Promotion, Tenure, and the Evaluation of Faculty
Patricia D. Witherspoon
Mark L. Knapp
The University of Texas at Austin
Faculty evaluation is, first and foremost, a communication process. Whether its purpose is to assess an individual for a merit salary increase, the award of tenure, or promotion to full professor, the strength of the process depends on the quality of interaction among its participants. Administrators, faculty budget councils and committees, outside reviewers of credentials, and the candidates being evaluated bear responsibility for the acquisition and assessment of information through individual analysis and group discussion. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest ways to enhance faculty evaluation as a communication process, through the careful involvement of participants and the use of adequate methods and materials.
The processes a university uses to evaluate faculty are critical components of its culture, created through years of practice and multiple drafts of policies and procedures. The award of tenure has become inextricably associated with the protection of academic freedom within institutions of higher education. To some university constituencies both inside and outside academe, tenure is also synonymous with institutionalized protection of mediocre performance. Such has not always been the case.