Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Post-Tenure Review: A University's Business Guide

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Post-Tenure Review: A University's Business Guide

Article excerpt


This article provides a historical account of the incorporation of the post-tenure review process in universities across the United States. Reflections from the literature; including benefits, limitations and recommendations for effective university business practices related to the post-tenure process, are presented. A post-tenure review readiness guide which includes preparatory steps for university faculty is included. A sample five year post-tenure development plan is also appended.


This article, Post-tenure Review: A University's Business Guide, is a guidepost or advisory tool for university's preparing to conduct post-tenure faculty reviews. With reflections on the initial mandates and rationale for post-tenure reviews, this article scans the literature to determine the benefits and limitations of the process. Recommendations are then provided to assist universities in conducting post-tenure reviews--using the reported experiences of others. To further support universities, a guide for faculty post-tenure review preparation is included. As a component of the preparatory process, a five year post-tenure review professional development plan is appended.

The information provided should aid universities in avoiding the pitfalls commonly encountered in the post-tenure review process. Additionally, this article should provide direction relative to the administrative and faculty preparation needs in the business of post-tenure review.

Historical accounts of post-tenure review date back to 1982, when the National Commission on Higher Education Issues identified post-tenure review as one of the most pressing needs facing higher education in the ninety's and urged campus administrators to develop appropriate periodic review systems (Licata and Andrew 1990). This post-tenure review of tenured faculty in universities was envisioned to occur every five years after the most recent promotion or personnel action--and continue at selected intervals throughout the employment of the faculty member.

The post-tenure policy was mandated to establish procedures for complying with a policy requiring periodic evaluation of tenured faculty (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000). Reports related to the implementation of the post-tenure review policy date back to 1987 (Bensimon, Licata, Bauman and Jolton 2000). In the 1990's, calls from legislators and trustees for greater accountability prompted scores of colleges across the United States to design post-tenure review policies (Fogg 2003). Since the mid 1990's, many of the post-tenure review policies have been considered remedial vs. punitive (Wilson 2001). Also in the late 1990's, heated debates over whether post-tenure review should exist and what it meant to people have cooled (When post-tenure review 2001).

Post-tenure review included a range of policies and resources to meet goals or mechanisms to judge whether professors had met certain goals and could lead to dismissal if they had not (Wilson 2001). The originally approved guidelines by the American Association of University Professors in 1998 excluded the dismissal of poor performance (Wilson 2001). Consequently, public institutions with elected officials tended to end up with reviews that had real consequences--like the possibility of termination. Private colleges, free of legislators' gaze, usually ended up with developmental programs (When post-tenure review 2001).

By 2003, post-tenure policies were in place or were being developed in 37 states, according to the Higher Education Association (Fogg 2003). A 2000 Harvard University study reported that 48% of private universities had a post-tenure review policy (Fogg 2003). As recent as 2007, post-tenure review was initiated at Auburn University to improve faculty development and preserve academic freedom--factors that aid to improve the standard business of teaching (Auburn 2007).

Aspects of the focus of post-tenure review process, as outlined by the Board of Regents of Georgia were noted as follows:

* The primary aim of the post-tenure review process is to assist faculty members in identifying opportunities that will enable them to reach their full potential for contributing to system institutions. …

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