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Promotion and Tenure

Updated 05/17/2010.

Within the framework of the University Rank and Tenure Guidelines, the following policies and procedures are followed in all divisions of the Meadows School of the Arts. This document summarizes only the procedural process for promotion and tenure within the Meadows School of the Arts; criteria for the evaluation of faculty within each discipline will be found in the specific divisional guidelines.

1. Promotion and Tenure Criteria Process

1.a. Specific written criteria appropriate to each discipline are to be established by each division and approved by the Dean. These criteria must adhere to both University and School policies and procedures. In any instance where the division criteria deviate from those of the School, the guidelines of the School shall take precedence. These criteria should consistent with divisional goals and merit review policies

1.b. If any changes in current criteria are deemed essential by the division during an academic year, these changes should be discussed with and voted on by the tenured faculty of the division/department/institute and approved by the Dean before any changes become official. Division criteria and any changes should be communicated to all faculty of the division and will take effect in the academic year after their adoption: any changes to the division’s rank and tenure guidelines should be approved and distributed to all tenure and tenure-track faculty before the review process begins in the fall semester. 

1.c. In all the academic areas of the school the principal factors that should be considered in evaluations for promotion and for the awarding of tenure are teaching and scholarship/research/creative work. University criteria require “substantial achievements in one and performance of high quality in the other.” Consideration for service to the University and the community are secondary.

1.d Tenure cannot be granted because of promise alone. The demonstration of accomplishments in teaching and research or professional activities should be rigorous.

1.e. Guidelines of individual divisions of the Meadows School will define the standards for professional or creative activity that are most valued at merit review and required for tenure and promotion. Evaluations should reflect comparable standards of performance in the nation’s leading institutions. Divisional guidelines will be posted on the School’s web site and will be part of any promotion and tenure dossier.

2. Annual Review

2.a. All faculty members are required to complete an annual Faculty Activity Report before the beginning of the spring term to be eligible for a pay increase.

2.b. It is recommended that faculty members on the tenure track use their cumulative FARs as a way of preparing their Tenure Dossier. The fifth-year annual report could then become the basis for the cv in the tenure dossier.

2.c. Faculty members on the tenure track will submit, as part of their FARs, a tenure plan, an outline and schedule of creative/research projects to be completed before the tenure and promotion evaluation.

2.d. The mentors and Chair/Director of the division will visit annually classes of the pre-tenure faculty member and offer feedback and advice.

2.e. Annual reviews will take place in the spring term, according to the schedule followed for all faculty, with the exception of the third year (or the last year of the first contract) and the sixth year (or the terminal year of the tenure-track contact). These annual reviews will be included in the tenure dossier.

2.f. Teaching reviews of tenure-track faculty members will take place in the second and fifth years of the tenure track. Senior faculty members, chosen by the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs in consultation with the faculty member, will discuss goals with the faculty member, attend classes, evaluate syllabi and course evaluations, meet with student focus groups (if appropriate), and provide a report to the Associate Dean by March 1 of the evaluation year. The report is meant to be constructive and will be shared with the faculty member and included in the tenure dossier.

3. Mentoring

Mentoring is an essential part of the promotion and tenure process.

3.a. The division Chair/Director will ensure that each incoming tenure-track faculty member is assigned two mentors, one from within the division, and a second one from outside the division or School but from a complementary discipline: after the first year mentors will be chosen in consultation with the candidate.

4. Contract Renewal of Tenure-Track Faculty (Third Year Review)

4.a. Tenure track faculty members are normally appointed to two three-year contracts. During the final year of the first contract an internal “third year review” takes place, at which point the Dean may recommend to the University that a second contract should be extended.

4.b. The Chair/Director of the division/institute must notify the tenured faculty that a tenure-track faculty member is in her/his contract-renewal year and that a review committee has been formed.

4.c. The review committee will normally be made up of all the tenured faculty of the division, except in cases where the faculty is so large, as in the Music division, that guidelines are in place for the creation of a smaller committee. When there are not enough tenured faculty members in any specific division to form a committee of at least three, the Chair/Director, with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, will constitute a committee of at least three tenured faculty members by including faculty of other divisions in the school or university that have connections to the discipline of the candidate.

4.d. The candidate must submit a third-year dossier to include:

  • a preliminary third-year faculty activity report, which may be annotated to highlight the candidate’s accomplishments at SMU,
  • an updated curriculum vitae,
  • a letter that summarizes the candidate’s accomplishments,
  • peer teaching review
  • any supporting documents deemed appropriate by the candidate (publications, record or samples of creative work, reviews, CD-ROMs, etc.).

4.e. Teaching review. Candidates must complete the peer teaching review before November and the written evaluation should be included in the dossier. Committee members are also expected to visit at least two classroom sessions.

4.f. The committee will review the third-year dossier, teaching evaluations, file letters and Chair/Director’s annual reviews to review teaching and research/creative productivity. Service is of importance, but the primary criterion of the review process is to ensure that the candidate will have a strong case for tenure at the end of the next contract.

4.g. Timetable:

  • October 1: Candidate is notified of the review.
  • November 15: Dossier due to Chair/Director.
  • February 1: The committee will forward a written recommendation to the Chair/Director.
  • February 15: The Chair/Director will forward to the Dean
  • her/his written recommendation
  • the committee recommendation
  • the Chair/Director’s annual letters for the candidate
  • the third year dossier
  • supporting materials, as needed.
  • May 31: The candidate will be notified by this date whether a new contract will be offered.

5. Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure: Process

5.a. The initial contract will specify the year in which the review for promotion and tenure is scheduled to take place. Candidates for promotion should schedule a meeting with the Associate Dean for Academic affairs by March 1 of the year of the upcoming consideration. Faculty members at the rank of Associate Professor who wish to be considered for promotion must inform the Chair/Director and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs by the first day of March preceding the fall semester in which they want to be considered for promotion.

5.b. The candidate, Chair/Director, and Associate Dean will assemble materials to be sent to the outside reviewers by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

5.c. The file will close officially on September 15, at which point materials may only be added with the permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

5.c. Divisional committees will meet in September and October. Except in cases where divisional guidelines specify otherwise, membership will consist of all tenured faculty members of the division. In cases of promotion to the rank of Professor the Committee will consist only of faculty members who hold the rank of Professor. The Committee will also include a faculty member of appropriate rank from a related discipline in Meadows. The division Chair/Director in consultation with the Dean will appoint the outside members.

5.d. The first meeting of the divisional committee will be attended by the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs who will summarize procedures, stressing the confidentiality of the process even after the committee’s recommendation has been submitted. The committee will elect a chair who will schedule subsequent meetings, record the committee vote, and submit a summary letter (addressed to the division Chair/Director) that must be signed by all members of the committee. Committee members, including the committee chair, will write individual letters for the file. Committee members are expected to evaluate both teaching and research; they thus should attend at least one of the candidate’s classes, giving the candidate the courtesy of a day’s notice. The review committees of the individual divisions must determine the relative merits of accomplishments by candidates in their discipline, appropriate to the criteria that have been established. The committee’s recommendation and individual letters should be submitted to the division Chair/Director by November 1.

5.e. The complete divisional recommendation, including the recommendation letter of the chair/director, along with the original file of materials and ten copies, must be submitted to the Dean by November 15. It is the responsibility of the Chair/Director to make a specific recommendation to the Dean for action. The recommendation of the Chair/Director need not agree with the recommendation of the divisional committee.

5.f. The Dean will request that the Meadows School Promotion and Tenure Committee evaluate both the procedures and the substance of each division's recommendation. This committee is appointed by the Dean and consists of one tenured faculty member from each division of the Meadows School (Advertising, Art, Art History, Arts Administration, Cinema-Television, Corporate Communications, Dance, Journalism, Music and Theatre) and a faculty member from outside Meadows who holds the rank of Professor. The committee will be chaired by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who writes a summary letter addressed to the Dean.

5.g. The Meadows Promotion and Tenure Committee will submit a confidential letter to the Dean for each candidate, stating the committee's conclusions and recommendations. A formal committee vote will be recorded, but the vote is only advisory. The letter, signed by all committee members who are eligible to vote, should include a summary of the discussion, providing insight into the rationale for the committee's recommendations.

5.h. The Dean will consider both the divisional Committee’s recommendations and the report of the Meadows Promotion and Tenure Committee. The faculty member will be notified by the Dean of his/her action by the time the Dean's recommendations are forwarded to the Provost, on or about February 1. If the recommendation of the Dean is negative, the candidate may meet with the Dean in person to discuss the reasons for the decision.

5.i. Recommendations from the schools are considered by a faculty committee appointed by the Provost that evaluates each case and advises the Provost. (See University Policy 6.12). The Provost makes recommendations to the President and ultimately to the Board of Trustees for action.

5.j. Disputes: In the case of negative decisions by the division, the Chair/Director will meet with the candidate and give him/her a written statement outlining the reasons for the decision. A negative decision at the divisional level may be appealed to the Dean within 21 days of notification of the decision. If an appeal is to be made, the faculty member may submit any rebuttal or new data appropriate to the appeal. A negative decision by the Dean may be appealed to the Provost. If a negative decision is not appealed, the process is complete. A negative decision of the Provost may be appealed to the President. Any de novo reviews which are required as a result of the review process will be done at the divisional level.

5.k. Timetable.

  • March 1. Tenure candidates schedule a meeting with the Associate Dean.
    Candidates for promotion to Professor notify the Associate Dean.
  • May 15. Documents for external reviewers are due.
  • June 1. Dossiers will be sent to external evaluators.
  • August 15. External reviews are due.
  • September 15. The tenure and promotion file closes.
  • November 1. The divisional committee recommendation will be sent to Chair/Director.
  • November 15. Files are due in Dean’s office with Chair/Director’s recommendation.
  • December 1-15. Meadows Committee on Promotion and Tenure meets.
  • February 1. Dean’s recommendation will be sent to the Provost.

6. Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure: Documentation

6.a. All materials submitted for promotion/tenure review are arranged according to the same basic format, although differences among the various disciplines may dictate some variance in content. Materials are collected into two files: a file of primary review materials (the “promotion and tenure dossier”) and a file of supporting documents.

6.b. The CANDIDATE is responsible for preparing the following materials for the tenure or promotion file by May 15:

i. An up-to-date curriculum vitae organized in sections (arranged in reverse chronological order — most recent first) on the candidate's education, teaching experience and related professional positions.

ii. A curriculum vitae that focuses on activities at SMU is recommended for candidates whose work is interdisciplinary or of a nature that may need explication to a non-professional audience. It should be “narrative” in that it is explains to those outside of the discipline the relevance of its contents. For instance, it might describe venues and provide acceptance rates so that outsiders can understand the relative prestige of journals, publishers, and venues.

In the regular or narrative cv professional activities should be given in categories and in an order that reflects their importance to the discipline and the candidate. The format for what is presented is flexible, but failure to separate activities (especially publications) into categories is often interpreted by outside reviewers as an attempt to “pad” the c.v. Category possibilities are listed in the FAR.

Information on the quality, national stature, or acceptance rates of professional venues is essential: provide information on the journals that contain the candidate's publications, orchestras with which the candidate has performed, galleries in which the candidate has exhibited work, publishers of books or other material, theater companies with which the candidate has worked, etc., will be crucial in the evaluation process. Those outside the candidate's field cannot be expected to know the relative importance or prestige of theater companies, music publishers, communications journals, galleries, dance companies, etc.

iii. A personal statement that includes discussion of teaching and research/artistic philosophy, relationship between scholarly or artistic work and effective teaching, research plans and other activities within the University and profession. The document serves as a self-evaluation and philosophic statement of the candidate’s professional activity as it relates to the division, School, University, and national and international academic community. Candidates are encouraged to work with their division Chair/Director and mentors. Examples are on file in the Associate Dean's office.

iv. Supporting documents. These materials, which will also be summarized in the tenure dossier, may include anything that the candidate deems relevant to his/her candidacy, such as copies of major publications (articles, tapes, videotapes, photographs, or recordings, as appropriate… excerpts are acceptable in some cases…) reviews, critiques, and programs.

v. Names and the addresses of ten former students who can evaluate the candidate's teaching. The candidate will not solicit these students but will only submit the names to the packet. Solicitation will be made by the associate dean’s office, and follow-up will be the responsibility of the division.



vi. Names and addresses of five outside reviewers, in ranked order, along with a brief statement of their professional qualifications.


6.c. A list of materials that will be sent to the external reviewers. These will be selected from the supporting documents (item 6.b, above) by the candidate who has the final say about what is appropriate. This list signed and dated by the candidate, will be included in the tenure file. Because external reviewers are asked to evaluate research and creative productivity rather than teaching, the materials sent to external reviewers should only concern research and creative work.

6.d. The CHAIR/DIRECTOR is responsible for preparing the following materials for the tenure or promotion file by May 15.

File letters: Copies of appointment and reappointment letters (with salary statements deleted), annual evaluations (and any challenges to these by the candidate), third year review letters from both the Chair/Director and the third year review committee, and any letters specifying changes in expectations (if applicable). If these documents do not adequately convey to an outsider the candidate’s role in the division, a statement of that role should be provided by the Chair/Director.

External Evaluation Letters: Six letters from appropriate external reviewers will be included in the candidate’s file. It is the Chair/Director’s responsibility to identify external reviewers who will review the scholarly, artistic or professional activities of the candidates. The Chair /Director will solicit letters from three persons on the list of five names and addresses submitted by the candidate and will return to the candidate’s list for more names if necessary. Additionally, the Chair/Director will choose three additional reviewers. Selection of evaluators is done in consultation with the Associate Dean who will send out the official letters of solicitation to the external reviewers. The Chair/Director will prepare a 2-page summary explaining why these candidates were chosen, the academic specialization involved and the professional and academic stature of the evaluators.

External evaluators should be individuals of the highest credibility that have established outstanding reputations in the candidate's academic discipline, have appointments at institutions of the caliber to which SMU aspires, hold full professorship and/or high office in professional organizations, and be able to evaluate the candidate’s work and credentials with objectivity and insight. Recommendations should not be solicited from those with close relationships to the candidate, and evaluators will be asked to disclose the nature of their relationship with the candidate. Candidates do not solicit reviewers directly nor engage with them about the review.

iii. Peer Letters: Each file may include peer assessment of the faculty member's teaching and research/professional activities. The Chair/Director will solicit letters of evaluation on teaching from the tenured faculty of the division (if the review committee does not include all tenured members of the faculty) and from tenured faculty members in related disciplines, as appropriate. Letters should be prepared only by individuals who directly review the candidates teaching and/or teaching materials. Letters should be explicit about how the assessment was made.

iv. Student Letters: The Chair/Director will solicit responses from the list provided by the candidate and request an additional ten letters from former students.

v. Teaching Evaluations: The Chair/Director should review the information in the FAR/dossier on enrollment figures and student evaluations to make sure it corresponds with divisional records. Any additional raw data should be submitted as supplementary material.


7. The Promotion and Tenure File consists of a binder, provided by the Associate Dean's office, divided into sections that are separated by dividers with tabs. The binders are prepared by the division. The sections (tab labels appear in boldface) are as follows:

Promotion and Tenure Summary

i. Promotion and Tenure Summary sheet (provided by the Dean's Office) with:

ii. Table of Contents for the notebook

iii. List of materials included in the supporting documents file

Dean's Recommendation
Dean’s Letters
Recommendation of the Meadows Promotion and Tenure Committee
Individual letters from Meadows Promotion and Tenure Committee members

Division Recommendation
Chair/Director's recommendation
Promotion and Tenure Committee letter with procedure followed, committee vote, and supporting reasons, signed by all members
Individual letters from committee members

Personal Statement

Expectations
File letters, contracts, Annual review letters, etc. (6.d., above)

Curriculum Vitae and Tenure Dossier
A revised and cumulative sixth-year activity report (Tenure Dossier) that includes a list of courses taught at SMU, by semester, with course number, title, and enrollment (provided by candidate)

Professional Venues
The two-page description of the professional venues prepared by the chair/director.

Teaching Evaluation - Student
Graphic and tabular summaries of course evaluations (provided by the Dean's office).
Summary of questionnaires sent out to 100 students at random.
Letters from 20 current or former students, 10 chosen by the Chair/Director and 10 chosen by the candidate.

Teaching Evaluation - Faculty/Peer
Results of observation by faculty colleagues.

External Evaluation
The Chair/Director’s two-page summary of why external candidates were chosen, the academic specialization involved, and the professional and academic stature of the evaluators. Letters from at least six external evaluators, each preceded by a copy of the individual solicitation letter from the Associate Dean and followed by the external reviewer’s c.v.

Other Letters

The Supporting Documents File (a separate file, in addition to the binder). 

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