10.7 Review of Tenured Faculty Members

(Faculty Senate 3/29/11; amended Faculty Council 8/11)
  1. Introduction.
    1. Scope. This section establishes procedures to be followed by the University in conducting reviews of a tenured faculty member's academic performance in areas of teaching, scholarship, and service. There are two kinds of review of tenured faculty: annual reviews conducted by the unit head, and periodic reviews conducted by faculty peers.
      1. An annual review should, in the main, be evaluative, but may also be formative and developmental.
      2. A peer review should, in the main, be formative and developmental, and should facilitate and encourage professional vitality.
    2. Academic freedom. All proceedings under this section shall respect the principles of academic freedom and tenure stated in the Statement on Tenure and Academic Vitality at The University of Iowa (III-10.1a(2) above), which commits the University to the principle that "free inquiry and expression are essential to the maintenance of excellence; tenure is essential to free inquiry and expression." The expectation is that all post-tenure reviews will respect the significance and importance of tenure.
    3. Rationale. A tenured faculty member has the responsibility of strengthening their university citizenship through their work in education, research, and service. The faculty member must also ensure that they continue to strive to meet this responsibility. Post-tenure review is a process that has been developed to assess a tenured faculty member's progress. The process includes annual review or evaluation conducted by the faculty member's unit head, and a five-year review conducted by the faculty member's peers.
  2. Annual review of tenured faculty. An annual performance review of all tenured faculty members, through a process developed by the unit head (DEO, or equivalent) in consultation with the faculty of the department, or in nondepartmental units with the faculty of the college, and approved by the dean and Provost, is conducted by the unit head as part of the salary-setting process. Review of tenured faculty shall include an evaluation of research/scholarship, teaching, and service. As part of this review, each faculty member must make available to the unit head materials specified in the statement of the department's review process (e.g., vitae, teaching evaluations, etc.).

    When, as a result of an annual review, the unit head concludes that there are significant deficiencies related to teaching, research, or service, the unit head shall provide written notifications of these conclusions to the faculty member being reviewed, and the faculty member will be given an opportunity to respond in writing. The final report and the faculty member's response will be sent to the dean and will be kept with the faculty member's personnel records.

    The annual review will consider, as appropriate, issues of long-term research, instructional development, or service that cannot be adequately represented on a strictly annual basis. Faculty members being reviewed by their department for the special purpose of promotion may be exempted from this annual faculty review requirement.
  3. Five-year peer review of tenured faculty.
    1. Overview. In a shared-governance academic environment, the faculty plays an indispensable role in appointment, reappointment, promotion, tenure, and dismissal of faculty members. One of the ways that faculty exercise this responsibility is through the formal process of peer review. Post-tenure peer review is intended to acknowledge achievements and to provide an appropriate mechanism to encourage constructive responses to normal changes that are likely to occur over the course of a successful academic career. The developmental nature of post-tenure review mandates that a faculty member being reviewed should be accorded adequate time to respond to the review and to improve performance where necessary, prior to initiation of any proceedings which may be viewed as adversarial or punitive.
    2. Procedure. All tenured faculty members will undergo a peer review once every five years subsequent to their most recent tenure or promotion review. Faculty members are exempted from their scheduled five-year peer review if:
      1. they are being reviewed for promotion to a higher rank during the year of the scheduled review,
      2. they are within one year of announced retirement or are on phased retirement, or
      3. they serve as DEO, assistant dean, associate dean, or dean.

      The five-year peer review will include a comprehensive review by a committee composed of tenured faculty peers in the same college as the faculty member undergoing review and at the same or higher academic rank appointed by the DEO or dean in consultation with the faculty member who is to be reviewed. DEOs and other academic administrators may not serve on peer review committees. The outcome of this peer review is confidential and confined to the faculty member being reviewed, the review committee, the DEO, the dean, others directed by the faculty member, and in special circumstances the Provost.

    3. Plan. Consistent with the foregoing, each college must develop and implement a plan for the five-year peer review of each tenured faculty member. The plan is to include specific guidelines regarding:
      1. selection of the five-year peer review committee;
      2. committee procedures and timelines;
      3. materials to be reviewed;
      4. distribution and use of the committee's written report; and
      5. mechanisms for the faculty member to respond.

      Faculty members of the college will approve the plan by vote. The dean and Provost will approve each plan and ensure consistency with review processes across the departments and colleges.

      A faculty member who believes that they have been treated unfairly at any point during the five-year peer review process may seek redress of their grievance within the scope and framework of III-29.6 Faculty Dispute Procedures.

  4. Special cases procedures. If, after receiving the results of the five-year peer review, the dean, on advice of the peer review committee and in consultation with the DEO, if one exists, concludes, on the basis of the peer review's findings, that the faculty member's performance has fallen for a significant period of time below the expected standard of performance for the faculty member's unit, then the dean may initiate discussions with the faculty member concerning the development of a plan to address problems uncovered in the review. Such discussion may focus on the faculty member's individualized portfolio. The plan will be put in writing, will contain a justification for its implementation, will provide a specific timetable for evaluation of acceptable progress (normally to occur at the faculty member's next five-year review), and will provide a description of possible consequences for not meeting expectations by the time of that evaluation. The DEO and/or dean may monitor progress through the annual review and give feedback to the faculty member.

    If the plan prepared by the peer review committee and the dean is not agreed to by the faculty member, then the faculty member will provide a written justification for not agreeing to the plan. The plan and the faculty member's response will be submitted to the Provost, who will make the final determination as to whether the plan should be implemented. If the faculty member believes that there are grounds for grievance, then the faculty member may seek redress of their grievance within the scope and framework of III-29.6 Faculty Dispute Procedures.

    In deciding whether or not to implement such a plan, it is important that the dean and DEO respect the importance of tenure and the academic freedom it is designed to protect. With respect to research, there is a critical distinction between a faculty member who has ambitious research programs that they are actively pursuing and the very few faculty members who have no such plans and who have had no work in progress for a substantial period of time. It is expected that if plans envisioned focus on research productivity, they would typically be appropriate only for the latter group.

    If the plan is implemented, then the dean (or dean's designee) and the DEO will oversee the faculty member's progress under the plan. If after the agreed-to time period, the dean and the DEO, in consultation with the peer review committee, find no acceptable progress, then the DEO, the dean, the Provost, and the peer review committee will meet to decide which of the consequences described in the plan will go into effect. The consequences will be implemented by the dean, in consultation with the DEO, and monitored by the Provost.

    Use of the special review procedures described above does not preclude deans from utilizing available, alternative procedures for addressing problems of unacceptable performance of duty (III-29.7,  III-29.8). On those rare occasions where a faculty member has proved unwilling or unable to benefit from developmental assistance to improve their performance, the administration may feel compelled to proceed against the faculty member in a disciplinary or unfitness proceeding, where the burden of proof is on the administration to show that the proposed sanction is justified. However, deans are strongly encouraged to proceed with formative and developmental plans before resorting to such measures.