Promotion and Tenure

Promotion and Tenure General Procedures

There are four general steps in the promotion process:

  1. A unit faculty recommendation
  2. An independent recommendation by the Chair/Director (unless an undepartmentalized School or College)
  3. A recommendation by the Dean/Chancellor with the advice of the elected advisory committee
  4. A final decision by the Provost

Mandatory Reviews

All mandatory reviews must be forwarded to the Provost, regardless of the recommendation, for final determination. Mandatory reviews include assistant professors (tenure track, WOT, research, clinical-dental pathway, APL), Associate Professor Tenure Track, and Professor Tenure Track in the mandatory year of review.

Mandatory promotion reviews are due to Academic Human Resources by December 15. Schools/colleges/campuses are urged to begin appropriate review activities and collection of documentation during Spring Quarter of the year prior to mandatory review.

Non-Mandatory Reviews

Non-mandatory considerations include promotions to the Associate Professor level prior to the mandatory review year; recommendations for an award of tenure only to an individual appointed in the WOT or Research tracks; associate professor tenure track or professor tenure track prior to their mandatory review year; promotions to the Professor level, and promotions in the Lecturer ranks. Provost action is not required on unsuccessful non-mandatory reviews. However, any non-mandatory recommendation to deny a promotion/award of tenure to which the candidate submits a written response to the Dean/Chancellor will be transmitted from the Dean/Chancellor to the Provost for informational purposes.

Non-mandatory promotion reviews are due in Academic Human Resources by February 1. Clinical (salaried and courtesy) and affiliate promotions are also non-mandatory reviews and are due in Academic Human Resources by March 1. When the Provost approves a promotion and/or award of tenure, the Dean/Chancellor will be notified of the decision. Upon this notification, the Dean/Chancellor may inform the Chair/Director, who may communicate the outcome to the candidate. This will be followed by a congratulatory letter to the candidate from the President. In the case of a postponement or denial in a mandatory review, the Provost will notify the Dean/Chancellor of the decision. For mandatory and non-mandatory reviews, the Dean/Chancellor must inform the candidate of the outcome, and if the result is not favorable, the reasons therefor.

This overview of the promotion review process is supplemental not intended to conflict with the requirements of the Faculty Code Section 24-54 and Executive Order No. V.

Candidate Self-Assessment and Opportunity to Respond

Candidates are integrated into the review process in several ways. Section 24-54B provides that candidates for promotion are to be responsible for assembling their own promotion record. Therefore, candidates are to be allowed to place in their promotion files any material that they feel should be considered. Further, the Code states that each candidate shall include a self-assessment of his or her qualifications for promotion in the file.

If departments or undepartmentalized schools/colleges/campuses utilize a subcommittee of the faculty senior in rank and title to conduct an initial assessment of a candidate’s qualifications for promotion, that committee, if it prepares an initial report and/or recommendation, must do so in writing. A written summary of that report and the committee’s recommendation is to be provided by the department chair/program director (or dean in an undepartmentalized school or college) or his or her designee (which might be the chair of the faculty subcommittee) to the candidate. For purposes of confidentiality, the summary shall omit specific attributions and may omit the vote count. The candidate, if he or she chooses, may respond in writing to that report within seven calendar days. The department/program faculty members are to receive a copy of the candidate’s response before the discussion and promotion vote occurs.

After the departmental discussion and vote by voting faculty members superior in rank and title is completed, the department chair/program director (or dean/chancellor in an undepartmentalized school/college/campus) is required to prepare a written summary of the discussion and recommendation and provide that summary to the candidate. Again, for purposes of confidentiality, the summary report shall omit specific attributions and may omit the vote count. The candidate may then choose to respond to that report within seven calendar days.

If the recommendation is at the department/program level, all of these materials (the committee report, the candidate’s response, the summary of the discussion and recommendation, the candidate’s response, and the chair/program director’s independent analysis and recommendation) are to be provided to the Dean/Chancellor. The Dean/Chancellor is to share this material with the school/college/campus elected advisory committee/council for its informed recommendation to the Dean/Chancellor finalizes his or her recommendation to the provost. If the recommendation of the committee/council is not favorable, or if it conflicts with the faculty vote, then the committee/council recommendation with reasons therefor is to be provided to the candidate. For purposes of confidentiality, the recommendation shall omit specific attributions and may omit the vote count.

Prior to issuance of a decision or recommendation that is not favorable, the Dean/Chancellor is to provide the candidate with his or her initial recommendation and reasons therefor. The Dean/Chancellor, or designee, must then discuss the case with the candidate. The candidate may respond in writing to the Dean/Chancellor within seven calendar days of the discussion.

Teaching Evaluations

The Faculty Code requires that departmental recommendations for promotion and or tenure include documentation of teaching effectiveness in two forms: student evaluation and collegial evaluation. Without such documentation, the College Council, Dean/Chancellor, and Provost will be unable to recommend a promotion and or tenure.

Student evaluation of teaching. According to the Faculty Code, each faculty member must have at least one student course evaluation done every year in which he/she teaches a course. Student assessments of teaching normally use the standardized forms provided by the Educational Assessment Center. A unit may adopt an alternate procedure for formal student evaluations, using their own forms in place of the standardized forms.

Peer evaluation of teaching. Peer evaluation of teaching must be conducted every year for Assistant Professors and at least every three years and in the year prior to reappointment or promotion for Associate Professors and Professors. The School/College/Campus also requires collegial evaluations for the promotion of Lecturers, Artists in Residence, and other instructional titles. Peer evaluations serve two purposes. One is to produce positive benefits for the individual faculty member and for the unit by identifying the individual’s particular teaching contributions, by sharing teaching knowledge among colleagues, and by supporting the improvement of teaching. The second is to provide material for evaluation in merit, reappointment, and promotion/tenure reviews. While student ratings provide useful data on success in communicating with a class, collegial evaluations allow a focus on course content as perceived by peers and can describe the unique expertise, types of instruction, courses, or other activities which the individual contributes to the unit’s curriculum or teaching program as a whole. Self-evaluation by the individual faculty member is encouraged as a helpful component in this process. The diversity of College/School/Campus programs makes it difficult to specify any particular method of collegial evaluation. A unit, however, should use the same method(s) for all evaluations so that uniform standards are applied. The chair/program director should not have sole responsibility for conducting the evaluation, and evaluators need not all be faculty senior in rank or title. Active participation by the individual being evaluated is encouraged. Appropriate methods might include collegial review of one or more of the following: teaching materials, student evaluations, classroom performance, and student performance. The last may be particularly appropriate in the studio and performing arts. A useful reference is the booklet “Evaluating Teaching,” available from the Center for Teaching and Learning. For promotion and tenure recommendations, there should be a thoughtful report from a faculty committee. In no case, however, is it sufficient simply to note that the faculty member is a “good” teacher or to provide materials or data without analysis. The method(s) of collegial evaluation, the names of the evaluators, and the results must be reported.

References: Faculty Code, 24-57

External Evaluations for Promotion & Tenure

All recommendations for promotion and/or tenure forwarded to the Provost must include evaluation by external experts in the field. Please check with your school/college/campus Dean’s/Chancellor’s office for specific selection criteria.

External Letters of Evaluation

  • Three to five external letters of evaluation are required. The evaluators should be chosen by the departmental chair/program director and faculty review subcommittee. All evaluators should be recognized contributors to their field, as indicated, for example, by tenure at a major research university, frequent citation of their work, or major awards. In appropriate circumstances, members of the professional or governmental community might well serve as external reviewers.
  • If a tenure recommendation has been postponed for one year, new external review letters should be obtained for the following year’s consideration. If desired, the original review letters (labeled as such) may also be included in the documentation materials.
  • The solicitation letter should be signed by and should request return to the unit chair/program director. It should state that the unit is considering the candidate for possible promotion and request the following information:
        1. How and for how long the referee has known the candidate.
        2. The significance, independence, influence, and promise of the candidate’s scholarship or creative work (particularly that done since coming to the University of Washington) and the degree of national/international recognition. In the case of candidates with a predominantly instructional role, the significance, influence, and promise of the candidate’s teaching and the degree of recognition.
        3. A comparison of the candidate’s accomplishments with leading scholars or artists at a similar career stage in the same or related fields
  • Each evaluator should be provided with the same representative set of the candidate’s scholarly or artistic materials.
  • The solicitation letter should not request support for a recommendation of promotion; the evaluator should not be asked to assess whether the candidate should be promoted (an evaluator may, of course, volunteer such an opinion). The external evaluation usually focuses on scholarly or artistic achievements, and promotion depends on more than these factors.
  • When the promotion recommendation is submitted to Academic Human Resources, it should include one sample of the solicitation letter and a statement describing the qualifications of the evaluators, their relationship (if any) with the candidate, the manner in which they were chosen, and the reasons for the choices.

Published Reviews

Acceptable reviews are those by scholars, academicians, artists or recognized authorities in the field. When the reviewer’s identity is known, the unit should provide a statement regarding his/her distinction, the reasons why he/she is qualified to review the work in question, and the nature and length of any association with the candidate. When the reviews are anonymous, the unit should describe the cohort from which reviewers are chosen.

Reviews carrying the greatest weight are those published in leading scholarly journals. They should provide evidence about the significance, independence, influence, and promise of the candidate’s scholarship, academic contribution, or artistic work; the candidate’s degree of national or international recognition; and the candidate’s accomplishments compared to leading scholars, academics or artists in the field who are at a similar stage of their careers.


Additional Resources