New Policies for Junior and Mid-Career College Faculty Support

This message was sent on March 9, 2021.

Dear Colleagues,

These have been tough times and we know that our colleagues at the Assistant and Associate Professor and Teaching Professional ranks are feeling the deepest career impact from COVID-19 challenges right now as they progress towards tenure and promotion. We outlined in an earlier message our efforts to provide more support for all College faculty. It included a new initiative the Office of the Dean of the College developed jointly with the chairs and program directors of the College to serve our junior and mid-career faculty explicitly. Now we are sharing that initiative with you.

The policies that follow are intended to 1) support junior and mid-career faculty in the College immediately and 2) ensure that the challenges our faculty members face across COVID-19 are represented in our institutional memory and throughout the reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure review process.

They have been endorsed by the College chairs and program directors as well as the Dean of the College and the Provost. The chairs and program directors have already begun conversations with their junior and mid-career faculty to develop individualized COVID-19 Plans based on the different kinds of challenges imposed by the pandemic on our faculty members.

We extend our sincerest thanks to the committee that developed this plan: José Luis Venegas (Interdisciplinary Humanities, Div I), Stew Carter (EALC, Div II), David Finn (Art, Div III), Michaelle Browers (Politics and International Affairs, Div IV), and Bruce King (Chemistry, Div V) who are to be commended for their thoughtful, critical work.

The guiding principles for this initiative were:

  • The recommendations should be feasible under the current University-imposed fiscal constraints.
  • All recommendations should be considered in light of possible unintended consequences that might exacerbate inequities around rank, race, ethnicity, and gender.
  • The recommendations must acknowledge the unique situations that junior and mid-career faculty members might be experiencing in their own lives and across disciplinary differences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, (and reflect COVID-19-based restrictions such as travel to archives, access to certain funds, etc.); that is, one size will not fit all.

The support mechanisms center on implementing four policy recommendations, the first two to occur at the department/program level and the second two to be implemented by the College.

Department/Program Level Policy

  • The COVID-19 Impact Statement will be developed by the faculty member and chair/director and the faculty member’s mentor(s), as appropriate. The statement will document any disruption to teaching; research, scholarship, and creative work; and/or service experienced by the faculty member as a result of the pandemic. The documentation should begin immediately and can be revised on a regular basis. The purpose of this Impact Statement is to contextualize for the department, College tenure and promotion committees, external reviewers, the Dean, and the Provost, the ways in which the pandemic has impacted the professional trajectory of the individual faculty member. It will be included in reappointment documents, tenure and promotion dossiers, and promotion dossiers. An Impact Statement is required of all faculty coming up for review, promotion, and/or tenure and may reflect a continuum from no impact to major impact.
  • The COVID-19 Plan will be developed jointly by the chair/director and the faculty member to document any efforts that the department/program has implemented to assist the faculty member during the pandemic. The plan should be succinct (c. 1 page) and tailored for the individual; as such there is no template. It may involve, for example, adjustments in teaching schedules or course caps, or service obligations within the department. It may be that a faculty member does not feel that a plan is needed and, in that case, a simple statement reflecting that choice is all that is required. The goal of this document is to initiate a conversation between the chair/director and the faculty member to determine what is possible to ease some burden in areas that might not otherwise be considered. A COVID-19 Plan is required for all junior and mid-career faculty.

College Level Policy

  • The College COVID-19 External Reviewer Statement, developed by the College, will outline to all external reviewers of tenure and promotion dossiers the steps that were implemented by the institution to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the faculty member’s career. For example, the brief statement will describe the automatic extensions of the tenure-clock and convey that external reviewers are to consider research, scholarship, or creative work with respect to department and university expectations and not number of years to tenure. The statement will also make it clear that the COVID-19 Impact Statement was a required element of the dossier for all faculty and that standards for tenure and promotion were not relaxed by the institution.
  • The COVID-19 Handbook Statement, developed by the College and added to Chapter 7 of the Faculty Handbook, will describe the policies implemented by the College related to tenure and promotion of tenure-track faculty and promotion of teaching professionals so that administrative leaders and committees of the faculty are reminded of these policies and their implications during their evaluation of faculty now and in the future. The purpose of this statement documents that the effects of the pandemic will be long lasting on the careers of faculty.

The policies will be carried out as follows:

  • The faculty member will develop a COVID-19 Impact Statement. It is recommended that the drafting of the statement by the faculty member be done jointly and in consultation with the chair or program director and the faculty member’s mentor(s), as appropriate.
  • The COVID-19 Impact Statement will be added to the list of materials required for the 2nd and 4th year reappointment materials and the tenure and promotion and promotion dossier.
  • The department chair or program director will develop an individualized COVID-19 Plan with each faculty member that will outline any steps taken to support the faculty member for a reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure review. The plan should be developed during the Spring 2021 semester for implementation in the 2021-22 academic year. The plan should be revisited by both parties as necessary to take into account any additional challenges.
  • The College will create a COVID-19 External Reviewer Statement to be added to the letter for external reviewers in cases of tenure and promotion and promotion of tenure-track faculty.
  • The College will add a COVID-19 Handbook Statement to Chapter 7 of the Faculty Handbook this semester.
  • The department chair or program director and the Office of the Dean of the College will review and assess the effectiveness of the COVID-19 Plan at least annually and agree to revise the plan as the need arises and more normal operations resume.
  • The Office of the Dean of the College will evaluate the plans across divisions/departments/programs to ensure they are equitable and consistent with the intent of the recommendations to support junior and mid-career faculty. After review by the Associate Deans, the plans will be approved by the Dean of the College.

Sincerely,

Michele Gillespie, Dean of the College, and Tony Marsh, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty