Version 1.0  26 Sept 05





Post-Tenure Review Policy


Evaluation of Faculty at Auburn University

Auburn University’s policy on post-tenure review provides for periodic review of all tenured faculty, including administrators who hold tenure.  These periodic reviews are designed to be developmental and constructive, providing opportunity for self-reflection and feed-back from professional peers.  Post-tenure review is not designed to be punitive or to weaken or undermine the principles of academic freedom and tenure spelled out elsewhere in the Faculty Handbook.  In adopting this post-tenure review policy, the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees explicitly reaffirm their commitment to academic freedom and tenure as spelled out in Chapter 3 of the Faculty Handbook, including the AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. 

Faculty are evaluated regularly and in many different ways.  The lengthy process of academic preparation, the highly competitive job market, and the rigorous promotion and tenure process that follows and extended probationary period ensure that tenured faculty at Auburn have proven their abilities.  Even after tenure is achieved, faculty undergo continuous evaluation in the classroom, or when submitting their work for critical evaluation of within the larger community of which they are a part.  Work submitted for publication, in pursuit of grants, or in the form of design and performance is evaluated by panels of specialists at the regional, national, and international levels.  These external evaluations inform annual performance evaluations conducted in each department for every faculty member, both probationary and tenured.   

Annual performance reviews at Auburn University are prepared by every faculty member once a year.  They are designed to be thorough, providing each faculty member opportunity for self-evaluation of their professional performance.  Annual performance reviews are directly related to merit salary increases.  As such, they are an opportunity to recognize good work, identify productive new uses of a faculty member's talents, and identify areas where performance improvements should be made.  Every year, the department chair/head meets with each faculty member whose work they supervise to discuss the annual performance review.  The department chair/head prepares a written annual performance evaluation based on the written review and discussion with individual faculty.

Post-Tenure Review

Post-tenure review is conceived of as an extension of annual faculty performance reviews.[1]  The intent of post-tenure review is to recognize faculty achievement and promote continuous improvement in faculty performance.  Post-tenure review is designed to recognize and foster excellence, to help good faculty become better, and to identify and help underachieving faculty fulfill the potential that was recognized upon hiring and reaffirmed upon the award of tenure.  The intent is to provide a positive and systematic process for evaluation over the course of a faculty member’s career. 

Criteria used in post-tenure reviews should reflect the overall mission of the academic department or other unit within which the faculty member holds tenure, and should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate faculty with differing responsibilities and particular strengths who contribute to the mission of the institution in distinct ways.

The academic department or other unit within which the faculty member holds tenure shall ensure that the criteria governing faculty review do not infringe on the accepted standards of academic freedom, including the right to pursue novel, unpopular, or unfashionable lines of inquiry.  The review shall be carried out free of bias or prejudice by factors such as race, religion, sex, color, national origin, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, disability, political affiliation, or veteran status.

Timing and Documentation

Eight years after the most recent tenure or promotion decision at Auburn University, and every six years thereafter, the annual performance review should be made in the context of the achievements of the previous six years.  Faculty who have given written notice of their intent to retire within two years are will not be subject to post-tenure reviews.  Faculty on leave when a post-tenure review normally would have been scheduled will be reviewed the year following their return.  The faculty member’s dean can postpone a post-tenure review if extenuating circumstances warrant (e.g., health). 


Faculty applying for promotion in a given year will not be subject to post-tenure review.  If the application for promotion is successful, that would be equivalent to a successful post-tenure review.  If the application for promotion is denied, the faculty member will undergo a post-tenure review in the following year unless they again apply for promotion.  If three successive applications for promotion are denied, the faculty member will undergo post-tenure review even if they apply for promotion during that fourth year. 


Preparation of post-tenure review materials shall be the joint responsibility of the faculty member to be reviewed and that faculty member’s supervisor (i.e., the person who conducts the annual performance evaluation, normally a department chair/head).  The supervisor will transmit copies of annual performance reviews and supervisor evaluations for the past six years.  The faculty member will transmit a curriculum vitae and any other written documentation deemed necessary to understand the material submitted.   




Post-tenure reviews should focus on those same areas of performance as would be covered in a promotion decision (i.e., teaching, research, extension/outreach, and service) and be based on the actual assignment of the faculty member under review.  Unlike the promotion process, however, the post-tenure review process will be decentralized to the level of college or school.


Each college or school will develop its own procedures for post-tenure review, consistent with the broad guidelines presented here. 


1.  Each college or school is expected to establish written criteria and procedures for post-tenure review through an open participatory process involving faculty and college or school administrators.


2.  The review should assess the faculty member’s performance consistent with the faculty responsibilities described in the annual performance evaluations, with proper weighting being given to those areas of greater or lesser importance to the faculty member’s assignment, and understanding that such assignments may have varied across the five year period under review. 


3.  Post-tenure review processes should not require external letters of evaluation.


4.  Each college or schools shall establish a post-tenure review committee (PTRC) to conduct preliminary screening of materials submitted.  The PTRC is advisory to the dean.  Such committees should contain no fewer than seven tenured professors, at least four of whom should hold the rank of professor. 


5.  The process of selecting faculty to serve on the PTRC shall be college-wide election with all tenure track faculty eligible to vote. 


6.  The PTRC will evaluate submitted materials, identifying faculty whose performance is truly outstanding, those whose performance is either superior or satisfactory, and those whose performance is below the level of expectations associated with tenured faculty at Auburn University.  The PTRC will provide the faculty member with a concise, written summary of the review and a conclusion as to his/her performance.  The faculty member shall have the opportunity to prepare a written response to the summary.  A copy of the summary and any written response to it shall be given to the faculty member’s direct supervisor and dean and shall be placed in the personnel file of the faculty member. 


7.  Faculty who are identified as truly outstanding will have their materials sent forward to the Outstanding Faculty Recognition Committee (OFRC).  The OFRC will be a University committee whose members will be nominated by the University Senate Rules Committee, with every college and school represented.  The OFRC will be chaired by the Provost.  The PTRC of each college can send forward up to 20% of all post-tenure review packets for further review.  The OFRC will identify the top 10% of all faculty each year who have undergone post-tenure review.  Faculty whose performance is deemed outstanding will be acknowledged by the university and will receive $5,000 added to their base salary.[2]  In addition, the department and college or school of a faculty member whose performance was judged to be superior or satisfactory will consider the post-tenure review outcome in awarding salary increases at the next available opportunity.


8.  The department and college or school of a faculty member whose performance was judged to be superior or satisfactory will consider the post-tenure review outcome in awarding salary increases at the next available opportunity.


9.  Faculty whose performance does match the high expectations associated with their having been tenured may request that the PTRC reconsider their evaluation.  Such requests should be submitted in writing within 15 days of receipt by the faculty member of the evaluation.  The faculty member may submit additional documentation if such documentation provides new information not previously available to the PTRC.  The PTRC will conduct such a review within 30 days, and provide the faculty member, the department chair/head, and the dean a report of their evaluation.


10.  A faculty member receiving an evaluation of “unsatisfactory” will develop, in consultation with their department chair/head and the review committee a professional development plan.  This plan should include definite steps to be taken to remedy specific perceived deficiencies.  A timetable of no longer than three years should be provided to accomplish the goals of the plan, with annual monitoring by the department chair or head.  The plan should specify the resources available to accomplish the goals. Such resources might include support for scholarly professional activities or a program for the improvement of teaching.  A copy of the development plan will be sent to the dean of the college or school. 


11.  In the event of failure after one year to make progress towards achieving the goals of the development plan, or failure at the end of the time stipulated in the plan, the department chair or head, in consultation with the PTRC, will recommend to the dean what action should next be taken.  The dean may impose certain sanctions or initiate certain procedures.  Among such actions are redistribution of effort, reassignment within the unit, reassignment within the university, reduction in rank, reduction in salary, or the instituting of procedures to terminate the faculty member’s appointment through the Faculty Dismissal process laid out in the Handbook.  Before the dean initiates any sanction, the proposed sanction shall be reviewed by the PTRC, which will make its recommendations in writing to the dean, with a copy sent to the Provost.  The Provost must concur before any sanction is imposed.


10.  A faculty member may appeal the PTRC’s evaluation to the Post-Tenure Review Appeals Committee (PTRAC, a Senate committee to be established).  The PTRAC is advisory to the Provost.  PTRAC will only hear appeals from faculty who have received an evaluation of “unsatisfactory” and only after the PTRC has been asked to reconsider their initial evaluation.  If a faculty member then wishes to file an appeal with the PTRAC, s/he must submit a written request for appeal to the PTRAC stating fully the grounds on which the appeal is based.  This written request must be filed with the PTRAC within 30 days after a final decision has been rendered by the dean on advice of the PTRC. 


11.  The PTRAC will advise the Provost on questions of fairness of the PTRC evaluation with regard to process, determination, and the appropriateness of the plan or course of action suggested by the dean.  If the PTRAC decides that the evaluation process was flawed or that the determination of unsatisfactory is invalid, the PTRAC may recommend to the Provost that (1) the matter be reheard by the PTRC as if the matter had not previously been heard before and as if no decision had previously been rendered, or (2) the decision of the dean be reversed outright.  If the PTRAC finds that the process was fair and valid but that the suggested plan of improvement is not appropriate, the PTRAC may recommend that the Provost (1) meet with the appellant and the dean to reach a satisfactory solution, (2) remand to the PTRC with recommendations, or (3) recommend outside mediation. 


12.  If issues before the PTRAC are being considered simultaneously by the Faculty Grievance Committee, the Faculty Grievance proceeding shall be stayed until the PTRAC makes its recommendation to the Provost and the Provost has issued a determination in writing.





Confidentiality, Appeals, and Monitoring


The written reviews, attachments, and professional development plans developed under this policy are to be regarded as confidential, consistent with Auburn University policy regarding all employment records.


Faculty members who are dissatisfied with the outcome or the process of the review should attempt resolution through informal means involving the department chair/head, dean, and the college or school committee.  If no resolution is achieved, the faculty member may institute formal grievance procedures as laid out elsewhere in the Faculty Handbook. 


The Senate Steering Committee[3] is charged with monitoring the post-tenure review process and reporting its findings annually to the University Senate.  If its findings warrant, the Steering Committee shall recommend revisions of the post-tenure review policy.


Phase-in and Timing


Post-tenure review will be phased in over a six year period beginning Fall 2006.  Approximately one-sixth of all faculty subject to post-tenure review in each department shall be evaluated every year.  The year in which each faculty member is first evaluated shall be determined either randomly or by other means approved by at least two-thirds of each department’s tenure track faculty.  Decisions are to be made during Spring of each year to identify who within the department will go through a post-tenure review the following academic year.  The department chair or head is responsible for notifying in writing faculty members to be reviewed.  Department chairs and heads also will notify their deans by the end of Spring semester which faculty will be go through post-tenure review. 


The department chair or head is responsible for assisting their faculty through the process.  This includes discussing the review process and the documentation required.  By January 15, the department chair or head and the faculty member each will present to the other materials for which they are responsible.  In addition, the faculty member will include the annual performance  report for the calendar year just completed.  This report, and the evaluation of the department chair or head, will be included in the post-tenure review process. 


The completed packet of materials, including the annual performance report and evaluation for the previous  year, will be turned into the dean’s office by February 15th.  The review committee will complete its work before March 31st.  Whenever possible, the dean will issue a letter to the faculty member, the faculty member’s department chair or head, and the Provost by April 30.


[1]  This proposed plan is based on a review of plans at the University of Colorado, the University of Georgia, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Nebraska, Penn State University, Oregon State University, the Univrsity of South Carolina, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Texas.  The Penn State, Oregon State, and University of Georgia models most closely approximate what is proposed here, and where appropriate wording from the policies of those and other universities have been used herein.

[2] Estimate 900 faculty subject to review, 180 reviews per year, 18 awardees = $90,000

[3] Regarding the Steering Committee, the Senate Constitution notes that committee “shall be concerned with the academic affairs of the University, with particular attention given to the need for developing and recommending policies under which these affairs are conducted.”