"Collective Wisdom"
Information on Promotion and Tenure/Continuing Status Issues

Updated April 2015

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) faculty have many diverse responsibilities and are assigned to units around the state. The "Collective Wisdom" webpage was developed as an accessible, internal resource to provide practical, informal guidance and answers to frequently asked questions about college guidelines and procedures for faculty navigating the process to promotion and/or the award of tenure or continuing status.

Candidates, mentors, and unit heads should always refer to the most recent edition of the provost's Guide to the Promotion Process (for either tenure or continuing track) and CALS Guidelines and Criteria for specific requirements and recent changes before preparing a dossier.

Important CALS Deadlines - Plan Ahead!


CALS now requires that all dossiers be reviewed within the Dean's Office before they are sent to outside evaluators. Mistakes made during the early part of the review process can be amended at this point; they cannot be corrected later on in the process without initating re-review at all levels. Units should allow three business days for this preliminary review.

November 1

All dossiers (P&T, CS&P, promotion only, and 3-year or other probationary reviews with recommendation for non-renewal) due to CALS Dean's Office

December 1

All 3-year or other probationary reviews with recommendation for renewal due to Dean's Office

Guidelines and Policies

All candidates should also be given a copy of the appropriate written guidelines and criteria for their department or school or for Cooperative Extension agents.

Part I: A Common Sense Guide for New Faculty and Administrators

Agreement on the Task

CALS is a large, diverse organization with faculty appointments that include varying combinations of teaching, research and extension activities. The position description is an important element in annual evaluations and is incorporated in the summary of candidate's workload assignment included in the promotion and tenure/continuing status dossier. Each faculty position description reflects the relative responsibilities assigned to teaching, research, Extension and service.

Knowledge of Policy and Procedures

CALS uses university, college and unit-specific criteria to guide promotion and tenure/continuing status decisions.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Guidelines and Criteria for Promotion and Tenure were last revised in February 2001. The CALS Guidelines and Criteria for Promotion and Continuing Status were further revised in March 2014 to include separate guidelines/criteria for specialists and for agents. The appendices to these guidelines provide examples of the broad range of activities that may be appropriate to various types of faculty appointments in the college. All individual departments/schools and Arizona Cooperative Extension have written criteria as well.

Part II: Designing a Strong Dossier

All dossiers are due to the Dean's Office on November 1. Plan ahead to be on time since CALS committees have deadlines to meet as well. The Office of the Provost now requires that colleges submit an original hard copy plus an electronic copy once the college review is complete.

Do you have a question that is not answered below? Faculty or staff needing clarifications may contact Sylvia Ramirez at (520) 621-0094.

General Suggestions

The University of Arizona requires a standardized format for the dossier. Since CALS college-level committees evaluate 10-15 dossiers a year and the university committees and senior administrators may read 80-100, the use of a standardized format helps ensure a timely and efficient review of a candidate's accomplishments.

Many people will be involved in reviewing a promotion and tenure/continuing status dossier. Once it progresses beyond the college level, some reviewers will be people outside the candidate's field. The Summary of Candidates's Workload Assignment states the candidate's assigned responsibilities in terms of percentages, but it also should provide an explanation of what these percentages mean for all faculty in the unit. While CALS uses the format in UA Vitae for annual performance reviews, the Provost's Office requires that all unit heads complete the new Summary of Candidate's Workload Assignment (Section 2) for the purposes of promotion and tenure/continuing status review. This form must be dated and signed by the candidate and unit head. Additional instructions are on the Section 2 template. The responsibilities of continuing-track faculty should be particularly well defined to ensure understanding by reviewers beyond the college level. Since the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the only unit on campus that has Cooperative Extension, the nature of Extension appointments often is not clearly understood.

Section 2. Summary of Candidate's Workload Assignment

CALS Guidelines and Criteria stress the importance of position descriptions in providing the context for all evaluation decisions so it is particularly important the candidate's responsibilities be clearly presented. This section will be read carefully by outside evaluators and both the college and university committees.

The Summary of Candidate's Workload Assignment is not to contain "laudatory" language. Outside evaluators must not be sent dossiers containing a Summary of Candidate's Workload Assignment that also evaluates the candidate's contributions. If you have any questions about whether the language in your dossier could be considered laudatory, please contact Sylvia Ramirez (Dean's Office, 520-621-0094) or Patti Baciewicz (Extension Administration, 520-621-5308) before sending your dossier out for review.

Section 3. Departmental and College Criteria

One-page abstracts of the appropriate college criteria specifically designed for the dossier are available online: http://cals.arizona.edu/dean/ptcindex.html. If unit faculty voted to use college-level guidelines and criteria, the unit head should provide a statement in Section 3. Cooperative Extension agents have specific written guidelines and criteria as well. The longer version of CALS Guidelines and Criteria and examples of activities may be sent to outside evaluators to provide greater detail but should be replaced with the abstract when the dossier is submitted to the college. College and university committees have access to the full version of CALS Guidelines and Criteria.

Section 4. Curriculum Vitae and List of Collaborators

Explain any method of listing work in the CV that is unique to the discipline (authorship listings, graduate students, page numbers, grant efforts, Extension publication number). Designate works in progress separately.

Section 6. Teaching Portfolio

Continuing-track candidates who have responsibility for teaching one or more credit classes must complete this section.

CALS requires that Section 6 (including selected syllabi, etc.) be sent to outside evaluators.

Section 7. Evaluation of Teaching and Teaching Portfolio

Section 7 is prepared jointly by the candidate and unit head/committee. (Unit guidelines should specify how closely the committee can work with the candidate prior to their review of the dossier.) The candidate should submit the official Teacher Course Evaluations (TCE) summary, TCE Participation History, TCE Course - Section Comparison Report, and TCE Multi-Item Core Question Graphics provided by the Office of Instruction and Assessment.

TCEs should not be the sole means of evaluating teaching. Individual letters from students can be provided by the candidate for the unit head/committee's use in preparing a summary of feedback from undergraduate and graduate students.

CALS requires that the candidate's contribution toward Section 7 be sent to outside evaluators.

Section 8. Service and Outreach Portfolio (optional for tenure-track faculty)

Continuing-track candidates who have responsibility for a major Extension program must complete this section. A description of three or four major components of the candidate's program should be clearly stated. These efforts should coincide with the stated program thrusts in the position description. Include the purpose and objectives of the program, the target group, and expected results. Specify indicators by which objectives can be measured.

The section on program implementation should summarize what was accomplished in relation to previously stated objectives, including activities, services, seminars, products, contacts, teaching hours, and grants. Do not list every event or activity separately.

Program evaluation should utilize performance measures designed to document changes in knowledge, attitude, skills, behavior and/or aspiration which may have occurred in the target clientele as a result of the program. Program accomplishments should include outcomes or effects, changes that resulted and/or long-term impact of the program. "Impact" is the social, economic and/or environmental effect or consequence of the program. Outside evaluators, as well as college and university committee members, invariably comment on demonstrated impact or lack thereof in discussions of a candidate's programs.

This section is an option for P&T candidates whose outreach and service is integral to their programs of work. If service or outreach makes up a significant percentage of your workload assignment, take advantage of this section to describe your program and assess and document the program's impact.

The Service and Outreach Portfolio is designed for department reviews and will not generally be forwarded to college committees. A candidate may also request that the department head or committee chair include the Service and Outreach Portfolio in the materials that are sent to external reviewers.

Section 10. Letters from Outside Evaluators and Collaborators

CALS now requires that all dossiers be reviewed within the Dean's Office before they are sent to outside evaluators. Mistakes made during the early part of the review process can be amended at this point; they cannot be fixed later on in the process without initiating re-review at all levels. Units should allow three business days for this preliminary review.

Section 11. Recommendations

This section includes letters of evaluation from the unit/Cooperative Extension committee, unit head, college P&T/CS&P committee, and dean. Candidates should be evaluated against the unit's and college's written guidelines and criteria.

The unit/Cooperative Extension committee and unit head have the most knowledge of the candidate's discipline. Their letters should discuss the candidate's research, teaching, Extension and service in the context of their decision. The responsibility at this level is to clearly describe the nature and significance of the candidate's research for those outside the field and clarify any issues related to the culture or custom of the discipline such as issues of coauthorship and significance (or lack thereof) of first authorship. If the candidate has made significant efforts as part of a team, the unit head should be sure the extent of these efforts is clearly explained for reviewers beyond the unit level.

Part III: The Evaluation Process for Promotion and Tenure/Continuing Status

Faculty Appointments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Although the tenure and continuing tracks have substantially similar status at The University of Arizona, they are covered under separate sections of the University Handbook for Appointed Personnel (UHAP Chapters 3 and 4, respectively). The provost issues specific instructions for preparing each type of dossier and separate peer committees (P&T and CS&P) are appointed at each level to evaluate candidates for promotion and/or the award of tenure or continuing status.

Employees in both categories are members of the general faculty. They have teaching, research, Extension and service responsibilities and are provided professional and intellectual freedom. The tenure-track titles of assistant, associate and full professor reflect a focus on classroom teaching on campus. Faculty in the continuing track in CALS are professionals in Cooperative Extension (assistant, associate and full agents and specialists) or research professionals (assistant, associate and full research scientists). Faculty with Extension appointments are expected to perform scholarly activities that include nonformal, off-campus teaching and applied research.

Since CALS has many more continuing-track faculty than are found in other colleges, separate peer committees for P&T and CS&P are appointed at the college level. If there are at least three continuing status faculty in a unit, the unit should have a separate CS&P committee as well. Small departments may need to add outside faculty to a P&T or CS&P committee to provide the relevant expertise or representation; all additions to committees from outside the unit must be approved by the dean.

Annual Reviews for Tenure- or Continuing-eligible Faculty

All CALS faculty members are evaluated in the context of their position description, both for annual review and for promotion and tenure/continuing status. All tenure- and continuing-eligible faculty should receive a special component of their annual review that provides feedback regarding progress toward tenure or continuing status. As part of the special annual review component for probationary faculty, performance in teaching, research, Extension and service (the areas of contribution necessary for tenure/continuing status) will be measured against written unit and college guidelines and criteria for promotion and tenure/continuing status. Overall progress will be assessed in the context of the candidate's performance to date as an indication that the candidate is making progress toward meeting these criteria by the sixth year of appointment.

Each year, in addition to the usual materials submitted for annual review in CALS (UA Vitae, position description, goals and objectives), probationary faculty will submit an up-to-date curriculum vitae following the format required for the P&T/CS&P dossier.

Probationary faculty will be reviewed annually by a unit peer committee and by the unit head. This peer review committee will be formed in accordance with university and unit guidelines and will include rank superior faculty only. The committee will provide written comments to the unit head regarding the faculty member's progress in teaching, research, Extension and service. The unit head will also assess the faculty member's progress and provide a written summary of the evaluation results to the probationary faculty member.

According to UHAP 3.2.01, "Annual performance reviews may be considered in the promotion and tenure process, but such evaluations are not determinative on promotion and tenure decisions. Satisfactory ratings in the annual performance reviews do not necessarily indicate successful progress toward promotion and tenure." UHAP 4A.2.01 contains similar language relevant to continuing-eligible faculty.

Three-Year Review (Required) for Tenure- or Continuing-eligible Faculty

The formal three-year review for CALS faculty will follow the guidelines and instructions issued by the Office of the Provost (see http://facultyaffairs.arizona.edu/retention-reviews). All three-year reviews will be submitted no later than December 1 for review by the dean, with additional review by the college P&T or CS&P committee if necessary. If it appears there will be a recommendation for non-retention following the three-year review, the dossier must be submitted to the Dean's Office by November 1 in order to meet the deadlines for full review at all levels as required by university policy.

If the results of the three-year review are satisfactory but warrant an interim review prior to the sixth year, the unit head or dean or college committee may request an additional formalized fourth- or fifth-year review.

Role of Teaching, Research, Extension and Service

Over the last decade, there has been a major change of emphasis on the importance of good teaching in the evaluation for promotion and tenure. A research superstar who is a poor teacher will not get tenure. The reverse is true as well; an excellent teacher must demonstrate research accomplishments to be promoted or awarded tenure. The relative weights in the candidate's Summary of Workload Assignment will be taken into account when performance in these areas is evaluated. The Office of Instruction and Assessment can provide a great deal of assistance in presenting the results of student evaluations as well as improving performance in weak areas. Units should provide peer evaluation of teaching as well.

Extension specialists and agents also have two areas of focus: a specialized focus on applied research and outreach teaching activities directed to clientele in the state and region. Extension specialists often have a split appointment between Extension and research which is uncommon outside the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The actual split of the formal appointment among teaching, research, and extension should be stated in the Summary of Candidate's Workload Assignment (Section 2). Extension candidates should emphasize the creative methods of technology transfer used for educational outreach and identify activities in relation to the crucial role Cooperative Extension plays in the overall university continuum of teaching, research, and service. As they develop programs, they should identify ways to measure change or assess results so they will be able to show the impact of their work in the continuing status review.

In an academic culture, it is easier for others to evaluate research than teaching and it is also easier to assess formal teaching than work in Extension. Extension specialists and agents should make a special effort to explain their activities, since many at the university level are still unfamiliar with the mission and responsibilities of Cooperative Extension.

Role of Committees and Administrators

Department/School/Cooperative Extension
and University

Department Head/School Director/County Extension Director
and Provost

The makeup of the unit committee is specified in UHAP 3.3.02 (tenuie) or UHAP 4A.3.02(continuing status). If a unit has three or more rank superior faculty of the same status (tenure or continuing) as the candidate they should form a separate peer committee. If a department, college, or other administrative unit has less than the required number of faculty to perform the review, peers from other units may be invited to participate. In CALS, both tenured and continuing faculty may serve on unit-level peer committees if necessary but the majority should be those of the same track as the candidate.

The unit head should contact the dean for approval when non-unit members will be added to the unit committee. The rationale for the variation in committee makeup should be stated in the unit head's letter. If a unit head or committee chair has collaborated significantly with the candidate, the unit head or committee chair cannot select outside reviewers or solicit letters for external review. This process must be completed by a committee member or surrogate unit head. If a surrogate unit head is needed, the unit head should ask the dean to appoint an individual to oversee all aspects of the evaluation process. The unit head may contribute details about the collaboration in a separate collaborator letter for the dossier.

The unit committee and unit head are in a better position to assess teaching than other committees or reviewers. The unit head should add relevant information as to how the candidate's accomplishments are integrated with the unit's mission, especially when the candidate is involved in team efforts. Since unit heads are familiar with the discipline, they can identify the most significant journals or other appropriate publications and clarify expectations and norms for the research field. The Cooperative Extension peer committee and county Extension director are also in a better position to assess Extension activities and publications than other committees or reviewers. Because the unit head letter is considered especially important in the evaluation process, the university recommends that new heads consult an experienced head for advice on preparing this letter.

Unit heads and deans should not simply repeat statements from outside evaluators or committee letters, but should offer substantive comments. Any negative statements contained in outside letters should be addressed. If something happened to make the candidate's career progress atypical, this should be explained. Special qualities of the candidate that may not be obvious in reading a large dossier should also be highlighted. Because applied research in CALS is not as easily understood as basic research by university academic committees, additional clarification by the unit head and dean can be very helpful.