Background on Post-Tenure Review
Licata and Morreale on Post Tenure Review: Policies, Practices,
This section summarizes a portion of a paper entitled "Post-Tenure
Review: Policies, Practices, Precautions", Inquiry #12. New Pathways:
Faculty Careers and Employment for the 21st Century, (American
Association of Higher Education, Washington, D.C., 1996) by Christine M.
Licata and Joseph C. Morreale. The ad-hoc joint subcommittee on
post-tenure review considers this to be an excellent compilation of the
history, working definitions, practices and issues, guidelines and
procedures, and strategies for post tenure review.
SUMMARY: LICATA AND MORREALE ON POST-TENURE REVIEW:
POLICIES, PRACTICES, PRECAUTIONS
An ad hoc University Committee on Faculty Affairs/University Committee
on Faculty Tenure subcommittee [Ad hoc subcommittee members are:
Howard Teitelbaum, Sue Carter, Diana Rosenstein, John Herrick, Susan
Selke, Robbie Steward. At the request of the subcommittee, Dr. Robert F.
Banks, Assistant Provost/Assistant Vice President for Academic Human
Resources, prepared this summary and compilation of policy documents.]
worked over the summer of 1997 to develop a body of knowledge to inform
continued discussion of post tenure review in academic governance during
the 1997-98 academic year.
One product is this document which provides: a) a summary of issues
relating to post tenure review and b) summaries of post tenure review
policies in place at universities broadly similar to Michigan State
University. The intent is to be factual and informational, although any
document which summarizes selectively - such as this one- can be
challenged on judgements of inclusion or omission.
POST TENURE REVIEW: AN OVERVIEW OF ISSUES
The literature on this topic is voluminous, but the subcommittee believes
a useful statement of issues can be provided by summarizing in outline
form the contents of a recent American Association of Higher Education
publication entitled Post Tenure Review: Policies, Practices and
Precautions prepared in 1996 by Christine M. Licata and Joseph C.
Morreale [Christine M. Licata and Joseph C. Morreale, Post Tenure Review:
Policies, Practices and Precautions, Inquiry #12, New Pathways: Faculty
Careers and Employment for the 21st Century, American Association of
Higher Education, Washington, D.C., 1996. Other topics addressed, but not
summarized here to conserve space, are commentary on the benefits and
costs of post tenure review, as well as the costs of doing nothing and on
strategies and precautions for developing a program of post tenure review.
In part, the latter is addressed in the included commentary on various
procedural components of policy.] Due to the length of the commentary
section of this monograph (41 pages), some issues have been excluded and
some topics are not developed fully here in order to conserve space. This
brief summary does focus on key issues, which the ad hoc committee
believes are helpful in supplying background information for deliberations
on post tenure review, as well as providing a context against which to
review other university policies.
Following are key issues related to post tenure review; citations (LM)
reference the report by Licata and Morreale.
1. DEFINITION OF POST TENURE REVIEW AND RELATED CONCEPTS. LM note
that today post tenure review at most universities goes beyond the
traditional annual faculty performance review. It usually means "a
systematic, comprehensive process...aimed specifically at assessing
performance and/or nurturing faculty growth and development." (LM p1)
The processes can be initiated periodically for all tenured faculty, certain
tenured faculty through a triggering mechanism or by individual faculty
volunteering for review for personal or professional reasons.
Post tenure review can have two different purposes. One purpose is
summative resulting in a review that "yields accurate and reliable
information about past performance that is then used to make a personnel
decision" (LM p4). Performance levels are determined and outcomes of the
review are identified including rewards and recognition, faculty
development, remediation, and potentially, disciplinary action. A second
purpose is formative which "suggests a review process that is
developmental in nature" (LM p5). The outcome in such reviews is a
professional development plan with appropriate support to advance
individual growth and institutional mission.
LM comment: "while the philosophy of most post-tenure review policies
drafted today is formative, almost all have summative aspects. Some
policies are very specific about the actions to occur if the faculty member
does not address the deficiencies identified in the review; others are
vague." (LM p5) Based on a review of policies (see below) from
universities most like MSU, almost all include formative and summative
aspects. This is also true of Provost Simon's March 11, 1997 post tenure
2. POST TENURE REVIEW: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Post tenure review policies have a long history in American higher
education. However, the last decade has seen extensive discussion of
tenure reform, as well as consideration and implementation of post tenure
review policies. LM cite the following recent evidence:
- ·· "one survey of 680 public and private institutions found that 61
percent of respondents had a post tenure review policy in place and
another 9 percent had a policy under development....An AAHE study of
faculty employment disclosed that 69% of 280 responding
institutions were making some sort of change to tenure. The most
common modification (29%) was to implement post tenure review
procedures" (LM p2). In addition, as of 1996, policy makers in seven
states were considering tenure reform and post tenure review is in
the discussion or implementation stage in state institutions in
twenty eight states (LM p3). Finally, there is some evidence (see
policy summary section) of recent discussion or implementation of
post tenure review policies in large public graduate research
institutions, including three Committee on Institutional Cooperation
(Big 10) universities; two additional CIC members, Michigan State
University and Pennsylvania State University, are in the policy
- ·· LM note (pp 1, 3, 7-9) several factors generating this interest in
post tenure review policies. The importance of these factors vary by
institution and in most cases the factors have had influence in
combination and are driven externally (legislatures, boards of
regents, trustees, etc.) or internally from within institutions. In no
particular priority order the factors identified are:
- ··· Concern about the public accountability of universities
- ··· Secure improvement in faculty performance
- ··· Encourage faculty development over a career span
- ··· Improve program quality and the learning environment of
- ··· Strategic planning emphasizing quality in educational
- ··· Achieve staffing flexibility
- ··· Budgetary constraints
- ··· Elimination of mandatory retirement
- ··· Protection of the tenure system through a regularized process
address poor faculty performance.
3. POST TENURE REVIEW: TYPES, POLICY DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES AND
PROCEDURAL FRAMEWORK COMPONENTS.
LM (at pp 7-26) provide a very useful summary of types of post tenure
review procedures, policy development guidelines and procedural
framework concepts. This summary is derived from their review of more
than 100 policies and interviews with campus officials. This is a
summary of key points; individuals desiring more detail and explanation
are referred to the complete study.
A. TYPES OF POST-TENURE REVIEW PROCEDURES
Ideal types are described below. While some universities have
policies/procedures as described below, others have developed
policies/procedures which include a mix of characteristics.
B. GUIDELINES FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT
- 1. ANNUAL REVIEW Use of the annual review process to assess
faculty performance and determine recognition or remediation needs.
A value of this approach is that it relies on a traditional, well
understood university practice. Limitations include an absence of
prospective aspect in the review, the annual time frame is too short
to be effective in providing feedback on long term career
development and, in some instances, a lack of peer review.
- 2. SUMMATIVE (PERIODIC/CONSEQUENTIAL) All tenured faculty
members are reviewed comprehensively in a prescribed time cycle,
e.g. every five years. The review is conducted by peers,
administrators or both with the result being a professional
assessment along with, as necessary, a recommended professional
growth and improvement plan. The plan establishes goals and time
lines taking into account individual goals as well as the mission and
priorities of the academic unit. Institutional support is provided to
implement the plan. Progress is assessed and, if unsatisfactory,
another review is mandated after several years with the possibility
of disciplinary action. Individual faculty members have access to an
appeal process regarding the review. Some plans identify faculty
members who merit special recognition, as well as those needing
improvement. Benefits include broad-scale attention to faculty
development; costs include a large expenditure of effort to provide
feedback as the large majority of faculty members perform well
- 3. SUMMATIVE (TRIGGERED/CONSEQUENTIAL) Most of the procedural
characteristics of type two above, except recognition of outstanding
performance, are included in this approach, although in principle
both dimensions of poor and outstanding performance could be
addressed. In most cases a sequence of unsatisfactory annual
reviews triggers an in-depth review as described in type two above.
If deficiencies continue, based on a failure to meet expectations of
the initial professional development plan, disciplinary action,
including dismissal may be implemented or an additional review may
be conducted based on a restatement of performance expectations.
Benefits include focusing effort on the small number of faculty
needing to improve performance while costs are an over-emphasis
on the summative versus the formative review purpose, making the
review process appear punitive.
- 4. FORMATIVE (DEPARTMENTAL) This approach focuses on the
establishment of a professional development plan emphasizing both
the academic needs of the university and the career interests of the
individual tenured faculty member. Based on a review, a self
improvement plan is developed with the chairperson, director or
dean. A copy of the review and plan are placed in the faculty
member's file. In some cases, individual faculty reviews are
accompanied by academic unit external reviews or self studies
which help identify institutional needs.
- 5. FORMATIVE (INDIVIDUAL) This approach entails a periodic review
of tenured faculty aimed at specific performance areas and long
term individual career directions. Characteristics include: individual
assessment, not judgement about competence, is the baseline; a
development plan is formulated shaped by peer recommendations and
follow up; institutional support is available and no personnel actions
occur. The process is separated formally from disciplinary
procedures. Some institutions have professional development
committees which help administer these plans. Special salary
adjustments and other support are outcomes of this process in some
colleges and universities.
Based on a review of policies and experience, LM (pp 16-18) describe a set
of principles which they believe articulate important values and provide a
context for the development of post tenure review policies/procedures.
The eight principles identified are:
C. COMPONENTS OF A PROCEDURAL FRAMEWORK FOR POST TENURE REVIEW:
- Academic freedom - to affirm and preserve academic freedom
- Academic traditions - to acknowledge and support commonly
endorsed university employment conditions such as shared
governance, self-direction, collegiality, peer review, due
process and appeal when formulating and implementing policy.
- Articulation of purpose and consequences - the policy should
be clear as to intent and should interface well with existing
faculty evaluation, development and reward practices and
- Accurate, defensible and useful data - faculty performance
should be assessed using reliable and objective data collection
methods and measures.
- Decentralized control - to the extent possible, the local
academic unit should be given latitude regarding review
components such as criteria, standards and data sources.
- Peer review - policy makers should assess the advantages of
peer review which ensures broader perspectives and promotes
collective responsibility for growth and quality against the expenditures of time and
possible compromise of
- Feedback - to provide feedback about review outcomes and
opportunities for faculty rebuttal.
- Flexibility - to be responsive for the need for flexibility and
individualization recognizing academic careers have changing
professional priorities and interests and that faculty
activities can be meshed with institutional priorities in a
variety of ways.
- Institutional support - to assure the existence or continuation
of faculty development programs which are necessary for
successful implementation of post tenure review policies.
Also based on their review of policies and experience, LM (pp 18-28) note
procedural issues/topics that universities should consider in developing
post tenure review policies. The following nine issues/topics can be used
as an institutional check list for this purpose:
- Frequency of Reviews - What is the schedule if all tenured
faculty are to be reviewed? Every 4 to 5 years on a staggered
basis or longer? There is no fixed schedule for triggered
reviews, usually set in motion by a sequence of unsatisfactory
annual reviews. However, there needs to be a time provision
regarding follow-up reviews.
- Exemptions/exceptions - In what instances would a review be
waived or deferred? Possibilities include when a regular
promotion review is scheduled or there are firm decisions to
retire, resign or be reassigned. Sabbatical assignments, leaves
without pay, or extraordinary personal circumstances also
usually are taken into account in review scheduling.
- Participants in the Review - In many cases peer review
committees are involved. If so, is the committee at the
department or college level? Is it a regular standing
committee or a special post tenure review body designated on
a standing or ad hoc basis? How is the membership determined
- by election, administrative appointment or a mixture? Does
the faculty member being reviewed have any voice in the
process? In some cases, outside reviewers are participants or
the reviewer is the department chairperson or dean alone.
- Information Collected - the range of information to be
reviewed needs to be determined. Some is institutional, e.g.
course evaluations, some is external, e.g. disciplinary peer
commentary on scholarship; the faculty member under review
usually has the opportunity to submit materials.
- Criteria/Standards - What are the judgmental yardsticks used
in reviews? Traditional promotion/tenure criteria or special
criteria/standards established for this purpose may be used.
Are the departmental's criteria/standards wholly operative or
do those of the college, university or a higher education
system play a role? Faculty should play a role in determining
criteria/standards and their weighting.
- Feedback - the outcome of the review must be communicated.
Depending on the model of post tenure review, the peer review
committee chairperson and/or departmental chairperson/dean
meet with the faculty member to share a review summary and
outcome. As necessary, a development plan is created with
agreed objectives and relevant support is determined. A
formative review model may involve the faculty member and
the peer review committee chairperson meeting on their own
with the faculty development plan being kept on file in the
appropriate administrative office.
- Necessary resources - most universities see the need for
institutional support for post tenure review. This is a
challenge in times of constrained resources, with the
possibilities for disagreement about adequacy of support, and
concern that faculty development support may go to those with
poor performance records at the expense of strong performers.
- Outcomes - common outcomes sought are continuous
improvement in faculty performance and career growth.
Typical actions that may be taken include identification of
deficient performance, further development for satisfactory
faculty and, in some cases, recognition of top performers. For
below standard performers, a professional development plan is
formulated including goals/expectations, activities expected,
a completion time line, resource support, follow up monitoring
and specification of the consequences of inadequate progress.
Development plans provide an opportunity for creative
consideration of long-term career directions, revision of
workload, modification of responsibility areas and department
- Consequences - If the outcome of a completed post tenure
review reveals persistent performance deficiencies,
institutions must decide on disciplinary consequences.
Recently established or reformulated policies link the
existence of persistent performance inadequacies after post
tenure review to implementation of dismissal for cause
policies. Little experience with this approach has been
recorded to date.
- Appeals - Through generally established procedures or under
special procedures, faculty members under review have an
opportunity to appeal the outcome or process used in post
tenure review. The elements of due process are ensured under
dismissal for cause procedures.
Return to the Post-Tenure Review
Copyright 1997 Michigan State University
On-line Documents Created: March 27, 1997
Updated: September 25, 1997