Office of the Provost

Faculty Promotion Guidelines

2015 Outline of Procedures for Faculty Promotions (effective 2015-2016)

General Notes:

  • All promotion recommendations for Instructional Tenured and Tenure-Track, Research Professor Track, and Clinical Instructional Track faculty are reviewed by the Provost and President prior to submission to the Board of Regents.

  • Please upload a PDF file for each casebook to the CTools website. For further information, contact Lesley Bull in the Office of the Provost, or 764-0151.

  • Casebooks are due by February 18, 2015. The effective date for these promotions will be September 1, 2015.

  • To the extent possible, the University brings all recommendations for promotion in academic rank to the Board of Regents in May of each year. In addition to reviewing individual promotions for Instructional faculty, this affords the Regents an opportunity to review the overall promotional pattern for faculty in the University. It is also desirable for promotions to be considered by the various units in a group to ensure that a common frame of reference will be used in making decisions. It is therefore important to minimize the number of out-of-season promotions. Recommendations for promotions outside the normal cycle should be restricted to exceptional cases and/or circumstances, which are to be explained in the cover letter accompanying the file.

  • The attached instructions apply to Instructional, Research Professor, and Clinical faculty promotions, all of which require approval by the Provost and the President, and approval by the appropriate Chancellor for Flint or Dearborn faculty. Differences among the tracks are noted in the appropriate sections below.

  • All Research Faculty promotions also require the review of the Vice President for Research.

  • Promotions for Associate Research Scientists and Research Scientists require the approval of the Vice President for Research and do not require the Provost’s or President’s approval.

  • All Medical School promotions must also have the endorsement of the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs.

  • The review and signature of the Dean of the school/college, or Director of an institute, are required on all recommended promotions.

  • Promotion recommendations for individuals holding joint regular (not adjunct) Instructional (tenure track), Research Professor, or Clinical faculty appointments should be coordinated. They require the signatures of the Chancellor/Deans/Directors from all campuses/schools/colleges where the individual holds instructional appointments, even if those are dry appointments. Only one casebook should be prepared for a faculty member with joint appointments. The cover letter for each joint appointment casebook should be signed by all of the appropriate Chancellor/Dean(s)/Director(s). This letter should describe the processes used in each school or college to reach a promotion recommendation, as well as a description of the ways in which the two (or more) schools and colleges coordinated their promotion processes in this case. If the individual is not recommended for promotion in any of the units in which he/she holds an appointment, the cover letter should clearly indicate the reason(s) for this decision.

  • The relative weighing, and hence the detail required, for each of the items (a-l) in the documentation for each candidate (Item #3) will vary across the different faculty tracks. However, all files must include documentation of teaching effectiveness and of research or creative work. A copy of the University of Michigan Bylaws for Clinical Instructional Staff (Sec. 5.23) and Research Professors (Sec. 5.24) is attached for your information (Attachment B).

For instructions regarding Research Scientist faculty promotion recommendations, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Checklist for Faculty Promotion Casebooks

Please upload a PDF file of the following materials for each casebook to the CTools website by February 13, 2014. For further information, contact Lesley Bull in the Office of the Provost, or 764-0151.


1. Summary Memorandum from Dean/Director

  • The Dean/Director should include a summary memorandum indicating the names of all individuals being recommended for promotion and the promotion action.

  • For a Research Professor appointment, the summary memorandum from the Dean/Director should be addressed to both the Provost and the Vice President for Research.

  • The summary memorandum must include an Employee ID number for each individual being recommended for promotion.

  • For faculty holding joint appointments (including Instructional, Research Professor, and Clinical appointments), please include details of the recommendation from each unit in which they hold an appointment.

  • Please download to the CTools website the signed summary memorandum as a separate PDF document.

2. Unit Criteria for Evaluation of Teaching, Research/Scholarship, and Service

  • Address how your school/college and the various promoting departments, programs, or other units define and evaluate teaching, research, and service in their areas. If there are material differences in the criteria used by different areas in your school/college to evaluate candidates for promotion, please describe these (e.g., external funding is an important criterion in some disciplines; in others, it is not).

3. Documentation for each Candidate:

a. For Instructional Faculty Only: A Copy of the Promotion Recommendation—see Attachment C (format) and Attachment D (samples)

  • This document, which is prepared for the Regents, should present a brief assessment of the overall performance and achievements of the individual being recommended.

  • Include information about the individual’s contribution in the context of the unit’s mission.

  • Prior to obtaining the Dean/Director's final signature(s), submit an electronic draft of the Promotion Recommendation to Tammy Deane <> for review.

  • The original signed Promotion Recommendation should be sent under separate cover to Tammy Deane. Do not staple, paperclip, or three-hole punch. If you have questions, please contact Tammy Deane (936-8911 or for clarification.

  • Put the date, May 2014, at the end of this document.

b. Cover Letter from the Dean/Director

  • Provide a subject line with the candidate’s name, all current titles, and Employee ID number.

  • If the candidate holds joint appointments, please indicate the fraction of effort for each title - for example, Associate Professor, without tenure (100%), and Research Associate Professor (0%).

  • Indicate both the total years in rank for the current appointment and the years in rank at Michigan. Please note that to be consistent among all schools/colleges, the years in rank should include the year of the promotion review.

  • Indicate whether any of the candidate's years of service have been excluded from the tenure clock for childbirth, dependent care, medical or other reasons. For privacy reasons (HIPAA - the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), please do not provide details of the reason behind a medical leave.

  • NEW Where appropriate, for promotion casebooks from the health sciences schools and colleges, provide an estimate of time (%) dedicated to clinical care.

  • The assessment should be written from an evaluative, not an advocacy, perspective and should present a balanced summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Be sure to discuss any negative reports or reviews included in the casebook.

  • It is important that non-traditional forms of scholarly production are given as much scrutiny as the more traditional/disciplinary work. It is important to ensure that individuals receive full credit for their contributions to interdisciplinary and/or collaborative scholarly projects.

  • Describe the outcome of the promotion review at each stage of evaluation in the unit(s) in which the candidate holds an appointment. We understand that all cases require careful consideration of strengths and weaknesses; please summarize the evaluative comments of each unit’s promotion review committee and/or executive committee and include the final vote tally (such as 4-2 - no names) of any faculty group (department review, promotion advisory committee, and/or executive committee) that voted on the promotion recommendation. If a departmental decision is reversed or a recommendation rejected by the school/college, explain the reversal or rejection in detail.

  • Explain your reasons for recommending or not recommending promotion and tenure.

  • Highlight and discuss in detail any special circumstances concerning this individual (e.g., early promotion request).

  • The cover letter should be signed by the Dean(s)/Director(s) from all units in which the candidate is being promoted.

c. Chair's Letter (if any)

  • Please provide any letters or reports from department or division chairs to the Dean/Director or school/college recommending a decision for or against promotion. If the recommendation is at odds with the decision of a sub-unit or a review committee, that should be explained.

  • Also required for secondary appointment recommendations, with or without tenure.

d. Curriculum Vitae

  • Check the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of the information in the curriculum vitae, (e.g., that publications listed as "in press" are really in press and that the degrees indicated have been awarded).

  • All negative mandatory tenure cases require an updated curriculum vitae (i.e., a CV that has been updated to reflect the candidate's academic productivity at the time of the Provost's level of review).

e. Documentation of Teaching Effectiveness

  • While recognizing that different cultures prevail in different units with respect to the nature and the evaluation of teaching, the University places a high value on providing students with an outstanding educational experience. We strongly encourage units to develop and utilize teaching portfolios. (See Attachment E for an explanation of teaching portfolios.)

  • If the unit chooses to include copies of course syllabi, include no more than two courses.

  • Teaching evaluations (i.e., E & E evaluations) should be summarized in this section, so we are providing a template, some version of which should be included in each casebook. A summary evaluation sheet listing all questions for each course may also be included. In addition, comparative data is particularly helpful. Do not include individual student feedback from the E&E forms, though we reserve the right to request individual evaluations by students. Student letters solicited by an evaluating committee can be helpful, but letters solicited by the candidate from students are not helpful. Peer evaluations following observation of classes should be included if they exist.

Courses Taught at UM and Evalutions

Course # Course title Teaching role* Term Enrollment/ Responses (#s only) Q1 Q2

*Instructor or Co-Instructor

  • Please include the candidate’s own teaching statement.

  • For faculty with relevant activities, please comment on his/her contributions to interdisciplinary teaching.

  • All files, whether for instructional, research, or clinical professors, must provide evidence of teaching effectiveness. Where teaching takes place outside the traditional classroom, explain the context in which it occurs and how it is evaluated in terms of both quantity and quality.

  • The relevant criterion of teaching effectiveness for the ranks of Research Professor and Research Associate Professor is: Record of teaching and mentoring within the context of one or more research programs (e.g., laboratory bench science, social science, or other disciplinary setting) with postdoctoral fellows, junior research colleagues, or students at any level. Teaching and mentoring are measured in two ways: 1) Quantity (i.e., that there should be evidence of a significant amount of teaching and/or mentoring), and 2) Quality (i.e., that the teaching and/or mentoring done by the individual is effective and has significant impact on the students, fellows, and colleagues being taught). Documentation/evidence to support a candidate’s account of teaching and mentoring activities will vary, depending on the nature of the individual’s activities, but documentation of quantity and quality must be included. In all cases, students and mentees include, but are not limited to, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior research colleagues.

f. Documentation of Research (if appropriate) or Creative Work (if appropriate)

  • Please provide a brief description of the candidate’s most significant research finding or creative contributions. Keep in mind that this will be read by non-specialists and needs to be accessible to a broad audience. Convey a sense of the candidate’s subfield of scholarship or artistic expression and of the candidate’s place within that subfield. This discussion should enable the reader to understand the substance of the work and its importance. Potentially relevant topics include conventions of publication in the field, sources of external funding, expectations about co-authorship in research teams, norms about work with doctoral and post-doctoral mentors, significance of awards, and other topics as appropriate.

  • For those faculty who engage in collaborative research, it is essential that schools/colleges document in the faculty member's casebook his/her specific expertise and contribution(s) to collaborative research that indicate research independence.

  • For faculty with interdisciplinary appointments, please comment on his/her contributions to interdisciplinary activities with regard to research.

  • Please include the candidate's own research statement.

  • Include reviews of the candidate’s research or creative work by internal or departmental committees (e.g., ad hoc committee, casebook committee, and/or promotion and tenure committee) and the candidate’s response to the reviews, if any.

  • Do not include copies of the original work, such as portfolios of drawings and photos, journal articles, other manuscripts, CDs, or DVDs (note: copies of any reviews of the candidate's books are acceptable). Do not include copies of grant applications.

g. Documentation of Service (if appropriate)

h. Sample of Letter Sent to External Reviewers to Solicit Recommendations

  • Include a copy of the solicitation letter. See the attached samples (Attachments F-1 and F-2) that, for legal reasons, we strongly encourage you to use. Note that the text emphasized in BOLD italic font in both sample letters must be included in all solicitation letters. It is the responsibility of the Dean/Director to ensure that department chairs, or the appropriate equivalent, follow one of the two templates provided.

  • There are two templates: one for a candidate who does not have interdisciplinary appointments (Attachment F-1), and one for a candidate who does have interdisciplinary appointments, which highlights promotion considerations based on interdisciplinary research (Attachment F-2).

i. Brief Description of the Credentials of External Reviewers and Their Relationship to the Candidates (Attachment G)

  • In this section of the casebook, include a cover sheet that has the following:

    1. A listing of external reviewers - alphabetically by last name - who provided review letters; designate each reviewer as either "arm's length" or "not arm's length;" include a bio on each reviewer; and note whether the reviewer was suggested by the candidate or by the department.

    2. A listing of external reviewers - alphabetically by last name - who were asked to write a letter but declined and the reason for declining.

Our goal is to achieve a balance of evaluative letters from external reviewers who have been suggested by the candidate and from reviewers who have been suggested only by the department. For this year for the Instructional and the Research Professor tracks, the five required letters must include at least two from reviewers suggested only by the department. Note: this requirement of two external review letters (minimum) suggested only by the department is not applicable to the Clinical track.

External reviewers should be contacted only by the school/college/department. The candidate should not have contact with the external reviewers.

If a non-academic external reviewer is included as one of the five required "arm's length" reviewers, provide justification that the title held by the reviewer equates to or is at a level above the academic rank for which the candidate is being considered for promotion.

j. Evaluation Letters by all External Reviewers (at least five are required and more are highly desirable)

  • All external review letters received must be included.

  • Please insert a copy of the reviewer's biographical paragraph in front of each external review letter. This is in addition to the required cover sheet listing external reviewers (Attachment G).

  • The external reviewers must hold a rank at or above the rank for which the candidate is being considered for promotion. If the circumstances necessitate letters from out-of-rank reviewers, those should be explained.

  • In addition to the above rank requirement, the following track requirements apply:
    • external reviewers who are tenured faculty can review all promotion casebooks for the tenure-track Instructional, Clinical Instructional, and Research Professor tracks.
    • external reviewers who are Clinical Instructional track faculty can only review promotion casebooks for the Clinical Instructional track.
    • external reviewers who are Research Professor track faculty can only review promotion casebooks for the Research Professor track.

    NOTE: if, for example, an external reviewer who is a Clinical Instructional track faculty were to review a tenure-track Instructional casebook, the letter from the reviewer would not be counted as one of the required 5 arm's length letters.

  • We urge you to stress with your department chairs, or the appropriate equivalent, that the external letters must be evaluative and at “arm’s length.” Teachers, advisors, mentors, and current faculty colleagues are not "arm's length." Co-authors and major research collaborators/former faculty colleagues are also not "arm's length" unless the most recent association occurred over 10 years prior to the promotion. We do not consider letters from persons who have served on a candidate’s thesis or dissertation committee to be “arm’s length.” While these kinds of letters can be especially helpful (because the letter writers can be presumed to have a good sense of both the candidate and the work), it is also true that their own reputations are involved in the work being evaluated. If such letters are included, they must be in addition to the minimum requirement of five “arm’s length” letters. Letters from persons who do not know the candidate, but who may have a clear sense of the significance of the candidate’s qualifications, are of greater value.

  • NEW Please note that when both an outside reviewer and the candidate for promotion are members of the same large cooperative/research group that publishes abstracts and manuscripts with an expanded number of co-authors, the outside reviewer can be considered and arm's length reviewer if he/she and the candidate have not personally interacted in the research effort. In these cases, we ask that the dean provide a statement noting the absence of a direct collaboration.

  • It is important that the Clinical track parallel the Instructional and Research tracks in that it is the regional/national impact on one’s field that should justify a senior academic rank. However, arm’s length letters from persons who do not know the candidate, but who have a clear sense of the significance of the candidate’s qualifications, are unlikely to tell the whole story insofar as teaching and clinical work are concerned. Therefore it would be reasonable, for Clinical track faculty only, to have up to two of the five “arm’s length” evaluative letters from University of Michigan faculty who have seen the clinical work and actual teaching but are neither mentors or scholarly collaborators nor in the same department as the candidate). At least three of the remaining letters would need to be “arm’s length” as ordinarily defined.

k. Evaluation Letters by Internal (University of Michigan) Reviewers (optional)

  • Internal review letters are not required; but if letters were solicited, they must be included. Internal review letters may be helpful if they are from faculty in other units who can attest to the value of a faculty member’s work, particularly interdisciplinary and clinical work (as noted above) and scholarship.

l. For Research Professor Promotions Only

  • "Statement of Understanding Regarding Responsibility for Bridging Support." (Attachment H)

4. Retention of Promotion and Tenure

  • SPG 201.46 requires that promotion and tenure files be retained for a period of six years plus the current fiscal year in each candidate's departmental or unit personnel file.

5. Non-Discrimination Review of Promotion and Tenure Decisions

  • The University is committed to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged because of their race, ethnicity, or gender. In reviewing faculty for promotions, schools and colleges are reminded of these responsibilities and are encouraged to consider such promotions carefully to ensure that neither rank nor tenure relationships are affected negatively by considerations of gender, race, age, or other irrelevant characteristics.