Promotion & Tenure Criteria

Three (3) distinct criteria are employed in evaluating faculty performance: Teaching, Creative, Scholarly and Research Activities, and Service. The criteria for evaluating creative and scholarly work and service vary considerably from one discipline and department to the next. It is the responsibility of the Department Chair to assist her/his faculty member to understand how the standard applies to their discipline and to assist the members of the Rank and Tenure Committee in interpreting the standards of performance in their respective disciplines. Candidates for promotion and tenure are evaluated in terms of the following general factors:


Superior teaching is essential. Among the factors considered in evaluating teaching are:

  • command of subject;
  • academic rigor;
  • ability to communicate;
  • organization of material;
  • development of courses;
  • intellectual stimulation of students;
  • availability to students;
  • interest in and encouragement of students;
  • academic advising of students;
  • efforts to improve the quality of teaching;
  • engagement in assessment and program improvement (discipline and, where appropriate, Sophia), with the understanding that teaching only makes sense in the contexts of student learning and of the overall program(s) in which it is embedded.


All faculty at Saint Mary’s are expected to demonstrate continuing involvement in the professional life of their disciplines. To facilitate comprehension of this complex area, the Rank and Tenure Committee, in consultation with the various departments, has prepared the following listing. Activities have been divided into three (3) categories presented in order of decreasing importance. (Activities listed within the category have equal weight.) This listing is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive. While some activities corresponding to those in Category I are essential to promotion and tenure, it is expected that faculty will be involved in various activities of the kind listed below.


  • Publishing in the field of research or of teaching;
  • Presenting papers at meetings of professional societies;
  • Designing seminars and/or workshops for professional meetings;
  • Giving invitational recitals and concerts;
  • Participating in juried art exhibitions;
  • Guest participation in one’s discipline in professional theatre (such as acting, directing, stage managing);
  • Holding office in national professional societies in one’s discipline;
  • Receiving honors indicative of professional recognition in one’s discipline.


  • Engaging in ongoing research;
  • Having one’s work cited by other scholars;
  • Refereeing papers;
  • Receiving grants in support of scholarly activity;
  • Preparing laboratory manuals and other kinds of teaching tools;
  • Attending meetings of professional societies;
  • Attending professional workshops;
  • Giving invitational lectures on scholarly subjects both on and off campus;
  • Participating in non-juried art exhibitions;
  • Participating in on-campus concerts, art exhibitions, or theatrical productions;
  • Writing reviews of scholarly books, concerts, art exhibitions, or theatrical productions.


  • Designing new programs;
  • Receiving grants not directly related to scholarly activity;
  • Giving lectures in the areas of one’s academic discipline for non-professional organizations;
  • Being chosen an officer and/or board member of a local organization on the basis of expertise in one’s academic discipline;
  • Enrolling in conferences, courses, and seminars in one’s discipline.

While it is true that criteria for evaluating Creative, Scholarly and Research Activities vary greatly, these categories in effect constitute a ranking.


A wide range of activities are embraced including:

  • College governance and College committee work;
  • Departmental activities;
  • Service to the College community;
  • Service to the community outside the college, utilizing one’s professional abilities as teacher and scholar.


Faculty who intend to apply for promotion and tenure should notify the Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee no later than June 1, so as to allow adequate time for the Committee’s planning for cases, and for the candidate to gather, develop, and distribute materials for the review.


Faculty members who are nearing the end of their probationary period are invited to apply for tenure and, if at the Assistant Professor rank, promotion. Faculty members wishing to apply for promotion beyond their tenured rank may do so at any time, provided that two (2) years have elapsed since their most recent application.

Faculty members who come to the College with significant experience at other institutions, whether or not they come with rank beyond the Assistant Professor level, may, with the support of their Department Chair apply for early tenure. The decision to do this should be discussed with the Provost prior to formal application. Failure to be awarded early tenure does not result in a terminal contract, nor should it be considered to have any implications regarding the likelihood of tenure at the end of the full probationary period.


The Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee notifies faculty, in writing, of their eligibility for promotion and tenure. Faculty members who reach the end of the probationary period and refuse to apply for tenure are issued a terminal contract. On the basis of the acceptance notices received from the nominees, the Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee prepares a list of candidates for promotion and tenure. This list is known only to the members of the Rank and Tenure Committee and the President.

It is the candidate’s responsibility and opportunity to make her or his best case for tenure and promotion. The Rank and Tenure Committee considers the following materials for each candidate: representative syllabi, student course instructor surveys, publications, slides, reviews, programs, original evaluation forms with student comments, and so on. Additional materials may be submitted by the candidate.

The Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee requests each member of a candidate’s department to submit an evaluation of the candidate.

The Rank and Tenure Committee may request that colleagues outside the department submit evaluations of the candidate. This is normally done in instances where there has been significant involvement with the candidate. A candidate may ask that the Rank and Tenure Committee request an evaluation from any faculty member. Ordinarily, however, the candidate is expected to issue the request to the evaluator.


Quantitative data from Student Course Instructor Surveys are assembled by the Office of Institutional Research. Students are asked to provide a written evaluation of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as well as to evaluate the candidate as a member of the Saint Mary's community. A sample of students who have had only lower division courses and a sample of students having a range of courses are asked to write. Students’ names are selected from class lists of preceding years. Candidates are not to solicit letters from current students.

College alumnae who have taken one or more courses with the candidate are asked to provide written evaluations of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and to evaluate the candidate as a member of the Saint Mary's community. A random sample of alumnae throughout the candidate’s time at Saint Mary’s is chosen representing both majors and non-majors.


As part of the review of all cases for promotion and tenure, the Rank and Tenure Committee asks for input from reviewers from outside the College who are in a position to speak knowledgeably about the accomplishments of the candidate in the area of Creative, Scholarly and Research Activities. Outside reviews are ordinarily sought only from the individuals identified by the candidate, but the Rank and Tenure Committee may request assessments from other individuals as well.

No later than June 15 of the calendar year in which the candidate will be considered for promotion and tenure, the candidate submits to the Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee a list of external reviewers who have agreed to review the candidate’s Creative, Scholarly and Research Activities. The list includes names and contact information for a minimum of three (3) and a maximum of five (5) individuals.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to send, in a timely fashion, materials she or he deems necessary to complete the review process to the individuals on the list. The material includes a copy of the candidate’s own narrative report to the committee, and may include any other materials that the candidate judges to be useful to the reviewer, e.g., representative syllabi, articles, books, texts of presentations, reproductions of art work.

No later than September 1, the Chair of the Committee must contact the individuals on the list provided by the candidate and request they return completed evaluations by October 1. 


Candidates for promotion and tenure who wish to make a personal appeal to the Rank and Tenure Committee may do so by contacting the Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee prior to the deadline set for candidacy materials. Faculty who are not candidates, and administrators, who wish to appear before the Rank and Tenure Committee in support of, or in opposition to a candidate, should contact the Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee prior to November 1.


Although there may be deviation from the following procedure, the Rank and Tenure Committee normally follows the procedure described below in reviewing all candidates. Those who wish to recommend changes in procedure or policy should contact the Chair of the Rank and Tenure Committee. All deliberations of the Rank and Tenure Committee and the materials on which they are based are strictly confidential.

PHASE I - Prior to considering any candidate for promotion and tenure, and prior to meeting with the Department Chair of the candidate, the Rank and Tenure Committee must be in receipt of the above candidacy materials. Rank and Tenure Committee members review the candidate’s materials prior to the meeting with the Department Chair.

PHASE II - Rank and Tenure Committee members do not discuss their observations based upon their review of the materials among themselves nor with others prior to meeting with the Department Chair. Thus, each Rank and Tenure Committee member forms a personal assessment and develops a line of inquiry to be pursued during the meeting with the candidate’s Department Chair. If the Department Chair is a candidate for promotion, the most recent past chair of the department will complete the candidate report and present the candidate to the  Rank and Tenure Committee. If the most recent Department Chair has left the College, the President or her designee will determine the candidate’s representation. 

PHASE III - Following the meeting with the candidate’s Department Chair, the Rank and Tenure Committee discusses the case before it. The Rank and Tenure Committee may decide to defer the discussion pending further review of the materials. When the Rank and Tenure Committee is satisfied that it can make an informed judgment, a vote is taken. All decisions which serve as the basis for the Rank and Tenure Committee's recommendation are based on a majority vote via secret ballot.


The Rank and Tenure Committee submits its written recommendations together with all candidate materials to the President no later than January 1.

The President communicates the decision on promotion and tenure to the Provost and to the Rank and Tenure Committee no later than February 1.

If the President does not accept the Rank and Tenure Committee's recommendation, the President meets with the Rank and Tenure Committee to discuss the rationale for this decision.

The President reports tenure decisions to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees at its winter meeting.


Department Chairs and candidates for promotion and tenure are given written notification of decisions from the President by February 15. Faculty members who are promoted and granted tenure receive contracts that reflect their new status. Those denied tenure and who are at the end of their probationary period receive terminal contracts.  


With the exception of supporting materials (e.g., publications, slides, etc.), all materials submitted to the Rank and Tenure Committee as well as materials generated by the Rank and Tenure Committee are confidential. Only Rank and Tenure Committee members and the President are granted access to these materials. Rank and Tenure Committee members do not have access to the written evaluations by faculty members of candidates considered in previous years.  


The decision to deny promotion and tenure to a faculty member will be given verbally if that faculty member requests it.

Unsuccessful candidates for promotion and tenure have the right to meet with the President and Provost to discuss the decision

If, having received reasons verbally, and having been advised of potential adverse consequences, and the faculty member believes that written confirmation of the reasons for denying promotion and tenure might be useful in pursuing a professional career, that individual may request, and shall receive the reasons in writing. Such a request must be submitted in writing by April 15 of the academic year in which the decision to deny promotion and tenure was communicated to the candidate.  


Tenured faculty denied promotion may not reapply the following academic year. 


Faculty who are denied promotion and tenure and who wish to appeal the decision must submit a written appeal to the President within thirty (30) working days after they are notified of the denial. Faculty who believe there has been a procedural irregularity or lack of adequate consideration may appeal their case to the Grievance Committee of the Faculty Assembly.

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