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Post-tenure review: a university's business guide.


This article provides a historical account of the incorporation of the post-tenure review process in universities across the United States. Reflections from the literature; including benefits, limitations and recommendations for effective university business practices related to the post-tenure process, are presented. A post-tenure review readiness guide which includes preparatory steps for university faculty is included. A sample five year post-tenure development plan is also appended.


This article, Post-tenure Review: A University's Business Guide, is a guidepost or advisory tool for university's preparing to conduct post-tenure faculty reviews. With reflections on the initial mandates and rationale for post-tenure reviews, this article scans the literature to determine the benefits and limitations of the process. Recommendations are then provided to assist universities in conducting post-tenure reviews--using the reported experiences of others. To further support universities, a guide for faculty post-tenure review preparation is included. As a component of the preparatory process, a five year post-tenure review professional development plan is appended.

The information provided should aid universities in avoiding the pitfalls commonly encountered in the post-tenure review process. Additionally, this article should provide direction relative to the administrative and faculty preparation needs in the business of post-tenure review.

Historical accounts of post-tenure review date back to 1982, when the National Commission on Higher Education Issues identified post-tenure review as one of the most pressing needs facing higher education in the ninety's and urged campus administrators to develop appropriate periodic review systems (Licata and Andrew 1990). This post-tenure review of tenured faculty in universities was envisioned to occur every five years after the most recent promotion or personnel action--and continue at selected intervals throughout the employment of the faculty member.

The post-tenure policy was mandated to establish procedures for complying with a policy requiring periodic evaluation of tenured faculty (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000). Reports related to the implementation of the post-tenure review policy date back to 1987 (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000). In the 1990's, calls from legislators and trustees for greater accountability prompted scores of colleges across the United States to design post-tenure review policies (Fogg 2003). Since the mid 1990's, many of the post-tenure review policies have been considered remedial vs. punitive (Wilson 2001). Also in the late 1990's, heated debates over whether post-tenure review should exist and what it meant to people have cooled (When post-tenure review 2001).

Post-tenure review included a range of policies and resources to meet goals or mechanisms to judge whether professors had met certain goals and could lead to dismissal if they had not (Wilson 2001). The originally approved guidelines by the American Association of University Professors in 1998 excluded the dismissal of poor performance (Wilson 2001). Consequently, public institutions with elected officials tended to end up with reviews that had real consequences--like the possibility of termination. Private colleges, free of legislators' gaze, usually ended up with developmental programs (When post-tenure review 2001).

By 2003, post-tenure policies were in place or were being developed in 37 states, according to the Higher Education Association (Fogg 2003). A 2000 Harvard University study reported that 48% of private universities had a post-tenure review policy (Fogg 2003). As recent as 2007, post-tenure review was initiated at Auburn University to improve faculty development and preserve academic freedom--factors that aid to improve the standard business of teaching (Auburn 2007).

Aspects of the focus of post-tenure review process, as outlined by the Board of Regents of Georgia were noted as follows:

* The primary aim of the post-tenure review process is to assist faculty members in identifying opportunities that will enable them to reach their full potential for contributing to system institutions.

* Post-tenure procedures provide a long-term perspective that is usually not provided by an annual review.

* The review is both retrospective and prospective and encourages a careful look at possibilities for different emphases at different points in a faculty member's career (University System of Georgia, Board Policy Manual 1996).

Generally, reviews have been conducted by a team of faculty peers / administrators based on the guidelines and criteria of individual institutions or university systems. With the post -tenure review process as a present reality, university faculty should prepare to meet the challenge; to sharpen their skills and to be their professional best. Additionally, universities should continue to refine the post-tenure review process for business efficiency and student learning enhancement.

Review of the Literature

The post-tenure review process has not been received with opened arms in all sectors. The very idea that colleges and universities would regularly evaluate the job performance of tenured professors was an anathema to the American Association of University Professors (Leatherman 1998). The AAUP deemed the process unnecessary, too costly, a challenge to academic freedom, and a menace for tenured professors who could loose their tenure status (Leatherman 1998). Many faculty also expressed dissatisfaction that the post-tenure review could lead to the termination of tenured faculty (Wilson 2001).

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities which assessed seven major systems of public higher education in California, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia stated that for years, professors have faced criticism from those who view tenure simply as job security. The reports from the organization recommended the continuation of post-tenure reviews in an attempt to secure a greater public commitment to tenure. Accordingly, the post-tenure review process has to have rewards and consequences. Tenure was created to protect academic freedom, not to guarantee continuing employment of chronically poorly performing faculty (Magner 1999).

Portch and Kaufman (1993) included an outline for universities developing a plan, as follows:

* Make provision for a review, at least once every five years, of each tenured faculty member's activities and performance in accordance with the mission of the department, college and institution.

* Develop effective criteria against which to measure progress and accomplishments of faculty during the review and a description of the means for conducting the evaluation.

* Delineate responsibilities for conducting the reviews.

* Develop a means by which the merit process and faculty review and development process will be linked and used to facilitate, enhance, and reward outstanding performance.

* Establish procedures defining means for remedying problems in cases where deficiencies are revealed;

* Describe the accountability measures the institution will use to ensure full implementation of the institutional plan.

Evaluation criteria based on feedback from 199 institutions surveyed in the 15 states included:

* classroom effectiveness / teaching

* course or curriculum development

* contributions to the department

* campus committee work

* innovation in teaching work

* attendance and accountability

(Licata and Andrew 1990).

Other criteria for post-tenure review were noted as: faculty member's accomplishments and goals, research agenda (where applicable), written student and peer evaluations of the faculty member's teaching effectiveness and service contributions relative to departmental expectations. Other supporting documents included curriculum vitae, annual performance reviews for the years under consideration and a narrative prepared by The faculty member detailing his / her accomplishments and goals (University System of Georgia, Board of Regents Manual 1996).

Licata and Brown 2004 also present an adoptable evaluation template which includes international activities, interdisciplinary activities, mentoring and use of technology. Sample rating categories were excellent, very satisfactory, satisfactory, needs improvement and not applicable (Licata and Brown 2004). Extensive review of the literature revealed benefits, limitations and potential recommendations related to the business of conducting effective post-tenure reviews. The highlights are presented in the following sections.


While the post-tenure review process has not been flawless, some benefits have been identified from the implementation of the post-tenure review process, as follows:

* The post-tenure review process has been a useful tool for professional development and personal reflection (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000).

* The process illuminated the fact that writing for publication should never be separate from teaching--since it can serve to crystallize ideas that apply to an instructor's classes (Review post-tenure review 2003).

* Faculty development grants that resulted from the post-tenure review process helped faculty overall (Fogg 2003).

* The post-tenure review process helped to facilitate the assignment of workloads and served as a source of information to assess departmental effectiveness (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000).

One article (When post-tenure 2001) also identified the following benefits of post-tenure review:

* The post-tenure review process at one university helped to eliminate boredom.

* The post-tenure review process allowed for the development of syllabi that incorporated opportunities for student feedback to measure improvement.

* The incorporation of technology in teaching occurred as a result of the post-tenure review process.

* Frequent conservations about curriculum and student assessment occurred as a by product of the post-tenure review process.

* Educational excitement was generated among peers was instrumental in changing the way that colleagues approached teaching. Also, the process served as a rejuvenator regarding curriculum design, as well as the faculty energy level.

* The overall post-tenure review process placed emphasis on professional growth. Licata and Brown 2004 identified the following benefits of post-tenure review:

* Increased accountability.

* Encouraged a culture of continuous growth and development.

* Focused attention on improving the annual reviews.

* Increased confidence in higher education.


Some of the limitations of the post-tenure review process, highlighted in the literature were as follows:

* Universities that allowed voluntary participation in the post-tenure review process was merely a selective review--which did not examine the entire faculty. Thus, those who needed the process the most--may have been least likely to enroll (When post-tenure review 2001).

* Although faculty development is usually a primary goal of the post-tenure review programs, most programs do not set aside monies for that purpose (Reviewing post-tenure 2003).

* In a study of 302 public graduate institutions, researchers noted that the post-tenure review process seemed to have been initiated based on external pressures--without support by additional resources. Also, the report stated that the post-tenure review process had not been subjected to careful analysis of the real purposes and benefits of the activities (Reviewing post-tenure 2003).

* The post-tenure review process eroded confidence in tenure (Licata and Brown 2004).

* The post-tenure review process required excess time and paper work (Licata and Brown 2004).

* More research is needed to determine the "real effects" both intended and otherwise of post-tenure review (Reviewing post-tenure 2003).

* In a university case study, faculty members were critical of the procedures and processes related to post-tenure review (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000).

* It was thought to be too soon to tell whether there would be positive changes in performance and whether funds would be insufficient for self-initiated or required career development (Licata and Brown 2004).

* Based on feedback from a selected faculty from a pool of 1100, the overall post-tenure process was seen as being more focused on research than on determining the effectiveness of teaching (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman, and Jolton 2000).

* Dissatisfaction with the lack of feedback/ follow through and the case of a range of outcomes was widespread in a case study with included a campus of 18,000 students. Other limitations of the post-tenure review included process, resources, procedures, outcomes and strained relationships among colleagues (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman, and Jolton 2000). Generally speaking, the limitations of the post-tenure review process were primarily procedural. The literature revealed that while the process was mandated, procedures and processes were not clearly articulated by administrators. Thus, confusion resulted from the lack of follow through, support and consequences related to the results (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000).


Selected recommendations for enhancing the post-tenure review process were:

* Avoid punitive top down policies (When post-tenure review 2001).

* Set goals for improvement (including going to national conferences on teaching)--and hold faculty accountable to assure that goals will be met (When post-tenure review 2001).

* The American Association of University Professors recommended that evaluation systems be directed towards constructive measures for improvement; that post-tenure policies be developed by faculty; that resources should be allocated to support the professional development of faculty and that appeals procedures be implemented. Also, the overall process should reaffirm an institution's commitment to academic freedom and due process. Also, participants including deans and department chairs should be educated regarding the process (Euben 2005).

Fogg, 2003, suggested that the post-tenure review process be integrated into the day the day, practices of a university. He also suggested the following:

* Assure that the policy included a common time frame, schedule, identical evaluation categories and written evaluation rules.

* Require faculty to write a self evaluation and professional development plan for the coming year (s)--to be approved by the department chairman and dean.

* Make money available for those needing improvement.

Euben, 2005, made the following recommendation:

* Post-tenure review should be conducted by a professor's colleagues. Courts appeared to rely on faculty peer reviews in upholding the post-tenure reviews of institutions.

* Post-tenure review policies should also be consistent with other university policies and procedures (e.g. collective bargaining and constitutional rights).

Post--Tenure Review Readiness Guide

Tenured faculty members should begin to take preliminary steps to prepare for post-tenure review prior to official notification by officials at their universities--especially if the university has a post-tenure review plan in effect. Tenured faculty members should obtain a copy of the policies and procedures for post-tenure review from their university or university system. Tenured faculty may also confer with other tenured faculty who have gone through the process, for advice. Once a general understanding of the process has been obtained, faculty members should begin organizing the materials they wish to be placed in their portfolios or packets. This step is quite important since some supporting documents may need to be secured from external sources (such as letters documenting community service or board memberships).

The following is a step guide that university faculty members may follow in the business of preparing for post-tenure review. As a component of the preparatory phase a post-tenure review five year development plan is often requested from faculty members under review. Appendix A includes a sample of a plan that may serve as a model.

Step 1--Notification / Orientation--Upon receipt of the notification letter from administrators of your status as a post-tenure review candidate, review post-tenure review materials provided by the university and continue to review those available from other sources; attend scheduled workshops and orientation sessions, if provided.

Step 2--Weighting--Meet with department chair, dean, or designated university personnel to determine appropriate assessment categories (and weights %), such as teaching research and service.

Step 3--Representation--Select a faculty member(s) to represent you in the post-tenure review process, if given the opportunity. The individual selected should be familiar with you professional discipline and should be willing to defend the academic materials that you submit.

Step 4--Internal Documentation--Secure the following internal documents: students evaluations, supervisory evaluations, student / faculty, administration appreciation or support letters, evidence of superior teaching, resume, copy of academic degrees, teaching philosophy, a listing of university and departmental committee work / positions held--along with supporting documents; a listing of professional organizational memberships; other supporting visual aids in the areas of teaching, research, service and professional development, your development (5-year) plan/goals in the areas of teaching research and service areas.

Step 5--External Documentation--Request external support letters from community agencies with which you have affiliation as a member, consultant, volunteer, etc. Request documentation of special award letters, as needed.

Step 6--Sorting and Compilation--Sort and package information based on your university's guidelines. A sample order or table of contents may include: post--tenure correspondence (official notice, major categorical weights, selected faculty representatives); professional preparation (resume, copy of academic degrees, continuing education); scholarship (samples of research projects, grants, and publications); Teaching (teaching philosophy, student appreciation letters, cards, etc., innovative teaching strategies--a listing and samples, schedule of courses taught, rank / promotion notices, graduate faculty member letter, if applicable); Special Awards/Commendations (Local, state and national recognition notices); Goals / Five Year Plan (categorical goals, actions, time table and monitoring strategy). See Appendix A The various components may be placed in a large binder(s) with sectional dividers to allow for ease in the portfolio review process.

Step 7--Department Circulation--Following the sorting and compilation process, the department chair and / or dean of the faculty member's area may be asked to review the prepared materials and make suggestions for revision / enhancement.

Step 8--Submission for Review--After revisions based on suggestions, the portfolio should be submitted to the designated representatives at the university by the stipulated date.

The approval or disapproval of your materials should be based upon criteria prepared by your university representatives. The university should also incorporate steps for appeal or revisions, and / or professional development should an unfavorable review result. Licata and Brown, 2004, also present an l annual review template from Indiana University--Purdue University, Indianapolis which could be successfully modified as a post-tenure review instrument.


The post-tenure review concept was conceived more than twenty years ago--with most university systems incorporating the review process in the ninety's. It has been noted that the primary purpose of the process was to develop and assure the continued development of skills and contributions by university faculty--in accordance with departmental / university missions and goals.

Thus, it appears that the post-tenure review process serves to enhance and support the continued development of the university professional in incremental stages. In an age of cost-effectiveness, strategic planning, and efficiency post-tenure review seems to enhance productivity in the academic world of work. A follow-up study conducted five to ten years from now to evaluate the actual effectiveness of the post-tenure review process would be useful. A follow-up study could be used to stream-line and modify the post-tenure process to assure continued benefits to faculty members and university systems.

Appendix A--Sample Five Year Plan (2007-2012)

The following appendix includes a sample five year plan for teaching, scholarship, professional development and service--along with a time plan for achieving the activity. Teaching

* to incorporate more technology into classroom instruction, such as PowerPoint lectures, computer assisted instruction, video streaming and hand-held technology between 2007-2012

* to expand wok-based paradigm using field placements and professional development seminars between 2007-2009

* to stimulate student's critical thinking ability using reflective activities, exercises and assessments between 2007-2010


* to present papers at professional meetings by locating available conferences and by networking with colleagues between 2008-2010

* to publish scholarly ( field related) articles in refereed journals between 2007-2012

Professional Growth and Development

* to join at least two new (in field) professional societies between 2007-2009

* to attend a workshop and / or view instructional videos on web page construction and World Wide Web course delivery between 2007 - 2008


* to establish a service / volunteer relationship with one to two new community agencies 2007-2012

* to continue service to the university on additional communities, as assigned between 2007-2012


Aper, J. and Fry, J. "Post-Tenure Review at Graduate Institutions in the United States". Journal of Higher Education." Vol. 74, No. 3 (2003).

Associated Press. "Auburn Will Begin Post-Tenure Review." (2007).

Bensimon, E.; Licata, C.; Bauman, G.; Jolton, J. "Post-Tenure Review: Outcomes and impact. Case study: University B. New Pathways II." American Association for Higher Education, Washington, D. C. (2000).

Euben, D. "Post-Tenure Review Blues". Academe, Vol. 91, No. 6 (2005).

Fogg, P. "A Happy Medium". Chronicle of Higher Education. Vol. 50, No. 12 (2003). Leatherman, C. "AAUP Offers Guidance on Post-Tenure Reviews". Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 44 (1998).

Licata, C. M. and Andrew, H. A. "The Status of Tenured Faculty Evaluation in the Community College". Community College Review, Vol. 18 (1990).

Licata, C. M. And Brown, B. Post-tenure Faculty Review and Renewal II: Reporting Results and Shaping Policy. Bolton, Mass: Anker Publishing Company, 2004.

Magner, D. K. "Report Urges Post-Tenure Review for Professors and More Pay for Part- timers". Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 45 (1999).

Portch, S. R. and Kaufman, N. J. "From Frog to Prince: From Post-Tenure Review to Faculty Roles, Development and Rewards". Change, Vol. 25 (1993). "Reviewing Post-Tenure Review; Publishing and Teaching; Too Many Honorary degrees; Neighborhood Decline". Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 49, No. 43 (2003).

University System of Georgia. (1996). "Board Policy Manual 803.07 / Academic Affairs Handbook" "When post-tenure review is not post-tenure review". Chronicle of Higher Education. Vol. 47, No. 49 (2001).

Wilson, R. "Northeastern Proposal for Post-Tenure Review Goes Too Far, Critics Say." Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 47, No. 35 (2001).

Wood, M. and Des Jarlais, C. "When Post-Tenure Review Policy and Practice Diverge: Making the Case for Congruence." Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 77, No 4 (2006).

Sherryl W. Johnson, Albany State University, GA

Sherryl Johnson, Ph.D., is Professor of Management." Healthcare Administration Program, in the College of Business.
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Author:Johnson, Sherryl W.
Publication:Academic Exchange Quarterly
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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