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Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

(Approved May 2020)


These guidelines are intended to add greater specificity to university-level guidelines on promotion and tenure evaluations that are included in the ISU Policies and Procedures and available on the website for the Office of Academic Affairs.

Departmental guidelines: Departmental guidelines which may contain discipline-specific criteria must be approved in consultation with the Dean.


Faculty are judged in the areas of teaching, scholarship/research/creative activities, and service. All three areas are to be taken into consideration in all tenure-track evaluations. For purposes of evaluation, some activities can fall into more than one category. For example, a faculty member’s work with a graduate student that leads to conference or artistic presentations, juried exhibitions, and publications may provide evidence of both quality of research and quality of teaching. Lecturers are evaluated primarily on teaching, although other activities in their workload, such as departmental service, should be included in their evaluation.


Teaching includes the direct educational involvement with students inside and outside the classroom and the activities that enhance this process. All faculty are required to report their instructional activities annually on the form specified by Academic Affairs. Teaching includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Instruction-Related Activity: Courses taught (e.g., lecture; lab; experiential; independent study; internship, thesis, or dissertation supervision; online teaching, etc.)

Out-of-Classroom Activities Related to Instruction: New course development (e.g., new teaching modalities; major course revision; development of digital or web-based modules, etc.).

Other Instruction Activity: Supervision of undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate students; continuing education programs leading to the granting of continuing education credits; etc.

Student Advising: Formally assigned advisees, informal advising, etc.

Evidence of quality teaching can be gathered from, but is not limited to, the following sources:

  • Student evaluations
  • Teaching observation by peers
  • High academic standards as evidenced by grading rubrics and/or examples of grading
  • Syllabi and other instructional material, such as paper assignments
  • Quality of students’ work
  • New course and curriculum development, including participation in departmental assessment activities
  • Innovations in pedagogy
  • Participation in pedagogically related professional development activities
  • Number of graduate advisees directed to completion of degree
  • Supervising graduate student research and serving on graduate student committees (not as GFR)
  • Teaching portfolio submitted by the faculty member 

Note: Review of student evaluations alone does not constitute an adequate evaluation of teaching.


Scholarship and research lead to the production of new knowledge within the field of one’s discipline, or may lead to new knowledge about how the pedagogy within a discipline can be enhanced. Creative activity leads to the production of new art or the performance of art: musical, dance, literary, visual, or dramatic.

The College of Arts & Letters values scholarship, foundational and applied research, and creative activity (“scholarly activities”). It also values research that relates to pedagogy. Faculty, according to their conditions of hire and departmental need, may emphasize one form of scholarly activity over others. All faculty are required to report their scholarly activities annually on the form specified by Academic Affairs.

Scholarly activities are expected to lead to productive results. Productive scholarly activities typically fall into the following categories:

Publications: These typically consist of articles in peer-reviewed publications (including online journals) and other professional media, books or chapters in books, recorded media, etc. The effort required to produce a work may be spread over several semesters based on average weekly hours of effort. This category also includes publication-related activities such as editing a journal, textbook, anthology, or other such publications. Note: within this document, it is assumed that documentation in writing of acceptance for publication, with an anticipated publication date, is equivalent to publication.

Presentations: Papers, posters, exhibitions, clinics, performances, and designs presented at professional regional, national, and international meetings.

Research and Creative Activity Grants: Includes external and internal grant submissions and awards. External grants often require more faculty time and effort both in terms of submission and execution. Competitive externally funded grants/awards are highly valued research activities that bring distinction to the Department, College, and University.

Creative Activities: These include the creation of art, participation in or direction of creative performances, creative composition, and alternate media such as museum displays and historical maps.

Primary evidence of quality scholarly activities can be gathered from, but is not limited to, the following sources:

  • Publication of articles/papers in peer-reviewed journals
  • Publication of articles/chapters within peer-reviewed or invited monographs or books
  • Publication of monographs or books by peer-reviewed presses
  • Publication of textbooks
  • Publication of refereed creative composition, such as poetry, plays, or music
  • Publication of review essays
  • Publication of peer-reviewed software
  • Refereed or adjudicated exhibitions, performances, and readings
  • Professional performances and exhibitions
  • Performance or exhibition of new creative works
  • Funding of external research grants or other competitive awards

 Secondary evidence of high quality in this area includes:

  • Scholarly presentations at academic conferences
  • Publication in proceedings of scholarly meetings
  • Publications in non-refereed venues
  • Editorship of a professional journal or book
  • Published reviews
  • Participation in professional development activities that focus on improving research productivity or quality
  • Supervising graduate student research and serving on graduate students’ committees (not as GFR)
  • Non-refereed or non-adjudicated exhibitions, performances, and readings
  • Other performances and exhibitions
  • Submission and funding of internal research grants
  • Submission of external research grants that were not funded


Service is defined as those professional activities which aid the department, college, university, profession, or community based on academic expertise. Departmental service is required for all tenured and tenure-track faculty in order for departments to function effectively. The most common activity is service on committees. Faculty are also expected to contribute to some combination of college/university/professional service, which may vary from year to year. All faculty are required to report their service activities annually on the form specified by Academic Affairs.

 Faculty are encouraged to be active in all areas of service. All are expected to contribute to the service workload of the department, college, and university. No amount of professional or public service should excuse a faculty member from taking on the tasks that are essential to the successful working of our common academic enterprise.

Departmental, college, and university activities include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Participation on departmental/college/university boards, committees, task forces, or councils (including hiring and evaluative committees)
  • Participation in faculty meetings
  • Serving as faculty advisor for student organizations
  • Assisting with recruiting activities
  • Assisting in student placement activities
  • Reviewing internal grants
  • Writing proposals and receiving awards for outreach grants
  • Serving as Graduate Faculty Representative

Professional service activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Serving as an officer in a professional organization
  • Reviewing grants for funding agencies
  • Refereeing papers, books, or articles for a journal or publisher
  • Refereeing conference submissions
  • Organizing and chairing sessions at scholarly conferences
  • Organizing symposia and professional meetings
  • Editorship of a professional journal
  • Serving as an external reviewer for faculty reviews
  • Discipline-related work with colleagues in the K-12 system
  • Organizing or participating in public concerts, exhibitions, productions, readings
  • Serving as a consultant (paid or unpaid) to governmental or private groups in need of expert advising

Professionally related community service activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Speaking on professional topics to civic, business, or professional organizations
  • Serving in a professional capacity on boards of organizations
  • Working with groups that promote the understanding of one's discipline
  • Analysing secondary data for government or private groups


These College guidelines for tenure review are intended to complement and expand on the University policy for tenure review. In accordance with University policy, tenure-track faculty members may apply for tenure during their fifth or sixth full academic year at ISU. The faculty member will decide whether to apply in the fifth or sixth year, and will inform the chair of the department of this decision by early in the summer before the fifth year. The faculty member must also provide the required list of potential external reviewers at that time if the faculty member intends to apply for tenure. Time toward tenure may be granted, in extraordinary instances, to faculty with college-level teaching experience, or other significant professional experience, previous to employment at ISU. Such credit will be granted by the Dean at time of hire and indicated in the letter of hire.

The faculty member submits a request for tenure consideration, along with documents showing evidence of professional progress, to her or his departmental office by the deadline announced each year. These documents go to a departmental committee for review.

Committee membership: Each department must have guidelines explaining how committees are formed (e.g., the process of selection, the composition of the committee). The departmental document must be approved by the Dean. Where possible, the committee should contain at least five members, at least two of whom must be tenured. The committee must contain a non-tenured tenure-track member, a tenured member from another department (or from another ISU college), and a student.

Documents to be reviewed: All materials submitted by the candidate must be reviewed along with the annual evaluations of the candidate for each of his or her pre-tenure years at ISU and the external review letters (see below). The letter of hire also will be reviewed, as well as any subsequent document affecting conditions of hire.

External review and evaluation: Some element of external review must be part of the tenure process for each candidate. That is, some evidence must be presented demonstrating that the candidate’s work has been evaluated by peers within the discipline outside ISU. Given the diversity of disciplines within the college and the diversity of methods of evaluation within these disciplines, the College will not adopt a uniform process of external review. However, departments must follow the general procedures from Academic Affairs for external reviewers that are contained in the ISU Policies and Procedures. All departmental guidelines for external reviews must be approved by the Dean.

The committee will submit a report of no more than ten pages in length to the department chair, along with a recommendation either to grant tenure or to deny tenure. Dissenting votes will be reflected in the vote to recommend granting or denying tenure. Where a split evaluation exists, the committee should provide Majority and Minority Reports. A "Minority Report" is as voluntary written statement submitted by committee members indicating reasons for dissenting from the recommendation of the majority of the committee. The department chair will write an independent report on the candidate and submit this, along with a recommendation to grant or deny tenure, to the Dean. The College Executive Committee will review the reports submitted by the chair and the departmental committee. The committee may request any additional material needed for its deliberation. The committee chair writes a report to the Dean, reports the committee vote, and makes a recommendation to grant or deny tenure.

The Dean will review materials generated by the candidate, the departmental committee, the department chair, and the College Executive Committee. The Dean will submit a report to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs along with a recommendation to grant or deny tenure.

Candidate's response rights: As reflected in the form specified by Academic Affairs, the candidate may respond to the departmental committee and/or chair report as well as to the college committee and/or dean report. The candidate will be allowed five working days to submit each of these responses as part of the evaluation process.


Tenure-Track Faculty

The promotion review process is the same as the tenure review process outlined above.

Consistent with university policy, an assistant professor applying for tenure will apply and be considered for promotion at the same time. To be considered for promotion from assistant to associate professor, faculty members must have completed at least four years in rank as assistant professor. Thus, as with tenure, faculty members may apply for promotion during their fifth or sixth year in rank, and credit toward time in rank gained at other institutions will be negotiated with the Dean at the time of hire and noted in the letter of hire.

To be considered for promotion from associate to full professor, the faculty member must have completed at least four years in rank as an associate professor. Thus, faculty members may apply for promotion during their fifth year in rank.

Denial of promotion in one year will not limit the faculty member’s right to request consideration for promotion in any subsequent year. However, if an assistant professor being considered for both promotion and tenure simultaneously is denied tenure, subsequent consideration for promotion is not possible.

Full-Time Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

The promotion process for lecturers is similar to the process for tenure-track faculty, with the following exceptions.

Time in Rank: Review for promotion requires a minimum of three full years of service at the current rank. Review for promotion may occur no earlier than during the candidate’s fourth academic year in the current rank.

Application: The same application form is used for both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. However, external letters of review will not be needed since quality teaching is the primary requirement for promotion.

Committee membership: For promotion of lecturers, departments will follow their guidelines for Faculty Five-Year Review committees. At a minimum, the committee must contain two faculty from the department, and at least one of them must be tenured.


All faculty evaluations will assess the faculty member’s accomplishments and potential for professional contribution in the areas of teaching, scholarly activities, and service. For tenure and promotion decisions, the faculty member’s performance in each of the three areas shall be rated superior, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. “Satisfactory” as a point of reference is defined in each of the areas below.

  • Teaching: To be rated satisfactory in teaching, a faculty member must be able to demonstrate effective instruction, both inside and outside the classroom, in the appropriate field.
  • Scholarly Activities: To be rated satisfactory in scholarship/research/creative activity, a faculty member must demonstrate progress toward becoming a productive scholar/creative artist comparable to faculty members in the same discipline at schools with a mission and teaching load comparable to those at ISU.
  • Service: To be rated satisfactory in service, a faculty member must be able to demonstrate quality participation in the department/college/university/profession.


To be granted tenure, the faculty member must:

  1. Hold the appropriate terminal degree in the field.
  2. Have achieved at least a "satisfactory" level of performance in the areas of teaching, scholarly activities, and service. A "superior" level of performance must be reached in either teaching or scholarly activities.
  3. Show potential for continuing to make professional contributions to his or her field and to the university in all three areas.
  4. Have contributed to and supported the department's educational mission in the areas of teaching, scholarly activities, and service. This includes a demonstrated commitment to working collegially with other members of the department to achieve the department's goals in the areas of teaching, scholarly activities, and service.


To be promoted to associate professor, the faculty member must meet the same standards listed above for tenure (V.A.).


For promotion to professor a faculty member must have demonstrated those requirements listed for associate professor and have a consistent and significant record of contributions in teaching, scholarly activities, and service. The faculty member, since receiving the rank of associate professor, must:

  1. Achieve a performance rating of "superior" in two of three areas: teaching, scholarly activities, and service, and a rating of at least "satisfactory" in the third area.
  2. Have achieved a consistently strong record indicating that professional contributions in terms of quality and quantity will continue.
  3. Have established a strong national and/or international presence in scholarship and continued productivity.
  4. Have contributed to and supported the department’s educational mission in the areas of teaching, scholarly activities, and service. This includes a demonstrated commitment to working collegially with other members of the department to achieve the department’s goals in the areas of teaching, scholarly activities, and service.


For the promotion from assistant lecturer to associate lecturer, or for the promotion from associate lecturer to senior lecturer, the primary requirement is quality teaching. The workload for most lecturers also contains a requirement for departmental service, which should be considered in the evaluation. Extraordinary department service, other professional service, or scholarship/research/creative activities, will also be considered in the recommendation for promotion.


Every faculty member has the right to appeal tenure and promotion recommendations made through the College of Arts & Letters evaluation procedures. The items subject to appeal and the appeal procedures are described in the ISU Policies and Procedures.


Upon completion of the annual periodic evaluation cycle, the Dean may ask the College Executive Committee to review the procedures contained in this document, and assess the need for changes.

Faculty may request changes be made to the document. A faculty member will make the request for change first at the department level. If the department votes to make the change, the suggestion will be made to the Chairs Council.

Minor changes in evaluation procedures will take effect upon approval of the Chairs Council. Usually, minor changes are made only for clarification or correction. Changes in evaluative criteria will be submitted for a vote by the College tenure-track faculty.


Access PDF format: Promotion and Tenure Guidelines 2020