Faculty Guide for Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Review
Last Updated: January 24, 2021
- Overview of the Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Process
- Criteria and Standards
- Time Table for 2020-21 Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Actions
- Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action Form
- Guidelines on Creating a COVID-19 Impact Statement
- Annual Review
- Peer Review/College-Level Committee Review
- University-Level Review
- Early Promotion/Tenure
- Visa Status/Foreign Nationals
- Extending the Reappointment/Promotion/Tenure Review Timeline (Extending the Tenure Clock)
- Tenure Clock Extension Frequently Asked Questions Related to COVID-19
- Delay in Reappointment Decision
- Effective Dates
- Promotional/Tenure Base Salary Increases
- Negative Decisions
- Thriving: Four Different Sessions for Different Appointment Types
- Summary of Promotion and Tenure Actions University-wide
- Tenure/Promotion Recognition Dinners
- Post-Tenure Review
- Additional University Policies & Forms
Overview of the Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Process 1
MSU has a multi-level review process for reappointment, promotion and tenure (RPT) decisions. Recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure are made in the department according to unit, college and university bylaws, policies and procedures. Recommendations that do not involve the award of tenure are reviewed successively by the dean, the provost and the president, who makes the final decision. Recommendations that involve the award of tenure are reviewed successively by the dean, the provost, and the president, who makes the final recommendation to the Board of Trustees for action.
The RPT process includes the following steps:
Faculty member and department chairperson/school director complete their respective parts of the Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action form.
External peer evaluation (letters of reference), required by University policy for decisions involving the award of tenure and promotion to professor.
Faculty member has an opportunity to confer with the department/school peer review group before a decision is made.
Department/school peer review group provides advice to the chairperson/school director regarding reappointment, promotion and tenure decisions.
Department chairperson/school director conducts an independent evaluation, taking into consideration peer evaluation, and forwards a recommendation to the dean.
College-level reappointment, promotion and tenure committee provides advice to the dean about department/school recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure.
Dean independently reviews each recommendation for reappointment, promotion and tenure and forwards a recommendation to the provost.
The Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and a Provost faculty representative 2 jointly review each recommendation with the applicable dean.
The Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and the Provost faculty representatives (as needed) consult with the Provost on the dean's recommendations. Final recommendations are made by the Provost. Approved actions that do not involve an award of tenure are forwarded to the President for final action.
- The Provost consults with the President.
Board of Trustees takes action on recommendations involving the award of tenure.
The RPT process is initiated by the provost each year in early April with a distribution of materials to be used for that year's review cycle, including a list of faculty for whom tenure action is required.
Decisions to promote and tenure faculty members are the most important made by the university, for they will determine MSU's reputation and prominence for many years to come. Departments, schools and colleges are expected to apply rigorous standards and to refrain from doubtful recommendations of reappointment, tenure or promotion. They are also required to base decisions about reappointment, promotion and tenure on criteria and procedures that are clearly formulated, relevant, and made known to all faculty members. These procedures are required to include a means by which a probationary tenure system faculty member is evaluated and informed annually of his/her progress.
Faculty are reviewed according to the criteria and standards in department/school bylaws or other relevant documents, college bylaws or other relevant documents (if any), and the university's statement on Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Recommendations. It is critical that faculty learn about the standards and criteria in their department/school and/or college. The department chairperson or school director should provide this information upon initial appointment in the tenure system or as soon as possible thereafter.
The university's statement requires that achievement and performance levels must be competitive with faculties of leading research-intensive, land grant universities of international scope. Expectations of excellence are embodied in the following standards for reappointment, promotion and tenure:
Reappointment with award of tenure: Each tenure recommendation should be based on a clear record of sustained, outstanding achievements in education and scholarship across the mission, consistent with performance levels expected at peer universities.
a. For the faculty member appointed initially as associate professor on a probationary basis in the tenure system who has established such a record, the tenure recommendation is effective upon reappointment after one probationary appointment period.
A recommendation for promotion from assistant professor to associate professor in the tenure system (with tenure) should be based on several years of sustained, outstanding achievements in education and scholarship across the mission, consistent with performance levels expected for promotion to associate professor at peer universities. A reasonably long period in rank before promotion is usually necessary to provide a basis in actual performance for predicting capacity to become an expert of national and/or international stature and long-term, high-quality professional achievement.
A recommendation for promotion from associate professor to professor in the tenure system should be based on several years of sustained, outstanding achievements in education and scholarship across the mission, consistent with performance levels expected at peer universities. A reasonably long period in rank before promotion is usually necessary to provide a basis in actual performance to permit endorsement of the individual as an expert of national and/or international stature and to predict continuous, long-term, high-quality professional achievement.
Recommendations for reappointment, promotion or tenure are based upon a faculty member's scholarly contributions. In particular, assessment of faculty performance should recognize the importance of teaching, research, and service and their extension beyond the borders of the campus as part of the outreach dimension, as appropriate to the particular responsibilities assigned to the faculty member and the missions of the unit.
The following table is the university schedule; departments/schools and colleges may have internal due dates.
On or Before
|April 17, 2020||
Human Resources emails Deans and RPT contacts links to the following: “Timetable for Promotion/Tenure Actions” and "Preliminary List of Probationary End Dates of 8/15/2022.”
|November 12, 2020||Office of the Provost distributes materials electronically. A process will be implemented through a web application titled Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure.|
|Date to be determined by each college||Chairperson/Director forwards Form D “Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action” to Dean
Chairpersons and Directors inform individual faculty members in a timely manner when their completed Form D and supporting materials have been forwarded to the Dean.
|February 26, 2021||
The following information is sent from the Dean through the web application to Academic Human Resources:
Form A: "Tenure System Reappointment Recommendations."
Form B: "Promotion List."
Form C: "Documentation of Annual, Written, Tenure System Faculty Review."
Form D: "Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action" and an updated curriculum vitae for each faculty member listed on Form A and Form B
Deans request chairpersons and school directors to inform individual faculty in a timely manner of whether or not the dean has approved the department's recommended action and that the dean has forwarded a completed "Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion, or Tenure Action" form to the Provost. Even if the dean does not approve the department's recommended action, all review materials in support of such an action will be made available for review by the provost and her/his staff.
|March 16 to April 30, 2021||Deans conferences with the Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Provost faculty representative.|
|May 14, 2021||Provost notifies Deans of recommendations accepted for recommendation to the President
and the Board of Trustees.
|May 17 to May 21, 2021||Deans send notices of action by the Office of the Provost to Chairpersons, Directors, and
|May 28, 2021||Final lists of reappointments and promotions are prepared and forwarded by the Office of
the Provost for recommendation to the President and for the agenda for the Board of
|June 16-18, 2021||Meeting of the Board of Trustees.|
|June 24, 2021||Notifications to Deans of final approval.|
|October 15, 2021||Delayed actions due.|
|December 15, 2021||Deadline for notification to faculty who are not reappointed. Those with delayed
reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure actions which receive positive endorsement
should be informed as soon as possible following final action by the President or Board
This (required) form, referred to as Form D, outlines many of the activities that are relevant to decisions on promotion, tenure and reappointment. It provides the opportunity to document, provide evidence for and assess faculty scholarship in the functional areas of instruction, research and creative endeavors, and service within the academic and broader community, as well as in cross-mission initiatives.
Sections I, II and III of Form D are summary evaluations completed by the chairperson, school director and/or dean. The following materials are completed and submitted by the faculty member:
Evidence of scholarly activities as requested in Section IV
A reflective essay about accomplishments over the reporting period (5 page maximum)
A curriculum vitae as a more complete listing of scholarly activities and works
Other evidence as required by the unit (such as letters from reviewers) or desired by the faculty member
- COVID-19 Impact Statement (optional)
The university released guidelines for faculty in December of 2020 on writing a COVID-19 impact statement which may be submitted for internal and external reviewers for reappointment, promotion and tenure assessments. Inclusion of the statement is optional, although strongly encouraged. Faculty are encouraged to document their progress and challenges on an ongoing basis. Documenting all of these circumstances will allow for a more equitable assessment of how COVID has impacted individual FAS programs.
All tenure system faculty must be evaluated and informed annually, in writing, about their progress. The Faculty Review policy provides principles and guidelines for implementing these reviews.
All annual review letters since the last reappointment, promotion and tenure action are required to be included in the Form D packets when provided from the college to the Office of the Provost for university review. Additionally, consistent with department and college bylaws and policies, the Office of the Provost recommends that annual review letters be made available to department and college promotion and tenure committees as part of the materials that they review. The availability of these letters will help committee members more fully access the performance of faculty and consider the feedback received about expectations and accomplishments.
Each department and school is required to establish procedures so that its faculty can provide advice to the chairperson/school director regarding recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure. University guidelines for the composition of peer review committees are included in the statement on Peer Review Committee Composition.
Each college is required to establish a college-level reappointment, promotion and tenure committee that is charged to provide advice to the dean about department/school recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure. College-level committees are required to incorporate a set of principles that are included in the statement on College-Level Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Committees.
Only the primary unit will make a recommendation for reappointment, promotion or tenure for a faculty member with a joint appointment. However, the chairperson/school director of the primary unit is obligated to consult with the chairperson/school director of all joint units prior to submitting a recommendation.
External Letters of Reference
External letters of reference are required for all reviews of tenure system faculty involving the granting of tenure or promotion. External letters of reference are required in order to ensure that individuals recommended have an achievement and performance level that is comparable with faculties of peer institutions. The statement on External Letters of Reference provides principles and procedures that must be applied uniformly to all faculty in the unit for soliciting external letters of reference.
Confidentiality of Letters of Reference
Letters of reference, as part of an official review file, are held in confidence and will not be disclosed to a faculty member under consideration or to the public except as required by law or university policy. In all such instances, the information made available will be provided in a form that seeks to protect the identity, privacy, and confidentiality of the evaluator.
All recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure are jointly reviewed by the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Vice President for Research and Innovation, a Provost faculty representative and the applicable dean. In addition to reviewing recommendations against the standards and criteria of the department/school and/or college and the University, the Associate Provost and the Vice President assess the candidate's independent role in research and scholarship and extramural funding record, as appropriate to the discipline and assignment of the faculty member.
Additionally, the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and the Provost faculty representatives (as needed) consult with the Provost on the deans' recommendations. Approved actions that do not involve the award of tenure are forwarded to the President for final action. The Board of Trustees takes final action on recommendations involving the award of tenure.
A promotion or tenure action is not considered "early" if justified by a record of performance at another university or during a fixed term appointment at MSU that is required by immigration regulations or other relevant reason, provided the performance meets MSU standards. Early promotion/tenure is based on an exceptional record of accomplishments at MSU that is based on department/school/college and University criteria. Early promotion/tenure is reserved for extraordinary cases.
Foreign nationals (those holding non-immigrant status) may be appointed within the tenure system, but may not be awarded tenure unless they have acquired permanent resident status or complete a Tenure Policy Exemption Agreement.
Alternatively, an extension of the probationary appointment is automatic if a tenure decision is required before permanent resident status is obtained and the candidate has been recommended for tenure.
The tenure system probationary appointment for the next reappointment/promotion/tenure review is extended automatically (i.e., no faculty request or UCFT review needed) for one year for the following reasons:
1. Leaves of absence with or without pay that are one semester to twelve months.
2. Changes in appointment to 50% time or less for one year.
3. Immigration/visa status that does not permit the award of tenure for candidates who have been recommended for tenure.
4. An extension recommended as an outcome of a hearing and/or appeal conducted pursuant to the Faculty Grievance Policy.
5. The impact of COVID-19 for those in the tenure system as of Spring 2020 and scheduled for mandatory review in the 2020-21 academic year or later.
Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions for more information related to automatic extension #5 (i.e., COVID-19 extension).
Extensions Granted Automatically Upon Faculty Request
In addition to the automatic extensions (1-5) described above, faculty can request an extension of the next reappointment/promotion/tenure review for the birth or adoption of a child. Extensions for this reason are limited to two separate one-year extensions during the entire probationary period. The request for an automatic one-year extension for the birth or adoption of a child must be submitted within two years of the birth/adoption, but no later than the due date for the submission to the department/school of the dossier for the next reappointment/promotion/tenure review.
Note: Receipt of an automatic extension for any of the reasons above does not preclude consideration for reappointment or promotion with tenure at the normal time. However, if the extension for the first probationary appointment is waived by the faculty member, the extension does not carry over to the second probationary appointment (except in the case of the impact of the COVID-19 one-year automatic extension). In addition, a faculty member is bound to the outcome of the reappointment review if unsuccessful.
Extensions Reviewed by the University Committee on Faculty Tenure
Extension of the probationary appointment may be requested from the University Committee on Faculty Tenure for reasons related to childbirth, adoption, the care of an ill and/or disabled child, spouse, or parent; personal illness, to receive prestigious awards, fellowships, and/or special assignment opportunities, or other such serious constraints. The procedure for requesting an extension of the probationary tenure system appointment is included in the statement on Extending the Reappointment/Promotion/Tenure Timeline (Extending the Tenure Clock).
On an individual case basis, there may be justification to delay the final reappointment, promotion, or tenure decision until the fall (final recommendations are due on or before October 15). Upon the request of or after consultation with the faculty member, the department/school chairperson/school director and dean may concur that another review will be held early in the fall for the purpose of reviewing additional information and making a final recommendation. The request for a delay must be approved by the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources.
The effective date for reappointment with tenure is the first of the month following final approval by the Board of Trustees. The effective date for reappointment without tenure is August 16 of the year following the recommendation, e.g., for recommendations made in April 2021, the effective date is August 16, 2022. The effective date for promotion with or without the award of tenure is the first of the month following final approval by the Board of Trustees. The effective date for non-reappointment is August 15 of the year following the recommendation, e.g., for recommendations made in April 2021, the effective date is August 15, 2022.
The usual practice is that central support for promotional increments for tenure system faculty is provided at $2,000 per promotion from assistant to associate professor and at $2,500 per promotion from associate to professor. For those appointed at the associate professor rank but without tenure, $2,000 will be provided upon receipt of tenure. If unit promotional policy exceeds the above funding, units are responsible for the additional amount. Promotion/tenure salary increases are effective with the general increase, normally October 1, and are in addition to the annual merit increase.
The decision not to reappoint a non-tenured faculty member does not necessarily imply that the faculty member has failed to meet the standards of the university with respect to academic competence and/or professional integrity. This decision may be contingent, wholly or in part, upon the availability of salary funds and/or departmental needs.
A faculty member who is not recommended for reappointment must be notified in writing by the chairperson/director and/or dean as soon as possible and no later than December 15 preceding the expiration of the appointment. Upon written request of the faculty member, the administrator of the basic administrative unit making the decision must transmit in writing the reasons for the decision.
The administrative review procedure is an informal process providing an avenue for faculty/academic staff to request an independent assessment from their department chairperson/school director, dean, and Office of the Provost on personnel matters such as salary status, reappointment, promotion and tenure.
If a faculty member believes that the decision not to reappoint, tenure, or promote was made in a manner that is at variance with the established evaluation procedures, they may, following efforts to reconcile the differences at the level of the basic administrative unit and the dean of the college, initiate an appeal in accordance with the Faculty Grievance Policy. The time frame for initiating a grievance begins upon receipt of notification of the negative decision at the provost level from the dean or department chairperson/school director.
This annual workshop is designed to provide guidance to academic specialists in navigating the academic specialist system at Michigan State University. Typically, each fall, in a half-day workshop in concert with Academic Human Resources, we offer:
- An overview of the history, roles, appointment types, and promotional system for academic specialists at MSU
- Examples of good documentation practices for Form C, reflective essays, and evaluation
- Break-out sessions for tailored, pertinent information
This annual workshop is designed to provide guidance to assistant professors in navigating the tenure system at Michigan State University. Each spring, in a half-day workshop in concert with Academic Human Resources, we offer
- An outline of the reappointment, promotion, and tenure process at the school/department, college, and University level.
Key policies and practices
- Examples of good documentation practices for reflective essays and evaluation
The Academic Advancement Network provides professional development opportunities and resources so that all academics at MSU can thrive. For the first time ever, the Academic Advancement Network, in collaboration with Academic Human Resources, will host a program for fixed-term faculty. “Thriving as a Fixed-Term Faculty Member at MSU” will be held in February, 2021. This program is designed specifically for fixed-term faculty members to provide important information and strategies about being successful in their careers and their roles at Michigan State University. Workshop objectives are to:
- Discuss the changing landscape in higher education and the role fixed-term faculty have in the new climate
- Clarifying expectations and setting development goals
- Recognizing the need for mentors and approaches to obtaining them
- Review strategies for documentation and record-keeping
- Provide a venue for questions and answers
This program is designed for and open to all Associate Professors in the Tenure System. This workshop is designed to:
- Clarify process expectations for attaining the rank of Full Professor in the Tenure System
- Anticipate the opportunities and challenges
- Inform mid-career decision-making and experiences
- Review the process, procedures, and documentation
Over the five reappointment cycles from 2015 through 2019 there have been 18 associate professors reappointed with tenure; 252 assistant professors reappointed for a second three-year probationary appointment; 200 promotions to associate professor; 173 promotions to professor; and 14 individuals not reappointed. Additionally, extensions of the probationary appointment were approved for 33 assistant professors.
Generally, at Michigan State, the tenure rate for starting cohorts is about 70%, i.e., faculty members who have resigned or are no longer appointed in the tenure system are included in the base calculation. The tenure rate is approximately 90% for faculty who are reviewed in a given year. This tenure rate is comparable with other institutions within the Big Ten Academic Alliance.
Each fall the Office of the Provost hosts a recognition dinner ceremony in honor of faculty members promoted to the rank of professor and for those awarded tenure. (Note: Due to the global pandemic, this recognition even has been temporarily suspended).
Post-tenure review is implemented through several existing policies and procedures (contained in the Faculty Handbook), including a clarifying interpretation by the University Committee on Faculty Tenure on the meaning of the term "incompetence" in the disciplinary and dismissal policies. Performance is monitored through the use of annual written performance evaluations as required by the policy on "Faculty Review." Work performance, as determined in such reviews, is to be reflected in annual merit salary adjustments and as a basis for advice and suggestions for improvement. Although not triggered by a fixed number of years of low performance, discipline in a variety of forms may be invoked under the "Discipline and Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Cause" policy. In more serious cases, dismissal may be invoked under this policy.
- Conflict of Interest in Employment
- Discipline and Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Cause
- Faculty Career Advancement and Professional Development
- Faculty Review
- Granting Tenure
- Guidelines on Creating COVID-19 Impact Statement
- "Incompetence," Definition of the Term by the University Committee on Faculty Tenure
- Non-Tenured Faculty in the Tenure System
- Operating Principles of the Tenure System
- Post-Tenure Review
- Promotion of Tenured Faculty
- Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action Form
- Reference Letters for Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Recommendations, Confidentiality of
- Review Process for Appointments Granting Tenure
- Salary Adjustment Guidelines, Academic
- Survive and Thrive Workshop
Tenure Action and Promotion