Implementing Post-Tenure Review
Insight from the new book Post-Tenure Faculty Review and Renewal: Experienced Voices
By Christine M. Licata and Joseph C. Morreale

From the December 2001 AAHE Bulletin

 


The national movement toward adoption of post-tenure review has been ongoing for the past decade. The question on the minds of faculty, administrators, trustees, legislators, and the public is whether post-tenure review is really achieving its intended objectives.

Our book, Post-Tenure Faculty Review and Renewal: Experienced Voices provides interesting perspective on the actual workings of post-tenure review across the nation as told by experienced faculty and administrative voices within 13 universities and state systems. This article is based on excerpts from that book.

Our book highlights the experiences of institutions that worked with AAHE under its New Pathways Project on Post-Tenure Review. The institutions received AAHE minigrants to help their campus or system start, maintain its momentum, or experiment with novel approaches to tenured faculty review and development. Our book brings together examples of the adoption and implementation of post-tenure review, both in systems of higher education and at specific institutions. The 13 institutional examples offer a variety of insights into that process as described by faculty and administrators who participated in their institution’s work.

Regardless of whether or not your institution currently has a tenured faculty review policy, the underlying motifs explored in the book have relevance to any change effort and most especially to those aimed at faculty performance, development, and reward.

Starting the Discussion
The post-tenure review movement has called attention to faculty work and how it is assessed. In this process, thoughtful questions about the purpose and credibility of tenure and annual reviews have been asked. The answers have varied and to some may even seem incomplete. Notwithstanding, we believe discussions with our constituents about how individual contribution is gauged and how to improve the way we support tenured faculty in their careers are essential to the academy’s future.

A 1998 poll conducted by the Public Higher Education Program of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York indicates that more than one-half of all states now tie some of their financial support of public higher education to performance; all but a few appear likely to do so over the next few years. According to the Education Commission of the States 1998 report “Transforming Postsecondary Education for the Twenty-First Century,” there is an increasing belief by policymakers that what is publicly supported should be connected to “specific institutional performance measures.” So whether it is the issue of performance funding or post-tenure review, the imperative is the same. It is that “achieving closer collaboration between policymakers and education leaders” is an important policy objective.

The reports in our book by Arizona State University, the Texas State University System, the Oregon University System, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Kentucky suggest that collaboration did occur through discussions centering on tenure and post-tenure review. The door to better communication between the two sectors can be opened through such policy deliberations but the conversation must be ongoing to meaningfully inform each other’s perspectives. Others in our book have offered guarded optimism that post-tenure review will contribute to the ability of institutions and higher education to meet the demands for performance standards and accountability, or will, at least, contribute to ongoing discussion about these concerns.

What We Have Learned
Were we to prognosticate about what contributions post-tenure review has made and where it is headed, we would offer the following:

1. The effectiveness of post-tenure review in the institutions described here and elsewhere is dependent on context and process. This means the following basic operating principles are in place:

  • Evaluation purpose is clear and not duplicative of other processes.

  • Evaluation leads to tangible results.

  • Evaluation procedures respect departmental culture and institutional need for fairness.

  • Evaluation standards are well understood and consistently applied.

2. The challenges ahead include strategic action to:

  • Situate post-tenure review within a seamless and cohesive continuum of faculty review policies and faculty well-being strategies.
  • Put energy and value on faculty renewal as an institutional priority.
  • Balance faculty development potential with compliance requirements.

  • Focus stakeholder attention on realistic outcomes and shape stakeholder expectations about faculty work through meaningful and sustained conversations and information sharing.

But significant questions still remain. Critical questions those of us involved in post-tenure review must continue to ask center on how flexible we want to be in influencing the work of senior faculty, in recognizing that career trajectories are not linear, in responding to changing institutional missions and challenges, and in deciding what contextual factors can influence enhanced faculty vitality and well-being.

Enduring Voices
Will post-tenure review endure over the long run? The reports in our book show that as institutions adopt tenured faculty review and focus energy on senior faculty vitality, institutional perspectives evolve. Institutions learn new ways to shape the review process and make it more effective in creating continuous faculty development. Interest grows in assessing policy effectiveness and making the policy work to the advantage of all. Margaret A. Miller, in the July/August 2001 Change magazine editorial “Faculty as a Renewable Resource,” calls the relationship between faculty and institutional renewal a “conservative paradox” because “it’s only by continual growth and adaptation to a changing world that we [meaning faculty] conserve the values and principles that we hold most dear.” We agree.

From our work, we find much promise in the ability of faculty to strike the appropriate balance between reviewing and renewing. These efforts are also leading faculty and administrators to reform employment practices to better reflect the work patterns of tenured faculty and the fluid needs of their institutions. These efforts and those of all of our minigrant partners give us great hope that post-tenure faculty review and renewal can work side by side to help make our work more public and our work better understood and valued.

As institutions continue to take seriously increasing flexibility in allocation of work effort and as they recognize the increasing number of intersections between teaching, scholarship, and service, Mary Taylor Huber’s observation in that same Change issue “Balancing Acts: Designing Careers Around the Scholarship of Teaching” is compelling. She cautions us that “Boundaries between the conventional parts of academic life can easily blur.. . . ‘[B]alance’ is less about the relationships among different kinds of work and more about their integration.”

The creative conversations in our book center on the notion of compromise and integration. Through the themes of critical beginnings, strategic checkpoints, intentional intersections, and future pathways, our authors point out the essential and the expected along the journey. We trust that the lessons and sage advice contained there can help move the conversation on post-tenure faculty review and renewal forward and bring focus to ways of designing meaningful, visionary, and effective evaluation and development practices.

This voyage is far from over though. As we continue our work, we must remind ourselves it is the transactional and transformational nature of the journey, not the destination, that offers the most promise and that, as Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscape but in having new eyes.”

Christine M. Licata is associate dean for academic affairs at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf and an AAHE senior associate. Contact her at cmlnbt@rit.edu.

Joseph C. Morreale is vice president of the Office of Planning, Assessment, Research, and Academic Support at Pace University. Contact him at jmorreale@pace.edu.


Post-Tenure Review and Renewal: Experienced Voices

Edited by Christine M. Licata and Joseph C. Morreale, Post-Tenure Review and Renewal: Experienced Voices (2002) is a publication of AAHE's New Pathways Project, AAHE Forum on Faculty Roles & Rewards. To purchase see www.aahe.org/pubs. Authors contributing campus accounts:
  • S. Vianne McLean — Queensland University of Technology, and Thomas Callarman — Arizona State University
  • Shirley Clark — Oregon University System

  • Jim Applegate and Lois Nora — University of Kentucky

  • Kate Harrington — University of Massachusetts

  • Kelly Janousek and Wayne Dick — California State University, Long Beach

  • N. Douglas Lees — Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

  • Gail Latta and Daniel Wheeler — University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Betsy Brown — Winthrop University

  • Barbara Hornum — Drexel University

  • Ronald Henry — Georgia State University

  • Ann Hunter and Jonathan Lawson — Idaho State University

  • Debra Price, Dennis Longmire, Frank Fair, Laverne Warner, Paul Reed, William Fleming, and JoAnn Duffy — Texas State University System
  • Susan H. Barr — Virginia Military Institute
  • Plus essays by Charles Walker (“Faculty Well-Being”) and William Plater (“Intentional Future”).




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