Texas Tech University.

Volume 4, Number 2; September 2012

All Things Texas Tech

A Letter to Tenure-Track and Tenured Faculty Members

Dear Colleagues,

On May 18, 2012, the Texas Tech University System (TTUS) Board of Regents approved a significantly revised version of the Operating Policy and Procedure (OP) 32.01: Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures. Knowing that an OP is not the liveliest reading material, but knowing too how important OP 32.01 is in the lives of tenure-track and tenured faculty members (most importantly those who will seek promotion from associate professor to professor), I wanted to share some perspectives from a provost (in the case of TTU, provost and senior vice president [PSVP]) who has been involved in tenure and promotion decisions in more than 1,500 cases across five research universities. At end, I will suggest that all TTU faculty members read the newly revised and all-important OP 32.01, which affects not only untenured faculty members and those seeking promotion to professor, but also those tenured professors who sit in judgment of their colleagues.

 

Applicability

The newly revised OP 32.01 is only strictly applicable to faculty members who are hired or placed in a tenure track after its approval. Thus, it will affect the professional lives most directly of faculty members who join TTU in the fall of 2012. But, faculty members whose employment or appointment in a tenure track preceded May 18, 2012, may choose to be reviewed according to the new policy and procedures. An individual faculty person need only declare a preference (the former 32.01 versus the newly revised 32.01) at the time of action guided under one or the other OP (e.g., review for tenure in the fall of 2012).

 

Background

An interest in revising OP 32.01 began in the Faculty Senate during 2008-2009 under the leadership of President Sandy River. Sadly and ironically, President River passed away (see eulogy in this issue of ATTT) just seven days prior to the OP's approval on May 18, 2012. In the interim period, President River remained as a faithful advocate for revision (including her Faculty Senate service as parliamentarian and secretary) until the time of her death. This paper is dedicated to her memory.

The Faculty Senate's wish that OP 32.01 become a clearer and more thorough—therefore a more professional document—has been affected in the judgment of colleagues at all levels, including the TTUS Board of Regents. Specifically, during the lengthy review process, the revised OP was discussed exhaustively by the Senate's Faculty Status and Welfare Committee, the Faculty Senate, President Bailey and members of his executive team, the Provost Office senior staff (esp. Senior Vice Provost Rob Stewart, who performed yeoman's work in leading deliberations between TTU administration and the Faculty Senate to insure shared governance), tenure-line faculty members, general counsel and TTUS staff, and TTUS Chancellor Kent Hance. The Faculty Senate adopted a supportive resolution on May 12, 2011, and re-ratified their action more than once during 2011-2012, when general counsel brought forth proposed language revisions. Overall, the process at times was challenging, but in the end patience and good will overcame differences and potential misunderstandings.

 

The Changes Implemented with the Newly Revised 32.01

As noted above, the newly revised OP 32.01 is a more thorough and professional document, with directives for improved evaluations and processes as follows:

Summarizing, we now have in place a clearer, more thorough, and more professional set of directives and guidelines for considering candidates for promotion and tenure. While it behooves all candidates for promotion and tenure to peruse OP 32.01, I hope this epistle will make the job easier. For others, my hope is that those who are not or who will not be subject to changes in OP 32.01 may become more conversant in the kinds of changes we have affected through a shared governance process—changes that should serve us well as TTU continues its progress toward Tier One status. As always, I welcome your comments, which should be directed to bob.smith@ttu.edu.

Sincerely,

Bob Smith
Provost and Senior Vice President

 

Addendum: Articles Referenced in the Letter