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Open records laws and the tenure and promotion process.

The title of this paper could have been, "Be Careful What You Include in Your Promotion and Tenure File: You Might Be Seeing It Again Two Years After You Are Awarded Tenure."

The state open records laws differ from state to state. Faculty need to know that when preparing their promotion and tenure files, years later the files might be subject to analysis and examination by disgruntled rejoinder-writers as well as the general public.

The title of this paper could have been, "Be Careful What You Include in Your Promotion and Tenure File: You Might Be Seeing It Again Two Years After You Are Awarded Tenure."

Our department Promotion and Tenure Committee consists of only three voting members. The other two members are administrators (the department chair and associate dean) and the collective bargaining agreement does not permit them to serve on the committee.

This year, two candidates applied for tenure and/or promotion. One candidate sought tenure and promotion from assistant to associate professor. The other candidate sought promotion to full professor. For the purpose of this analysis, only the candidacy of the assistant professor seeking promotion and tenure will be discussed.

When the assistant professor learned the departmental vote was two against and one for his tenure, he decided to compose a rebuttal. The state open records laws for our state differ from many other state's open record laws. In James vs. Ohio State University (1996), the court decided that promotion and tenure records are public records. Based on this ruling, the assistant professor requested copies of all recent promotion and tenure documents from the last several years. The associate provost provided him a copy of my promotion and tenure file as well as some others.

He can and will compare his record of accomplishments with ours to argue he is just as deserving of promotion and tenure as we are. The College Promotion and Tenure Committee will have to sort through rebuttal files like his and have no way of knowing how accurate his claims are or how deserving of consideration.

Although this is currently the law in our state (although not in all states) this may promote a chilling effect on the promotion and tenure process at our university. Faculty may be unwilling to participate on a P&T committee and those that are willing to serve may cast their votes differently if they believe there is a chance their dossier may be copied and subjected to scrutiny more than once. At the least, faculty need to know that when preparing their files years later the files might be subject to analysis and examination by disgruntled rejoinder-writers as well as the general public.

References

State ex rel. James v. Ohio State Univ., 70 Ohio St.3d 168, 637 N.E.2d 911 (1995).

Thomas Diamantes, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Educational Administration, Department of Educational Leadership, Wright State University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Thomas Diamantes, Department of Educational Leadership, Wright State University, 479 Allyn Hall, Dayton, OH 45435; Email: thomas.diamantes@wright.edu
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Author:Diamantes, Thomas
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:511
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