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PTR Draft Available for Comments

By Paul Metz, principal bibliographer, Virginia Tech University Libraries, and chair of CFA

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 17 - January 18, 1996

The post-tenure review policy being written by the Commission on Faculty Affairs (CFA) is now in late draft and is being taken to the Faculty Senate and the rest of the university community for comment. The text of the current draft is reproduced below.

Because the policy will become part of the Faculty Handbook, readers may wish to consult the handbook to see how the new language will relate to existing policies. A fuller explanation of the necessity for the new policy, the means by which it has been written, and the goals it is intended to achieve was given in an earlier article, "CFA Chair Provides Post-Tenure Review Information," on page 3 of the November 9 Spectrum.

In the near future, CFA plans to issue guidelines for the critical task of defining minimal performance standards in each department, to define a continuum of sanctions short of dismissal for cause, and to finalize the post-tenure review policy itself for submission to the University Council. From now to the end of January is the critical time for comments on the proposed policy. Members of the university community are encouraged to send their suggestions or questions to Paul Metz, who may be contacted by computer at pmetz@vt.edu, by phone at 1-5663, or by mail at the University Libraries 0434.

Proposed Revisions to the Faculty Handbook concerning Post-Tenure Review, 1-5-96

Add to 2.9 Annual Evaluation and Salary Adjustments

Failure to meet the minimal obligations and standards the department has stipulated for its faculty will result in an "unsatisfactory" rating. Written notification of an unsatisfactory rating and the considerations upon which they are based shall be given to the faculty member, with copies to the dean and provost. Faculty members may respond in writing with a letter to the head or chair for inclusion in their personnel file, or they may seek redress through either the reconciliation or grievance procedures. Two successive annual ratings of unsatisfactory performance for a faculty member with tenure or continued appointment will result in a post-tenure review (see section 2.10.4).

Change 2.10 heading to include Post Tenure Review. Then add a new section:

2.10.4 Post-Tenure Review

Nothing in this section should be interpreted as abridging the university's right to proceed directly to dismissal for cause as defined in 2.11.1, or the right of individual faculty members to pursue existing mechanisms of reconciliation and redress.

A post-tenure review is mandatory whenever a faculty member with tenure or continued appointment receives two consecutive annual evaluations of unsatisfactory performance. Annual reviews for years spent on leave without pay shall be disregarded for the purpose of this calculation. The review will be conducted by the departmental promotion and tenure committee, unless the same committee was involved in the original unsatisfactory annual evaluations. In this case, the department shall elect a committee to carry out the review function.

Upon recommendation of the head or chair and with the approval of the dean, a post-tenure review may be waived or postponed if there are extenuating circumstances (such as health problems).

The purpose of a post-tenure review is to focus the perspective of faculty peers on the full scope of a faculty member's professional competence, performance, and contributions to the department, college, and university mission and priorities.

The faculty member has the both the right and the obligation to provide a dossier with all documents, materials, and statements he or she believes to be relevant and necessary for the review. Ordinarily, such a dossier would include at least the following: an up-to-date vita, the past two or more Faculty Activity Reports, teaching assessments, and a description of activities and accomplishments since the last Faculty Activity Report. The faculty member will be given a period of no less than three weeks to assemble the dossier for the committee. The head or chair will supply the review committee with the last two annual evaluations, all materials which were considered in those evaluations, any further materials deemed relevant, and other materials the committee requests. Copies of all materials supplied to the committee will be given to the faculty member. The faculty member has the right to provide a written rebuttal of evidence provided by the head or chair.

The committee will weigh the faculty member's contributions to the discipline, the department, and the university through teaching, research, and service. The burden of proving unsatisfactory performance is on the university. The committee will prepare a summary of its findings and make a recommendation to the head or chair, with copies to the dean and provost. Final action and notification of the faculty member is the responsibility of the head or chair and dean, with the concurrence of the provost.

The review may result in one of the following outcomes:

1. Certification of satisfactory performance:

The committee may conclude that the faculty member's competence and professional contributions are satisfactory to meet the department's minimal expectations, thus failing to sustain the head or chair's assessment. The review is then complete. An unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year would be counted as the first in any future sequence.

2. Certification of deficiencies:

The committee may concur that the faculty member's competence and/or professional contributions are unsatisfactory to meet the department's minimal expectations. The committee may recommend dismissal for cause, an alternative severe sanction, or a single period of remediation. Remediation is an option only at the conclusion of a committee's initial review.

a. Dismissal for cause-If dismissal for cause is recommended as the appropriate sanction, then the procedures specified in section 2.11.1 of the Faculty Handbook will begin immediately. The committee review satisfies the requirement in section 2.11.1 for an informal inquiry by a standing personnel committee. Section 2.11.1 outlines the faculty member's right to appeal in such cases.

b. Alternative severe sanction-If a severe sanction other than dismissal for cause is recommended, the review is then complete. An unsatisfactory rating in any subsequent year would be counted as the first in any future sequence.

c. Remediation-If a period of remediation is recommended, the committee specifies in detail the deficiencies it has noted, defines specific goals and measurable outcomes the faculty member should achieve, and establishes a timeline for meeting the goals. The head or chair will meet with the faculty member at least twice annually to review the individual's progress. The head or chair will prepare a summary report for the committee following each meeting and at the end of the specified remediation period, at which time the committee will either certify satisfactory performance or recommend dismissal for cause or an alternative severe sanction following the procedures described above.