University News

Committee expects fewer tenure cases this year

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

As a result of last spring’s revisions to the tenure promotion procedure, the Tenure, Promotion and Appointments Committee expects tenure applications to be “sharply reduced” this year, Kenneth Breuer, professor of engineering and chair of the committee, wrote in an email to The Herald.

The revisions extended the probationary period before which assistant professors come up for tenure review, allowing those who would have been up for review this year to push back their applications until next year.

Last year, TPAC and the Office of the Provost reviewed 22 requests for tenure from assistant professors, according to TPAC’s annual report. Of the 22 cases, 18 were approved.

The reduction will allow TPAC to focus on other projects that have traditionally gone by the wayside, said Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12 at yesterday’s faculty meeting. These could include recommending ways to align departmental standards for tenure.

McLaughlin is writing a report for the Oct. 20-22 Corporation meetings on how to best implement last year’s revisions to the University tenure process.

Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 said further significant changes to the tenure process will not be made, as the University now has “very good” procedures. But he and McLaughlin both said the University plans to report statistics on tenure promotion to the Corporation regularly. Schlissel said the administration will target a tenure ratio — the proportion of total faculty members who are tenured — between 70 and 75 percent.

Tenure figures range between 50 percent and 85 percent among the University’s peers, Schlissel said. Though Brown has historically had a tenure rate between 75 and 80 percent, that figure rose to 82 percent several years ago.

But it is important to treat each tenure promotion case individually based on the candidate’s merit, Schlissel said, rather than trying to fit a target rate. It is important to be “rigorous” in evaluating tenure candidates, he added.

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