RUL 05.67.602 – Department of Forest Biomaterials Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures

Authority:  Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

History:  First Issued: August 12, 2005. Last Revised: November 30, 2007.

Related Policies: 
NCSU POL05.20.01 – Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure
NCSU RUL05.67.603 – College of Natural Resources Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Standards and Procedures
NCSU REG05.20.27 – Statements of Mutual Expectations

Additional References:
Office of the Provost RPT Website

Contact Info:  Department Head (919-515-5812)

1. Introduction

The Department of Forest Biomaterials is committed to fulfilling its roles and obligations as an integral component of the College of Natural Resources and North Carolina State University.This document describes the philosophy, standards, and procedures relating to tenure and promotion in the Department of Forest Biomaterials and identifies what should be addressed in every dossier developed by a candidate for reappointment, promotion, and tenure. This document builds upon and supplements the university’s procedures for reappointment, promotion, and conferral of tenure in the Academic Tenure Policy, and the college’s rule. It is meant to be helpful to the following individuals:

1a. new faculty by letting them know what they will need to do to make the case for tenure and promotion,

1b. associate professors by identifying the issues they will need to focus on to be eligible for promotion,

1c. departmental voting faculty (DVF) by providing guidance on the types of questions that need to be asked when evaluating cases for promotion and tenure, and

1d. department heads by providing a common format that can be used for making comparisons of the merits of various tenure and promotion recommendations and for assuring a procedural equity within the department.

Hereafter in this rule, “senior faculty” refers to tenured full professors, and “junior faculty” refers to tenured or tenure track assistant professors and tenured or tenure track associate professors.

2. Areas of Faculty Responsibility

Faculty members in the department of Forest Biomaterials have professional responsibilities that reflect the university’s land-grant heritage of teaching, research, extension, outreach and professional service. The manner in which various faculty members may demonstrate their credentials in these realms is described in the individual’s Statement of Mutual Expectations (SME).  Before performance can be assessed, the faculty member and the department head must agree in the statement of mutual expectations upon the responsibilities to be undertaken. For faculty with extension appointments, the department extension leader will also provide input. The terms of the SME will guide the weights assigned by senior faculty and administrators as they review promotion and/or tenure material. The statement of mutual expectations and self-evaluation would be the starting point for the preparation of the Promotion / Reappointment Dossier.

3. General Standards

3.1. There is an expectation that all faculty members contribute to the scholarly life of an academic institution and, therefore, tenure-track faculty members must continually engage in the pursuit of scholarly activity. The discovery, development and transfer of knowledge are an expectation of all tenure-track faculty members and become the basis for individual and programmatic evaluation.

3.1.1. Teaching and Mentoring Undergraduate and Graduate Students

If the Statement of Mutual Expectations contains this realm of responsibility, evidence of good teaching must accompany each positive recommendation for reappointment or promotion. Faculty members with teaching responsibilities are expected to transfer knowledge to students enrolled at North Carolina State University. The act of transmission of knowledge is designated as teaching, and can be included in activities such as classroom instruction, distance education, and advising students. Activities associated with the transfer of knowledge, such as curriculum development, writing books and laboratory manuals, development of lesson plans, and evaluation of students, are also important components of an academic appointment at the land-grant institution. Scholarly activity in the academic area involves creative work such as obtaining grants and publishing peer-reviewed manuscripts, and documentation of knowledge transferred via instruments and activities such as student evaluations, and peer evaluations. Performance should reflect the Statement of Mutual Expectations. A variety of attributes go together to define an excellent teacher. Faculty members should have a sincere interest in students, an enthusiasm for teaching, an ability to stimulate students to think and learn, and an ability and willingness to contribute to the overall objectives of the academic unit. They should be up-to-date in their subject matter, organized and prepared, and excellent communicators. Each of these desirable attributes can best be assessed by different groups of people. For example, students and alumni are probably best equipped to evaluate whether a faculty member demonstrates a sincere interest in students. Students can also evaluate the communication skills of the professor, the level of organization and preparation, his or her enthusiasm for teaching, and the ability to stimulate thinking and learning. For these kinds of attributes, student evaluation of teaching performance provides useful information to the faculty member and for the self-evaluation. But internal peers are in a better position to judge whether the material being presented is up-to-date and whether the faculty member is contributing to the overall mission of the unit. Alumni are particularly useful in commenting on the impact of the professor on stimulating additional learning, on the level of interest in the student, and whether the material was up-to-date. The faculty member who is truly committed to teaching and continuously improving should use a combination of inputs and should document the results of these activities in the self-evaluation. Seeking input form faculty peers on course outlines and structure is strongly encouraged. A respected peer might occasionally be invited to the classroom to observe the teaching environment, and to provide comments that could lead to improvement, not in an evaluative mode, but as a colleague and mentor. This suggestion to seek peer input as a means to improve is separate from the university mandate by peer review.

3.1.2. A Discovery of Knowledge Through Discipline Guided Inquiry

If the Statement of Mutual Expectations contains this realm of responsibility, evidence of good research must accompany each positive recommendation for reappointment or promotion. Faculty members with research responsibilities are expected to engage in research and discovery and to create new knowledge through their research efforts. A productive research program at a land-grant institution like NC State University must have one or more of the following components: successful grants and funding program, a successful graduate education program, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations at national and international meetings. Performance will be evaluated based on the faculty member’s Statement of Mutual Expectations. 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 referred 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 referred 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. The common belief is that the research is easy to assess compared with teaching and extension. Certainly it is true that the organized peer review system for research grants and for scientific publications does provide a process that does not exist for the other forms of scholarship. But the task of assessing the significance of the research is far more involved than counting articles. Dossiers must go beyond a mere listing of publications, grants, and awards. Each dossier must describe the most significant ideas or concepts that have emerged from the research, the significance of these ideas, and their actual or expected impact on the scientific community or on practice. This description must be written in terms that can be understood by the non-specialist in the field. In short, the questions that should be addressed by each faculty member about his or her research are:

3.1.2a. what are the results, and

3.1.2b. what is their significance, or what impact will they have and on whom?

Faculty engaged in research should also be constantly thinking about ways to improve. Dossiers should explicitly describe such things as intellectual barriers that have been reached in conducting research and steps that were taken to overcome these barriers. The faculty member may have taken a course on new techniques or traveled to a different institution to learn form others. The question that should be regularly asked is what do I need to do to enable me to improve the quality or quantity of my research? Several characteristics are common to most outstanding researchers. These include: intellectual curiosity, creativity, a high level of scientific integrity, good communication skills, an ability to think programmatically, an ability to attract resources, and ability to inspire, and a high level of impact of the results of scientific endeavor. As with teaching, different groups are in more favorable positions to evaluate certain characteristics of good researchers than are others. Internal peers, for example, are in a good position to evaluate the level of intellectual curiosity, scientific integrity, communication skills, and the ability to think programmatically, attract resources, and inspire others. External peers can offer useful insights into the creativity and the impact of the work of the faculty member. Users of the research usually have useful insights into the communication skills of the faculty member and the impact of the research.

3.1.3. Technological and Managerial Innovation

If the Statement of Mutual Expectation contains this realm of responsibility, evidence must accompany each positive recommendation. Historically, faculty in the Department of Forest Biomaterials do not have this area in their responsibilities.

3.1.4. Extension and Engagement with Constituencies Outside the University

If the Statement of Mutual Expectations contains this realm of responsibility, evidence must accompany each positive recommendation. Faculty members with an appointment in the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service are expected to transfer knowledge to citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The transmission of knowledge via an extension program may include activities such as publications, presentations, correspondence, visitations and demonstrations. Activities associated with the transfer of knowledge, such as alternative pedagogical approaches for youth and adult learners, support of agents and volunteers and service to organizations are important components of an extension appointment at a land-grant institution. Scholarly activity in the academic area involves creative work such as workshops, extension publications, professional journals, documentation of knowledge transferred, and economic impacts. Performance should reflect the Statement of Mutual Expectation. Extension and engagement activities, like those involving teaching or research, are must have a scholarly component in that the faculty member is expected to be constantly experimenting with new and improved methods of technology transfer and to be learning from the results of the experiments. As in all scholarship, there is a need to communicate (scholarly writing and presentations) ideas and creative approaches in extension and engagement to peers. Several attributes are critical to be an effective extension specialist. These include a sincere interest in the clientele, practical experience in the area of expertise, knowledge of the field, creativity, communication skills, and a desire to have a positive impact. Internal peers can be most helpful in reviewing annual plans of work and assessing their creativity and likely impact. External extension peers can help evaluate the creativity demonstrated by the person in terms of his or her knowledge of the field, and level of communication skills. Clients, or customers, know if the extension specialist has a sincere interest in them and their problems, is committed to results in solving the problems, is knowledgeable about the field, is a good communicator, and has actually made a difference in their lives or their operations. Most importantly, clients are in the best position to quantify the impact of extension activities. Information about dollars saved, productivity increases or other measures of impact are particularly valuable in a dossier. Extension personnel are encouraged to seek feedback from any of the people or groups who are in a position to provide useful guidance concerning performance.

3.1.5. Service in Professional Societies and Within the University

All faculty members are involved in the operation of the department, college, and university by serving in various capacities (for example, on committees, boards, panels, task forces, and commissions). Faculty members are also expected to further their disciplines by providing service to their professional societies by serving as officers or on committees, serving as editors and reviewers for professional journals or other professional publication outlets, and serving on study and review panels for governmental agencies and funding organizations. Although there is a reasonable limit to the extent of involvement (to be managed by the department head), it is not unreasonable for these tasks to occupy an average of 10 to 15 percent of a faculty member’s time. The department head must approve appointments requiring larger amounts of time in advance.

3.2. Summary

There is no formula for tenure or promotion, nor should there be. Decisions about these matters will always be a judgment call based partly on individual circumstances. Faculty in the Department of Forest Biomaterials will have appointments that contain varying responsibilities as set forth in the Statement of Mutual Expectations.  But the process of evaluating faculty for promotion and tenure should be structured to encourage a high level of accomplishment and a constant quest for excellence in scholarship, however scholarship is manifested. Faculty members being considered for promotion and tenure and promotion and tenure committees should draw upon all relevant sources to answer three questions: (1) Is the faculty member doing what is expected of him or her? (2) Is the work being done in an exemplary way? (3) Has the faculty member clearly demonstrated a commitment and a capacity to continue to improve the quantity and quality of output?

4. Standards for Reappointment as Assistant Professor

To be reappointed as Assistant Professor, the individual must demonstrate ability or definite promise in Forest Biomaterials teaching, research, extension, and participation in university, college, and departmental affairs that will lead to promotion to Associate professor with tenure. These achievements must be in keeping with the Statement of Mutual Expectations.

5. Standards for Associate Professor with Tenure

To be promoted to associate professor with tenure, a faculty member must first meet the standards described above for reappointment as an assistant professor. Furthermore, the individual will have demonstrated recognized ability and potential for distinction in Forest Biomaterials teaching, research, extension, and service, commensurate with their Statement of Mutual Expectations. There is a reasonable expectation that there should be evidence that the candidate will continue to build their national and/or international reputation through significant contributions to the field. 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 in scholarship and leadership.

6. Standards for Professor

Promotion to Professor will be evaluated for each faculty member with an appropriate and individual integration across the faculty member’s contributions in teaching, research and extension with due consideration to effective service to the institution, consistent with their appointment and the Statement of Mutual Expectations. 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. 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.

7. Procedures for RPT Review 

In accordance with university RPT policy, processes in the department rest on the principles of uniformity, notice, and accountability. The faculty’s independent assessment of quality provides the most important and deeply informed peer evaluation of a candidate. All departmental voting faculty (DVF) members (as defined in the university Academic Tenure Policy) should review each candidate’s dossier and vote. The departmental voting faculty will then provide the department head with a written assessment of the candidate, together with the final tally of the faculty vote.  The schedule of deadlines for dossier submission and Department Faculty Voting meetings will be set and communicated by the Department Head.  Absentee votes may be submitted to the Head by faculty who are unable to attend the DVF meeting. The Head will announce the deadline for absentee vote submission to enable the department to meet the college submission deadline.