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Post-Tenure Faculty Review and Renewal

Tomorrow's Academic Careers

Message Number: 
860

Do not expect peers to be comfortable with this type of review or administrators to possess the necessary evaluation and development skills. The review process is only as effective as those given the responsibility to implement it. Comfort, commitment, and skill will vary. Results will vary. This is to be expected. Experience will enhance comfort and skill; commitment must always be reinforced.

Folks:

The posting below looks six strategies for use in developing post-tenure review programs. It is from Post-Tenure Faculty Review and Renewal: Experienced Voices, by Christine M. Licata and Joseph C. Morreale, editors. A Publication of AAHE's New Pathways Project AAHE Forum on Faculty Roles & Rewards. Copyright © 2002 American Association for Higher Education. Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu

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Tomorrow's Academic Careers

 

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Post-Tenure Faculty Review and Renewal - Moving the Conversation Forward

Christine M. Licata and Joseph C. Morreale

There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience.

_ Archibold McLeish

 

Fortunately, as we come to the end of this volume, we can reflect on the lessons learned by our experienced practitioners and use these experiences to move the conversation forward.

In our first AAHE publication (1997) we advocated that institutions follow six strategies when developing a program of post-tenure review. We repeat them here because we believe the varied stories detailed in the preceding sections expand and enlarge significantly upon these original recommendations. Our original framework remains useful nonetheless, putting policy and implementation into the current context.

Six Strategies and Precautions for Developing a Program of Post-Tenure Review

1. Clearly define and articulate the purpose of the review.

Because the purpose of the review drives all other aspects and leads the way to appropriate language regarding outcomes and consequences, it is important to distinguish between formative and summative evaluations. While many evaluation theorists believe these two types of evaluations must be designed and implemented separately, many practitioners believe a system of faculty evaluation can accomplish both types of outcomes. Both camps agree that institutions must make significant efforts at formative help before summative consequences can be invoked.

2. Involve both faculty and administrators in designing the process and procedures.

Without collaboration, a post-tenure review program is doomed to faculty apathy and pro forma implementation. Everyone must take ownership of the process to enhance its usefulness and success.

3. Sufficiently inform and guide those entrusted with carrying out the review procedures.

Do not expect peers to be comfortable with this type of review or administrators to possess the necessary evaluation and development skills. The review process is only as effective as those given the responsibility to implement it. Comfort, commitment, and skill will vary. Results will vary. This is to be expected. Experience will enhance comfort and skill; commitment must always be reinforced.

4. Develop a plan to measure the effectiveness of the review in accomplishing its stated purpose and to determine the overall benefit of the review to faculty members and the institution.

We could find only three initiations with a "sunset" clause in their initial policies, where the policies are reviewed after a trial period to see what changes are needed.

Faculty perceptions of the benefit and usefulness of post-tenure review are critical. Consider surveying faculty members who have been reviewed-as well as other constituencies involved in the review-to determine their overall impressions of the usefulness of its procedures, the time invested, the outcomes observed, and the benefits accrued. Communicate the intent and results widely and effectively, and be prepared to modify the process based on the assessment.

5. Do not expect post-tenure review to be a panacea for removing unproductive faculty or for staffing flexibility.

Realistic expectations are important. Post-tenure review requires time and credibility to reap tangible benefits. Will it always work? Probably not. There will always be a few intransigent or recalcitrant faculty members who do not want to grow or improve. Likewise, there will always be a few chairs and department peers who fail to treat the review process with the seriousness it requires. This is normal. The challenge is to lay the appropriate groundwork with peers and administrators so that, on balance, the process does work and participants feel invested in it.

6. Be prepared to deal with the myriad compelling operational issues requiring careful planning and follow-through.

Strategic leadership by the administration is necessary to gain campus acceptance, develop sound review procedures, and implement the entire process fairly. Gaining campus acceptance requires:

* Establishing principles to guide post-tenure reviews in the preliminary stages.

* Bringing all stakeholders into the discussion of post-tenure review early.

* Integrating the concept of post-tenure review into the existing promotion and tenure system and into other review cycles.

* Gaining allies among the leadership of the faculty and middle management.

* Inviting external practitioners who are knowledgeable and experienced on the topic of post-tenure review to address the faculty and administration and elicit discussion on the topic.

* Being open to suggestions from the faculty and demonstrating a willingness to compromise.

Development the policy and procedures should include:

* Making the process simple and understandable to all concerned.

* Keeping the faculty at the center of any review system.

* Dispelling the idea that post-tenure review is a re-tenuring process.

* Being vigilant about developing process and procedures.

* Adding funds and resources-if financially feasible-to faculty development in response to post-tenure review.

Implementing post-tenure review is made smoother when steps are included to:

* Oversee the actual implementation of the post-tenure review process in each college or school.

* Make sure there is appropriate follow-up and feedback to the faculty under review.

* Constantly remind stakeholders of the purpose and expected benefits of the review.

* Keep careful records of the process and its outcomes.

* Conduct informal evaluations of the process through discussions with the deans and chairs.

* Develop a formal assessment process to evaluate the overall effectiveness of post-tenure review, and modify the review.