Communication #21:
Annual Faculty Review

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I. Overview

Faculty development is the joint responsibility of the individual and the institution. Because the nature of research, teaching, and public service is often discipline-specific, the departments and colleges play critical roles in elaborating campus evaluation criteria and in rewarding and supporting the professional development of the faculty. Departments and their executive officers monitor faculty performance and development closely and work with individual faculty members to identify appropriate programs or actions to address professional development goals.  To this end, every tenured or tenure-track faculty member should be reviewed annually by her or his department through a process developed by the faculty of the department that is consistent with these campus guidelines. The reviews are intended to provide annual assessment that is constructive and focused on assisting faculty development.

Each department’s procedure must meet the requirements of this Communication, be appropriately adopted by the faculty of the department, and approved at the college level (or by the Office of the Provost for units reporting directly to that office). Faculty members undergoing third-year reviews (see Communication No. 13) and those being evaluated for promotion and tenure (see Communication No. 9) may be exempted from the annual faculty review process in the year of those reviews. Executive officers, in consultation with the next administrative level, may make limited other exemptions.

A faculty member may respond to the annual review by placing documentation in his or her official departmental personnel file. The process by which a department conducts annual faculty reviews should be evaluated every five to seven years, as described below.

II. Establishing Unit-Based Annual Faculty Review Procedures

Each academic unit should have written procedures for annual faculty reviews adopted in accordance with the unit’s bylaws. Copies of the procedures should be provided to all faculty in the unit and filed with the next level in the unit’s reporting chain. (For units within schools, the copies should be reviewed at the school level, then transmitted to the college.)  An academic unit’s annual faculty review procedures must be reviewed by the dean or director of the college (or the Office of the Provost for units reporting directly to that office) to ensure that they comply with the campus-wide standards described in this Communication.  Similar second-level review is required for unit-specific procedures for the broader faculty review described below.

III. Annual Faculty Reviews

A. Review Requirements

Each academic unit shall review annually the contributions to the mission of the unit of each of its tenured or tenure-track faculty members.

B. Exemptions from Annual Review

Faculty members undergoing the third-year review during their probationary period or being reviewed by the department for the special purpose of promotion may be exempted from this annual faculty review requirement and, instead, reviewed using the procedures in Communications 13 and 9, respectively.

Departmental executive officers (EO’s), in consultation with the next-level administrative officer, may exempt other faculty members from annual faculty review in limited cases where the annual review would not fulfill the purposes of the review process. Such exemptions should be infrequent (e.g., for faculty members hired within the academic year or for faculty members with a retirement agreement in place.) To initiate an exemption, the EO should provide a letter explaining the exemption and transmit it to the next-level administrator in the unit’s reporting chain for concurrence.

C. Required Elements

At a minimum, each unit’s annual faculty review procedure must meet the following campus-wide requirements:

  1. Statement of Mission/Expectations. The review procedures must contain a statement of the unit’s mission and the expectation of faculty members’ contribution to that mission. This mission statement should be written broadly enough to assure individual faculty members a proper sphere of professional self-direction consistent with the privileges and responsibilities of academic freedom.  Unit-level statements of expectations include, by implication if not by express incorporation, university expectations.
  2. Faculty Documentation. Each faculty member is required to provide: a) a written statement of accomplishments and professional activities during the past year or other time period specified by the unit (e.g., the unit might ask faculty members to annually provide information covering the most recent three calendar years), b) plans for the future, and c) a brief explanation, if needed, of the connection between the faculty member’s activities and the mission and expectations of the unit and university.
  3. Definition of Roles. Review procedures should define the role of the EO and relevant departmental elected faculty staff/personnel and/or executive/advisory committees in assessing how well the faculty member is meeting expectations.
  4. Option for Periodic Broader Review. The review procedures should provide for an option to broaden the annual review process to include additional elements. See below.
  5. Annual written and/or verbal feedback should be provided to each faculty member regarding how well the faculty member is meeting expectations. Constructive, periodic feedback to the faculty member is encouraged.  In appropriate circumstances, the EO should meet with a faculty member to discuss the unit’s expectations and the faculty member’s performance.  In other circumstances, simply advising the faculty member of the unit’s salary recommendation and evaluation of the faculty member’s progress towards meeting the unit’s expectations could be sufficient.
  6. Record Keeping. The review procedures must provide for maintenance of essential parts of the annual review in each faculty member’s personnel file, including the faculty member’s annual statements and copies of any written feedback from the department to the faculty member. Consistent with legal requirements and university policies, the contents of official personnel files are open to examination by the individual concerned.  Units may seek guidance on access issues from the Office of Academic Human Resources or from the Office of the Provost.
  7. If a faculty member disagrees with an annual review, the faculty member and executive officer should make serious attempts to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution through informal interactions and problem-solving efforts. If, despite efforts to reach a mutual agreement regarding the content of the review, a faculty member continues to dispute the accuracy of a review, the faculty member may append a written response to any document in the file.

IV. Option for Broader Faculty Review

A. Purpose

The broader faculty review option is designed to provide units and faculty members with a mechanism for seeking additional information when there is need for a fuller and more complete assessment of the faculty member’s record than has been provided by a series of annual reviews.  Either the unit executive officer or the faculty member may request that a broader faculty review occur.

The broader review may be focused on the faculty member’s overall performance in teaching, research and public service or on a defined, significant subset of faculty roles and responsibilities.  Invoking the broader review option, therefore, would typically be grounded in the results of at least the two immediately previous annual reviews, or grounded in a longer pattern that reveals a need for deeper scrutiny of the record. The goal is to more fully understand the faculty member’s performance or to ascertain whether the annual reviews have adequately assessed significant aspects of the record.

Before invoking the broader review option, the faculty member and executive officer should make serious attempts to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution through informal interactions and problem-solving efforts.

Note that the broader review is not an appeal of a particular annual review, nor is its purpose to address a narrow, specific issue, such as the faculty member’s salary determination.  Concern with specific issues first should be addressed informally and if informal resolution is not achieved a faculty member may pursue applicable appeal/grievance procedures.

B. Procedure

  1. If the executive officer and the faculty review committee decide that the process will include solicitation of external letters, the elements of Communication No. 9 will be followed with respect to number of letters, objectivity and rank of evaluators, selection of peer institutions, and confidentiality of letters.
  2. The decision about whether to pursue a broader review should be made by the Unit Executive Officer, in consultation with the appropriate unit level advisory committee and with the next-level administrator (e.g., school director, dean).
  3. A broader faculty review may be initiated by a faculty member or by the unit executive officer. The person who initiates the review should submit the request to initiate the review to the other party (faculty member or executive officer), with copies to the faculty committee involved in the review process according to the bylaws of the unit and to the next-level administrator in the unit’s reporting chain.
  4. The broader faculty review should be requested, in writing, typically at the beginning of the annual faculty review process or at the beginning of the academic year.
  5. The request to initiate a broader review should specify the grounds for the broader review, and explain why these grounds have not been and cannot be adequately addressed by the annual faculty review process.
  6. At the outset of such a review, the executive officer and the faculty member should discuss the broader review process and the materials to be evaluated in the review. Any ad hoc or standing faculty committee charged to conduct the review should be informed of these discussions and their outcomes according to the unit’s practices. The executive officer and the faculty review committee, in consultation, will make the final decision on the structure of the faculty review, and will inform the faculty member, in writing, as to the elements and structure of the review before the process begins.
  7. The outcome of the broader review will be communicated, in writing, by the executive officer to the faculty member, with a copy to the next-level administrator in the unit’s reporting chain.
  8. If a faculty member disagrees with a broader review, the faculty member and executive officer should make serious attempts to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution through informal interactions and problem-solving efforts. If, despite efforts to reach a mutual agreement regarding the content of the review, a faculty member continues to dispute the accuracy of a review, the faculty member may append a written response to any document in the file.

V. Grievances

A faculty member who believes he or she has been aggrieved by the procedures used in an annual review or broader faculty review can petition the appropriate grievance committee for redress, just as he or she would do in any other grievance situation.  As provided by the university’s Statutes, a faculty member may always consult with the Faculty Advisory Committee.

VI. Guidelines for Periodic Review of Each Unit’s Faculty Review System

A. Frequency

Each administrator who provides second-level review (Dean, Director, or the Provost) is responsible for evaluation of procedure(s) for faculty review in units reporting to that administrator every five to seven years, or within such other period as may be adopted for more general evaluation of units.

B. Purpose

The purposes of this evaluation are to assist the unit in identifying needed changes and to assure that the unit has: (1) conveyed clear sense of its expectations for faculty contributions, (2) conducted its annual reviews and related follow up in conformity with the policies governing the manner and content of such reviews, and (3) applied its standards fairly.

C. Process

The administrator who is responsible for periodic evaluation of a unit’s procedures for faculty review usually appoints a committee to carry out this evaluation. The committee must consist of tenured faculty, the majority of whom are not members of the unit being reviewed. The committee may be a standing or ad hoc committee, and the review process may be part of a more comprehensive review of a unit’s functions.  The reviewing committee shall examine the unit’s procedures for annual faculty review.  The committee’s report is submitted to the responsible administrator, with copies provided to the unit executive officer, the unit’s elected faculty body, and any intervening reporting levels (e.g., School) as appropriate.  The responsible administrator is charged to ensure that needed changes are effectively incorporated into each unit’s procedures.

VII. Institutional Resources and Commitment to Faculty Development

Annual reviews provide the basis for determining merit awards and guiding faculty development. Faculty development is the joint responsibility of the individual and the institution.  The campus is strongly committed to fair and responsible evaluation and appropriate support of faculty development.  In order for the member of the faculty to attend to their own professional development, the Provost and the Vice Chancellor for Research offer a variety of mechanisms for enhancement of research and teaching.  Colleges, schools, and departments should also provide opportunities that enrich the professional capabilities of faculty members in their units.

VIII.  Assistance

For assistance with annual faculty reviews, please call the Office of the Provost (333-6677).