Independent Minds, Working Together

Faculty Review Process - FAQ's

The following questions have been raised by faculty during previous review cycles, and the responses are those of the Teaching Staff and Tenure Committee. These responses are intended to offer general guidelines only and to expand upon the formal Criteria for Evaluation listed in Section 7 of the Faculty Handbook. Because individual situations vary widely and evaluation of each faculty member is a holistic process, there will inevitably be differences between individual cases. Also, because departmental cultures vary widely, faculty members are advised to consult with their chairs about the expectations specific to their departments.

What is the relative importance of teaching, scholarship, research, and general value to the College?

According to the Faculty Handbook, "excellence in teaching is essential." Scholarship and research are also essential but are deliberately distinguished at Wooster: scholarship involves remaining broadly current in one’s field so as to be able to supervise a range of Independent Study projects; research involves being actively engaged in one’s specialist area in ways that will (a) "extend the bounds of knowledge" within the professional community and (b) model "systematic exploration and discovery" for students engaged in projects of their own. The nature of research varies by discipline and may include publications, productions, compositions, and exhibits, for example. General value to the College is also essential, although it is understood that a faculty member’s activity will usually evolve as he/she spends more time in the campus community.

Overall, demonstrated excellence in teaching is fundamental to successful evaluation at Wooster; scholarship, research, and contributions of general value are also essential activities in which your performance will be evaluated. Since the expected level of achievement in any of these is not predetermined and will vary by department, you should consult with your chair about the department’s expectations for the different areas of your work.

What is general value to the College?

General value is, in the words of the Handbook, "complex and essential" and, at a residential college, goes far beyond just service. Overall, general value may be understood as the collective obligation of the faculty to maintaining the life of the College, and individual faculty are assessed in terms of whether they are doing their fair share of this work. Department chairs should mentor faculty on ways in which they are contributing to the College as a whole and, as time passes, help them find appropriate roles beyond the home department. Chairing a department or leading a program is one aspect of general value.

How is co-authorship assessed?

The role of co-authorship varies. In the sciences, multiple authorship is the norm; in the social sciences, it is common practice; in the humanities, it has become more common than it was in years past. Faculty members should consult with their department chairs on the development of their research agendas and progress in scholarship and research.

How should I list my scholarship and research on my resume?

Generally speaking, you should follow the conventions of your discipline in listing your work. It is especially important to distinguish clearly the character and status of individual pieces: that is, you should separate publications from presentations, and you should separate refereed publications from those that are not refereed. You should also indicate when a piece of work has been accepted for publication and, in such cases, you should also include a letter from the editor of the journal or press that confirms acceptance of your work. Works under review should be listed separately and not as publications.

Should my self-evaluation be narrative or reflective?

Reflective; TS&T does not want a simple listing of material and expects your self-evaluation to provide a candid self-reflection and discussion of the trajectory of your work. There is no set length for the narratives, although 4-6 single-spaced pages are often adequate.

Should my materials be arranged in any set order?

There is no requirement to conform to any fixed pattern, though TS&T does appreciate clarity in the selectivity and organization of the materials, and you should be careful to discuss each of the criteria for evaluation.

Are materials from institutions at which I have worked previously relevant to the review process?

Generally speaking, you will be assessed upon your work at Wooster. If previous scholarship and research are relevant to your ongoing activities, it may be appropriate to discuss this in your reflective statement. Service at and teaching evaluations from previous institutions will usually not be relevant, unless the length of your previous experience results in you being considered for early promotion and/or tenure; in such cases, it may be helpful to TS&T to see such evaluations and compare them with those you have received at Wooster. If your situation is an unusual one (for instance, if you have had extensive service at another institution and are being considered for early tenure and/or promotion), you may wish to consult with TS&T about what to include in your dossier.

How many external reviewers do I need to have?

For the second-year review, none; for the fourth-year, at least one; for the sixth-year, at least two. These reviewers should be different at each stage of the review process.

Who should these reviewers be/not be?

Reviewers should be established figures in your field and in a position to provide an informed, objective assessment of your scholarship and research. Ideally, they will be familiar with your work but should not have had close working or personal relationships with you: you should not, for instance, include your dissertation adviser or members of your committee, nor should you include untenured members of faculty. If you include colleagues with whom you have collaborated on a project, you should define the nature and extent of the collaboration. In all cases, you should fully disclose your relationship with each of the reviewers on your list.

Do I have an opportunity to read my reviewers’ letters?

No–these letters are confidential.

How are letters from students obtained?

You are asked to submit lists of names of current and former students to the office of the Provost. The Provost writes to approximately ten of the students you have named and requests letters from them. You should not solicit students to write on your behalf or follow up to see whether they have done so.

If anything is added to my file, will I be able to read it?

Yes, with the exception of letters from students and external reviewers. The Provost’s office will inform you of any new material placed in your file during the review process.

Should my department discuss its observations of my teaching with me?

There is no prescribed process here, and practice varies from department to department.

What feedback will Teaching Staff give me about my classes?

Individual members of TS&T who observe you teach will not give you any response -- this is to preserve the integrity of the review process as a whole. Specific feedback about your teaching will be included in the letter you receive from the Provost at the end of the review process, and you will have the opportunity to discuss this feedback in your post-review meeting.

When will I receive a copy of my departmental review?

Ideally, your chair will share the review with you him/herself. It also will be posted to your wiki page for you to view. TS&T will not begin its review until at least a week after the deadline for receiving the review, allowing you time to respond, if you so desire.

If I respond to the chair’s evaluation, does he/she see my response?

Yes. The chair has access to your file, is notified by the Provost’s office if you respond to his/her evaluation, and so is free to read materials you add to it. Ideally, you will share a response with him/her.

If I wish to file a grievance at any point, what is the procedure?

The full procedures and timelines for the grievance process are described in The Statute of Instruction (II.10). Faculty wishing to file grievances should pay special attention to the deadlines for doing so, as outlined in The Statute, particularly the requirement that a written petition of grievance be submitted "within one month of learning of the alleged offense." For further information, TS&T, the Provost, and/or the President may be consulted.

If my chair is untenured, what is his/her role in my review?

Untenured faculty do not participate in the formal review process. If your chair is untenured, TS&T will appoint a special committee to conduct your review.

What is the role in my review of faculty who are on leave?

Faculty members who are on leave normally may not participate in a review and do not sign a formal review letter from the department or program. They, and anyone else, may, however, write an individual letter about a faculty member under review.

Does TS&T observe FYS?

Because FYS is sui generis and has a dynamic different from disciplinary courses, TS&T prefers not to observe it but will do so if there are no other options.

Can I include my FYS students in the list of students from whom letters may be sought?

Certainly.

To whom do student evaluations of FYS go?

To the Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement. They are not included in the file TS&T reviews. Faculty may, however, choose to conduct additional student evaluations and include those in the dossier.

Is it possible to apply for promotion and/or tenure earlier than in the sixth year?

Technically, individual faculty do not apply for promotion and/or tenure; the department chair nominates the faculty member for consideration by TS&T. In exceptional cases, it may indeed do so before the sixth year. If you are interested in this possibility, you should discuss it with your chair.

Is it possible to withdraw an early application for promotion or tenure during the review process?

Yes.

If I have been in a visiting position that becomes tenure-track, do all of the years count towards the timing of the tenure decision?

Generally, yes.

Under what circumstances can a review be postponed?

If a faculty member is on leave for an entire year, the review may be postponed for a year, following a request by the faculty member to the department chair and then by the chair to TS&T. One-semester leaves do not delay reviews, other than to the spring semester following a fall semester in which a review would normally have taken place. There may be individual situations in which a one-semester postponement of a review is appropriate; in such cases, faculty members should consult with their department chairs (and/or the Provost), and any request for postponement should be made by the chair to TS&T.

When will I learn the results of my review?

For fall reviews, TS&T will endeavor to conclude its reviews by mid December, and the Provost will then write to inform you of its recommendation. Your next communication will be a letter from the Provost in the spring semester to summarize the details of TS&T’s evaluation. You will be asked in that letter to schedule a meeting with the Provost to discuss the review; you will have the choice whether or not to be accompanied to this meeting by your department chair. Spring reviews follow a more variable pattern but will be concluded in April-May.

How many course evaluations should I include with my dossier?

Faculty legislation requires each faculty member to submit to the Office of the Provost two sets of evaluations representing two different courses for each calendar year. These evaluations form part of the file reviewed during the reappointment process. Having  fewer than the required number of evaluations in the file is problematic. TS&T finds it helpful to have many sets of evaluations from a range of courses when reviewing faculty members, especially in the years before tenure, since such a variety provides the committee with a much broader view of the teaching and allows it to provide more informed feedback.