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Faculty promotion process revised

Associate professors may now stand for promotion after seven years instead of waiting 10 years

Faculty members voted to revise the timeline and standardize procedures for promotion from associate to full professor at Tuesday’s faculty meeting.

About 80 faculty members took part in the deliberations, which resulted in the passage of two motions to amend the Faculty Rules and Regulations.

Faculty members also heard reports on strategic planning and University child care.

The first motion, which added language to the rules and regulations to allow current standards for tenure to also be applied to promotion, was passed without discussion.

The second motion revised the “10/5” timeline for promotion, which had mandated that associate professors be reviewed for promotion automatically after serving 10 years in the position and that, if not promoted the first time, they be reviewed every subsequent five years. Under the new procedure, an associate professor who has served for seven years will be assessed by the department and relevant dean to determine his or her “readiness to stand for promotion” to full professor.

Professor of Egyptology and FEC member James Allen, who served on the ad hoc subcommittee on promotion, said the motion was intended to “replace the current 10/5 rule with something that’s less onerous and seems actually more equitable.” He stressed that under the new policy associate professors may choose when to stand for promotion “rather than have it be something that is imposed from above.”

The original amendment would have required chairs and directors to submit a plan for how they and other senior faculty members would help prepare the candidate for promotion in response to complaints from associate professors that they did not receive enough mentoring, Allen said. But the clause was removed after some faculty members said the measure was “well-intentioned but misguided,” arguing that the burden of preparing an associate professor for promotion should fall on the candidate and not on the chairs and senior faculty members.

A third motion, which was tabled due to time constraints, would “insert a new section detailing the procedures for the review of associate professors for promotion to professor.” Allen said the proposed process for promotion from associate to full professor was taken “almost verbatim” from that for promotion from assistant to associate professor, with a few key differences, including the stipulation that “the decision to stand for promotion should be the candidate’s prerogative.”

The proposed procedure stated that “the candidate’s promotion dossier” must contain “whenever possible, no fewer than eight letters of reference” from other scholars in the field. Allen said the previously existing requirement of eight recommendations was softened out of concern for candidates in more esoteric fields, who might have difficulty finding eight willing referees.

While many faculty members expressed approval for the increased flexibility, about two-thirds voted to strike the qualifying phrase “whenever possible.” Professor of Engineering Kenneth Breuer ’82 P’14 P’16 said he was “troubled by the idea” that for some associate professors “there are not eight people in the world who are qualified” to recommend them for promotion.

President Christina Paxson presented a timeline for “wrapping up” the strategic planning process. The committees’ final reports will be completed by the end of this week and compiled into a draft final report.

The administration will not “ask the Corporation for a vote up or down” in May, she said. Instead, the report will be approved in October after a summer of “budgetary analysis.”

Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 spoke about the Childcare Planning Group, which will execute Paxson’s decision to subsidize child care for faculty members, staff members, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students. The group will also work to expand Brown’s network of affiliated child care centers and to create a website dedicated to informing families in the Brown community about available child care options.

Schlissel also addressed the possibility of rescheduling Convocation from Wednesday, Sept. 4 to Tuesday, Sept. 3 to avoid clashing with Rosh Hashanah, which begins that Wednesday night. Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron will develop other accomodations for those observing the holiday, Schlissel said.

Paxson announced the first recipients of the presidential faculty award, which she created this year and will be accompanied by a “modest” research stipend. Professor of Literary Arts Carolyn Wright and Professor of Philosophy Charles Larmore will receive the award for this semester.


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