Criteria, Expectations and Standards

General Criteria & Standards

Before preparing a request for promotion and/or continuing appointment, the Chair and members of the department should have a clear understanding of the general criteria and campus-wide standards applied to each request. The Office of the Provost, with recommendations from the Council on Promotions and Continuing Appointments, and consistent with the policies of the SUNY Board of Trustees, provides the following general statement of criteria and standards:

  1. In the review process, primary emphasis will be placed upon the major areas of scholarship, teaching and service. For this purpose, scholarship is broadly defined as original scholarly contributions or artistic works which constitute significant advances or major contributions to the individual's discipline, to interdisciplinary or cross disciplinary work, or to practice in a field, and which serve as a basis for major professional awards or distinctions.

  2. Recommendations shall be based primarily upon a careful deliberation concerning the effectiveness of the candidate within each of the three following categories, as appropriate to the position of the candidate within the University.
    1. Scholarship as documented by publication of significant research work in the field, by development of educational and research materials or software, or by creative contributions in the arts. Also included is mastery of subject matter as demonstrated by advanced degrees, licenses, honors, grants, awards, reputation in the field and continuing professional growth.
    2. Teaching as documented by such evidence as student and peer evaluations, development of teaching materials or new courses, student advisement, thesis supervision and evidence of lasting contribution to students' intellectual growth.
    3. Service appropriate to the rank as demonstrated by participation in departmental, college and university duties and governance, professional service activities, and such public and community service as is related to the candidate's scholarly qualifications.
  3. At a research university, candidates for promotion are expected to demonstrate excellence primarily in research and teaching, together with evidence of substantive contributions in service.

For promotion to associate professor, candidates are expected to have achieved independence as scholars, to be recognized and respected by their peers as outstanding scholars who have made a substantive contribution to the state of knowledge in their discipline or disciplines, and to be on a trajectory to continue to build a significant body of scholarship that will advance their discipline(s). In other words, candidates are expected to have established a clear, important line of research, one with indicators of quality, impact and prospective continuation. “Independence as a scholar” does not preclude scholarly collaborations but rather requires candidates to have made their own significant contributions even when working in disciplinary or interdisciplinary teams. In addition, faculty candidates are expected to demonstrate a strong commitment to the educational mission of the university, and to be effective and committed teachers and mentors. Candidates are also expected to be engaged in service in relevant contexts, including various levels of the institution, the profession, the public and the community.

For promotion to full professor, candidates are expected to present evidence that they have made continued major contributions in scholarship, and that they have further developed a body of scholarship that is recognized as making a substantial contribution to one or more disciplines and is the basis for a respected national or international reputation among professional peers. Furthermore, candidates are expected to be making major contributions in teaching and mentoring, and to be engaged in significant service roles in the university and profession. In summary, candidates for full professor are expected to demonstrate that they have achieved professional maturity and have moved into leadership roles as fully committed scholars, teachers, and institutional and professional citizens.


Discipline-specific Expectations & Standards

The expectations and standards that define excellence in scholarship vary by discipline. These disciplinary expectations and standards include norms around the types of scholarship conducted (for example: quantitative vs. qualitative, primary vs. secondary, basic vs. applied), expected products of scholarship (for example: books, peer-reviewed journal articles, artistic compositions, evaluation reports and public policy briefs), authorship, quality and appropriate quantity, among other things. These disciplinary expectations should be clearly laid out in the dossier to facilitate a fair review at all levels of the process.

The department has the primary responsibility for ensuring that these disciplinary norms and expectations are clearly presented in the file. Letters from appropriately selected external reviewers help establish this context but the department Chair is primarily responsible for describing the scholarly context of the candidate’s discipline. The instructions for the Chair’s letter and the guidelines for writing a Chair’s letter contain specific guidance for this task.

This disciplinary context is especially important as new and evolving forms of scholarship develop. For example, community-engaged scholarship and entrepreneurial scholarship have become important forms of scholarship in recent years in some fields, and it is likely that other forms of scholarship may emerge in the future as established disciplines advance and newer disciplines mature. Similarly, the standards around appropriate scholarly products change as new forms of scholarly communication and dissemination emerge (for example: e-journals, blogs, open-access publications, digital collection building and multi-media genres).

Departments are expected to have a written document, approved by the department faculty as a whole and reviewed periodically, that describes the norms and expectations for promotion and tenure in that department and discipline. Such a document should not present a strict checklist of the minimum levels of productivity necessary for promotion and tenure. Rather, that document should qualitatively explain the overall expectations by which the candidate will be evaluated and should be flexible enough to encompass the normal variations in what is considered excellence within that discipline. These documents should be shared with junior faculty at the time of their initial appointment and must also be included in the tenure dossier.