About the Recontracting, Tenure, and Promotion Documents and Tips for Faculty and Graduate Students
This page contains all recontracting, tenure, and promotion documents (or, as we call them, packets) that I composed while an Assistant Professor of Writing Arts at Rowan University. Each of the packets contain the following:
- reflections on my Teaching, Scholarly and Creative Activity, and University and Professional Service
- student course evaluations and my reflections on those evaluations
- observations of my teaching and my reflections on those observations
- letters in support of my being recontracted, tenured, or promoted
I have decided to post this material online for several reasons, the primary ones being:
- To make visible a process that is often opaque, confusing, and intimidating to new (and seasoned) faculty.
- To show what a process is like at a Master’s-level university that values Teaching over Scholarly Production.
- To provide a possible model for how writing and rhetoric faculty might contextualize the work they and their students do with blogs, Twitter, video composition, remix, and other social composing spaces and genres.
- To introduce the recontracting, tenure, and promotion processes to graduate students who for the most part are not taught about it.
Please read my blog post, “Why I’m Putting My Recontracting, Tenure, and Promotion Documents Online” for a discussion of these reasons.
If you’d like, you can skip the explanations and just jump to my documents.
It is important to state at the outset that each university has its own unique (and convoluted) process to evaluate faculty, librarians, and professional staff. At Rowan, the evaluation process for tenure-track faculty is called “recontracting”; where you are it will no doubt be called something else. Regardless of the name, during this process you will be asked to reflect on the work you have done while at the institution in terms of your teaching, your scholarly or creative production, and your service. Each institution places different weight on each of these three areas, with Teaching or Scholarly / Creative Production being the most important, followed by Service.
While these documents will seem cumbersome and annoying at first, they provide you with the opportunity to make the case that what you do for the institution and field has value. Each packet is an extended argument meant to inform your colleagues within and outside your department. The more cohesive the discussion, the tighter the connections among the themes and sections, the more informed those colleagues will be.
Note to graduate students: knowing what the institution you’re applying to values early in one’s faculty career (even if slightly)—Teaching or Scholarship—will allow you to better structure your job letter and help you determine whether or not you will be a good fit for that university. And your job letters should be structured for each university or college; compose a letter for a teaching school by starting with a discussion of your research and only discussing your teaching in a small paragraph at the end shows you have not read (or not cared to read) your audience well. While we are all mentored in graduate school to strive for the Research 1 university, many of us are Teacher-Scholars rather than Scholar-Teachers. There is pride in both. Assessing what you are ahead of time will help you determine which schools to send applications to and will help you begin to visualize your career trajectory.
I hope the following discussion of the process at Rowan helps inform your approach to your recontracting process wherever you are a faculty member. Though I do hope this discussion helps you there is no guarantee that they will make your recontracting successful. Ultimately, that is up to you and your colleagues.
The Recontracting, Tenure, and Promotion Process at Rowan University
Because Rowan is a state school, the procedures and requirements for recontracting, tenure, and promotion are negotiated by the faculty union and the state of New Jersey. The procedures for tenure and recontracting appear each year in a document called the Memorandum of Agreement (see, for example, the 2010-2011 Recontracting and Tenure Memorandum and the 2011-2012 Promotion Memorandum [.doc]). The Memorandum defines the areas in which faculty will be evaluated, the order of the contents of the packets, the specific requirements for what must be included in the packet, and the dates the packet must be submitted to various people and committees. Though quite thorough, the Memorandum specifies that each department must create specific criteria that is based on the criteria in the Memorandum. The department criteria is very important because it is the primary criteria that will be used to evaluate a faculty member. Depending on the faculty member’s year of service, their packet will be evaluated by: a department committee, the Dean of the college, a senate committee, and the Provost or President. The Provost or President makes the final recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
Faculty applying for promotion will also be evaluated by a department promotion committee, a college promotion committee, a senate promotion committee, the Dean of the college, and the Provost or President. The Provost or President makes the final recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Guidelines for promotion are included in a Promotion Memorandum of Agreement. Rowan the Tenure and Promotion processes are separate, though the contents of each of the packets is quite similar and departments must now have a single document that specifies criteria for recontracting, tenure, and promotion.
Rowan is a Master’s level university. The university Memorandum states that candidates must show evidence of and will be evaluated in the following areas, in order of importance:
Excellence in Academic Instruction, which includes a discussion of
Excellence in Developing Learning Activities
Excellence in Developing as a Teacher
Excellence in Mentoring and Advising
Scholarly and Creative Activity, of which there are several areas that can be discussed
Research in the Scholarship of Teaching
Funded Scholarly and Creative Projects
Contributions to the University Community
Contributions to the Wider and Professional Communities
Because Teaching is valued more than Scholarship in this ranking, it is vital that faculty work hard in that area to achieve success. The teaching load reflects the focus on teaching for evaluation purposes: faculty in the Department of Writing Arts teach a 4 -4 load with the ability to have it reduced to 3 – 3. Faculty are also expected to be active scholars and/or creative writers and to publish and present at conferences in their field. Though a published book is not required for tenure or promotion to Associate Professor it is required for promotion to Full Professor.
Tenure-track faculty at Rowan submit documents according to the following timeline (full-time temporary and 3/4 time faculty go through a scaled down version of the below process and they are not eligible for tenure or promotion):
First Year of Service
Packet due in the spring of the first year. It covers teaching, scholarly or creative activity, and service completed during the faculty member’s first semester. The packet is reviewed by the department tenure and recontracting committee and the Dean of the college. The packet serves as an application for a second year of service.
Second Year of Service
Packet due in the fall of the second year. It covers teaching, scholarly or creative activity, and service completed during the faculty member’s first year of service. The packet is reviewed by the department tenure and recontracting committee, the Faculty Senate tenure and recontracting committee, the Dean of the college, and the Provost or President. The packet serves as an application for a third and fourth year of service.
Third Year of Service
Packet due in the spring of the third year. It covers teaching, scholarly or creative activity, and service completed since the prior packet. The packet is reviewed by the department tenure and recontracting committee, the Faculty Senate tenure and recontracting committee, and the Dean of the college. The packet serves as an application for a fifth year of service.
Fifth Year of Service
Packet due in the fall of the fifth year. This is the application for tenure. It covers teaching, scholarly or creative activity, and service completed since the prior packet, though because this packet is the application for tenure, it should contextualize work within the whole of the career at Rowan. The packet is reviewed by the department tenure and recontracting committee, the Faculty Senate tenure and recontracting committee, the Dean of the college, and the Provost or President. The packet serves as an application for a sixth year of service with tenure. If approved, tenure begins the first day of classes in the sixth year of service.
Fifth Year of Service (typically)
Packet due in January of the fifth year. This is the application for promotion to Associate Professor. It covers teaching, scholarly or creative activity, and service completed while at Rowan. The packet is reviewed by the department promotion committee, the college promotion committee, the Dean of the college, the Faculty Senate promotion committee, and the Provost or President. If approved, the rank of associate professor begins the first day of classes in the sixth year of service.
A Note on Organizing Material to be Included
One of the more difficult things about the ongoing recontracting process is keeping track of and organizing the material that will be included in the packets. This difficulty is compounded if, like at Rowan, supporting letters are provided in print form and the packets are submitted in print form, but everything must be digitized to send to the copiers to create the printed packets. It took me several years to come up with an organizational structure that facilitated rather than confused the process.
First, create a single folder stored in a file cabinet that contains all print-based supporting documents. These documents will include: letters from the department, Dean, and so on, signed portions of student evals (if needed), signed letters from peer observations (if needed) and any other support document.
Second, on your computer, create a folder structure similar to this:
Explanation of folders:
- 2012: the year the packet is submitted; replicate for each year a packet is due
- dept-and-uni-documents: contains all dept and university guidelines for that year—it is importnt to save the new ones as they may change year to year
- department-draft: contains the draft for the department committee
- dean-senate-draft: contains the draft for the Dean and senate, which may include revisions after the department sees it if your process allows for revisions suggested by the department committee
- required-documents: contains any documents required by department and university guidelines, such as checklists, evaluations, peer observations, and so on
- course-evals: contains all course evaluations and is updated each semester; the folder is broken down by semester
- supporting-docs: contains scanned versions of the documents in the folder stored in the file cabinet
- ongoing-docs: contains documents and spreadsheets that have tabulated evals scores over time, blog stats or time, and so on; these are easily updated and included in the newest packet when needed
Third, be sure to save at least one copy of your final printed draft and back up your files using a secure back-up provider.
I started at Rowan in September 2006 after graduating with a PhD in English with a concentration in Computers and English Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. I was awarded tenure in 2011, a status which officially began the first day of classes in the fall 2011 semester. Due to a stupid error on my part, I missed the date to sign up for promotion. So, I applied for Promotion in January 2012 and
I’m hoping to be granted was granted promotion to the rank of Associate Professor on June 13, 2012 by the Board of Trustees.
The Documents (all documents are in PDF format)
First Year of Service / Application for Second Year of Service
- Complete First Year Document (.pdf)
- Submitted: May 2007
- length: 42 pages
Second Year of Service / Application for Third and Fourth Years of Service
- Complete Second Year Document (.pdf)
- Submitted: September 2007
- Length: 56 pages
- Contains all letters in support of May 2007 packet
Third Year of Service / Application for Fifth Year of Service
- Complete Third Year Document (.pdf)
- Submitted: April 2009
- Length: 98 pages
- Contains all letters in support of September 2007 packet
Fifth Year of Service / Application for Tenure
- Complete Fifth Year Document (.pdf)
- Submitted: October 2010
- Length: 199 pages
- Contains all letters in support of April 2009 packet
Application for Promotion
- Complete Promotion Document (.pdf)
- Submitted: January 2012
- Length: 121 pages
- Contains all letters in support of October 2010 packet
- All letters in support of this packet to be added