Open Records Laws and the Tenure and Promotion Process

Article excerpt

The title of this paper could have been, "Be Careful What You Include in Your Promotion and Tenure File: You Might Be Seeing It Again Two Years After You Are Awarded Tenure."

The state open records laws differ from state to state. Faculty need to know that when preparing their promotion and tenure files, years later the files might be subject to analysis and examination by disgruntled rejoinder-writers as well as the general public.

The title of this paper could have been, "Be Careful What You Include in Your Promotion and Tenure File: You Might Be Seeing It Again Two Years After You Are Awarded Tenure."

Our department Promotion and Tenure Committee consists of only three voting members. The other two members are administrators (the department chair and associate dean) and the collective bargaining agreement does not permit them to serve on the committee.

This year, two candidates applied for tenure and/or promotion. One candidate sought tenure and promotion from assistant to associate professor. The other candidate sought promotion to full professor. For the purpose of this analysis, only the candidacy of the assistant professor seeking promotion and tenure will be discussed.

When the assistant professor learned the departmental vote was two against and one for his tenure, he decided to compose a rebuttal. The state open records laws for our state differ from many other state's open record laws. In James vs. Ohio State University (1996), the court decided that promotion and tenure records are public records. Based on this ruling, the assistant professor requested copies of all recent promotion and tenure documents from the last several years. …