Introduction and key terms

Introduction

For any academic institution, faculty members are the foundation for excellence in scholarship, teaching and service. Their contributions and accomplishments are also vital components of a research university’s success in advancing its mission. The University at Albany is committed to providing an academic climate that supports and facilitates faculty excellence in all three areas.

UAlbany values excellence in scholarly inquiry and discovery, and embraces quality scholarship in its many diverse forms. The university recognizes that scholarly inquiry in any discipline is not static, and supports new and evolving forms of scholarship. In addition, inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary scholarship are valued as part of our academic enterprise.

UAlbany also values excellence in teaching and mentoring, and recognizes that educating future global citizens and mentoring future scholars is a fundamental function of a research university. Teaching is a specialized form of scholarly leadership that aims to disseminate disciplinary knowledge and new discoveries by engaging students in the thinking of the disciplines so they can observe, judge, act upon, create and manage a body of changing information in sophisticated ways.

Finally, UAlbany values excellence in service to the institution, to the community and to our professions. We seek not only to be engaged in advancing the mission of our own institution and our professions and disciplines, but also to be fully engaged with our local communities and global communities to further their well-being and success.

The concept of tenure is a fundamental basis of our university’s commitment to these values of excellence and the underlying value of academic freedom. A strong tenure and promotion system is a crucial aspect of an academic climate that fosters an outstanding faculty, and thus plays an important role in ensuring the strength of the foundation upon which the success of the university depends.

Tenure and promotion decisions are among the most important decisions made at UAlbany, and the university is committed to a clear and transparent tenure and promotion process. Decisions will be impartial, thorough and based on clearly articulated expectations.

Tenure is awarded based on the accomplishments and contributions of a faculty candidate in scholarship, teaching and service, and on the potential of the candidate to make continued, further contributions in these areas. Thus, tenure is the university’s investment in a faculty member’s future as an influential scholar, effective teacher and engaged institutional and academic citizen.

Tenured faculty members, in turn, have an obligation to continue and advance their pursuit of excellence in scholarly inquiry, education and service to the university’s mission. The University takes pride in faculty members continuing their trajectory to the rank of full professor, indicating that they have achieved national and international prominence.

 

Key terms

Academic review committee

This is the faculty body that is charged with evaluating and voting on a case at each level of review.

For faculty within the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Schools of Business, Education and Public Health, the first level academic review committee is the department faculty, the second level academic review committee is the school/college promotion and tenure committee, and the third level academic review committee is the Council on Promotion and Continuing Appointment (CPCA).

For faculty within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Rockefeller College, the first level academic review committee is the department faculty and the second level academic review committee is the CPCA (with a Dean’s review in between).

For cases arising from schools/colleges without separate departments (the Schools of Criminal Justice and Social Welfare, the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, and the University Libraries), the first level academic review committee is the school/college faculty and the second level review committee is CPCA.

Administrative officer

For the purposes of promotion and tenure, an administrative officer is the department Chair and/or Dean who is responsible for the administrative review of a candidate at the department or school/college level, and the Provost who is responsible for the administrative review at the University level.

Citation analysis

A citation analysis for the promotion dossier is a presentation of the citation counts of the candidate’s published works.

Continuing appointment

Continuing appointment is the official term for “tenure” in the State University of New York system.

Council on Promotion and Continuing Appointment (CPCA)

The CPCA is the UAlbany Faculty Senate Council that serves as the university-level academic review body for all promotion and/or continuing appointment cases.

Employment history

The candidate’s employment history is a document provided to the department upon request by Human Resources showing the employment record and dates (time periods of qualified rank, leaves, etc.) for a particular candidate for tenure or promotion.

Levels of review

Levels of review refers to the steps in the review process and can include department, school/college and university levels. Every case goes through at least two levels of review (school/college and university) and for schools and colleges that contain separate departments, cases go through a departmental level of review as well.

Every review level has two parts: a faculty, or academic, evaluation and vote (department, school/college committee, CPCA) and an administrative recommendation from each level (department Chair, Dean, Provost). Each step is advisory to the next, meaning the review process doesn’t stop after a negative outcome at one level but instead proceeds to the next, unless the faculty candidate withdraws their file from consideration.

Promotion

Promotion refers to any advancement in academic rank for professors and librarians, from assistant to associate, and from associate to full.

Solicited letter of evaluation

A solicited letter of evaluation is any letter, memorandum, statement or report of recommendation solicited by an authorized University official from another individual (referred to as a reviewer) in connection with the promotion and/or continuing appointment of a faculty member. Such letters are required to assess a candidate's scholarship, but they may also be used as part of the documentation and evidence of a candidate's teaching or service. These letters are subject to the rules of confidentiality described in these procedures (see Contents of the File).

Summary of Action Form

The Summary of Action Form records the progress of the tenure/promotion review, including the results of the faculty and committee votes, and the signature of the administrative officer, at each review level. A blank Summary of Action Form is provided in the Appendix G.

Unsolicited letter of evaluation

An unsolicited letter refers to any letter or memorandum that pertains to the promotion and/or continuing appointment of a faculty member that is received, but that has not been explicitly solicited by an authorized university official. Such letters become part of the candidate’s dossier and are available to the candidate to read.