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Northwestern University

Reappointment for Tenure-Line Faculty


The information here is for reappointment candidates and chairpersons.  

For more details, see:

Tenure-Line Reappointment Review Workflow


A department recommendation for reappointment of an assistant professor must provide evidence of high quality in scholarship, teaching, and service and the promise of future distinction.  Actions to reappoint are typically taken in the fall and winter quarters of an assistant professor’s third year. 

Extending the Tenure Clock

A tenure-track faculty member may request that one year be added to their probationary term in cases where particular circumstances have arisen to interfere substantially with the research or other projects which the faculty member intends to submit as part of their tenure review.

Such circumstances may include parental responsibilities relating to the birth, adoption or rearing of a child; personal or family emergencies, for example, chronic illness of the faculty member or a member of the immediate family; or the failure of the University to meet a commitment with regard to research facilities (e.g., promised space is not made available). Although the decision on each request will depend on the specific circumstances, requests to prolong the probationary term by one year for circumstances relating to the birth or adoption of a child will automatically receive favorable consideration; requests related to childrearing will generally receive favorable consideration. (Application should be made after the birth or adoption.)

Except in unusual circumstances, clocks will not be stopped during a year of research or employment elsewhere, nor does this policy apply to situations that arise normally as a faculty member’s program expands and evolves (e.g., the faculty member wishes to obtain additional space; an important grant application is turned down; the member embarks on a new line of research). Please consult the University policy about Faculty Family Leave and on Extending the Probationary Period for Tenure-Track Faculty.

Reappointment Timeline

Before the Fall Quarter, the Dean’s Office sends a letter to each chair listing all tenure-track assistant professors whose appointments expire the following August 31.

In the Fall Quarter, departments consider candidates’ work and standing in light of the standards outlined above. Department members should review papers, chapters, grant proposals, teaching materials, any outside letters that may have been collected, and other items before the meeting at which a vote on reappointment is taken. Discussions of reappointments, as of other personnel matters, should be treated as confidential.

After the department deliberates and votes on the reappointment, the full dossier is submitted to the Dean’s Office. Beginning in 2020-2021, candidates will submit their portion of the dossier materials to the case management system, Faculty Folio RPT (Review, Promotion, and Tenure), by February 10, and departments will submit department documents to Faculty Folio RPT by February 20. (If a deadline falls on a weekend, the due date is the following Monday.) For a same-rank reappointment, publications need not be supplied but must be available should the Dean wish to consult them.  

In the spring, after reviewing each case, the Dean sends each candidate an offer of reappointment or an offer of a terminal year on the College’s faculty. The new status, whichever it is, takes effect the following September.


The reappointment dossier submitted to the Dean’s office contains items provided by both the candidate and the department.

Candidate Documents (for the candidate to provide)
  1. CV (required)
  2. Reappointment Statement (required)
  3. Course Syllabi (required)
  4. Copies of Exams (if available)
Department Documents (for the department to provide)
  1. Department Letter (required)
  2. Internal Reports on Scholarship/Teaching (if available)
  3. External Referee Letters (if available)
  4. Student Referee Letters (if available)
  5. CTECs (The recommended CTEC Instructor Reports are the administrator’s version with student comments pulled from CAESAR/Blue) (required)
  6. Peer Classroom Observations (if available)

The sections below provide more information about the dossier contents. For the fullest explanation of each section below, please consult the Chairperson’s Handbook, III.C.5. (pp. 60-63).

1) Department letter

All members of the voting faculty should be familiar with the candidate’s work and have read at least a sample of it.  The chair’s letter should state the voting process: the vote, including abstentions; the number of eligible voters; and the names of those eligible faculty who voted and who did not. The body of the letter should present the department’s recommendation, also describing those matters that a numerical vote often does not reflect, e.g., the degree of the department’s conviction in making its recommendation to the Dean. It is imperative that a full and candid account of departmental discussion, both positive and negative, be included in the department letter. The department letter must also evaluate the candidate’s teaching. If the candidate’s teaching has not yet reached a level of high quality, the department should outline corrective measures being taken or planned. The department should also consider the candidate’s role as a mentor of graduate students. Finally, the letter should comment on the candidate’s service, and their role as citizen in their department, College, and University.  For more information on the required contents of the department letter for a reappointment review, please consult the Chairperson's Handbook, subsection III.C.5.c. (pp. 61-62).

2) Curriculum Vitae

The candidate should follow College guidelines for preparing the CV.

3) Candidate's Reappointment Statement

The candidate should prepare a statement of several pages discussing progress in research and teaching and outlining plans for the second term of appointment. The candidate should give some attention to the probable course of their work after current projects are completed. The candidate should indicate what efforts are being made to improve teaching and address any problems in classroom performance. (Chairperson's Handbook, subsection III.C.5.b. (p. 61))

4) Possible external referees

The Dean, like the department, has the option of seeking the advice of authorities elsewhere. The letter should list the names, addresses, and email addresses of several outside referees in the candidate’s sub-field, and should note any special relationships between referee and candidate. (Chairperson's Handbook, subsection III.C.5.d. (p. 62))

5) Teaching materials

As part of the candidate’s dossier, the department should forward evidence for the conclusions presented in the department letter: CTEC evaluations and statistical summaries (the recommended CTEC Instructor Reports are the administrator's version with student comments pulled from Caesar/Blue); classroom materials (syllabi are required, examinations are optional); reports of classroom visits by senior faculty (if available); and other pertinent materials.  (Chairperson's Handbook, subsection III.C.5.e. (pp. 62-63))

6) External and student referees already consulted

In its deliberations, the department may consult three to six external referees; in some cases, it will have to consult them in order to make an informed judgment. If the department consults external reviewers, no more than half should be named by the candidate. The department should arrive at other names independently. The department must provide reviewers with the candidate’s current vita and offer to supply copies of publications as needed.  The department may also wish to solicit written comments about the candidate’s teaching from former students. (Chairperson's Handbook, subsection III.C.5.f. (p. 63))

Most departments find that the third-year review is an excellent time to discuss progress-to-date with assistant professors and to map out corrective action where necessary. Among other things, the department should ask whether research is progressing in a coherent and productive fashion. The department should call the candidate’s attention to activities that are likely to draw energy away from the essential tasks of research, teaching, and service and also verify that the service required of the faculty member, whether departmental or otherwise, is not excessive. (Chairperson's Handbook, subsection III.C.2. (p. 59))

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