Departments must have written policies for promotion to the rank of professor. These guidelines should align with campus guidelines adopted in a 2016 memo from the Provost and Secretary of the Faculty.
Faculty Policies and Procedures requires that departments provide newly hired or promoted Associate Professors with the guidelines. (FPP 5.21.D.2)
Faculty Senate is currently deliberating the addition of a campus-wide policy on promotion from associate professor to full professor. The University Committee held two town halls for feedback on the new section of Faculty Policies and Procedures on Monday, Oct 19 and Wednesday, Oct 21
Here is the document with the current proposed language: Faculty Document 2879, Proposed Change to Faculty Policies and Procedures: the Addition of a New Section, 7.18, Promotion to the Rank of Full Professor
Here is the background on this policy:
Currently, there is very little guidance within Faculty Policies and Procedures for departments on requirements regarding the promotion from associate professor to full professor. Chapter 5 instructs departmental executive committees to provide a written document about the department’s expectation for promotion to full professor. In October of 2016, departments were asked to create a written document outlining the criteria and process for promotion to full professor. The memo providing this direction included some uniform guidance. In the summer of 2019, the UC formed a small ad hoc committee to review the guidance and recommend changes to FPP. Faculty document 2879 was presented at the March Faculty Senate meeting for a first reading. As you can see in Faculty document 2879 Revised, many changes have been made as a result of your comments and questions.
Faculty have been asking about the alternative to the council of full professors. This language was added to give departments more flexibility and accommodate structures they may already have put in place. There have also been questions about school/college guidelines for promotion to full. The section being added to FPP is silent on these. School/college guidelines are not required.
The section that has brought in the most feedback is the outside letters. Some correspondence about this addition to FPP suggests that asking for letters for promotion will create generate additional requests for letters from members in the department. There has not been evidence brought forward to suggest that this is the case.
There have also been a number of question as to why the number of letters is included in FPP for this, but not for tenure and promotion to associate. For tenure and promotion to associate, the requirements of outside letters rests with the divisional committees and can be found in their tenure guidelines. Promotion to full professor happens at the departmental level and thus campus-wide requirements would need to be included in FPP.
The committee that drafted the language for FPP did benchmarking on the requirement of external letters for promotion to full professor. We are the only Big Ten school that does not require them. All of our peers in the Big Ten require outside letters for promotion to full professor. Most of them require 4-5 letters with some needing as many as 8. This proposal requires 3 letters. The guidelines allow for departments to determine what extent these letters will differ significantly from letters required for promotion to associate professor with tenure. The guidelines leave it up to departments to determine whether they need to be arm’s length, whether they are confidential, whether the letters can come from individuals who will speak primarily to outreach or service accomplishments of the faculty member, and whether it needs to be reported who was asked for letters and who declined to write a letter and why.