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Administration & Governance - Procedures for the Guidance and Evaluation of Probationary Faculty Members

Policies and procedures regarding the appointment, oversight, and promotion of probationary faculty in the School of Human Ecology

Approved May 10, 2021

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I. Introduction

Section 7.05 of FP&P describes the requirements for the guidance and annual evaluation of probationary faculty members, including two functions: guidance/mentoring and oversight/evaluation. The policy articulated in FP&P 7.05.C allows either for separate guidance and oversight committees or for a single committee that does both. The SoHE combines the mentoring/guidance and oversight/evaluation functions in one committee, hereafter referred to as the Mentoring and Oversight Committee.

II. Mentoring and Oversight Orientation

The Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs will make certain that each new faculty member receives an orientation to the policies and procedures of the School. This includes receipt of or referral to this document and the “Tenure Guidelines'' document from the Divisional Committee selected by the faculty member as best suited to judge the tenurability of their professional work.

During the first semester of the probationary faculty appointment and upon the recommendation of the department chair, the Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs will appoint a Mentoring and Oversight Committee for the probationary faculty member. The Associate Dean will inform the probationary faculty member in writing of the membership of this committee. This committee will consist of at least three tenured faculty members, including two members from the probationary faculty’s departmental faculty and one additional member of the UW-Madison Graduate Faculty (when possible, of another SoHE academic unit). The committee members will be selected based on their ability to judge the tenurability of the probationary faculty member’s professional work and provide appropriate review of the faculty member’s achievements. While there is often continuity in some or all members of the Mentoring and Oversight Committee, committee membership may change during the probationary period for reasons including (but not limited to) faculty availability and workload, the probationary faculty member’s request, or recommendation of the Dean, Department Chair, or Department Executive Committee. 

Every fall semester, following the Executive Faculty organizational meeting where committees are confirmed, the Dean’s Office shall forward a letter to each probationary faculty member and the committee the composition of the probationary faculty member’s Mentoring and Oversight Committee membership. 

Except as noted below, the School and Department will follow the same procedures in monitoring, assessing, and encouraging the progress of probationary faculty whose tenure home is in SoHE, but whose budgetary appointment is shared across one or more other departments, including Cooperative Extension, as it does for probationary faculty whose budgetary appointment is entirely within a single department. 

III.  The Mentoring and Oversight Committee 

The Mentoring and Oversight Committee is responsible for providing guidance to the probationary faculty member, including answering questions and to offer advice on teaching, research, service and outreach, and other topics related to professional development and achieving tenure. This committee also will have responsibility for developing all evaluative reviews of the probationary faculty member including progress toward tenure. 

IV.  Responsibilities of the Mentoring and Oversight Committee 

The Mentoring and Oversight Committee will provide guidance and oversight as defined above and in FP&P 7.05. The committee has the following responsibilities:

  1. Provide guidance to the probationary faculty member on effective performance consistent with the objectives of the appointment and progress towards tenure.
  2. Meet with the probationary faculty member to discuss criteria for and progress toward tenure. Minimally, a meeting will take place in conjunction with the written annual review prepared by the committee and reviewed by the Department and SoHE Executive Committees. A copy of that review is to be provided to the probationary faculty member.
  3. Establish a procedure for peer review of the teaching activities of the probationary faculty member. The objective of the review is to provide the Department with feedback on the probationary faculty member’s teaching beyond student evaluations. Plans should be made for classroom visits (including visits to synchronous online classes) and a written assessment by a member of the Mentoring and Oversight Committee or other senior faculty designated by that committee. When feasible and appropriate, visits to outreach teaching sessions can be conducted. The Mentoring and Oversight Committee will also evaluate teaching materials including course websites, syllabi, and materials from online and in-person classes.
  4. Prepare and provide all written reports for the probationary faculty member’s department executive committee and the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee evaluating the probationary faculty member’s progress toward tenure using the criteria of the appropriate Divisional Committee and specified in FP&P 7.0.5.
  5. Recommend the timing and scheduling of the contract renewal and the tenure review by the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee.
  6. Prepare the tenure dossier for the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee review and recommendation to the Divisional Committee 

V.   Review Process of the Executive Faculty Committee 

There are three required reviews of probationary faculty, the annual review, the contract renewal and the recommendation for tenure.

1.  The Annual Tenure Progress Review

The Mentoring and Oversight Committee Chair, in consultation with the probationary faculty member is responsible for providing the Mentoring and Oversight Committee with the probationary faculty member’s P-FAR report, updated CV, and teaching evaluations. The Mentoring and Oversight Committee Chair is responsible for coordinating teaching observations in accordance with FP&P and filing the written observation report in the Dean’s office.

The annual tenure progress report shall be shared with the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee for review and feedback during the Spring semester every year. The role of the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee is to discuss the Mentoring and Oversight Committee report and to provide additional input and feedback to the mentoring committee.  Following discussion, the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee will act upon a motion to accept the report and its recommendations (pending any revisions).

Upon final revisions of the annual progress report, the Mentoring and Oversight Committee will file a final report with the Dean’s Office. The report will be transmitted to the probationary faculty member by the Dean’s Office. The probationary faculty member shall be offered an opportunity to comment in writing (FP&P 7.05 D), the comments being attached to the report and included in the faculty member’s permanent file.

SoHE annual review

All employees of the University are required to participate in an annual review.  As part of the School’s faculty annual review (P-FAR) process, the Department Chair will meet with each assistant professor. In this meeting, the Chair will discuss with the assistant professor the results of the annual review, as well as their own observations of the assistant professor’s work. The Chair will give particular attention to any real or perceived inconsistency between the advice of the Mentoring and Oversight Committee and the results of the annual review. If the Chair perceives such an inconsistency, they should attempt to resolve it in consultation with the Mentoring and Oversight Committee and the assistant professor. As described below, the Mentoring and Oversight Committee has primary responsibility for advising and evaluating the work of the assistant professor based on the cumulative record, whereas each annual review focuses on a single year’s work. 

The Mentoring and Oversight Committee will have access to the P-FAR review documents of the faculty member. However, the evaluation standards of those one-year reviews are distinct from those of the Mentoring and Oversight Committee’s cumulative reviews, which are aligned with Divisional Committee guidelines. When the latter reviews appear to differ from the former, the conclusions of the Mentoring and Oversight Committee with respect to promotion are determinative.

2. Contract Renewal

Assistant professors in the School of Human Ecology are normally appointed for an initial three-year term. Tenure clock extensions will extend the contract renewal year unless specified by the secretary of the faculty. At the contract renewal year, recommendation for reappointment of the assistant professor may be at increments compatible with the mandatory tenure review year. As with the annual review, the Mentoring and Oversight Committee will prepare a report that specifically recommends the length of the renewal. 

Probationary faculty in the contract renewal year require a more thorough annual review to support recommendations for appointment renewal and in preparation for a tenure recommendation, respectively.

Probationary faculty and their Mentoring and Oversight Committee chair will be notified of the tentative month for their contract renewal in fall semester following the Executive Faculty Committee’s organizational meeting. The month prior to the contract renewal meeting, the Dean’s Office will notify the probationary faculty of their right to an open meeting. The probationary faculty member is required to reply in writing whether they request an open meeting or waive this right.

3.   Recommendation for Tenure 

Appointments and recommendations for tenure are made by the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee, which acts upon an advisory recommendation from the department’s executive committee and a tenure dossier prepared by the Mentoring and Oversight Committee. 

As with the contract renewal, probationary faculty and their Mentoring and Oversight Committee chair will be notified of the tentative month for their tenure review in fall semester following the Executive Faculty Committee’s organizational meeting. The month prior to the tenure review meeting, the Dean’s Office will notify the probationary faculty of their right to an open meeting. The probationary faculty member is required to reply in writing The probationary faculty member is required to reply in writing whether they request an open meeting or waive this right.

Motions regarding the granting of tenure require affirmative votes from two-thirds of the SoHE Executive Faculty Committee members present to pass. 

VI.  Guidelines for Promotion–Criteria for Tenure 

The Mentoring and Oversight Committee may make a recommendation for tenure or termination at any time during the probationary period, but must do so no later than during the mandatory tenure review year. The Committee is responsible for recommending the timing and scheduling of the tenure review by the SoHE Executive Committee. The primary criteria for promotion are those specified by the faculty member’s Divisional Committee. In this section, we present some considerations of relevance within the School of Human Ecology. 

A probationary faculty member is expected to demonstrate substantial scholarly progress, excellence, and promise in research, teaching, and service (as specified in the appropriate Divisional Committee Tenure Guidelines for the Arts & Humanities, Social Studies, Physical Sciences, and Biological Sciences divisions). The School of Human Ecology, with its cross-disciplinary and applied mission, values (but does not mandate) activities that are in the spirit of the “Wisconsin Idea,” including outreach research, outreach teaching, and outreach service. We similarly value community-engaged scholarship and encourage probationary faculty to work closely with their Mentoring and Oversight committee to develop and frame this work in accordance with the appropriate Divisional guidelines and standards of excellence. 

In evaluating faculty with integrated appointments combining UW-Extension and UW-Madison resident appointments, where outreach is a primary responsibility, the School will be attentive to the guidelines published by the UW-Madison Council on Outreach, “Commitment to the Wisconsin Idea: A Guide to Documenting and Evaluating Excellence in Outreach Scholarship.” and “UW Extension: Defining Excellence Among Integrated Cooperative Extension Specialists in Wisconsin” and any guidance provided by the relevant divisional committee. 

Research: By the time of review for tenure, the probationary faculty member should have established a national reputation for excellence in an area of expertise. There is no predetermined arena in which the probationary faculty member’s scholarly endeavor must proceed, but they must have established an identifiable, programmatic area of scholarly endeavor or creative work that they can articulate and that is consistent with their appointment. In turn, the Mentoring and Oversight Committee must be able to articulate and demonstrate this to the Executive Committees and the broader scholarly community. (It is this arena that will be evaluated by external reviewers in the tenure process, as required by Divisional Committee guidelines.) 

The School and its departments are diverse and value a range of different types of scholarly activities. Faculty work in a variety of media, producing different forms of scholarship. (This could include, but is not limited to, peer reviewed books and/or journal articles, exhibitions and/or performances of creative work, creative work(s) acquired by prestigious institutions, patents, outreach publications, or a recognized record of professional projects.) 

Whereas the Executive Committee believes that no specific number of creative projects, published articles or public lectures, grants received, etc. can be specified as fulfilling the needs of a positive tenure vote, it nonetheless realizes that specific criteria appropriate to the probationary faculty member’s work can be defined. To this end, each project, exhibition, presentation, or article (and the like) will be evaluated with each considered as one part in a larger portfolio of work, specific to the faculty member's field, and evaluated according to the criteria for tenure outlined below." The Executive Committee is looking for excellence in terms of quality journals, exhibition venues, permanent collections, or equivalent outlets. The quality of venues for publishing and exhibitions/collections is a continuing dialogue the probationary faculty member is expected to have with the Mentoring and Oversight Committee. 

To the extent that a trajectory of increasing accomplishment, professional recognition, and intellectual growth can be demonstrated, the tenure case will be that much stronger. 

Teaching: By the time of review for tenure, the probationary faculty member should demonstrate excellence as a teacher (including teaching undergraduate students, graduate students, Extension educators and other professionals, and community members, as appropriate) as indicated by peer teaching reviews, learner evaluations, course materials, outreach materials, and/or other evidence of teaching performance such as student accomplishments (including theses and dissertations). There is also an expectation of active mentoring in the form of chairing or being a member on graduate student committees, while recognizing that opportunities for this are influenced by the size of departmental graduate programs and the substantive focus of students.  

Student evaluations of teaching are a mandatory component of tenure dossiers at the UW-Madison. Nevertheless, the School of Human Ecology recognizes the inherent limitations of teaching evaluations as a metric of instructional quality, both in terms of their validity in assessing student learning and due to their demonstrated bias against women and faculty of color. Therefore, while we include student evaluations in tenure packets, as required, they are not the tools we use in assessing teaching quality for any faculty members (not just women and faculty of color). Peer evaluations of teaching, syllabi, and other course materials (e.g., creative assignments), evidence of faculty investment in developing teaching skills (e.g., attending teaching workshops), evidence of student accomplishments, high-investment teaching tasks (e.g., developing new courses, supervising independent studies or student research experiences), and testimonials from learners and mentees can all be used to demonstrate teaching excellence. 

Service: By the time of review for tenure, the probationary faculty member should have contributed significantly to the departmental and school service in a manner that is commensurate with their appointments. It is important that the probationary faculty member has demonstrated a trajectory indicating potential leadership in university (including school and department), professional, and/or community service.




Keywords:administration & governance, department chairs, guidance, evaluation, probationary faculty, mentoring, oversight   Doc ID:105249
Owner:Michelle H.Group:School of Human Ecology
Created:2020-08-24 17:08 CDTUpdated:2022-01-19 12:09 CDT
Sites:School of Human Ecology
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