined a new evaluation protocol at The University of Denver, designed to focus not on punitive measures but on helping professors develop their skills. A three-year pilot phase of the policy, developed by the faculty and governed by the Faculty Senate, is set to begin Fall 2018.

The important issues for a faculty member going through a POST-TENURE REVIEW to remember is that while the review has an inherent goal of evaluation and in some cases, criticism, faculty members retain due process rights to have notice of alleged deficiencies; to see the evidence supporting any criticism; to present evidence in their defense and to have a fair hearing process before any remediation or other sanction is imposed. Faculty having questions about their rights and how to best protect themselves are invited to call Mr. Cohen at 785.979.7361 or contact him: cac@studentrightslawyers.com

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