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VI. What Happens in Faculty Reviews: A Brief Account

There are two major stages in the process of review. In the first, discussion among members of the department results in a written departmental recommendation. In the second, the Faculty Appointment and Salary Committee (FASC) and the dean of the faculty act in an advisory capacity to the president. Discussion among members of FASC, the dean, and the president results in a written recommendation from the President to the Board of Trustees. FASC meets independently as well as with the dean and the president.

The review of a faculty member for extension, reappointment or promotion begins in the individual’s department. The review by the department is undertaken by members senior in rank to the person under review, and must address all aspects of the work of the faculty member, including teaching, scholarly work or artistic activity, and service to the college. Outside evaluations will be provided to the department before the final vote is taken in cases of tenure and promotion to full professor. Responsibility for writing the final recommendation rests with the chair. It must be a full statement of the department’s recommendation, reporting the vote and summarizing the points of view presented, including differences of opinion, if any. A separate letter may be submitted by a voting member or members who feel that the departmental recommendation is not a fair, accurate, and full report of the discussion about the candidate. At the time the recommendation is submitted to the dean of the faculty, the candidate will be provided with a copy of the full recommendation modified so as to indicate the numerical vote but not the votes of the individual voting members. If a separate minority report is submitted, this minority report will also be provided to the candidate with the names of those signing it deleted. The chair shall also meet with the candidate to discuss this report and the remainder of the review procedure.

Departmental recommendations are subsequently reviewed, together with the information in the individual’s dossier, by the Faculty Appointment and Salary Committee (FASC), the dean of the faculty, and the President, working separately at first, then jointly. The candidate’s dossier will normally include the following materials:

  1. An up-to-date vita.

  2. A teaching portfolio. Portfolios will not be sent to outside reviewers.

  3. A personal statement describing the candidate’s reflections on teaching, research or artistic activity, service to the college, and career development. This statement is for internal consideration only and is not sent to the outside reviewers.

  4. In reviews for promotion to indeterminate tenure or promotion to full professor, the section of the Personal Statement discussing scholarly or artistic activity, or a new statement written for this purpose, must be used to form the Statement for Outside Evaluators.

  5. Copies of pertinent scholarly material or evidence of artistic activities (not required for extension).

  6. A personnel record beginning with the candidate’s first appointment to Vassar, and including all promotions and leaves.

  7. Annual activities reports.

  8. All earlier departmental contract reviews, performance evaluations, and salary recommendations.

  9. Student course evaluations.

  10. In cases of promotion to indeterminate tenure or promotion to full professor, four outside evaluations. The evaluators are selected from suggestions provided in separate lists by the candidate and the department. It is understood that in disciplines which are small and closely knit outside evaluators may have some previous knowledge of the candidate’s work. The outside evaluators will receive only items (1), (4), and (5) listed above.

    Candidates for promotion to full professor should not list the evaluators suggested for their tenure review. The candidate and department should include a clear statement of the rational for proposing each outside evaluator. Outside evaluations, with all identifying information deleted, will be made available to the eligible members of the department before the final vote is taken. These evaluations will also be made available to the candidate at the same time.

It is the responsibility of the candidate to provide copies of items 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 prior to review. Extraneous material of all sorts, including unsolicited letters, whether positive or negative, may not be included in the candidate’s dossier.

The chair shall send with the departmental recommendation an invitation to the candidate to discuss the recommendation. Whether the recommendation is positive or negative, the candidate may (but need not) request a meeting with FASC to discuss issues raised in the recommendation. The candidate may also (but need not) submit to FASC, the dean, and the president a written response to the recommendation. The request for a meeting and the intention to submit a written response must be communicated to FASC within one week, and the written response submitted within two weeks, of receiving the departmental recommendation. If later in the review process the department meets with the president, the dean of the faculty, and FASC to provide additional information or to defend its recommendation, the candidate’s written response shall be shared with the department.

After studying all the available material, FASC, meeting alone, attempts to view each case from as wide a range of perspectives as possible. Close attention is given to the adequacy and fairness of the departmental, student, and outside evaluations. FASC, after notifying the dean and the president, may ask the department to amplify in writing any points that are inadequately addressed in its recommendation. Within FASC, individual viewpoints are formulated and compared, and differences of opinion are discussed. Then FASC forwards to the dean in written form a tentative recommendation for the purpose of informing discussion among the members of FASC, the dean, and the president.

FASC then considers each case with the dean of the faculty, who has independently examined the same materials. After this meeting, FASC forwards to the president its tentative recommendation stating reasons if its recommendation differs from that of the dean. FASC and the dean then meet with the president, who has also reviewed the materials independently. FASC and the dean report their views and discuss the basis of their evaluations. Special attention is given to those cases in which the recommendations of FASC and the dean differ, or in which FASC and the dean differ with the department.

If at this point, FASC, the dean of the faculty, and the president believe that additional information might be necessary or helpful in reaching a decision, a consultation with the departmental chair and other eligible members may be arranged. If preliminary discussions have indicated the likelihood of a decision contrary to the department’s recommendation, a consultation with the departmental chair and other eligible members must be arranged. Meetings are called by the president, together with the dean and FASC, and the dean informs the department of the nature of the meeting and the issues the department should be prepared to address. After such meetings, FASC shall within one week summarize in writing the issues raised and the departmental response. Copies are distributed to the candidate as well as the dean, president, members of FASC, and eligible members of the department. The candidate has the opportunity within one week to respond in writing to all participants in the meeting.

After considering any departmental and candidate responses, FASC and the dean of the faculty meet with the president to convey their final recommendations, and FASC records its recommendation in the form of a vote. The president subsequently submits a final written recommendation to the trustee Committee on Academic Affairs. In cases where the final recommendations of FASC and the president differ, FASC may request a conference with the trustee Committee on Academic Affairs. Strict confidentiality is maintained throughout the process by all who are involved in the review.

The dates for the various steps in reviews for extension, reappointment, promotion, and tenure decision are listed each year in Section C.IX of the Faculty Handbook. Except for the required dates of notification listed in the Governance, the dates mentioned are administrative guidelines and are not legally binding. Every effort is nevertheless made to conform to them.

In cases where a negative recommendation has been received, the candidate may discuss the reasons for the decision with the president or the dean of the faculty.

In cases where the faculty member believes there are grounds for appealing a negative decision, the grounds for appeal described in the Governance should be reviewed first, and if necessary, clarification with regard to the individual case should be sought from the dean of the faculty or from the Appeal Committee.

(Amended by the faculty May 18; September 14, 1994; and May 17, 1995)