Faculty Appointments, Reappointments, Nonrenewals, Promotions, and Conferrals of Tenure

Revised January 1998



As we continue with our University planning processes, it is essential that we proceed in an exemplary fashion to utilize more effectively our critically important faculty resources. The occasion of each new faculty appointment presents an opportunity to help reposition your academic unit and the University to achieve our approved academic priorities. Each promotion, particularly the promotions to Associate Professor with tenure and to Professor, constitutes a major affirmation that truly outstanding teaching and scholarly achievements have occurred on the part of a colleague whose work is consistent with the goals of the academic unit and the University. It is therefore of critical importance that the following guidelines be adhered to as they represent strategies for making our most important faculty decisions.


A. New Faculty Hires

Requests for faculty positions are to be submitted annually prior to October 15 for appointments beginning in September of the following year. It is my hope that you will be afforded greater latitude in making faculty appointments once we have agreed on your unit's faculty size and top priority programs.

Because of the importance of applying high standards at the time of initial faculty appointments, the Provost's Office must be provided with ample opportunity to conduct a significant review of the proposed appointments. Therefore, requests to negotiate an appointment with tenure should be submitted in time to permit the Provost's Office up to one month for review purposes, and all other requests to negotiate should be submitted in time to permit one week for the Provost's Office Office review. For further details, please see the attached April 8, 1997 memorandum on Procedures for Faculty Recruitment.

All requests submitted to the Provost's Office for new appointments should include an explanation of how the proposed appointment would advance the reallocation of resources in support of the agreed upon priorities of the academic unit in question in addition to providing the teaching and research rationale. Keep in mind that new appointments provide opportunities to attain our affirmative action goals.

B. Reappointments and Nonrenewals

As a departure from the past, the Provost's Office will give a substantive review of all tenure stream reappointments. For reappointments, the dossier should include a letter from the Dean or Regional Campus President that explains the basis for continuation of the faculty member's contract, the annual review letters (see section IV.C., p. 6), a description of faculty deliberations, and a current c.v. Deans and Regional Campus Presidents should provide faculty members with written notifications of nonrenewal; and a copy of the letter and the Employee Record form should be sent to the Provost's Office. In order to insure timely reappointment and nonrenewal actions, please adhere to the following established deadlines:



1st one-year appointment March 15 of appointment year March 1
2nd or subsequent one-year reappointment December 15 of appointment year December 1
Two-year appointment December 15 of second year December 1
Three-year appointment 12 months prior to the end of appointment 13 months prior to end of appointment


Less than 5 full years of continuous service 3 1/2 months prior to end of contract 4 months prior to end of contract
At least 5 full years of continuous service 5 1/2 months prior to end of appointment 6 months prior to end of appointment

Our mandate to reallocate scarce resources from lower to higher priority programs increases the possibility that a decision to not renew a tenure-stream faculty member=s appointment will also be based on School and Regional Campus plans and related budgetary decisions, as well as the faculty member's scholarly achievements. Should this possibility become a reality, the faculty member(s) should be informed in writing, as early as possible, preferably at least two years prior to the end of the maximum probationary period. Regarding these matters, I call your attention to the following excerpt from Article III. General Policies of Appointment and Tenure, listed on page 11 of the Faculty Handbook:

The work of the University requires a wide variety of talents, balanced among specialized fields. Because these needs change over time, the University must be capable of responding to these changes. Therefore, all recommendations of appointment and promotion not only must be evaluated in terms of the individual merits of the candidate, but also must take into account the current standards of the relevant discipline or profession at large and the requirements of the candidate's department or school at the time of the recommendation and for the then-foreseeable future. ... (Emphasis added)

C. Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure, Associate Professor in the Tenure Stream, and Conferral of Tenure on an Associate Professor or Professor

In order to provide adequate time for review by the Provost and the Chancellor, Provost's Area units' recommendations must be in the Provost's Office by February 1. For all Health Sciences Schools and "out of cycle" actions from Provost's Area schools, recommendations are to reach the Provost's Office 60 days prior to effective date for all actions requiring the Chancellor's approval, i.e., promotion with tenure, conferral of tenure, and appointments with tenure or probationary periods.

D. Promotion to the Rank of Professor

For Provost's Area units, recommendations must reach the Office of the Provost by March 15. As with all Health Sciences Schools and "out of cycle" actions in Provost's Area schools, recommendations requiring the Chancellor's approval must reach the Provost's Office 60 days prior to effective date.


The minimum expectations for appointments and promotions to the various faculty ranks are stated in the Faculty Handbook. It is very important for you to make sure that faculty members are familiar with the Faculty Handbook and the general criteria as well as the specific criteria developed within these parameters and detailed in Department, Division, School, and Regional Campus guidelines that have been approved by the Provost's Office. Similarly, you should make sure that faculty members are aware of your student and peer evaluation of teaching policies and the time frames for the conduct of the specific faculty personnel actions within your respective units.

Since faculty at Regional Campuses will have devoted a larger fraction of their time to teaching, the documentation and evaluation of teaching should be more extensive. Faculty members should be expected to demonstrate teaching excellence in a number of ways, including but not limited to their teaching roles, classroom instruction, course organization, and curriculum design. In addition, a Regional Campus faculty member is expected to maintain the intellectual vitality that comes from contact with and immersion in the evolving subject matter of his or her discipline.

The conferral of tenure calls for evidence of actual accomplishments that justify the granting of what amounts to a lifetime contract with the University of Pittsburgh: it is a decision that pertains to a future that may be longer than forty years. We must, therefore, be clear in our minds when we assign such a future role to a faculty member, that we think of what we want the University of Pittsburgh to become -- not simply what it is now.

Accordingly, we want to be sure that a candidate is one of the very best in his or her area, taking into consideration the stage of professional development. At all times, moreover, an area of research and teaching must be conceived sufficiently broadly so as to make comparisons with peers a meaningful exercise, on the one hand, and to regard the field as having future viability, on the other.

Instances of early promotion with tenure must be exemplary. In no case can the standards be less than those applied during the normal time frames for making tenure and promotion decisions.

Our goals of enhancing undergraduate, graduate and professional education, maintaining areas of scholarly strength, enhancing high priority areas, and reallocating resources to achieve agreed upon priorities require that the greatest care be given in making every new appointment, reappointment, promotion, and conferral of tenure decision. Each unit's and the University's academic expectations should be reflected in the application of our criteria at the various points in the faculty personnel processes.


For appointments and promotions to Associate Professor and to full Professor with tenure, as well as conferral of tenure actions, the following types of materials should be provided to the Provost's Office.

A. Cover Letter

The cover letter should not simply be an indication of concurrence. Rather, the Dean or Regional Campus President should submit a detailed cover letter summarizing his or her independent opinion on the entire case. The cover letter should provide a full account of the specific scholarly, professional or creative contributions made by the candidate, and the role of the candidate within the context of the units= planning priorities. The letter should provide a balanced explanation of the candidate's scholarly contributions to the field and the impact made on the profession. In addition to providing an interpretation of the letters from external referees, the cover letter should indicate the other types of evidence used to inform your recommendation.

The cover letter should present clearly the extent to which the recommendation was supported by the appropriate body of voting faculty in the unit and by voting members of all relevant committees. Actual votes should be noted. Reasons for abstentions at any level should be explained. If there is a minority opinion, the cover letter should address the reasons for the dissent. A representative for the dissenting views might be invited to submit a minority report. The dossier should also include the detailed letters written by the department or program chair, division chair, Regional Campus Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the chair of second-level promotion committees as appropriate.

We now have several years of experience with our mandate for peer and student evaluations of teaching. All faculty members should be made aware of the teaching evaluation policies operative within their academic units. All recommendations submitted to the Provost's Office must contain summaries of the results of student and peer evaluations of teaching. A wide array of data exist for evaluating teaching, and the quality of a candidate's teaching should be described not only in terms of classroom performances but also include assessments of factors such as advising undergraduate and graduate students, supervising dissertations and theses, other types of interaction with students, formal student evaluations, the development of curricular materials, syllabi, and the faculty member's evaluations of students' work. As necessary, one should consult with the Office of Measurement and Evaluation of Teaching regarding the preparation of teaching dossiers.

The cover letter should present a summary of the candidate's University service. Within the dossier, other letters should present the candidate's service in more detail, including the nature and quality of the service, and the importance of the service to the discipline or profession, the home academic unit, and, as appropriate, the University.

B. Curriculum Vitae

The curriculum vitae should provide the essential professional history of the candidate, listing all elements of formal post-secondary education and all professional positions held. Publications should be categorized into separate groupings, such as books, abstracts, monographs, journal articles, chapters in edited volumes, and textbooks. Names of co-authors should always be included in the order in which they appear on the publication. It is important to list the page numbers for each published item or, in the case of a book, the total number of pages. There should be an indication as to which journal articles are refereed. Conference presentations, if reported, should be listed in a separate category. Through the faculty mentoring processes of your units, faculty members should be made aware of the appropriate curriculum vitae content for the purposes of your unit and the Provost's Office.

All courses taught in the past five years should be listed, with the enrollment for each course, as well as all master's theses and doctoral dissertations supervised. Mention should be made of the present professional status of those master's or Ph.D. graduates, and the publication of a thesis or dissertation.

Research grants should be listed, for at least the last five years. For each grant or contract, the granting agency, the title of the award, the period, and the amount designated as total or as direct cost of the award should be unambiguously indicated, as well as the project title of the candidate, e.g., principal investigator, co-principal investigator or other specific title.

Invited lectures, special honors, or seminar presentations at other institutions should be listed for the previous five years. Service to Department, School, University or external institutions that are professionally relevant should be cited in the curriculum vitae.

C. Annual Reviews of Faculty

The dossier should be supplemented with copies of all annual review letters that were sent to the candidate. Minimally, these written reviews must consist of a letter to the faculty member which contains statements as to whether or not the faculty member's performance in teaching, research and service meet Departmental/School/Regional Campus/University expectations. Detailed comments regarding these areas may be included and should be included in cases where performance does not meet expectation in any area.

D. External Referee Letters

All external referee letters received should be included in the dossier, whether favorable or unfavorable. For each external referee, there should be a brief description of the referee=s academic background, a notation as to who proposed each referee (e.g., the candidate, the program or department chair, the ad hoc committee or standing promotions committee, and/or the dean), and an indication of any special present or past connections between the referee and the candidate. A minimum of six external letters is required. The six required letters do not include reference letters from other University of Pittsburgh faculty members, with the exception of the Regional Campuses for which a maximum of two letters can come from faculty members on other University of Pittsburgh Campuses.

Referee letters should be sought from well-regarded scholars in similar and/or related fields--again without defining the area too narrowly. A broader net allows a larger pool from which referees can be drawn and also encourages opinions on the impact of the candidate's work on a larger body of scholarship. Six substantive letters constitute a minimum, so that initial requests should be made to nine or ten persons. The candidate should be asked to suggest a number of referees, and a maximum of three letters can be requested from persons on the candidate's list. Although some referees may be persons who have had previous professional association with the candidate--such as doctoral supervisor, co-principal investigator, or co-author on a major project--most of the reports should be from scholars who know the candidate primarily because of their knowledge of the candidate's work and its impact on his or her field.

Referees should be informed that, in accordance with University policy, and with the exception listed below, their letters will be seen only by those participating directly in the decision-making process and, short of a court order or subpoena, every effort should subsequently be made to keep this promise. This means, above all, that letters should be duplicated as little as possible. Court interpretations of the 1978 Pennsylvania Personnel File Act have held that a letter of reference might not be exempt from employee access if a fee is paid to the writer of the letter. Where no fees are paid, letters are exempt from employee access under current court interpretations.

Letters of reference should be solicited by a leading member of the evaluating group. In no case should the candidate be allowed to directly solicit a letter from a referee. As appropriate, external referees should be provided with a curriculum vitae, examples of the candidate's written work, instructional materials, and other materials upon which their recommendations are to be based. In the case of the creative and performing arts, referees might be invited to exhibits or performances, or they might be selected from among persons who have seen or attended such presentations. If this is not possible, slides or tapes may be submitted to referees.

Referees should be asked to make critical judgments about the candidate's work (possibly mentioning specific items) and on its significance and impact. Further, referees should be asked to compare the candidate with others in the field at a comparable stage of development, preferably by having the writer suggest specific named benchmarks. Finally, it is very helpful and revealing to get answers to the questions as to whether the referee believes that the candidate would be promoted (or achieve tenure) at the referee's own institution and whether the referee would so vote.


The candidate must be given ample opportunity to present materials for consideration for reappointment, promotion, or conferral of tenure. All published works and those manuscripts or items in press or already accepted, the results of peer and student evaluations of teaching, teaching materials, and documentation of service should be available to review committees in the School or Regional Campus. The candidate should prepare an updated curriculum vitae and, where appropriate, a brief career synopsis, which should summarize major research thrusts, distinctive features of teaching, and service contributions.

If a candidate for promotion has had significant involvement in a multi-disciplinary venture, the appropriate administrator (e.g., center director or head of a different academic unit) should be asked to comment on the case.

All material collected, including the candidate's writings, should be made available to the appropriate members of the faculty before they are called to a meeting to discuss the case. (But note that confidential letters can be made available for reading in a dean's or departmental chair's office, rather than by being duplicated for circulation.) Every faculty member, of rank equal to or above the rank to which the candidate would be promoted, should have an opportunity to participate in the deliberations and vote. An analogous rule holds for the conferral of tenure.

We shall continue the process of requiring the advice of two levels of review for each consideration of promotion to associate or full professor or for the conferral of tenure. In a two-tiered system, it is possible that a faculty member would participate in a review at both levels. It should be understood that a faculty member has only one vote in any given case.

The Dean or Regional Campus President should inform the candidate when the recommendation has been submitted to the Provost.


The Provost and/or Vice Provost will confer with the Dean, Regional Campus President, or other appropriate persons, internally or externally, if concerns are identified with recommended cases. The Provost's Office will make every effort to complete its review in a timely fashion and, assuming a positive recommendation, forward the dossier to the Chancellor.