RUL 05.67.309 – Department of Joint Biomedical Engineering Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures

Authority: NC State and UNC-CH Provosts and Executive Vice Chancellors

History: First Issued: March 1, 2005.

Related Policies: 
NCSU POL05.20.01 – Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure
UNC-CH Academic Tenure Policy
NCSU RUL05.67.308 – College of Engineering Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures
UNC-CH School of Medicine RPT Standards
NCSU REG05.20.27 – Statements of Mutual Expectations

Additional References:
Office of the Provost RPT Website

Contact Info: Department Head/Chair (919-515-3578; 919-966-8537)


  1. Introduction

This rule describes the standards and procedures for reappointment, promotion and tenure (RPT) in the UNC-CH/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering and is supplemental to and consistent with the College of Engineering’s rule and NC State Academic Tenure Policy and UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine Tenure Policy. Faculty in the department serve both universities, but have their appointment in one university for RPT and other personnel actions. The RPT standards and policies for the department are uniform across both universities and are processed in a uniform manner by the department chair and the department voting faculty (DVF). For NC State-based faculty, RPT dossiers are submitted from the department to the College of Engineering (COE) RPT Committee, and for UNC-CH-based faculty, portfolios are submitted to the School of Medicine (SOM) RPT Committee.

The department offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. The mission of the department, which embraces the threefold mission of the universities, is “to provide high quality undergraduate programs that continually incorporate technological advances in biomedical engineering, educational programs to satisfy the need for highly educated engineers and scholars in various specialty areas of biomedical engineering, research activities consistent with the responsibilities of a research institution to develop new technology for the solution of emerging problems and to support programs of graduate education, extension and public service activitiesfor the State of North Carolina through the development of professional technical assistance and continuing education programs.”

Reappointment, tenure and promotion criteria in the UNC-CH/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering requires unequivocal evidence of excellence commensurate with the applicable professorial rank. Furthermore, each faculty member in the joint program is expected to make substantial contributions to the teaching missions.

  1. Areas of Faculty Responsibility

The six realms of faculty responsibility are:

2.1 teaching and mentoring students,

2.2 discovery of knowledge through discipline-guided inquiry,

2.3 creative artistry and literature,

2.4 technological and managerial innovation,

2.5 extension and engagement with constituencies outside the university, and

2.6 service in professional societies and within the universities and hospitals.

The six realms recognize the richness and diversity of the means by which faculty contribute to the mission of the universities. While each faculty member may contribute through a different combination of realms, every faculty member is expected to give attention to how those contributions address the mission. It is understood that contributions in any realm may contribute to the mission areas. The manner in which various faculty members may demonstrate their contributions in these realms may vary widely, and the individual’s Statement of Mutual Expectations describes the realms in which the faculty member will focus and on which he/she will be evaluated.

  1. General Standards and Definitions

3.1. Each faculty member is expected to work in a manner that respects the value of scholarship and academic discourse, diversity, and mutual understanding.

3.2. Evidence of good teaching must accompany each positive recommendation for promotion. The assessment of teaching quality will be based on student evaluations and peer reviews. Papers presented at education conferences and published in engineering journals as well as textbooks will also be considered. In addition, grant funding in engineering education will be considered as evidence of good teaching.

3.3. Evidence of good research must accompany each positive recommendation for promotion. One standard to be considered is the number of substantive works accepted for publication through a peer review process.

The evaluation of quality as well as quantity of research for reappointment, promotion and/or tenure must be applied with judgment since there may be substantial variation among refereed works in terms of their contribution to the academic and professional community. The quality of the work itself and the quality and prestige of the journal or other media in which the work appears are factors to be considered. Most of the published works should be in the candidate’s field, broadly defined, and some should be in professional or academic journals recognized to be of high quality.

Papers presented at professional meetings and research grant proposals will also be considered. The quality and quantity of unpublished working papers, manuscripts, and grant proposals is an important element in assessing a candidate’s continuing commitment to scholarly activities. This is particularly relevant for decisions regarding tenure. Activities such as membership on editorial boards of refereed journals, serving as a referee, assisting colleagues with their research activities, and other contributions to the scholarly life of the department will also be considered.

3.4. Recognizing the important role that biomedical engineering plays in bringing new technological advances to the healthcare professions, evidence of success in translational research will also be valued in RPT decisions. BME faculty who collaborate in multidisciplinary teams to identify new medical applications for their research discoveries are encouraged to include industrial support, invention disclosures, patent applications, issued patents, licensed patents, commercialization activities, startup companies, and the like in their RPT portfolios/dossiers.

3.5. Evidence of service in professional societies and within the university should accompany each positive recommendation for promotion.

3.6. Ultimately, the judgment of individual departmental voting faculty (DVF) members is paramount in an evaluation of a candidate against the standards presented in Sections 3 to 6. A strong faculty vote is expected to support a positive departmental recommendation for reappointment, promotion and/or tenure. The department chair may, of course, make a recommendation that is not consistent with the DVF vote. It is expected that such cases would be reviewed carefully at higher university levels.

3.7. DVF: Departmental Voting Faculty. The DVF is comprised of tenured members of the departmental faculty. The actual composition of the DVF is case and university dependent. For cases of faculty being reviewed who are home based at NC State, the following provisions exist: if the faculty member being reviewed holds the rank of associate professor, the DVF is comprised of all tenured professors; if the faculty member holds the rank of assistant professor, the DVF is comprised of all tenured associate professors and all tenured professors. For cases of faculty being reviewed who are home based at UNC-CH, the DVF is always the tenured professors.

  1. Standards for Reappointment as Assistant Professor

Reappointment at the rank of assistant professor requires that the individual is making satisfactory progress towards meeting the standards for promotion to the rank of associate professor with tenure.

  1. Standards for Associate Professor with Tenure

Promotion to associate professor may only occur with tenure and will be evaluated for each faculty member with an appropriate and individual integration across the faculty member’s contributions. In general, the expectation is that a faculty member will have demonstrated the potential to achieve national or international recognition for the faculty member’s contributions.

  1. Standards for Professor

Promotion to the rank of professor will be evaluated for each faculty member with an appropriate and individual integration across the faculty member’s contributions. In general, the expectation is that a faculty member will have achieved national or international recognition for the faculty member’s contributions in scholarship and leadership. However, cumulative outstanding leadership within the university, over an extended number of years that contributes to the national or international recognition of university programs may be heavily weighed in lieu of the faculty member’s individual national or international recognition for scholarship and leadership.

  1. Procedures for RPT Review

7.1. For each promotion case, the department chair appoints an ad-hoc committee of approximately three DVF members each of whom are at rank above the rank of the faculty member being reviewed. This ad-hoc committee works with the candidate to facilitate preparation of the candidate’s dossier and supporting information. While the ad-hoc committee advises the candidate, the final preparation of the candidate’s credentials and supporting information is the candidate’s sole responsibility.

The ad-hoc committee consults with the candidate to identify the names of appropriate reviewers to be selected by the candidate. The candidate is permitted to identify up to three outside reviewers. The ad-hoc committee members work with the department chair and possibly other members of the DVF to identify additional outside reviewers. The number of outside reviewers will be chosen to meet guidelines of the university at which the candidate is based. The outside reviewers will be asked to assess the candidate’s scholarly and professional contributions.

The ad-hoc committee reviews and becomes familiar with the candidate’s dossier and contributions. The ad-hoc committee typically provides an overview of the candidate’s contributions to initiate the DVF discussion. The ad-hoc committee, however, is not to make a recommendation regarding the action being considered.

Outside reviewers’ letters are made available to the DVF prior to and during the DVF discussion. If some letters have not yet been obtained prior to the discussion, the DVF may choose to delay the discussion or vote until additional letters are received. In any case, all letters received are made available for review by the DVF, and all letters are provided to the COE or SOM RPT committee.

7.2. The DVF reviews and selects all faculty members below the rank of professor annually for possible personnel action. In addition, however, individual faculty members on either university may decide to undergo a review for promotion under university guidelines. For mandatory cases, personnel actions follow the university schedule for the university serving as home base for the faculty member under consideration

7.3. A given case is discussed during one or more DVF meetings until the DVF is ready to vote.

When the DVF votes on a RPT case, a vote will be counted for any member present or any member who leaves an absentee vote with the department chair prior to the vote. The chair will make exceptions for unanticipated circumstances that prevent attendance at the DVF meeting. Any DVF member who cannot be present is strongly encouraged to vote by absentee ballot. Any DVF member who submits an absentee vote is expected to have become sufficiently familiar with the case to cast a knowledgeable vote. Any DVF member who does not participate in the vote or does not absentee vote will be recorded as missing and must be explained by the department head/chair in the assessment that is submitted to the dean. The outcome of the vote is announced at the DVF meeting.

The ad-hoc committee for each candidate under consideration drafts a written summary assessment of the candidate that captures the major issues raised during the DVF discussion and the range of opinions regarding the quality and impact of the contributions of the candidate. The draft is made available to all members of the DVF so that they may read it and make comments over a period of approximately 2 to 3 days. The ad-hoc committee then finalizes the written summary assessment that then becomes part of their candidate’s dossier. The dossier remains available for review by any DVF member until the departmental RPT process is concluded.

7.4. The department head/chair writes an independent assessment and makes a recommendation. For UNC-CH the assessment will include the vote of the full professors.For NC State the vote of the entire DVF will be included.

The DVF assessment and the department head’s/chair’s assessment and recommendation are provided to the candidate who may write a response for inclusion in the package submitted to the College of Engineering or School of Medicine.

At UNC-CH the promotion package should include: teaching portfolio, letters of recommendations, and four representative publications. At NC State, the RPT dossiercontains a statement of mutual expectations, brief resume, teaching and mentoring activities, and sections for scholarship, extension, innovation, service, and external letters of recommendation.

At NC State, the DVF discussions are typically held in a series of meetings during the fall semester. The overall timetable is carried out to meet the schedule set by the NC State Offices of the dean and the provost. The process usually begins in September and is completed by mid December. At UNC-CH, RPT decisions are processed continually during the calendar year.