This chapter translates the recommendations made by the
previous authors to inform departmental and college
personnel decisions, particularly promotion and tenure.
The Ultimate Faculty Evaluation:
Promotion and Tenure Decisions
James S. Fairweather
In this chapter I take the perspective of the former chair and current member of the College Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Committee (RPT) in the College of Education at Michigan State University (MSU). Based on this experience and many others (see Fairweather, 1996), I conclude that the faculty in our college draw inferences about what their institution, college, and department value the most by viewing the outcome of promotion and tenure decisions (and sometimes salaries and raises) more than by the ways that a college or institution chooses to measure performance and set RPT criteria. As Huber notes in Chapter Seven, “scholarship gains specific meaning less in rules and regulations than in deliberations about particular cases.” Particularly important is the distinction between goal clarification and the measurement of performance, on the one hand, and assigning value to distinct aspects of a faculty member’s performance in a RPT decision, on the other. The former assist an RPT committee in understanding what a faculty member accomplished; they do not help us decide how to value the different accomplishments nor do they tell us whether or not the overall record is sufficient to achieve promotion or tenure. Ultimately, RPT decisions rest on values and judgments, not on measurement or clear expectations. Missions and philosophy help shape an institutional culture; the translation of missions and philosophy into practice is what matters in RPT decisions. In this context, the preceding chapters inform personnel decisions primarily by defining and assessing the components of faculty work. Left unaddressed are the value judgments inherent in the process, which I explore in this chapter.