Chapter 9. Annual Reviews of Faculty

Recommendations to renew or not renew contracts, or to promote or not to promote, are initiated by the faculty member's academic unit. Every academic unit with contract renewal or promotion and tenure decisions to make is responsible for providing each member of the faculty, including especially anyone who may become a candidate for tenure, with the department's written criteria for evaluating scholarship, teaching and service.

9.1 Procedures

The appropriate Dean shall annually write to all non-tenured regular faculty apprising them of the requirement for a review of their performance and of the existence of written departmental standards and criteria for contract renewal and promotion. Reviews of Assistant Professors and Lecturers are annual; reviews of Senior Lecturers must take place once in the middle of the term of appointment, and more frequently if requested by the faculty member or deemed necessary by the department. Reviews are to be conducted early in the fall semester of each year.

Annual reviews of untenured faculty shall be directed by the Chair of the relevant academic unit. With these reviews in mind, the Chair of the academic unit will establish and maintain a dossier on each non-tenured faculty member containing copies of, as appropriate:

  • Official appointment and salary letters
  • Previous reviews of the faculty member's performance
  • An annually revised curriculum vitae for the individual
  • Copies of his/her scholarly publications
  • Material on teaching performance (including student teaching evaluations and tabulations), curriculum development and advising.

The untenured faculty member together with the Chair of the academic unit will be responsible for submitting material for inclusion in the his/her dossier, so that it contains up-to-date material on, as appropriate, teaching (including courses taught, student evaluations from courses and tabulations, summary material on undergraduate and graduate advising), scholarly work (including a curriculum vitae and copies of publications), and service to the University. Please note also that annual reviews of non-tenured faculty members are intended to cover any periods of leave that occur during the year in question. Evidence on the use made of leave-time is thus relevant to the evaluation.

Some departments at the time of their annual review of their non-tenured members conduct thorough reviews in- house of the completed works of such individuals, and occasionally also of works-in-progress. Other departments in contrast prefer to defer detailed inquiry into the substance of the work until the later tenure decision, relying instead during the interim on the judgments of external editorial boards and grant-giving agencies for indications of the quality of the work being done. Either strategy is acceptable to the Deans and to TPAC provided that the basis for the review is made clear in the unit's written report to the non-tenured junior colleague in question.

The annual review of each regular faculty member required to be reviewed will be conducted at a duly called meeting of the tenured faculty, where the contents (except for salary letters) of the individual's dossier will be reviewed and his/her performance evaluated in each of three areas: scholarship, teaching and service. A written description of a consensus concerning the faculty member's performance during the preceding academic year, or of the nature of the disagreement about it, if there is no consensus, will be summarized. The report shall also include explicit commentary on the individual's scholarship, teaching, and service during the preceding academic year. The written review should be circulated among the faculty who participated in the review to ensure the accuracy of the consensus or reports of any disagreements and the draft should be submitted to the appropriate divisional Dean for comment before being provided to the faculty member.

After the written evaluation has been finalized and approved by the Dean, the Chair of the academic unit shall meet with the faculty member and provide him or her with a copy. A copy of this report shall be placed in the individual's official department (division) file, and a copy should also be sent to the appropriate Dean together with a signed "Confirmation of Receipt" form verifying that the faculty member in question has read the evaluation and had an opportunity to discuss it, and to respond.

The faculty member who has thus been reviewed may submit a written comment on the final evaluation report, and such comments shall also be placed in his/her official department file, Faculty Personnel files, and also included with the annual review when the dossier is submitted to the Tenure, Promotions, and Appointments Committee for reappointment, tenure, or promotion. Lack of a response by such an individual shall not be construed as necessarily signifying total agreement with the final evaluation report.

Where the requirement of a periodic review of a faculty member's total performance coincides with the need for the academic unit's recommendation regarding reappointment, promotion or tenure, the two evaluations may be combined to meet the University's deadlines for these latter recommendations. Under such circumstances, the untenured faculty member must convey in writing to the Dean, with a copy to the department Chair, a request that the two reviews be combined.

Each year the Chair should send to the Dean a memo stipulating that all of the required reviews of the junior members of the regular department Faculty have occurred.

9.2 Teaching Evaluations

The Dean of the Faculty has primary responsibility for ensuring that all faculty evaluation procedures are reasonable and fair. The following are minimum guidelines for carrying out the Faculty Rules regarding teaching evaluation.

1. Evaluation procedures must conform to the guidance laid out in the Faculty Rules and Regulations. Faculty who face decisions on reappointment, promotion, and tenure should undergo teaching evaluation on a regular and comprehensive basis. Every departmentally assigned teaching function of a junior faculty member should therefore be evaluated and departments should also have a means of measuring course preparation and pedagogical creativity.

2. In general, senior faculty in a department will ensure the evaluation of all teaching in the department by:

  • Establishing departmental standards of teaching effectiveness (to be filed with the FEC and their Dean);
  • making certain that these standards are known to all members of the departmental faculty; and
  • preparing mechanisms and instruments for teaching evaluation, including evaluations solicited from students, which distinguish among various teaching functions.

3. Teaching functions not normally evaluated by departments (GISP's and Independent Studies) should be evaluated by the instructor him/herself. Extra-departmental University courses will be evaluated by the Dean of the College.

4. Because teaching ability and performance serve as one factor in the setting of annual salaries, all faculty members of a department must be regularly evaluated regarding their teaching, using the department's approved teaching evaluation procedures. Chairs should also bear in mind that TPAC looks carefully at teaching evaluations and expects the relevant faculty member's teaching performance to be explicitly addressed in all dossiers it receives.

5. The opportunity for 100% response on student course evaluation forms must be provided. Such forms need not be signed, but departments need to establish their own distribution and collection procedures. An evaluation system that does not give an opportunity for total student response will require either signed forms or letters and a departmental description of how the sample was selected.

6. A summary evaluation of each teaching activity will be given in the department Chair's annual review of junior members of the faculty. At the same time, reasonable opportunity should be given for such an individual to review, rebut or comment upon his/her own evaluation.

7. The departmental file of an untenured member of the faculty should accordingly include:

  • The report or tabulation of each evaluated teaching activity;
  • the department Chair's annual or periodic review letter;
  • any comments or additional materials tendered by the individual concerned; and
  • syllabi, course outlines, or other such appropriate materials, unless they are being catalogued elsewhere.

9.3 Evaluating Untenured Faculty: Advice from TPAC

In December 2006, TPAC offered the following advice about annual reviews:

Honest and Thoughtful Feedback

Annual reviews provide important opportunities for evaluating progress, assessing trajectory, and providing feedback. Even when there is much to be praised about an individual's work, it would be a very rare case in which there is not also some constructive criticism or advice to be offered. Our impression, based on having read many annual reviews in the course of TPAC's business, is that praise is often more easily offered than criticism. Although we can certainly understand the reasons for this, the failure to give honest feedback does a disservice to the candidate and can be the cause of potential difficulties later, as happens when a candidate who has been repeatedly assured that "all is well" learns only belatedly that there is some weakness in the record that culminates in a negative recommendation for renewal or promotion.

Thoughtful annual reviews also provide the best vehicle for conveying a clear understanding about the expectations for tenure and progress towards them. And yet we need to remain aware of the fact that the tenure review relies in part on outside evaluations of a candidate's work. It is therefore unwise to suggest -- even to the strongest candidates -- that the standard for tenure has been largely met by having produced some quantity of work. At the time of the tenure review, the essential judgment will be about the quality of the work, and its impact. In many cases, these are difficult to judge in the absence of a full external review.

Evaluating Teaching

In terms of other considerations for reappointment and promotion, TPAC takes very seriously the need for good information about a candidate's teaching. The Committee looks for data over a number of semesters, ideally informed by a comparison with the teaching of others in the department (numerical comparisons are usually the mosthelpful). We have been pleased to note that some departments have found means of supplementing the data available through course evaluations. It is very helpful, for example, to have reports of classroom visits by senior colleagues who are well placed to assess performance in the classroom.

9.4 Annual Reviews of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Department Chairs are also responsible for ensuring that untenured adjunct faculty and research faculty on multi- year contracts also receive annual reviews of their performance. The process for reviewing the performance of non- regular faculty need not be as formal as that for regular faculty. Adjunct and Research Faculty as well as Post- doctoral Fellows may be reviewed by their faculty research supervisor and/or the PI(s) on the grant(s) from which they draw salary. A written record of the review, including the points covered and responses made by the faculty member under review, should be maintained at the departmental level but need not be forwarded to the Dean’s office.