At the start of the pandemic, I announced our decision to give all faculty an automatic one-year extension to prepare for reappointment, promotion, and tenure (RPT) decisions. Labs and other facilities were closed, classes went remote, conferences were cancelled, and in general, life was upended. While not all faculty chose to avail themselves of this delay, many did and some continue to wrestle with the challenges of the pandemic on their lives and disciplines. Some of the questions that were prompted by this RPT extension were answered in the FAQs on the Provost’s website. As we continue to thread our way through the pandemic, new questions have emerged. The questions and answers below will be added to the FAQs. In all cases, faculty are encouraged to speak with their department chairs about RPT-related decisions.
To whom did the extension apply? While we assumed that the greatest impact would be felt by faculty scheduled for mandatory review in 2020-21, all faculty who were at the University in Spring 2020 were given the option for an extension regardless of where they were in their progress toward RPT.
How should reviewers evaluate faculty productivity in light of the COVID tenure clock extension? Faculty work should be evaluated based on the quality and impact of the contributions with the understanding that the extension was granted because events disrupted productivity.
Can faculty request additional extensions of the tenure clock? Yes. It is clear that some faculty faced and continue to face greater challenges than others. We have had a long-standing practice of responding to faculty needs for extensions of the tenure clock. Extensions are automatic for FMLA and are considered for other compelling reasons. Faculty needing additional accommodation for COVID-related disruptions in 2021-22 should request an extension from the provost through their department chair and dean, explaining the rationale for an additional year (e.g., loss of access to research resources).
Can a faculty member who delayed a decision on reappointment be considered for promotion and tenure on their original schedule? Yes.
Can faculty withdraw their dossiers from consideration in 2021-22? In cases in which faculty are exercising their COVID-related extension during 2021-22, faculty who have started the RPT process may withdraw from RPT consideration without penalty no later than three (3) days following the department chair’s review.
Future requests for COVID-related extensions of the tenure clock should be submitted no later than May 15, 2022.
Many thanks to the members of the Faculty Employment Status Committee for bringing these issues to my attention and for their work on resolving the concerns of the faculty.
Joan F. Lorden
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs