RUL 05.67.06 – Department of Plant and Microbial Biology Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures

Authority:  Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

History:  First Issued: September 4, 2001. Last Revised: August 22, 2022.

Related Policies:
NCSU POL05.20.01 – Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure

NCSU RUL05.67.22 – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures
NCSU REG05.20.27 – Statements of Faculty Responsibilities
NCSU REG05.20.10 – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures

Additional References:
Office of the Provost RPT Website

Contact Information: Senior Associate Dean for Administration, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Phone: 919-515-6213)

1. Introduction

This Department of Plant and Microbial Biology rule is supplemental to, and consistent with, NCSU POL05.20.01 – Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure.

It is the responsibility of each faculty member to be knowledgeable about NC State’s  policy on reappointment, promotion and tenure (“RPT”), as well as related university regulations and the college RPT rule. The departmental rule augments these to provide faculty with knowledge of the general process and expectations used in evaluating faculty in the department. The Board of Trustees is the authority for final tenure approval.

2. Areas of Faculty Responsibility

Areas of faculty responsibility are identified in the offer letter and further documented in the Statement of Faculty Responsibilities (SFR). In addition, the overall program of the faculty member should fit within the mission of the department. All faculty members are expected to participate as appropriate in the operation of the department, college, or university, and in professional activities within selected societies and organizations relevant to their field or discipline.

In the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, the SFR recognizes faculty activity in the realms of discovery, teaching, extension, and service. Activities under artistry are not included in departmental SFR, and thus artistry standards will not be detailed further. SFRs will be evaluated in the context of COVID impact statements, if provided as part of the dossier.

The department considers efforts to diversify science and science engagement to be especially important forms of contribution that should be considered in addition to discovery, teaching, and extension in making reappointment, promotion, and tenure decisions. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts may be part of any of the realms of faculty responsibility. Examples of such efforts include mentoring students from underrepresented groups, scholarly work related to diversity and inclusivity, participation and leadership in training focused on diversity in science, efforts to address structural or systemic aspects of DEI, and engagement and extension activities focused on underrepresented communities.

In general, expectations of professional track faculty (assistant, associate and full research professors; assistant, associate, and full teaching professors) are the same as those for tenure track faculty. However, evaluation of these faculty will emphasize the major responsibilities defined in their SFR and the percentage of time specified for the major responsibilities.

3. General Standards in Recognized Realms of Responsibility

3.1 Discovery

Although productivity in discovery is usually equated with conducting research and reporting results in peer-reviewed journals, it may also take other forms.  Alternative forms of discovery may include, but are not limited to, technology innovations, publication of books, development of computer software, patent applications, and other scholarly works.

Quantity is of importance only as a general indicator of regular activity. Of more significance is the quality of the contributions to new knowledge or interpretation in the field.

Effort and success in attracting funding are important. Funding may come through various methods, including extramural grants, university grants, contracts, memoranda of agreement, unrestricted gifts, and in-kind support.

Independent work, usually defined as research efforts directed by an individual faculty member, is the basis of many scholarly activities and forms of recognition. Such activities, when successful, are important scholarly contributions and will be recognized as such.

Collaborative work is also important in many fields and for specific types of appointments. Collaboration is often a prerequisite both for financial support and for effective advancement of knowledge. Collaborative efforts may include participation in multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental, multi-university, regional, national, or international programs.

Whether independent or collaborative, scholarly activity must lead to effective dissemination of new knowledge and establishment of a reputation as a scholar and investigator.

In assessing the strength of scholarly activity, training of students and postgraduates is an important contribution. In addition, the success of graduates in academia or other professional fields is an important measure of the strength of a research program.

Reputation among peers is important in evaluating faculty.  To be considered for reappointment, promotion, and tenure, a faculty member must have established at least a regional (but preferably a national) reputation.  For promotion to the rank of professor, national and international recognition is expected. Receipt of awards and honors, invitations to participate in symposia, holding editorships, and serving in positions of leadership in professional societies are examples of such recognition. These and other types of evidence will be carefully considered when evaluating national and international recognition.

3.2 Teaching

Evidence to be reviewed in the evaluation of teaching effectiveness may include, but is not limited to, peer review (to include direct classroom observation), graduate and undergraduate student training, academic advising, creativity and innovation, special recognition in teaching (awards, honors, etc.), and extramural funding record.

Specific written comments from students as requested through ClassEval evaluations are also of value in evaluating teaching effectiveness.  Students should be encouraged to provide these evaluations. Although faculty members may wish to use an additional student evaluation instrument tailored for specific purposes, the ClassEval form must be used by all faculty in all courses.

Classroom observations by peers should be shared with the faculty member and the department head at a point during the RPT process that allows for the peer reviews to provide constructive feedback that is useful to the faculty member. These evaluations will also be appropriate items for discussion during the annual meeting between the faculty member and the department head. The scope and frequency of teaching evaluations should follow the requirements of the RTP process REG 05.20.10 – Evaluation of Teaching.

It is important to recognize that many activities beyond the classroom also constitute teaching.  These activities with students (undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral) may include academic advising, mentoring, supervising laboratory research, and directing the preparation of papers, theses and dissertations. Activities such as advising student organizations and training teaching assistants are also important academic contributions, as are chairing or serving on graduate advisory committees, both inside and outside of the department.

In addition to classroom performance, creativity and innovation in the development of courses and curricula are important to instructional programs, and may constitute scholarly contributions in the area of teaching. Evidence of scholarship in the realm of teaching may include publications on teaching tools and methods, textbooks, laboratory manuals, audiovisual materials, computer-based educational programs or other scholarly products that disseminate knowledge. Invitations to participate in symposia, conferences, workshops, committees of professional societies, and other activities related to teaching are also important measures of recognition by peers, as are honors, awards, and other special recognitions for teaching inside and outside of the university.

Faculty members are encouraged to seek extramural funds for teaching development, when appropriate, and efforts in this direction will be considered in evaluating scholarship in relation to teaching.

3.3 Extension

Appropriate and valuable activities within the realm of extension include applied or translational research that seeks to address the needs of stakeholders, collaborative activities with external partners including contract research in relevant areas of need, target audience needs assessments; development and delivery of research or evidence-based presentations or products to extension audiences; advising clientele on science-based approaches to address identified needs; advising commodity groups to enhance the public and private value of their industry; and publishing findings of extension programming impacts or techniques in the professional literature.

Evidence to be reviewed in the evaluation of extension effectiveness may include, but is not limited to: presentations or talks at appropriate scientific or extension meetings or stakeholder field days; development of websites, agent training modules, information portals, on-line and electronic resources, or other extension materials; novel extension publications or videos; documentation that the developed resources have been used or adapted in NC and other states/regions; publication of books, book chapters, manuals or peer-reviewed publications; publication of popular press articles; development of or participation in grant proposals relevant to extension and training; and outreach, social media activities, or citizen science activities.

With regard to external letters solicited, a sufficient number of letters that represent the diversity of clientele served should be solicited and included in the Dossier.

3.4 Service

All faculty members are expected to participate in the operation of the department, college, or university by serving in various capacities (for example, on committees, boards, panels, task forces, and commissions).  There is a limit to the extent of involvement that can reasonably be expected (to be managed by the Department Head), but it is not unreasonable for these tasks to occupy an average of 10 percent of a faculty member’s time.  Appointments requiring unusual amounts of time devoted to service should be reflected in the SFR.  Faculty members are encouraged to participate in professional activities (for example, by serving on committees and editorial boards, or holding office) within societies and organizations appropriate to their field or discipline.

3.5 Mentoring and Evaluation

Mentoring of faculty is the collective responsibility of the department head and faculty.  A formal mentoring committee is established for all assistant professors (tenure track and professional track), and is charged with providing advice and guidance, assisting the candidate through the reappointment, promotion, and tenure process, and serving as a resource for the department faculty evaluations.  Mentees are encouraged to meet with their mentoring committee or individual members when they have questions about professional issues. The mentoring committee also provides an annual evaluation separate from that provided by the department head, and provides peer reviews of teaching, along with other faculty.

All assistant professors are evaluated on an annual basis by the mentoring committee and the department head, and the results of these evaluations are communicated to the individual. Associate and full professors are evaluated annually by the department head. Recommendations for submitting documentation for non-mandatory actions (such as early promotion to associate professor with tenure, promotion to full professor, or promotion to either rank of professional track faculty) will be considered by the tenured full professors and may be initiated by the candidate, the department head, or a member of the Departmental Voting Faculty (DVF).

Evaluation of faculty is a continuous process that includes guidance, recommended changes, peer feedback, and sensitivity to the faculty member’s growth toward or away from their original capacity and position. It is the responsibility of each faculty member seeking promotion to keep their mentoring committee, the department head, and the DVF apprised of the goals and direction of their instructional and scholarly activities. Any changes must be reflected in the SFR.

4. Standards for Reappointment to Assistant Professor

For reappointment at the assistant professor level, the faculty member is expected to show productivity in the relevant realms of activity documented in the SFR.

In the realm of discovery, publications from work conducted in a doctoral, postdoctoral, or other professional position may be considered, if appropriate.  However, evidence of a developing, active program at NC State is expected during the initial appointment period.  Efforts toward securing extramural funding are expected.

In the realm of teaching, the faculty member is expected to have demonstrated effective contributions to instruction, which may include teaching courses, undergraduate advising, serving on graduate committees, or serving as a research mentor to one or more graduate or undergraduate students.

In the realm of extension, the faculty member is expected to have initiated a program of stakeholder engagement, along with related research activities where appropriate, that is consistent with the goals stated in their SFR.

In the realm of service, the faculty member is expected to have shown service to departmental and/or institutional committees.

5. Standards for Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure

For promotion to associate professor, the faculty member is expected to show continuing productivity in the relevant realms of activity documented in the SFR. Emphasis will be placed on contributions developed since joining the faculty at NC State.

In the realm of discovery, the faculty member is expected to have publications in high quality peer reviewed journals appropriate for the discipline. Efforts toward, and success in, securing funding are expected.

In the realm of teaching, the faculty member is expected to have shown proficiency in teaching and advising at the graduate and/or undergraduate levels.

Extension appointees are expected to engage stakeholders and demonstrate productive and beneficial interactions toward meeting stakeholder needs.

In the realm of service, the faculty member is expected to have served and/or demonstrated leadership on appropriate departmental, university, and/or national committees.

It is expected that a faculty member promoted to associate professor will have at least a regional (but preferably a national) reputation as a scholar, researcher, or extension specialist. This should be evidenced by letters from external evaluators as well as by activities such as service on national committees, regional advisory panels, grant panels and editorial boards, invitations to speak at professional meetings and seminars, and other appropriate activities.

6. Standards for Promotion to Full Professor

Evaluation for promotion will be made in the context of the faculty member’s SFR. For promotion to full professor, the faculty member is expected to meet or exceed the standards for promotion to associate professor. In addition, it is expected that the faculty member will have established a national and international reputation as a scholar in the relevant realms of faculty activity.

Faculty members who’s SFRs indicate a high percentage of discovery activity are expected to have established a national and international reputation as a scholar in their area of academic activity. They will have a sustained record of publications in high quality peer reviewed journals and success in securing extramural funding.

In the realm of teaching, the faculty member will have demonstrated excellence in teaching and mentoring, including successful mentoring of graduate students and/or significant involvement in undergraduate student mentoring and advising.

Extension appointees are expected to show leadership in working with stakeholders and meeting stakeholder needs. They will have an outstanding reputation for their extension activities at the state (or higher) level.

In the realm of service, demonstrated leadership at the departmental, university, and national level is expected.

7. Procedures

Faculty members undergoing review for reappointment, promotion, and tenure must submit their dossier for preliminary evaluation in the spring semester prior to the RPT cycle in the fall semester. The appropriate DVF for the position in question will then make an initial evaluation, relaying advice and suggestions to the candidate via the department head. Mandatory RPT actions (i.e. reappointment and promotion to associate professor with tenure) will move forward as scheduled. For non-mandatory actions (early promotion to associate, promotion to full, promotion of professional track faculty to associate and full) the DVF will make a recommendation based on their initial evaluation.

For promotion to associate or full professor, evaluation letters will be solicited (in a manner consistent with section 5 of the University RPT Policy from external evaluators, selected as distinguished individuals who have relevant expertise. External evaluators will include some suggested by the faculty member and others suggested by tenured professors in the department. External evaluators will be provided with the candidate’s completed dossier.

The department head may, with approval from the DVF, submit for discussion by the DVF additional written evaluations from specific individuals who would provide additional context regarding the RPT submission. Examples of such individuals would include cluster leads from the relevant CFEP cluster, or directors of institutes or centers in which the faculty member participates, or members of mentoring committees that are external to the department.

The appropriate DVF will discuss and vote on reappointment, promotion, and tenure decisions. For reappointment, the vote will be based on an evaluation of the candidate’s completed dossier. For promotion and tenure decisions, the vote will be based on the dossier, the external letters, and a recent departmental seminar given by the candidate. Promotions to full professor will be voted on by the eligible tenured full professors in the department. For assistant professors requesting promotion to associate professor, eligible tenured full and associate professors will vote. For reappointment and promotion of professional track faculty, the DVF will include professional track faculty who are of equal or higher rank, relative to the candidate. The DVF summary statement for the dossier will be prepared by an appropriate faculty member appointed by the department head. The draft document will be shared with the DVF for review, incorporation of changes, and approval prior to submission with the dossier.

8. DVF Membership

The college-level rule 8.3.1 states: “College administrators, who also hold tenured positions in departments, are not to vote in their home departments, but are to have input through consultation with the Dean.” For purposes of application to this departmental rule, the term “College administrator” with respect to the percentage of administrative appointment for the purposes of determining eligibility as a member of the DVF for this department is defined further as follows:

Any faculty member who holds an administrative appointment(s) in excess of 25%, in either college or university-level administration, will be ineligible for voting on RPT decisions while the faculty member serves in such administrative position(s). After the administrative position is relinquished or terminated and the faculty member returns to the department, they would be eligible to vote in RPT decisions.

The department head, at their discretion, may ask faculty members who are ineligible by reason of an administrative appointment to contribute a written assessment of the candidate’s dossier for consideration and discussion by the departmental DVF. These materials may be considered by the DVF and may be referenced in the DVF summary, as deemed appropriate by the DVF. However, any faculty member who is ineligible to vote due to their administrative appointment will not join the discussion with the DVF.

Pursuant to the college RPT rule, if a member of the departmental DVF serves on the college-level RPT review committee, that individual is asked to recuse themselves from the college-level discussions and they do not vote at the college level on decisions regarding faculty members in their home department. Therefore, those in the DVF who serve on the college-level RPT committee shall retain their vote at the departmental level, if their administrative appointment outside the department is not greater than 25%.

For jointly appointed faculty members with a minority percentage appointment within the department, the university policy states that DVF status should be determined at the time of initial appointment by a majority vote of the DVF for each individual case or appointment.

Regarding the method of voting: the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology will use a secret or anonymous balloting system. Each member of the DVF will have the option of voting “yes”, “no” or “abstain.” Results of the balloting will be released to the DVF as soon as is practicable after all individuals have had the opportunity to vote, but results of the vote are to remain confidential. Individuals who cannot attend the DVF discussion will still be eligible to vote for two business days after the DVF discussion. Any votes that are not cast will be counted as abstentions. No proxy votes will be counted.