Mid-Probationary Reviews for Tenure-Track Faculty
Campus policy requires that a formal, internal review of faculty on probationary contracts take place no later than the mid-point of a faculty member’s probationary period on the tenure track at UIC, unless a decision not to retain is reached at the level of the recommending unit before the time a formal review would be scheduled. For most probationary faculty, this review will occur in their third year at UIC. A copy of the mid-probationary review will also need to be included later in the tenure review P&T packet.
The primary purpose of a mid-probationary review is faculty development. At the same time however, the review should be understood as having very real consequences for subsequent decisions. Assuming that the candidate meets expectations for continuance in the fourth year and beyond, the mid-probationary review should provide candid guidance to that person as he or she seeks to prepare for the promotion and tenure review.
Executive officers should be forthright in their statements and must include an analysis of both the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate as well as the kind of progress necessary for a successful tenure case. Executive officers should, however, be careful to avoid any language that implies a contractual assurance of tenure if the candidate fulfills certain requirements. Neither executive officers nor review committees should make statements that seem to promise promotion and tenure if, for example, a certain number of publications appear during the probationary period, or if the candidate’s teaching continues to improve. Such guarantees have no legal force.
Although the executive officer has the authority to decide whether or not to renew the contract of a probationary faculty member, the executive officer must consult with the departmental advisory or executive committee. If there is a case in which non-retention is contemplated, the executive officer must inform the Dean’s Office; the Dean’s Office will, in turn, contact University Counsel.
Each department must establish written procedures for mid-probationary reviews and must provide a copy to the probationary faculty member at the time of initial appointment.
The Review Committee
The review committee of the department may consist of all tenured faculty or a designated subset of the tenured faculty. In some cases, (e.g., small units) the executive officer may appoint faculty members with allied interests from other department as additional members of the review committee.
Timing of the Review
- A formal, internal review of probationary faculty must take place no later than the mid-point in the probationary period on the tenure track, unless a decision not to retain is reached before that time (Note: depending on the tenure code agreed upon at the time of initial appointment, the mid-probationary review may not technically be in the third year. The intent is to provide an assessment of the faculty member at a date late enough to permit reasonable review of his or her progress toward tenure and early enough to give useful guidance.
- The probationary faculty member must be advised of the timing of the review and its range of consequences.
- The department must submit a one-page description of the procedures it follows in mid-probationary reviews. In the case of joint appointments, both departments must submit procedures.
- The review should be submitted using the Mid-Probationary Review Form, which is an electronic, modified version of the forms used for tenure review. The candidate will fill out certain sections of the forms and then route them to the department contact, who will complete the forms (including inserting the executive officer’s report) and submit them to the College.
- The review must include a report by the executive officer, addressing the areas of teaching, research and service, and must be signed by the executive officer and the candidate. The executive officer’s report should summarize the data from peer evaluations of teaching and from student ratings. Where service is regarded as a less important aspect of the record than research and teaching or when the probationary faculty member has been actively discouraged from undertaking more than token service, the unit head must clearly state these circumstances in her or his statement.
- A digital copy of the Mid-Probationary Review Form will be archived so that it will be readily available for inclusion in the candidate’s promotion and tenure papers one to three years later. This report will be a part of a future P&T package.
In the case of joint appointments, each department must conduct its own complete mid-probationary review. Each executive officer must submit his or her own statement, regardless of the percentage appointment.
The use of outside evaluators at this stage is at the department’s discretion and is not recommended by the College.
Faculty Member’s Response
The faculty member under review must be given an opportunity to comment on or respond to the department report. This response may be oral or written.
Disposition of the Review
- The mid-probationary review must be placed in the department file and a copy given to the faculty member under review.
- Mid-probationary reviews must be included in all tenure and promotion files.
- An electronic copy of the review must also be maintained.