WFU Department of Physics Wake Forest University

Revised May 2010

Submitted for Approval May 2010

Tenure Policy for the Department of Physics


The Department of Physics has developed the following written policy for use in evaluating candidates for tenure. The department reserves the right to change this policy from time to time in accordance with the needs of the department. The policy is not to be construed as creating any contractual right to tenure. No one should construe performance appraisals or reappointment as a guarantee of a positive tenure decision. The criteria and procedures set forth in The Reynolda Campus Faculty Handbook and the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees, as amended from time to time, necessarily take precedence over any departmental provisions.

Prior to Tenure-Decision Year

  1. The department chair will reach a clear understanding with each tenure-track faculty member concerning the presumed academic year in which he or she will be reviewed for tenure. This understanding will be committed to writing and will be kept in the faculty member's file in the departmental office and in the Offices of the Dean and the Provost. Any change in the presumed year will also be committed to writing, with copies sent to the same offices.
  2. Each tenure-track faculty member will be given a copy of this policy at the time of arrival. Any changes in this policy will be distributed to all tenure-track faculty at the time the changes are made.
  3. All junior tenure track faculty will receive a written annual review of their performance and progress towards tenure. This evaluation is separate and distinct from the annual merit evaluation process.
    1. Each written review must state explicitly how the junior faculty member's performance for the preceding year met or did not meet the department's and college's standards for promotion and tenure in each category: teaching, research, and service. The annual review should place the faculty member's annual performance in the broader context of progress towards tenure.
    2. If the faculty member is not meeting expectations in a particular area, the reason(s) must be detailed in the written evaluation.
    3. Chairs will meet with and discuss annual evaluations with Junior Faculty members.
    4. The annual evaluation must be signed by both the faculty member and the Department Chair before submission to the Associate Dean for Faculty Development.
  4. Timing
    Junior faculty will be reviewed four times prior to preparation and submission of the Tenure and Promotion Dossier in the sixth year.
    1. Annual reviews (formerly two-sentence reviews) will no longer be prepared and submitted at the end of the academic year.
    2. 2nd and 4th year reviews carried out during the fall of the 2nd and 4th years of appointment will serve as annual reviews of the preceding year and will accompany chairs' recommendations for re-appointment.
    3. During the fall of the 3rd and 5th years of employment, chairs will provide a two sentence evaluation of the preceding year prepared in accordance with the guidelines above.
    4. No annual review need be submitted during the fall of the 6th year unless the tenure clock has been extended for any reason.
  5. Tenure track faculty will ordinarily be reviewed for tenure in their sixth year of service (or in such year as stated in their original letter of appointment). Tenure reviews before the sixth year will be very rare. If a faculty member is denied tenure then he or she will automatically receive a nonrenewable appointment for one more year.
  6. At the beginning of the tenure review year, the department chair will discuss with each candidate the procedures that will be followed by the department in conducting the tenure review.

Compiling the Dossier

  1. The department chair will be responsible for assuring compilation of the candidate's dossier and for seeing that all steps are followed according to schedule. The dossier shall consist of any and all materials that reasonably relate to the candidate's qualifications for tenure, as defined in the department's criteria. It will include both materials collected by the department chair and materials submitted by the candidate.
  2. The department chair will ask the candidate to supply a complete and up-to-date curriculum vitae. The candidate and the department chair will discuss what additional materials the candidate wishes to submit and the timetable for their submission. A fairly comprehensive guide of the material that would constitute an appropriate dossier is given in the document entitled "Materials to be included in the Tenure and Promotion Dossier " (Word document), which is available online under the Physics Resources webpage, and is available from the department chair.
  3. Full-time tenured faculty in the department are given an opportunity to provide a confidential evaluation of the candidate's qualifications for tenure.
  4. The candidate will be allowed, upon request, to inspect the contents of his or her dossier, with the exception of confidential evaluations, whether internal or external.

The Departmental Decision

  1. The completed dossier will be made available to all faculty in the department who will participate in the decision well in advance. Participants will be all tenured faculty, regardless of rank. The department chair will make arrangements to obtain the input of tenured faculty on leave of absence or serving as overseas director.
  2. The candidate's qualifications for tenure will be discussed in at least one meeting of the tenured faculty before a decision is reached. The department chair will let tenured faculty know in advance when these meetings will take place.
  3. The department will proceed by the "consultative" method. Each tenured faculty member will be asked to provide his or her opinion of the candidate's qualifications for tenure. The department chair will tally the results and will inform members of the tenured faculty of the outcome.
  4. The department chair will give the candidate written notice, not to exceed two sentences, of the outcome of the department's deliberations and the nature of his or her recommendation to the Dean and Provost. (The candidate will not be told the numerical vote or the opinion of any individual faculty member.)
  5. The department chair will make his or her recommendation to the Dean and the Provost by February 1. In addition to his or her recommendation, the chair will inform the administration of any division of opinion within the department. If a substantial part of the department holds an opinion different from that of the chair, the chair will ask a representative of that opinion to provide a "dissenting view" to accompany the chair's own recommendation.

Departmental Criteria

  1. Departmental evaluation by faculty is guided by principles that apply throughout the College. See pages VI - 3 and VI - 4 of The Reynolda Campus Faculty Handbook (1991 ed.).
  2. The three criteria of teaching, professional activity, and service are ranked by the department in that order of priority. Emphasis is on quality teaching and demonstrated willingness to work closely with individual students, followed by professional activity indicated by scholarly achievement; a lesser, though not inconsequential, emphasis is upon participatory service to the University, the community, and the profession.
  3. In conjunction with all the above criteria, and apart from them, the department considers as extremely important the faculty member's personal integrity, sympathy with and concern for colleagues, students, and others, and compatibility with the stated purposes of the College and University.
  4. The criterion of teaching includes both primary teaching, defined as the offering of formal instruction by teaching regularly-scheduled courses, and secondary teaching, which includes academic advising, informal exchanges with students and colleagues within the department, overseeing students' research projects, the maintenance of library orders within assigned fields, advising student organizations, etc.
  5. For the purpose of evaluating teaching, the department will ordinarily draw upon the following five sources of information: (a) documentary materials from courses taught; (b) the candidate's own statement on teaching; (c) the perception of students; (d) student evaluations; and (e) the perception of other faculty within the department.
  6. The department views the mark of professional development to be publication of scholarly research, but adheres to no rigid quantitative formula regarding the number and types of publications required for promotion or tenure. It is expected, however, that to be recommended for tenure, an assistant professor would have had published (or accepted for publication) several articles or book chapters, or, perhaps, a book. These publications would normally be in refereed journals or by respected academic publishers. Minor work, such as book reviews, or incomplete work, such as working papers, are considered evidence of professional activity, but are not alone sufficient for tenure or promotion. For evaluation of a candidate's published work, the department relies on the judgment both of its own members and sometimes of outside evaluators.
  7. Other recognized forms of professional activity include presenting papers at professional meetings; serving on editorial boards of scholarly journals; holding offices in professional organizations; obtaining external grants to support one's research; and participating in workshops and seminars. While these kinds of activities enhance one's qualifications for tenure, they are not sufficient in the absence of the kind of publications described in paragraph 21.
  8. The "service" criterion encompasses service to the department, the University, and the community at large, and might best be viewed as citizenship. It includes departmental committee work and administrative responsibilities, as well as participation in faculty meetings, committee work of the undergraduate and graduate faculties, other university events such as convocations, and support of voluntary organizations that enhance the common life of the University. Simple cooperativeness and some competence generally suffice in this area. A candidate's record of service is usually maintained on forms submitted annually to the Office of Institutional Research.

College Tenure and Promotion Advisory Panel

The College tenure and promotion panel shall be an advisory panel convened by the Dean of the College to assist him/her in the evaluation of candidates recommended to the administration for tenure and/or promotion. Because of their familiarity with the tenure/promotion procedures and expectations, the panel shall consist of department Chairs, one from each of the 5 divisions within the College. One function of the panel will be to review the tenure and promotion guidelines to ensure that departmental procedures are clearly outlined and have been followed in the evaluation process. The panel will evaluate the candidate's qualifications for tenure and/or promotion from the perspective of a broad range of criteria which include the candidate's teaching, scholarship, service within the College (University), and collegiality (see the Faculty Handbook guidelines listed below). The panel's evaluation forwarded to the Dean is advisory in nature and does not constitute a formal recommendation. All deliberations of the panel shall be confidential and will not be available to the candidate for review.

Composition of the Panel

  1. Department Chairs are eligible to serve on the panel if they meet both of the following criteria:
    1. They do not have a candidate in their department who is under consideration, and
    2. they are not close personal or professional friends with any candidate.
  2. The Chair of Chairs will serve on the panel, if eligible. If not, then the previous Chair of Chairs will serve, if eligible. Otherwise an eligible Department Chair chosen by the entire group of Department Chairs will serve in this position.
  3. There will be one Department Chair from each division. These Department Chairs should be chosen by the Department Chairs in the Division who are eligible to participate. If no Department Chair is eligible to serve in a division, an eligible Department Chair from any department will be identified by the entire group of Department Chairs.
  4. The panel will meet and designate one of the members of the panel to serve as Chair.

Review Evaluation Process

  1. The initial task for the panel is to insure that the proper process, determined by departmental and College guidelines, was followed. The candidate should have received a copy of tenure/promotion guidelines at the time of initial appointment. Annual evaluations and two-year reappointment evaluations that the candidate has received should be consistent with recommendation from the department. The Department Chair will confirm that the appropriate process was followed.
  2. The candidate should have been given access to all materials in the dossier with the exception of confidential letters and other materials specified as confidential.
  3. The Department Chair should provide a summary of the evaluation decision derived from written evaluation sheets from each member of the department. These individual evaluation sheets in which faculty members identified reasons for their votes should be kept on file in department until the tenure process is completed and any issues resolved.
  4. Dossiers should contain at least three external reviews from qualified individuals who have no conflict of interest. The credentials of the reviewers and their lack of direct relationship with the candidate should be provided.

Evaluate dossier

  1. Each panel member will read the dossiers and evaluate the candidate on the consistency and improvement in the quality of teaching, programmatic research, and service contribution to the work of the department and University. Panel members will examine the strength of the outside review letters, and evaluate any dissenting letters relative to overall departmental vote.
  2. Each member of the panel will submit one written assessment to the Dean of the College summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

Wake Forest Faculty Handbook Tenure/Promotion Guidelines

"The criteria currently in effect, in the order of their importance, are (1) the quality of teaching, including advising of students, (2) professional achievement and growth (amount and quality of research and publication, active participation in appropriate professional organizations, keeping abreast of developments in one's discipline, earning the respect of one's professional colleagues regionally and nationally), and (3) public service (contributions to the welfare of the College and University community as, for example, through participation in faculty governance and academic policy-making, advising and guiding student organizations, engaging in activities beyond teaching and professional endeavors that tend to enhance the intellectual climate of the institution; and, secondarily, contributions to the extra-University community, particularly in ways that make use of the professional expertise of the faculty member). In conjunction with all the above criteria, and apart from them, the College considers as extremely important the faculty member's personal integrity, sympathy with and concern for colleagues, students, and others, and compatibility with the stated purposes of the College and University." p. 57.


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