Indiana University Northwest


Post-Tenure Review and Enhancement Policy

(February, 1999)


The purpose of post-tenure review and enhancement is to focus on two small groups of faculty and librarians who a) seek a change in career direction or emphasis, or b) are failing to meet minimum levels of performance. Faculty and librarian review and enhancement provide a structure for the preparation and implementation of faculty and librarian development plans to meet the needs of these two groups of individuals.


The proposed plan is a way of addressing the issue of chronically unproductive faculty and librarians. It is also a logical step in assisting faculty and librarians who seek a change in career emphasis or a balance between teaching, research, or service in the case of faculty--performance, professional development, and service--in the case of librarians. We must recognize, however, that attempts to deal with the two groups in the absence of an adequately funded faculty and librarian development program that provides the direction-changer or under-performer with the opportunity for new challenges through a structured faculty development plan, will fail. There must be a way to link these individuals to the faculty and librarian development process.


Tenure requires mutual responsibilities. When faculty and librarians accept tenure, they also accept the obligation to grow and develop professionally, to keep current in their disciplines, and to meet the evolving needs of the University. Prior to the tenure decision, the burden is on the faculty member or the librarian to prove that tenure should be granted. However, once tenure has been earned, the burden shifts to the institution to show why the faculty member or librarian should no longer have tenure.


The University has the reciprocal responsibility to provide faculty members and librarians with the environment and resources needed for them to be as productive as possible, particularly providing strong protection for academic freedom. This includes not only meaningful faculty and librarian development programs and opportunities, but also structural and administrative support so that faculty and librarian efforts may be translated into achievement. In addition, administrators must be willing and able to make difficult decisions when individual faculty or librarian performance remains below minimally satisfactory levels.


Guiding Principles


Faculty and librarian review and enhancement must be clearly aimed at performance enhancement rather than as a punishment for performance inadequacies. This process should be congruent with the following guiding principles:


1. Preservation of academic freedom


The program should include an opportunity for faculty or librarians to pursue new directions throughout their careers without penalty, and without undermining the principles of academic freedom and tenure.


2. Protection of due process


Due process must be assured. If unfavorable reviews lead to consideration of termination, university policies must be followed and faculty members must be guaranteed normal access to academic due process. A corollary of this policy is a fair and equitable early retirement system providing faculty and librarians the opportunity to retire from their positions in a dignified manner.


3. Recognition of situational differences in a diverse faculty


The review and enhancement policy must recognize the diverse cultures of faculty and librarians. These may include potential differences in those who are more recently hired from those who have been on the faculty or in a library for many years; those teaching-oriented and research-oriented schools and programs, and the differences in mission of the various schools or libraries. Moreover, all facets of faculty and librarian performance should be considered. Different units may weigh more heavily toward one area, depending on mission.


4. Establishment of a professional development goal


Post-tenure review must not be a reevaluation of tenure, but should be aimed at faculty development. Sufficient resources must be made available for faculty and librarian development, and must be formally coordinated with the review process so that programs specific to the needs of faculty or librarians may be offered and coordinated with development programs already in place. There must be ongoing analysis of current faculty and librarian development strategies and a determination of whether they are adequate to meet the needs of faculty and librarians, particularly those who are subject to a development plan. If important limitations to professional development are allowed to remain, then the issue of post-tenure becomes moot. In some cases, at least, such conditions may justify limitations in faculty or librarian performance. Therefore, the university must provide such vital resources as travel funds for access to professional meetings, as well as technical training of faculty, to an appropriate degree.


5. Articulation of a mechanism to initiate the review process


The review process should take into consideration all facets of faculty performance--including the distribution of effort among teaching, research, and service--and all facets of librarian activities--including the distribution of effort among performance, professional development, and service. The initiating mechanism should be designed to identify those faculty members or librarians who have been notified of persistent substandard performance over at least two or more consecutive annual reviews within a five-year period.


Thus, it is imperative that departments and divisions clearly define the notions of "substandard performance" and "chronically unproductive" individual. These definitions and mechanisms for measuring shall be determined with faculty input and full written notice to faculty and librarians upon implementation of review and enhancement. However, the definition of unsatisfactory performance must include the concept of lack of effort, rather than merely lack of results, which must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as a competitive research environment.


The dean or library director notifies the faculty member or librarian being selected for review and will provide information about the nature and procedures of the review. The dean or library director may grant an exemption to a faculty member or a librarian subject to review if there are extenuating circumstances, such as health problems, or impending retirement.


The review will be conducted by an elected committee composed of a minimum of three tenured faculty members from a given division, and will exclude administrators at the level of department chair and above. The faculty member has the right to reject a committee member in the case of a perceived conflict of interest.


The review committee may terminate the process if it finds that there is no basis for the review. The committee findings may fall under three categories: a) some strengths and no deficiencies, in which case the review is terminated; b) some strengths and some deficiencies, but not substantial or chronic, in which case the faculty member or librarian should be offered an opportunity for a development plan through the review committee process, and c) substantial chronic deficiencies--in which case the committee shall state, in writing, the specific deficiencies identified. The findings shall then be sent to the faculty member or librarian, and to the dean or library director.


The faculty member or librarian then cooperates with the committee in drawing up a faculty or librarian development plan. The plan should a) identify specific strengths to be enhanced and deficiencies to be addressed; b) define goals or outcomes needed to remedy the deficiencies; c) outline specific activities for the achievement of these goals and outcomes; d) set appropriate timelier for the completion of these activities; e) indicate appropriate benchmarks for monitoring progress; f) indicate the criteria for annual progress reviews, and g) identify sources of funding or institutional support, based on discussions with the dean or library director.


The plan becomes final upon the signatures of the faculty member or librarian, the dean, library director, and/or the department chair. Signature indicates that the formulation of a faculty or library development plan has been completed and is ready for implementation. It does not imply a faculty member or librarian's agreement with the findings.


The faculty member or librarian shall have the right of appeal, and retains all rights of appeal as specified in the IU Academic Handbook.


The faculty member or librarian and the review committee shall meet at least annually to review the faculty member or librarian's progress towards remedying the deficiencies.


6. Reliance on peer review at every step


Peer review must be part of the process at every step. A minimum of three elected faculty members may constitute the faculty peer group. The election would be divisional in scope, with the a posteriori exclusion of any member perceived to be in conflict of interest. The faculty or librarian under review may also request that an off-campus professional be included in the peer review.


7. Incorporation of existing faculty review mechanisms


The program should incorporate the review mechanisms already in place to minimize the creation of duplicate processes. For example, the existing process for annual reviews could be used as an initiating mechanism to identify those faculty members or librarians who require an enhancement plan.


Since they must be able and willing to make difficult decisions in the rare instances where corrective measures are necessary, deans, program directors, library directors, and department chairs should receive training on leadership and personnel management.


8. Use of intermediate sanctions for unsatisfactory performance


The faculty member or librarian should be given the necessary institutional support for a successful outcome. Intermediate sanctions prior to dismissal should be sought only after a properly conducted peer review; after due process of just cause initiation of review, and after all practical attempts at performance enhancement within the specified time frame have been exhausted. The dean or library director may then employ a variety of sanctions, developed with faculty input.


9. Initiation of dismissal proceedings


Initiation of dismissal proceedings, based on alleged unsatisfactory performance, may result from the inability to complete the faculty or librarian development plan after intermediate sanctions have failed.


10. Specification of outcome criteria


Outcome criteria for assessing the effectiveness of the policy must be specified at the time of implementation of the policy, after the review process has run its course. The implementation of the policy should follow with full disclosure to the department and--in the case of dismissal--to the entire university faculty.