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Northwestern University

Promotion for Teaching-Track Faculty

The information below is for candidates and chairpersons.
See also promotion dossier deadlines and links to helpful documents.

Policy

Recommendations of faculty advancement are taken with the utmost seriousness, and are investigated with great care. Should a teaching-track faculty member be recommended for promotion and fail to be promoted, no rule or expectation holds that he or she shall leave the faculty. A member of the teaching-track faculty who is not promoted in a given year may be recommended again after a suitable period. The department of a candidate who is not promoted should promptly work with that candidate on a program to improve relevant aspects of his or her record.

APPOINTMENT TERMS AND TIMING OF PROMOTION REVIEWS

Assistant Professors of Instruction will normally be considered for promotion to Associate Professor of Instruction in the sixth year of their appointment in rank. Departments and programs are expected to initiate a promotion review at this time. If the faculty member chooses not to be considered for promotion, a reappointment review will be carried out in its stead.

Associate Professors of Instruction may be considered for promotion to Professor of Instruction following at least five years in rank.

Early promotion is possible to ranks of both Associate Professor of Instruction and Professor of Instruction; however, a minimum of six completed quarters (two academic years) in rank will be required before candidates may present themselves for promotion.

Following initial appointments, which will typically be for three academic years, subsequent appointment terms will normally follow this pattern:

Initial Appointment 3 Years (typically)
Assistant Professors of Instruction 3 years
Associate Professors of Instruction 5 years
Professors of Instruction 5 years

Successful promotion replaces the need for reappointment review and will result in a new appointment. Continuation in rank beyond the terms listed above is acceptable for Assistant and Associate Professors of Instruction.

Criteria for Appointment and Promotion

With the exception of a few especially selected candidates, members of the teaching-track faculty are hired by national search in which the same diversity requirements pertain as in searches for tenure-line faculty. Since the adoption of the current guidelines starting in September 2020, a PhD, MFA, or other appropriate terminal degree is required for initial appointment at all ranks. However, the guidelines allow for exceptions for faculty initially hired prior to the adoption of the current guidelines. The following criteria concern faculty advancement processes for faculty members holding the ranks of Assistant Professor of Instruction, Associate Professor of Instruction, and Professor of Instruction. In light of the diversity of intellectual activity within the College, departments and programs may vary somewhat in how they interpret these criteria. Chairs and directors should meet in advance with promotion candidates to clearly convey how the promotion criteria are interpreted in their unit so that clear, shared expectations can be developed that are consistent with the College-wide guidelines.

Assistant Professor of Instruction

Associate Professor of Instruction

Professor of Instruction

Appendix to Criteria

i Examples of “appropriate methods established by departments and programs, including student evaluations”:

ii Examples of “student advising, or College academic advising”:

iii Evidence of leadership or prominence within the university and/or in relevant professional activities outside the university can be demonstrated in myriad ways, although it is up to the candidate and the department to make the case. Examples of such recognition may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Timetable for Promotion

See the document Teaching-Track Faculty Promotion Timeline.

Dossier Materials for Promotion

See the document Teaching-Track Faculty Promotion Required Materials

Department Recommendation

The chair requests that the candidate supply a dossier to the department. Please see the list of required material above. 

A department committee comprising all entire tenure-line faculty and those teaching-track faculty members of at a rank higher than the candidate’s reviews the dossier, discusses the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and eligible voting faculty vote by secret ballot. In the case of candidates for promotion to the rank of Professor of Instruction, the discussion of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses must take into account the testimony of external reviewers, if any external reviews are solicited. Committee members who have close personal relationships with the candidate or otherwise feel they cannot maintain proper professional distance should recuse themselves from the discussion and vote on that candidate. If fewer than three faculty members are thus eligible to serve on this committee, the Dean appoints additional members to form a surrogate committee. College Fellows and junior tenure-line faculty prior to their 3rd year review may not hold sufficient experience in the department and should not vote on promotion candidates to the ranks of Assistant and Associate Professor of Instruction. Only Professors of Instruction and tenured faculty are eligible to vote on promotion to Professor of Instruction.

The department chair sends the Dean a letter that summarizes the discussion, describes the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, refers in detail to teaching and other activities (including, for any candidate for promotion to rank of professor of instruction, the views of external referees), names the department members eligible to participate and actually participating, and vote totals (for, against, abstaining, absent). In a positive recommendation, the department should be able to demonstrate that the candidate has achieved high distinction in teaching, and to affirm on the basis of observation and experience that this person is as good a teacher in his or her field as the department could reasonably expect to hire, now or in the foreseeable future. In the case of the candidate for promotion to the rank of professor of instruction, the department should be able to demonstrate that the candidate has significant national standing in his or her field. The letter, signed by the chair and three or four members of the department committee, and the accompanying materials are sent to the Dean.

Promotion and Reappointment Committee

The Teaching-Track Promotion and Reappointment Committee is made up of four members of the teaching-track faculty.  It is charged with evaluating promotions and reappointments of the non-tenure-eligible faculty and advising the Dean on these matters. The committee is elected and rotating, with members serving staggered terms.

Members of the Promotion and Reappointment Committee recuse themselves on all promotion and reappointment discussions for members from their home department. The term of service is three years. As a general rule, to keep a department or program from dominating the committee, an entire department/program is disqualified for three years after a member of that department/program has served a full term.

Teaching-Track Faculty membership

The Promotion and Reappointment Committee has four members elected by members of the teaching-track faculty (a record of whom is maintained by the Dean's Office). They should be faculty members in good standing drawn from Div. I, Div. II, Div. III-the language faculty, and those in Div. III-complement (faculty who are not part of language instruction).

Teaching-track faculty at the rank of Professor of Instruction are eligible to serve.

The four-member Promotion and Reappointment Committee reviews promotion dossiers for non-tenure-eligible faculty members. They vote confidentially on each case and make a recommendation to the Dean. Similarly, the Promotion and Reappointment Committee reviews recommendations for teaching-track reappointments. A report of the committee vote will only be described as ‘positive’ or ‘negative.’ A 2/3 majority is required for a positive vote.

A case for promotion must be strong and fulfill the requirements for promotion to the next rank in order to warrant a positive vote. Time in rank is not sufficient. Likewise, a case for reappointment must be made actively on the strengths of the faculty member’s positive contributions to the teaching mission. The absence of a negative case is insufficient for a positive recommendation for renewal.

Consideration by the Dean

The authority to make decisions about promotion rests with the Dean. If the Dean has reservations about a recommended promotion, the chair of the department is notified and the chair notifies the candidate. The Dean may ask the teaching-track Promotion and Reappointment Committee to elaborate on the case and the reasoning behind a recommendation, or may request additional information about any aspect of the candidate’s record from his or her department. When the Dean decides against a recommended advancement, the promotion process ends in the College.

The dossiers of the candidates whom the Dean recommends for promotion are forwarded to the Provost, who has the authority to decide negatively about a promotion. The Dean writes to each candidate about the decision in his or her case, and sends a copy of that letter to the candidate’s chair.

Negative Decisions

A promotion candidate whose department has voted against promotion or reappointment will be notified by the chair.

When a department votes negatively regarding a promotion for teaching-track faculty, under most circumstances the promotion review stops at that point. The chair will notify the Dean office that the promotion case will not proceed to the College for further evaluation. The chair will provide for the Dean a brief letter describing the reasons and any department vote. A candidate for promotion who has received a negative vote at the department level may ask to see the department letter and may choose to appeal to the Dean on the grounds outlined in the University Faculty Handbook.

A promotion candidate’s dossier may receive a positive department vote and then a negative vote by the Promotion and Reappointment Committee. Those cases will nonetheless be sent to the Dean for consideration. If the Dean decides against recommending promotion he will notify the candidate and the chair.

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