The Contract Enforcement/Grievance (CEG) team has compiled answers to the questions they hear most often about important university policies. The guidelines provided here are based on our knowledge of university policies and instructions and are provided for general informational purposes; they may not apply or be advisable in all circumstances. Click on any question below to view the answer. Contact CEG to ask other questions and discuss how to proceed on your issue (firstname.lastname@example.org for tenured and tenure-track faculty; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for NTTs and grad workers).
Click here to find the Instructions and Forms for Academic Reappointment/Promotion.
When will I be evaluated?
For tenure-track faculty, evaluations generally occur in the third and sixth year of the probationary period. Appointments are usually for two three-year terms with the evaluation for tenure occurring in sixth and final year of the probationary period.
Tenured faculty who have been in rank at least six years and have not been evaluated for at least four years may initiate an evaluation themselves. A department may decide to put forward a candidate at any time.
Faculty members who want to be considered for promotion to a higher rank should discuss the appropriate timing with their department chair, dean, or director.
Are there circumstances in which a faculty member can request to have time excluded from the probationary period?
Yes. Provisions in our contract allow for time to be excluded from the probationary period if the faculty member has: 1) taken a family/medical leave under Article 16; 2) taken a leave of absence without pay under Article 17; and/or taken a COVID-related exclusion.
If you have questions regarding the probationary period, consult the FAQs on Article 16 and Article 17 and the contract language for Article 16 and Article 17, and contact the AAUP-AFT’s Contract Enforcement/Grievance team with any questions.
When should I talk with my department chair about the evaluation process?
It’s never too soon to have a discussion with your department chair about the evaluation process. As a prospective candidate, you need to have a full understanding of the requirements and standards appropriate to your field—engage your department chair and colleagues in an ongoing dialogue about these matters. Also, talk with other senior colleagues in your department or in areas allied with your own, especially if your department chair isn’t able to provide you with the information you need or if you need further clarification.
What can I do during the probationary period to help me prepare for the task of putting my reappointment or promotion packet together?
Keep an ongoing file to document your activities in the areas of research, teaching, and service (or criteria appropriate to your appointment). We recommend that you start from day one on the task of completing Form 1, the “Recommendation Information Form” (found here on the Academic Labor Relations website). Keep a draft of the form that you are continually updating on the Rutgers Network or on your computer. Keep copies of invitations, contracts, awards, etc., that you will want to include in your packet in a separate file for easy access when it’s time to put the packet together.
It’s also a good idea to keep notes regarding people you meet at conferences or elsewhere who are known experts in your area. This may be helpful when considering potential external letter writers, especially if they’ve remarked favorably on a presentation or recent article.
Whose responsibility is it to prepare Form 1 for inclusion in the packet?
It is the candidate’s responsibility to prepare and present Form 1. The department chair (or unit director for the Libraries) is required to sign off on the form and indicate whether the information provided is accurate—or, alternatively, why the information is not accurate, in their view.
The candidate should be in close contact with the department chair regarding the preparation of Form 1, and the chair and candidate should have a shared understanding of what’s included. For example: Is there sufficient explanation of the quality of a journal or press? Are papers appropriately placed under the category of “refereed” or “non-refereed?” Is the current status of work accurately described? Has the candidate been too selective (or not selective enough) in representing contributions in teaching and/or service?
I have several projects underway that haven’t yet been submitted and/or accepted. Can I list them on Form 1?
Form 1 allows you to list “works in progress” (books, articles, conference proceedings and presentations, notes, reviews, abstracts, etc.). Though you do not have to submit items listed as “in progress” with your supplementary materials, you do have to indicate the status of the work in progress—for example, “in preparation,” “second review,” or “submitted.” If you have questions about what should and shouldn’t be included, consult with your department chair and/or senior colleagues.
Note also that packets remanded for re-evaluation (following a determination that defects occurred in the original evaluation) will trigger status updates to Form 1. Positive changes in the status of materials originally listed as “in progress” could be significant in a re-evaluation (remand updates may not include items not originally listed).
Some of my work doesn’t exactly fit in the categories on Form 1. What should I do?
If you and/or your department chair determine that something doesn’t fit in one of the categories on the form, create your own section or include the material under “other.” The important thing is that the totality of your accomplishments appear in some way. You and/or your department chair may want to check with the dean’s office for guidance on this.
Should I include a personal statement in the packet?
Yes. Though it’s not required, this is your chance to put all the pieces together. The further your packet moves away from the department, the less likely it is that evaluators will know the context with which to analyze the content. It’s unlikely they will know you personally, know your work, or have any specific knowledge or expertise in your field.
Use the personal statement to explain who you are and what your work is about. Explain, for example, how your teaching relates to your scholarship and vice versa; what the trajectory of your research is; what the aim of your lab experiments is, what you have accomplished, and how you intend to build on it. Provide appropriate information and avoid the mistake of using the personal statement to provide excuses for a lack of productivity or problems in one or another area. If you think that an explanation is required about something specific that happened (or didn’t happen), stick to information that you think an evaluator charged with making an academic judgment would consider relevant.
In some cases, having two personal statements makes good sense: one that is prepared to accompany the packet for the internal evaluation and another that is specifically prepared to be sent with materials to external confidential letter writers (this second personal statement can also be included in the packet).
Having two statements allows a candidate to discuss the details of his/her research in “shorthand” to external experts who will understand the jargon and in more general terms for members of the Promotion Review Committee (PRC) and other levels of internal review.
How long should the personal statement be?
There’s no prescribed length. Our advice is to be concise—anything longer than four or five pages is probably too long. Of course there are exceptions, and the best advice is to seek advice and review by others. Ask trusted colleagues to review the statement and tell you if it covers the bases and provides a window through which to best view your accomplishments. It is also a good idea to ask someone who is not familiar with your work or discipline to read the statement. Do they think it is clear and appropriately focused?
What is a teaching portfolio, and should I include one in my packet?
The Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research defines a teaching portfolio as, in part, “a documented statement of a faculty member’s teaching responsibilities, philosophy, goals and accomplishments as a teacher.” The Center is a useful resource for faculty, and we urge you to take advantage of their information and expertise when preparing for an evaluation.
What does the promotion packet consist of?
When you submit your packet, it will include Forms 1 and 2 (applicable criteria), your personal statement, a teaching portfolio, and an inventory of supplementary materials. The supplementary materials you provide (copies of articles, manuscripts, contracts, teaching evaluations, etc.) will accompany the packet throughout the evaluation. Forms 3 and 3a are added to the packet later. These provide reports regarding external letters. The confidential letters as well as evaluative narratives are also added for review at later levels.
Should I provide an inventory listing of supplemental materials?
Yes. The list of submitted materials should be provided to your chair when you sign Form 1. The inventory and supplementary materials will accompany the packet throughout the evaluation. Be sure that you present the materials in an organized way—one that allows for quick and easy access.
What should I do if I’m missing evaluations for a course?
Talk with your department chair and do everything possible to locate them—explanations must be provided on Form 1 for missing evaluations. If you weren’t teaching during a semester, make note of the reason, such as “on sabbatical leave.”
Am I required to provide translations of materials not written or reviewed in English?
Consult with your department chair and/or dean regarding the materials you would like to have translated in the packet. The dean’s office may agree to pay to have the materials translated and/or work with you and the chair to decide how to ensure that the materials are translated so evaluators will have a full understanding of your work and its impact. With regard to external letters, departments may ask colleagues who are able to provide translations. These translations may then be appended to the external letters and accompany the packet through all levels of review.
What materials will be considered in my evaluation?
With the exception of confidential external letters and documents that are generally public knowledge, such as published student evaluations, articles, and other similar documents, only those materials in your official personnel file and materials submitted with the packet may be used in conducting a review.
What is my official personnel file, and where is it located?
An official personnel file is required to be maintained for every faculty member in the office of their dean or director. Details related to personnel files are included in Article 18, and all faculty should be aware of their right to include materials in this file. This right has become all the more important following recent changes to the Promotion Instructions that require a dean to certify on Form 5 that the contents of a candidate’s official personnel file have been reviewed.
Will external letters of evaluation be solicited?
External letters are not required for reappointment evaluations that do not involve granting tenure. A minimum of seven “arm’s length” letters are required for evaluations for tenure or promotion within the tenured ranks.
Do I have a role in determining who will be solicited to provide external confidential letters of evaluation?
While the department chair is required to consult with you regarding appropriate experts in your field, the dean and the department chair will determine who is ultimately solicited. External referees are normally at the rank of full professor and are selected on the basis of their standing in the field and the institutions they are associated with. It’s very important that you do your homework and have the information needed to make the case for the suitability of the referees you suggest. You should not be personally associated with the external referees. Letters from advisors, mentors, or collaborators are not counted as arm’s length letters.
You may want to request a non-confidential letter from a significant collaborator confirming your account of the nature of the collaboration and the relative contributions. This letter could be included with the supplementary materials and referenced in the Form 1 explanation for multi-authored work.
Note that you may also provide a list of referees who you would prefer not be solicited, but the department chair and dean make the final decision about who is or is not solicited. If a letter is solicited and received from a referee on the candidate’s do-not-solicit list, the candidate’s written explanation about why the external referee should have been excluded will be attached to the letter in the promotion packet.
How many names do I need to suggest for potential outside reviewers?
A minimum of seven “arm’s length” letters is required—it is typical for departments or units to solicit eight to ten letters (or more, in some cases). If you have a concern about having too few or too many names to suggest, talk it over with your department chair and/or trusted colleagues. The importance of identifying appropriate referees cannot be overstated.
What’s an “arm’s length” letter?
Arm’s length letters are from external referees who are not the candidate’s dissertation or thesis chair or mentor, coauthor or collaborator, former professor, family member, or personal friend. Ordinarily, letters from individuals with whom the candidate has worked closely in the past are not considered arm’s length. If a non–arm’s length letter is included, the department chair should indicate the reason for soliciting a letter from that individual on Form 3-a.
What if an expert in my field isn’t a faculty member associated with an academic institution?
Though unusual, there is no prohibition against soliciting letter writers not associated with an academic institution—for example, someone working in government or industry may be well placed to evaluate particular research. The goal is to identify individuals who are best qualified and placed to say why and how your scholarship is important and what impact it has had on the field. If you suggest an expert who doesn’t have an institutional association, the explanation of why this is appropriate is particularly important to include in the packet.
Should I contact the individuals I suggest as potential letter writers?
No. The Promotion Instructions state: “Under no circumstances shall the candidate contact experts whose names he/she has submitted for consideration, or engage in any substantive discussion about his/her promotion case with any individual whom he/she knows to be serving as an external referee.”
Will I know who was solicited or how many letters were received?
Ask to be provided a copy of your packet that includes the evaluation narratives after the evaluation is completed (Forms 3 and 3a and the confidential letters will be removed). Often, outside letters are referenced by number in the narratives of the department, A&P Committee, and dean. You can often ascertain from these references how many letters were received. You will not be told who was solicited nor the identity of the writers. This information is kept strictly confidential.
What should I do if I’m contacted by an individual who has been solicited to evaluate my work?
This can be awkward. We suggest that you explain that the University’s procedures prohibit a candidate from discussing their promotion case with an external reviewer and politely suggest that they contact the department chair if additional information is needed or if there are questions about the process. And, of course, thank them for agreeing to write a letter.
Is it too late to add things to the packet if something comes through or something changes status after I’ve signed Form 1?
It’s not too late if: 1) the dean concurs that the change is significant; 2) the change has occurred since the packet was initiated; and 3) the Promotion Review Committee hasn’t made its final recommendation.
If something is added to the packet on or before December 1, the packet will be circulated to each earlier level of review to allow for a revised evaluation if that level of review determines a revision is warranted. If the addition occurs after December 1, but on or before January 25, it is circulated only to the dean and the PRC (unless the department has made a negative recommendation, in which case it’s also circulated to the department.)
My department is very small and has only a couple of tenured members. Who will evaluate my packet at this level?
If a department has fewer than six tenured faculty members (the minimum number required to constitute a “departmental” committee) at or above the rank of the candidate, the dean will appoint an appropriate number of ad hoc committee members. These members may be chosen from related disciplines in the same faculty, college, or school or from the same discipline in other campuses of the University.
Do your homework and discuss with your department chair who on the Rutgers faculty might be most appropriate as ad hoc committee members. Ask your department chair to communicate to the dean the names of individuals that you would jointly recommend, if any. Ideally, someone whose research methodologies are similar and/or whose areas of expertise have crossed or benefited from your own can be found. At a minimum, someone who is familiar with your area and who is known to take a careful and deliberate approach in the evaluation process should be asked to serve.
If the majority of faculty evaluating your packet at the departmental level is ad hoc, they may request to meet with you before making their recommendation. You might consider expressly asking the department chair and/or dean to be provided this opportunity.
My department is large, comprising faculty in a variety of specialties. Many use different methodologies, and I’m afraid they may not understand or appreciate the complexity or impact of my research. How can I address this?
The department chair, in consultation with the tenured members of the department, can decide to appoint a reading committee to review your scholarly work and prepare a written assessment of it for the department’s consideration. This can be especially important in large areas with several subfields or specialties.
While it would be ideal if all evaluators read and were able to understand each and every article or manuscript included in a packet, it doesn’t always happen. Having a reading committee report prepared by individuals who are especially qualified can be critical to an informed assessment by your peers in the department and also at later levels. While this is the prerogative of the chair/department, you should ask for a reading committee report if it is advisable in your case.
I have a joint appointment. Will the work I’ve done in my secondary department be appropriately weighed and considered?
The dean will consult with the chairs of your primary and secondary departments to determine a list of appropriate external referees. The evaluation narrative by your secondary department will be appended to the narrative of your primary department as the packet makes its way through the process.
Candidates with more than one departmental affiliation often worry that they aren’t viewed as committed in any one department when, in fact, they carry a greater load trying to meet the faculty service requirements of two departments. Make certain that both department chairs are aware of the demands on your time by the other. Be certain that your contributions to both departments are appropriately reflected in the packet.
I don’t feel that my department chair is supportive, and I have concerns that they aren’t taking their responsibilities as seriously as I would like. What should I do?
Be informed about the process and know your rights and obligations in it (as well as its limitations). Read the Instructions and the relevant policies and regulations related to reappointment, promotion, and tenure considerations. Ask questions (put them in writing) and seek advice from senior colleagues and/or the office of the dean when and where appropriate. Keep good notes throughout the process—things that you may hear or learn during the course of your evaluation could be important later.
When will I know how my department has voted?
You should be informed in writing of the department’s recommendation within five working days after the vote. This notification will come from the department chair and will be the only notification you will receive prior to notice of the final decision.
Will my department chair be involved in the process after the packet leaves the department?
The department chair’s role is critical throughout the process—if questions or issues about the packet or candidacy arise, the department chair is likely to be the first contact, serving as the “spokesperson” for the department and the candidacy. The chair may be asked by the Appointments and Promotions Committee to meet in order to answer questions or otherwise “amplify the department’s report.” If the dean intends to make a recommendation different from the department’s, they are required to first meet with the department chair.
My dean/director is new and doesn’t know me or my work. Should I be concerned about this?
If timing and opportunity permits, ask for a brief face-to-face meeting with the dean and/or area dean. Ask your department chair or senior colleague(s) to attend with you. It’s best to do this at the earliest possible date, so the dean can connect your face and name to any news of your work that comes their way. Your department chair should keep the dean apprised of your accomplishments (this means that you must keep the chair apprised). The more familiar the dean is with your work and evidence of its impact, the less work they will have to do when it’s time to evaluate your packet.
Who serves on the Promotion Review Committee?
The Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Provost of Camden, the Provost of New Brunswick, the Provost of Newark, one Provost from RBHS, and seven faculty members at or above the rank of full Professor. The Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs is the chair of the committee and its sole spokesperson, presiding without a vote, except in the event of a tie among voting members.
What happens if members of the PRC need more information or have questions about my work?
The PRC will ask for information or clarification if any is needed. Most likely these inquiries will go first to the dean, who may turn to the department chair for further information. If the PRC, on first review, is inclined to differ with the dean’s recommendation, the committee will ask the dean and possibly the department chair to meet to explain their views. The Instructions also permit the PRC to return the packet to an earlier level to obtain additional information needed to make a determination. If this happens, the packet goes to any intervening levels before being resubmitted to the dean.
Should I be concerned that there isn’t someone from my discipline serving on the PRC?
The faculty members selected to serve on the PRC are chosen for their scholarly distinction as individuals and are not selected to represent specific disciplines or areas. The PRC’s function is to advise the President from a “University-wide” perspective.
Does the President ever reach a conclusion different from the PRC?
Yes, but rarely.
When will the final decision on my candidacy be made, and how will I be notified?
If both the department’s and dean’s recommendations are negative, the packet does not progress to the PRC, and the dean is required to notify the candidate of the final decision in writing within ten days. (There is an exception to this rule in the case of self-initiated candidacies, also referred to as “rank reviews”: these cases proceed to the PRC for evaluation regardless of the recommendations at earlier levels.)
For cases that have gone to the PRC, deans are normally notified of final actions following the April and June meetings of the Board of Governors. Deans may then notify candidates informally of the final outcome. In all cases, candidates are to be notified in writing of the final action within ten days after the dean learns of it.
Where do I go if I need more information?
If you have additional questions or concerns about the process for evaluation, contact the Rutgers AAUP-AFT office. If we don’t have the answers, we will try to assist you in finding them, and we are available to confidentially discuss any concerns you might have. Additionally, the Office of Academic Labor Relations is a useful resource; the staff there is knowledgeable about procedures and helpful in addressing questions and concerns.
What is the role of the union in the evaluation process?
The AAUP-AFT does not provide specific advice regarding packet preparation. Nor do we interpret standards in any given field or have a role in determining the quality and/or merits of a candidacy. These are matters of faculty governance and best determined by faculty, as University policy states:
Informed judgments concerning a faculty member’s accomplishments can be made only by qualified colleagues. Such subjective judgment by persons competent to evaluate duties, responsibilities, services, and accomplishments will protect the interest of professors themselves, the department, the college, the University, and the students better than any objective rating that could be devised.” [University Policy 60.5.15].
Faculty members have a significant and weighty obligation in this area of faculty governance— to their colleagues, the health of their department and school, and the University. As the AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics, as revised and adopted in 1987, puts it:
As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas professors show due respect for the opinions of others. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.
All candidates are entitled to a full and fair evaluation process—this requires that all faculty members participate fully and appropriately.
Is there anything I should do if I learn that my candidacy was unsuccessful?
Request a copy of your packet and review the evaluation narratives. Talk with your colleagues if you have questions about the process. The union will send you information regarding your rights under the contract and the grievance and appeal procedures. We can assist you in determining whether grievable errors were made and in utilizing the negotiated grievance and appeal procedures.