Faculty Review Process - FAQs

The following questions have been raised by faculty during previous review cycles, and the responses are those of the Committee on Teaching Staff and Tenure (TS&T), revised in September 2019. 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 and program cultures vary widely, faculty members are advised to consult with their chairs about the expectations specific to their fields.

Questions About the Criteria for Evaluation

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

According to the Criteria of Evaluation for Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure, “excellence in teaching is the preeminent value; and scholarship, research, and general value to the College are each essential qualifications.” The expected level of achievement in any of these is not predetermined and will evolve over a faculty member’s time at Wooster. Since expectations vary by department and program, faculty members should consult with their chairs about the expectations in their field(s).

Why are scholarship and research considered separately?

Scholarship and research are deliberately distinguished at The College of 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, performances, and exhibits, for example.

What is general value to the College?

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, acknowledging that a faculty member’s level of activity will evolve over the course of their career and time in the Wooster community. Often, service begins within the department or program (such as serving on I.S. awards committees or faculty search committees). Serving on appointed committees, contributing to Task Forces, chairing a department, or leading an interdisciplinary program are examples of general value through service to the College. Finally, many of our faculty engage with the work of national and international academic and other organizations as elected or appointed leaders. This is seen as general value to the College in that Wooster faculty who contribute beyond the College demonstrate the reach of our campus commitments.

Review Committee

If my chair is untenured, what is their role in my review?

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

If my Department or Program has fewer than three tenured faculty members, who will participate in the Departmental/Program Review?

The Provost, in consultations with TS&T will appoint additional committee members to conduct your review if necessary.

What is the role of faculty who are on Leave in colleagues’ reviews?

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.

Preparation of Materials

Should my materials be arranged in any set order?

There is no requirement to conform to any fixed pattern.

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

Generally speaking, faculty should follow the conventions of their discipline in listing their work. It is especially important to distinguish clearly the character and status of individual pieces (i.e., separate publications from presentations, and refereed publications from those that are not refereed). You should also indicate when a piece of work has been accepted for publication and, if it has not yet appeared in print or digitally, 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.

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 your chair and/or the Dean for Faculty Development (DFD) about what to include in your dossier.

Materials from Others

How are letters from external reviewers obtained?

The Provost contacts potential reviewers from the list you provide (See text of that message here). In some cases, additional reviewer names may be required.

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

No–these letters are confidential.

How are letters from students obtained?

Faculty members are asked to submit lists of names of current and former students to the the Provost. The Provost writes to approximately ten of the students you have named and requests letters from them (See text of that message here). 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 Office of Academic Affairs will inform you of any new material placed in your file during the review process.

Assessment of Teaching

How many course evaluations should I include with my dossier?

Faculty legislation requires each faculty member to submit to the Office of Academic Affairs 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 faculty member’s teaching. In addition, the Committee appreciates the opportunity to read the evaluations of the same course over time.

Does TS&T observe FYS?

According to the guidelines in the Faculty Handbook, “While FYS is not a typical class, given teaching schedules and personal preference, it may make sense to include FYS as one of the courses to be visited if preferred.”  Committee members are happy to observe FYS, but will respect your decision if you choose not to list it.

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

Certainly.

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 TS&T members 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.

Assessment of Research

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 in recent years. Faculty members should consult with their chairs and the DFD on the development of their research agendas and progress in scholarship and research.  TS&T also encourages faculty to expand on the nature and extent of their collaborations in their self-evaluation.

Process and Timeline

Is it possible to apply for tenure earlier than in the sixth year?

In cases where a faculty member has extensive teaching experience prior to joining the faculty at the College of Wooster, and in other exceptional cases, faculty members may be reviewed for tenure before the sixth year. If you are interested in this possibility, you should discuss it with your chair and the Provost.

When is it possible to apply for promotion to Full Professor?

Faculty at The College of Wooster normally are in their seventh year in rank as Associate Professor when they are considered for promotion to full Professor. Promotion to Professor before the seventh year is possible for candidates based upon exceptional achievement. The College expects that faculty portfolios for promotion to Professor will demonstrate significant and sustained achievements in the areas of teaching, scholarship, research, and general value to the College beyond those that led to tenure and/or promotion to the rank of Associate Professor. Please see “Guidelines for Promotion to Professor“ (Faculty Handbook, Section 7, A, 3) for additional information.

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. You should discuss this with your chair and the Provost.

When will I receive a copy of my Departmental/Program Evaluation?

Ideally, your chair will share the review with you themselves. It also will be posted to your wiki page for you to view. TS&T will not begin its review until after the deadline for receiving the Departmental/Program Evaluation, allowing you time to respond if you so desire.

If I respond to the Departmental/Program Evaluation, do members of my department/program see my response?

The chair has access to your file, and is notified by the Office of Academic Affairs when new material is added to your file. If you have given other department or program colleagues access, they will also be able to read materials you add to it. Ideally, you will share a response with them.

Under what circumstances can a review be postponed?

  • Following a full year leave (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)
  • Following a parental leave course reduction (requested within six months of completing leave; up to one year on a maximum of two occasions)
  • Following a family or medical leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (requested within six months of ending leave; up to one year)
  • Following mandatory military or alternative service

There may be individual situations in which a one-semester postponement of a review is appropriate.  In all cases, a faculty member should consult with the Provost if they wish to postpone a review.

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 send a letter to your home address 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 or program chair(s). Spring reviews follow a more variable pattern but will be concluded in April-May.

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, the Provost and/or the President may be consulted.