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New promotion, tenure standards proposed

A proposed revision to the promotion and tenure guidelines could lead to an overhaul in the way faculty navigate the system. A proposal unanimously approved by Faculty Senate is going through a mandatory review period and could be forwarded to Chancellor Robert Hemenway for final approval as soon as this month.

Full text online

For full text of the promotion and tenure proposals, as approved by the Faculty Senate, visit FSRR ARTICLE VI. Promotion and Tenure.

For more than a year, a Faculty Senate task force reviewed the current promotion and tenure standards and proposed revisions that aim to improve the transparency of the process and clarify the roles of participants at all levels.

The proposal was approved May 3. Under Faculty Senate guidelines, the proposals must go through a review period of 30 calendar days, excluding academic breaks and weekends. During that time, faculty members may petition for a review of the proposal if 100 faculty members sign the petition. If no petition is submitted, the proposals can forwarded to the provost for review and eventual recommendation to the chancellor.

A petition with 18 signatures was submitted by the deadline.

The faculty senate is discussing whether to reexamine the proposal since 18 faculty members signed the petition, or to forward it on.

If it is forwarded, there is no deadline for the provost to complete his review and recommendations or for the chancellor to approve or deny the proposal.

Though the new proposal retains much of the structure of the current system, it does feature a few significant revisions. Namely, the process would be more transparent. During open forums and while gathering feedback on the proposals, the task force found some wanted candidates to have full access to information relative to the process, while others were adamant about maintaining the confidentiality of outside evaluation letters and internal deliberations. As a compromise, the proposal established minimum requirements for transparency, while allowing flexibility so different units may offer greater transparency in their procedures.

The minimum requirements include written communication of the results at each level and a requirement that copies of requests to chairs or deans for additional information be provided to the candidate. Candidates will also be able to give additional information in response to negative evaluations after the initial review, intermediate review and possibly University Committee on Promotion and Tenure review.

The proposals also address the appeal system. Currently, the system in which faculty may appeal the chancellor's decision on promotion or tenure to the Committee on Tenure and Related Issues is not in line with Kansas Board of Regents policy. The task force has proposed moving the appeal forward, so it would come after the recommendations of the University Committee on Promotion and Tenure but before the chancellor's decision.

"The task force believes that this system would, on balance, provide faculty much greater protections against improper tenure decisions than the current appeal process," it wrote in an executive summary.

The appeal would still be made to the Committee on Tenure and Related Issues, which would be renamed the Faculty Rights Board.

"It will be an appeal to a neutral outside board," said Rick Levy, Distinguished Professor of Law and chair of the task force. "The appeal will then become one more piece of information the chancellor can use in his final decision."

A complete revision was made to ensure that standards are comprehensive, well-organized and clear, as the task force found the standards in the current policy are "poorly organized and incomplete," according to an executive summary. Levy said the new guidelines would be clearer for both candidates and those performing the review.

Hemenway will have the option to approve all or part of the proposals and will have the final say in which proposals would be adopted at what time.

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