Tenure and Promotion on the Charles River Campus

When a faculty appointment is “tenured,” it means that the appointment is without term, in contrast to non-tenured appointments, which have a term specified by a contract. The section of the Faculty Handbook below describes the procedure for granting tenure, and other sections discuss the circumstances under which tenure may be revoked, for example, Termination for Cause and Program Discontinuation and Consequent Faculty Terminations. Faculty appointments normally are based in departments or similar divisions within the schools that comprise the University. If a department or an entire school is eliminated, tenured faculty may no longer have a valid appointment. Please see Department and Program Discontinuation and Consequent Faculty Terminations for further information.*

A. Tenure

  1. The general criteria for awarding Tenure are a) teaching, b) research and publication, and c) University and community service as determined through the evaluation of faculty performance (See Evaluation of Faculty Performance.) While the relative weight accorded these areas of professorial activity may vary from School to School, excellence should normally be demonstrated in at least two areas. In addition institutional needs and goals shall be considered in the granting of Tenure.Institutional needs and goals involve consideration of such factors as academic needs of the program; availability of resources to support the program or position – financial as well as physical; and other institutional and programmatic considerations not directly related to the merit of the individual under consideration for continuance of the appointment.
  2. The award of Tenure to an Assistant Professor shall include promotion to the rank of Associate Professor.
  3. There shall be no presumption for the award of Tenure in any individual case.
  4. The services of a faculty member on Tenure may be terminated only for adequate cause as provided in the policy, “Suspension or Termination for Cause”, or as a result of a discontinuation as provided in University Policies on “Department and Program Discontinuation and Consequent Faculty Terminations.”

B. Tenure Review Schedule and Notification

  1. Full-length Probationary Period: Faculty members holding Tenure-Track probationary appointments, including those with prior service at other institutions of higher education, must be considered for Tenure not later than in their seventh year of service at Boston University.
  2. Reduced Probationary Period for Prior Service: The mandatory year of Tenure Review for members of the faculty who have prior full-time service at Boston University or at other institutions of higher learning may be set for a time earlier than the seventh year, by mutual agreement between the faculty member and the dean at the time of the first Tenure-Track probationary appointment.
  3. Extension of the Probationary Period [new 2012]: Extraordinary circumstances beyond a faculty member’s control may have a significant negative impact on the ability of the faculty member to pursue his or her University responsibilities during the probationary period. In these circumstances the faculty member’s Dean may request that the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs postpone the tenure review deadline for one year, provided that the request is made within one year of the beginning of the period of impact, and before the submission deadline for the candidate’s promotion application within the school or college.  The faculty member also retains the right, after consultation with his or her Chair and/or Dean, to request review at the originally specified time.
  • Note that a Childbirth Leave and/or a period of Primary Caregiver Workload Reduction results in an automatic one-year extension of the tenure review deadline, as described in the section on Childbirth Leave and Primary Caregiver Workload Reduction [http://www.bu.edu/handbook/leaves-absences/childbirth-leave-and-workload-reduction/].
  • The total extension of the probationary period may not exceed two years, regardless of the combination of circumstances that resulted in the extension(s).
  • Examples of additional circumstances in which an extension of the probationary period may be warranted are provided below. This list is not exhaustive; please contact the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs regarding these and other situations in which an extension request may be contemplated.

a.    delay of one semester or more in access to committed laboratory space in which to conduct research
b.    accidental destruction of critical resources required for scholarly or creative work
c.     medical leave of a semester or more
d.    personal situations that have a severe impact on professional activities, including the life-threatening illness or death of a partner, a spouse or a child

4. Early Tenure Review: A faculty member holding a Tenure-Track probationary appointment may request Tenure Review prior to the scheduled Tenure Review year. After consultation with the department chair, the dean may approve such a request. Once an early Tenure Review is approved by the dean, the newly scheduled Tenure Review will be considered a mandatory review. Note that an early review that is unsuccessful because of withdrawal by the candidate or denial of Tenure, will result in a terminal-year appointment that may supercede a previously existing appointment of longer term.

5. Terminal Year: If Tenure is not awarded following a Tenure Review, the candidate will be appointed to a terminal appointment for 1 academic year.

C. Tenure Review Process

  1. At the beginning of the semester preceding the academic year in which he/she is to be reviewed for Tenure, the candidate will be provided, by the dean, with guidelines for compiling his/her section of the dossier and a complete timetable for the review process.
  2. The candidate, the department chair, and the dean are responsible for the compilation of their respective portions of the dossier and the submission of all materials pertinent to an adequate consideration of his/her qualifications and abilities. The results of each level of the review process shall be incorporated successively into the candidate’s dossier.
  3. The first level of Tenure Review takes place in the candidate’s department. Tenured members of the department examine the candidate’s dossier, meet and discuss his/her qualifications, and vote on whether or not to recommend the award of Tenure. Individual senior Non-Tenure-Track faculty members may participate in the Tenure Review, if so approved by the dean. The lack of any Tenured faculty appointed in the department does not preclude Tenure Review. In such instances, the chair should consult with the senior faculty of the department. The chair of the department reports the result of the vote or consultation as well as his/her own recommendation to the dean. In the case of significant dissent, the chair should do his/her best to convey a sense of the arguments on each side.
  4. The faculty of each School, in accordance with procedures recommended by the faculty and approved by the dean and the University Provost, select a School Appointment, Promotion and Tenure (APT) Committee whose members are Associate or Full Professors. The Committee examines and discusses the candidate’s dossier, including the recommendation of the faculty and of the chair of the candidate’s department. A report embodying the substance of the discussion and the recommendation of the Committee is then furnished to the dean of the School.
  5. The dean makes a recommendation regarding the award of Tenure and so notifies the candidate. If the recommendation is positive, he/she forwards the candidate’s dossier, including the APT Committee report and his/her own recommendation and the reasons therefor, to the University Provost.
  6. The University Provost forwards the case to the University Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee (UAPT), whose members shall be sixteen Associate or Full Professors selected by the Provost and the chair of the Faculty Council by mutual agreement. The UAPT Committee reviews the case, votes, and may solicit additional evaluations from individuals outside the University who are acknowledged authorities in fields relevant to the candidate’s academic specialty. A report embodying the substance of the UAPT Committee’s discussions and recommendation is provided to the provost.
  7. The University Provost makes a recommendation regarding the award of Tenure and so notifies the candidate. If the recommendation is positive, he/she forwards the candidate’s dossier including the UAPT report and his/her own recommendation and the reasons therefor to the President.
  8. The President notifies the candidate of his/her decision.
  9. The candidate being reviewed for Tenure shall have the right to appeal a negative recommendation of the dean to the provost or of the provost to the President, indicating the grounds of his/her dissatisfaction with such negative recommendations. This right of appeal shall not extend beyond the President. If the University Provost and President issue a joint report on their negative recommendation(s), the candidate may submit additional arguments to the President, as if he/she had appealed a negative report of the University Provost to the President.
  10. The candidate may withdraw his/her Tenure application at any stage of the process before the decision by the President. However if the faculty member withdraws his/her application, the faculty member’s appointment become a terminal-year appointment for the year following the Tenure Review, regardless of the amount of time that would have remained on the faculty member’s appointment following the scheduled Tenure Review year.

D. Information

The candidate shall, at his/her request, be given copies of reports and rationales from each level of the Tenure Review process. To facilitate this procedure, reports and rationales are formulated in such a way as to preserve the anonymity of participants in the judgment to the extent that this is consistent with the communication of the basis of judgment at each level. The candidate is not given access to individual evaluations submitted in confidence.

E. Timetable of the Tenure Review Process

In the case of an ordinary Tenure Review, the general timetable will be as follows: the recommendations of the candidate’s chair, department, APT Committee and the dean, before the end of the first semester; that of the University Promotion and Tenure Committee, by March 15; the recommendations of the provost and President, culminating in the decision of the Trustees, prior to September 1.

F. Accelerated Tenure or Promotion Process

On occasion, the University may wish to attract eminent individuals from outside the University who would not accept appointment to the faculty without immediate Tenure or senior rank. Or the University may be confronted with the need for a quick Tenure or promotion decision in the case of one of its own faculty members who has an offer from another institution and would be likely to accept the offer unless awarded Tenure or promotion to such rank at Boston University. In such circumstances, the dean and University Provost shall call for expedited consideration, reporting, and recommendations by the department faculty, the chair, the School or College APT, the dean, the UAPT, and the provost. Based on this information, the President may choose to approve the award of Tenure, promotion, or initial senior rank to the candidate or faculty member.

G. Promotion Not Related to Tenure Review

Promotion at Boston University is the result of demonstrated and significant additional attainments after a faculty member has been appointed or last promoted. There is no rigid schedule for promotion, although a minimum number of years in rank before promotion is ordinarily expected. Eligibility for promotion is open to all full-time faculty members of Assistant Professor or higher rank, including Tenured and Non-Tenure Track, Research, or Clinical faculty.

This University policy delineates the process for faculty with standard professorial titles. Each School or College shall define appropriate procedures and standards for promotion of each modified or lecturer title. These procedures and standards are subject to approval of the University Provost. This process does not apply to consideration for Emeritus status.

H. Promotion Review Process for Professorial Appointments with Standard Titles

After sufficient length of service, eligible faculty may be considered for promotion. The decision to pursue promotion may be initiated by the faculty member.

  1. The first level of promotion review takes place in the candidate’s department. This review is conducted by those members of the department holding rank at least as high as that for which the candidate is being considered. These faculty examine the candidate’s dossier, meet and discuss his/her qualifications, and vote on whether or not to recommend promotion. The chair of the department reports the result of the faculty review as well as his/her own recommendation to the dean. In the case of significant dissent, the chair should do his/her best to convey a sense of the arguments on each side.
  2. The faculty of each School, in accordance with procedures recommended by the faculty and approved by the dean and the University Provost, select a School Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee whose members are Associate or Full Professors. The Committee examines and discusses the candidate’s dossier including the recommendation of the faculty and of the chair of the candidate’s department. A report embodying the substance of the discussion and the recommendation of the Committee is then furnished to the dean of the School.
  3. The dean makes a recommendation regarding promotion and so notifies the candidate. If the recommendation is positive, he/she forwards the candidate’s dossier, including the committee recommendation along with his/her own recommendation and the reasons therefor to the University Provost.
  4. The University Provost forwards the case to the University Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee (UAPT), whose members shall be sixteen Associate or Full Professors selected by the provost and the chair of the Faculty Council by mutual agreement. The UAPT Committee reviews the case and may solicit additional evaluations from individuals outside the University who are acknowledged authorities in fields relevant to the candidate’s academic specialty. A report embodying the substance of the UAPT Committee’s discussions and recommendation is provided to the provost.
  5. The University Provost makes a recommendation regarding the promotion in rank and so notifies the candidate. If the recommendation is positive, he/she forwards the candidate’s dossier including his/her own recommendation and the reasons therefor to the President.
  6. The President notifies the candidate of his/her decision.
  7. The candidate shall, at his/her request, be given copies of reports and rationales from each level of the Promotion Review process. To facilitate this procedure, reports, and rationales are formulated in such a way as to preserve the anonymity of participants in the judgment to the extent that this is consistent with the communication of the basis of judgment at each level. The candidate is not given access to individual evaluations submitted in confidence.
  8. The candidate being reviewed for promotion shall have the right to appeal a negative recommendation of the dean to the provost or of the provost to the President, indicating the grounds of his/her dissatisfaction with such negative recommendations. This right of appeal shall not extend beyond the President. If the University Provost and President issue a joint report on their negative recommendation, the candidate may submit additional arguments to the President, as if he/she had appealed a negative report of the University Provost to the President.
  9. The candidate may withdraw his/her promotion application at any stage of the process.

Adopted April 18, 2007, by the University Council.

* Recommended by the University Council on 2/16/11 and approved by the President on 2/22/11.

Amended April 16, 2012.