University News

FEC looks to standardize promotion process

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2012


The Faculty Executive Committee hopes to release a more uniform procedure for promoting associate professors to full professor status, said Peter Shank, chair of the committee and professor of medical science. These guidelines, which the FEC plans to release in the fall, were partly inspired by the discussions last year that resulted in new rules for promoting assistant professors to associate, tenured positions. 

The old system of promotion from assistant to associate professor was defined by disparate rules that were not consistent among departments. While “there is no way that any single document could outline criteria that describe what makes a good English professor and what makes a good engineering professor,” last year’s discussions created more standard faculty rules, said Kenneth Breuer, chair of the Tenure, Promotions and Appointments Committee and professor of engineering. These rules provide greater standardization despite the differences between University departments, he said. 

The Faculty Rules and Regulations are “pretty silent” on the issue of promotion to full professor status currently, so more clarity is needed, Shank said.

This discussion comes as the University looks to establish guidelines ensuring the promotion process is more consistent for all faculty. 

Creating the new rules for promotion to associate professor brought to light a “kind of neglect” of other procedures, Breuer said. Last year’s debate was a “very active and engaged discussion,” Breuer said, but its conclusion brought about the realization that other areas of promotion may need similar levels of examination and restructuring. 

“We were hoping to get to it this year, but it just didn’t happen,” Shank said. 

Shank did not share many details about the proposal as it currently stands. Faculty members will discuss possible new procedures during the last FEC meeting this semester, and the proposal will be finalized in the fall. 

Determining how professors should be evaluated is at the heart of the issue, Breuer said.  

“Full professor is a more prestigious appointment. It looks better on your business card.  It usually involves a higher salary,” he said. 

There is an “informal understanding that exists across every university – across the whole academic world – that you go from associate professor to full professor once you have received a measure of prestige and respect,” he added.