Guidelines for the Composition of Department Promotion and Tenure Committees

Policy Memorandum No. 28

Recommended by the Commission on Faculty Affairs: January 30, 1981
Approved by University Council: February 16, 1981
Approved by the President: February 16, 1981
Effective: Immediately

The Commission on Faculty Affairs has been concerned that neither University Policies not the American Association of University Professors clearly specify the composition of department/division promotion and tenure committees. At the same time, faculty and administrators have been concerned about the equity and effectiveness of some such committees. As a result of these concerns, guidelines were developed by the Commission on Faculty Affairs, working with the Faculty Senate and the University Council, to provide more specific guidance in the composition and method of selection of such committees, while maintaining the flexibility needed to accommodate diversity in size, structure, and composition of departments and divisions.

As a result of lengthy consideration of these questions, the Commission recommended, and the University Council and I have approved, the following guidelines for the composition of department/division promotion and tenure committees. It is to be emphasized that these are guidelines and are not presented as absolute requirements.

  1. Size.

    A balance between adequate representation and effectiveness of operation as a committee suggests that a size between four to seven members is most appropriate. Such specifications as "all full professors" or "all tenured faculty" should be avoided when the upper limit of this range is greatly exceeded. Individual letters of evaluation by faculty members not on the committee may be requested and studied by the committee.

  2. Composition

    Composition of department/division promotion and tenure committees is the responsibility of the department/division faculty and must be in concert with any college bylaws or policies. Ordinarily, only tenured faculty should serve on promotion and tenure committees to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

  3. Method of Selection

    Some significant elements of faculty choice should be a part of the selection procedure. Some possibilities are the following:

    1. a combination of elected and appointed representatives;

    2. an elected slate significantly larger than the committee size, allowing the department head or division director to appoint the committee from the slate;

    3. a committee elected by the faculty.

  4. Role of the Department Head or Division Director

    The FACULTY HANDBOOK states that the department head is on the committee, or if amended as below, may be on the committee. Yet it also states that the committee "submits its report and recommendation to the department head." The intent of these seemingly contradictory specifications can be met if the department head convenes the committee and makes such presentations on each candidate as are appropriate, but allows the committee the opportunity in his or her absence to discuss the merits of the candidates further and to frame the recommendations of the committee.

Under this action, the statement on page 26 of the FACULTY HANDBOOK, which now reads "The departmental committee consists of the department head and an appropriate faculty representation," will be changed to read, "The department/division committee consists of appropriate faculty representation and may include the department/division head."


President's Policy Memorandum

URL: http://purl.vt.edu/vtdocs/policies/ppm28