Administration & Governance - Faculty Critical Review Processes

This document outlines the SoHE Executive Committee Critical Review Process

Approved April 27, 2020

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Processes in the SoHE for insuring thorough annual reviews of faculty including the SoHE Executive Committee Critical Review Process 

The size of the SoHE tenure-track faculty has grown in recent years, impacting the number of cases to be reviewed annually. At the same time, we expect more substantive and robust reviews for both the tenure-track faculty and their oversight/mentoring committees. In order to address both of these demands on time and attention, the SoHE Executive committee agreed to pilot test a new system of critical review the spring of 2020. Having tested this model, we recommend that the SoHE Executive committee adopt a new model of a critical review process, effective AY 2020-21. We will review this new model in three years (at the end of AY 2022-23) to determine whether we have room for improvement. 

It is important to note that in no way does this critical review process replace the responsibilities of the SoHE Executive committee, the Mentoring/Oversight committee, the Executive committee of the department, or the Chair of the department. This is to ensure that we enhance the rigor and the integrity of the process while distributing the responsibilities at a manageable level across the board. As in the past, all members of the Executive committee will continue to fulfill their responsibilities of reading and reviewing annual reports, contract renewals, and tenure and promotion dossiers. The same high standards will be maintained with all Executive faculty members carefully reading each dossier and being prepared to provide feedback to the Mentoring/Oversight committee that prepared the dossier. 

Department-level (Chair and Departmental Exec) Responsibilities 

The Mentoring/Oversight committee seeks input from the Department Chair and Department Exec Committee prior to submitting the dossier for School-level critical review. Both the Chair of the department and the Executive committee of the department should ensure that all critical questions are addressed to the extent possible at the department level before the SoHE’s Critical Review. They should also bring any unresolved concerns to the SoHE Executive Committee meeting for broader discussion. The Chair of the department is responsible for setting a timeline to ensure that the preparation of and feedback on the dossier within the department is done in time for distribution to the Critical Reviewers and the SoHE Executive committee.   

Timing of Critical Reviews 

Critical Reviews will occur during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th year review of candidates. Two members of the Executive Committee (who are not from the candidate’s department) will serve in the role of Critical Reviewers at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th year review of candidates These years were determined based on: a) the fact that, by the 3rd year, the probationary faculty member would have a sufficient record of accomplishments and trajectory to assess and b) the probationary faculty member and her oversight/mentoring committee would still have sufficient time on the tenure clock to take advantage of the critical feedback by acting on the recommendations.  In this new model, the Dean’s office (Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Associate Dean for Research) will also review each case carefully and provide their critique.  They will also ensure that the Executive committee’s concerns are addressed in the letter to be sent to each candidate. 

The Role of Critical Reviewers 

The Critical Reviewers’ primary role is to critique. The Oversight/Mentoring Committee evaluates and critiques the annual progress of the probationary faculty member and provides targets or benchmarks to achieve in the coming year as supportive mentor. Critical Reviewers are charged with looking for things that could be improved and with asking difficult questions at times. Their job is to assume the role of the Divisional Committee and to specifically look for potential issues that the Divisional Committee might raise (i.e., does the dossier reflect a steady progression of independent scholarship or creative accomplishments that speak to this scholar’s standing in the field; is there adequate documentation of teaching – student evaluations for each course and peer reviews that are done by different peers; etc.). For additional guidance see memo of Feb. 11, 2020 from Lauren Papp based on what the Social Sciences Divisional Committee looks for in their reviews of cases for tenure and promotion.

The assignment of critical reviewers will rotate as a responsibility of members of the Executive Committee with two reviewers assigned to each probationary faculty member at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th year review. Assignments will be based on the best match of expertise possible for the probationary faculty member (e.g., which Divisional Committee, whether the faculty member has an Extension appointment, etc.).    

Recommended Timeline 

The Dean’s Office and Department Chairs will coordinate the overall timeline of anticipated critical review cases such that these are spread throughout the semesters and also conducted in a timely fashion to avoid a heavy workload at the end of the semester.  A general rule of thumb is as follows:

Pre “Contract Renewal” Annual Reports

Annual reviews will be scheduled for the April and May Executive Faculty meetings 

Contract Renewal Recommendations

Contract renewal recommendations will be scheduled for the March Executive Faculty meeting.  Materials for critical review must be sent to reviewers 2 weeks before March meeting 

Contract Renewal + 1 and Contract Renewal + 2

The reviews following contract renewal that require critical review will be scheduled for the April and May Executive Faculty meetings.  Materials for critical review must be sent to reviewers 2 weeks before the slated meeting.