Office of the Provost

Annual Review of Faculty

Memorandum

TO: Deans and Regional Campus Presidents
FROM: Patricia E. Beeson
DATE: November 16, 2016

 Annual Reviews of Faculty and Related Salary Decisions

Faculty evaluations are among the most important responsibilities of chairs, deans, and campus presidents. They provide feedback that helps shape and enhance a faculty member’s career and alert a faculty member to concerns. Given their importance, we have the responsibility to provide annual reviews that are constructive, fair, and transparent and to apply associated salary adjustments in a similarly fair and responsible manner.

Current guidance for annual reviews of faculty is provided in the 1999 memo from then-Provost Maher [see below]. Every year, each dean and campus president has been asked to affirm that these reviews are taking place, and a random sample of these is reviewed annually and feedback provided. The annual reviews have become stronger through these interactions.

Currently, deans and campus presidents have broad authority regarding review of faculty and associated salary adjustments. With this authority also comes the responsibility to be fair and transparent, to provide protections for the faculty, and to be accountable for decisions taken. To this end, I am establishing guidelines intended to provide transparency and oversight on the salary decisions in cases where, in your best judgement, the result of the evaluation of a tenured faculty member is to reduce their salary. Specifically, this memo sets limits and defines the conditions that must be in place before a dean or campus president can reduce the base contract salary (salary less any administrative supplement or other add-ons) of a tenured member of the faculty.

As background, this guidance is in response to a resolution and recommendations from the Faculty Assembly and the Senate’s Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee (TAFC), which grew out of considerable discussion within the Faculty Assembly and Senate regarding salary reductions, primarily in the School of Medicine. (It is worth noting that since 2008, fewer than 2% of the tenured faculty have received salary reductions, and almost all of those were for faculty members in the School of Medicine where tenured faculty members are typically on 12-month contracts with an expectation that a significant portion of their salary will be covered by grants and contracts.) In response to a Senate request, I convened an ad hoc committee to review the Senate report and make recommendations. Their report was shared with the TAFC and with the Council of Deans for discussion and comment.

The following guidelines regarding salary reductions for tenured faculty members grew out of these discussions:

  1. Prior to receiving a salary reduction, the faculty member must receive written warning and a zero salary increase as part of the prior annual review.
  2. Faculty members who receive a warning as part of their review must have had an opportunity to address concerns raised in that annual review through an agreed upon plan.
  3. Individual salary reductions cannot exceed 20% in a given year.
  4. The faculty member must have an opportunity to appeal a salary reduction through a clearly defined, school/campus-level procedure that includes review by a faculty appeals panel on which at least half the membership is either elected to the panel or elected to a school/campus governance committee.
  5. Salary reductions can be appealed to the provost if there is disagreement between the school/campus-level committee and the dean/campus president, or if the cumulative impact of salary reductions exceeds 33% of the highest base salary received by the faculty member while employed at the University.

The current moratorium on salary reductions will remain in place for individual schools and campuses unless a plan approved by my office is in place. The guidelines above provide baseline protections for faculty that must be preserved. In evaluating plans, I will consider things such as the standard length of faculty contracts (e.g. 12-month vs 8-month), the portion of base salary typically covered by grants and contracts in that school, and other such factors. Given these differences, I urge you to consult with my office before developing a plan.

To provide ongoing oversight, I also ask that an annual report be submitted to my office documenting any salary reductions that have occurred during that fiscal year. As salary reductions may raise legal concerns that can be mitigated or avoided, I urge you to consult with the Office of General Counsel before finalizing any such reductions.

Memorandum

To: Members of the Council of Deans
From: James V. Maher
Date: April 27, 1999

Annual Review of Faculty

We have been working collaboratively for some time now to improve the written annual review of faculty members throughout the University of Pittsburgh, as mandated by our Board of Trustees.

Our efforts have included your affirming every mid-September that annual reviews had been completed and that written copies of the reviews were on file in an appropriate administrative office. For the last two years, I have requested your submission of annual evaluation letters that had been sent to a randomly selected group of 10% of the faculty at each rank. The Provost's Office conducted a review of these samples, which were discussed extensively at the March 24, 1998 Council of Deans' meeting.

As you know, the Council of Deans and the Senate Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee have jointly constructed a list of issues to be addressed in the annual review of faculty (attached). This document should be viewed as a set of guidelines for the evaluator and not as a rigid schedule for the submission of documentation by faculty members. In particular, the evaluator should use his or her current knowledge of the information available about the faculty member's activities to inform a judgment as to what other elements of the enclosed list might need to be supplied by the faculty and then to ask for faculty reporting in a given year, as needed. Therefore, this list signals a clear direction to the evaluator as to the materials which can very reasonably be requested and which should also be taken into account in the evaluation of a faculty member. Similarly, meetings with individual faculty members may not be required unless there is disagreement as to either the substance of the evaluation or the mutual expectations for the coming year.

I appreciate your cooperation as we work to make more meaningful our annual review process. As you know, this activity remains a key element in maintaining and improving the quality of our academic offerings and the reputation of the University of Pittsburgh.

Suggested Documentation for the Annual Review of Faculty

Developed by the Senate Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee
in conjunction with the Council of Deans

The following is a list of the appropriate documentation that faculty members should submit as a prelude to the annual review process:

  1. A statement of goals and objectives for the upcoming academic year. The statement of goals and objectives should be congruent with the mission, goals, and objectives of the academic unit.
  2. A summary of how goals and objectives from the previous academic year were met.
  3. A summary of teaching activities with selected supporting material such as course syllabi, student evaluations, peer review letters, graduate student mentoring, undergraduate student mentoring, faculty mentoring, and sponsoring of internships.
  4. A summary of research activities with selected supporting material such as reprints, letters of acceptance from editors or publishers, grant proposals, research mentoring, and conference papers.
  5. A summary of service activities such as membership on department of school committees, University committees, service to professional organizations, public service activities that relate to academic expertise.

The following is an appropriate list of expectations that faculty members should be able to assume about their annual review process:

  1. That clear and specific criteria were used in determining the annual evaluation and salary increase determinations.
  2. That a summary of agreements (or disagreements) reached on the faculty member's statement of goals and objectives for the coming academic year will be recorded.
  3. That the faculty member will receive the annual review ina timely fashion with exact copies placed in departmental or school files. Procedures for appealing annual review assessments should be clearly defined.
  4. That when changes are made in goals and objectives because of departmental or school needs or emergencies during the academic year, changes should be submitted to the faculty member in writing with copies placed in departmental or school files.
  5. That for faculty in the tenure stream, annual letters should define in clear and specific terms the evaluator's judgment of the faculty member's progress towards tenure or promotion: for Full Professors where tenure or promotion is no longer a question, letters would express the evaluator's judgment of their continued contributions at a level appropriate to their rank; for faculty members in the non-tenure stream, annual letters should explain in clear and specific terms expectations for the coming year.

 

Endorsed by the Council of Deans April 22, 1999