Common Problems on Promotion Dossiers

When procedures are not followed, dossiers have to be returned to departments to repeat the reviews at each level in the process. Four problems result in most of the returns of dossiers to departments. All dossiers should be reviewed to check on these problems to avoid delays arising from having to re-review incorrectly prepared dossiers. 

      1. Does the Workload Assignment describe the candidate’s duties in non-evaluative terms that provide adequate details on the candidate’s teaching load and any split appointments? As the first document in the dossier, the Workload Assignment provides the baseline for reviewers to make independent assessments of candidates’ achievements, so the workload description should not praise the candidates' contributions. While a position description should not use evaluative terms, it should provide enough detail to clarify how many courses are expected and what duties are included in the appointment.

      2. Were no more than half of the external reviewers suggested by the candidate, and did the process follow the prescribed procedures, including the required template? No more than half of the reviewers can come from the candidate’s suggestions. Each step in the process should be documented using the checklist in the Dossier Template. Any changes in the letter to reviewers must be approved by the Provost’s Office.

      3. Were any coauthors and collaborators of candidates included as external reviewers, committee members, or administrative reviewers? The University looks to external reviewers to provide an independent assessment, and their impartiality is called into question when they have collaborated with a candidate. Collaborators should not serve as external or internal reviewers. Questions about the independence of reviewers can lead to Dossiers being returned to departments and colleges.

        As with the provisions used by NSF and other groups to ensure the impartiality of reviews, collaborators are defined as individuals who have coauthored books, articles, abstracts, or grant proposals or co-edited journals, volumes, or conference proceedings within the last five years. Collaborators also include individuals who have been a candidate's dissertation advisor, supervisor, or close coworker in a lab, department, or residency program, even if this occurred more than five years prior to the review.

        Committee members or administrators who have coauthored substantial publications or grants with a candidate should recuse themselves to avoid raising concerns about their impartiality. Rather than serving on review committees or in administrative roles, collaborators should provide a separate letter that describes the independent contributions of the candidate. Collaborator letters are placed immediately after external review letters and have a comparable impact. If recusal is not feasible, for example because of the size of a department, concerns about conflicts of interest must be addressed in the letter reviewing the candidate. Questions about this matter should be directed to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.

      4. Is a separate teaching review provided by the department committee following the Office of Instruction and Assessment's Peer Review Protocol? This memo should be included in section seven of the dossier. Detailed assessments of candidates’ teaching are particularly essential with unusual teaching assignment such as team-taught classes or residencies. If Teacher-Course Evaluations are not available, student assessments should be provided along with benchmarks for comparative assessments. Summaries of students’ individual comments should be prepared by committees to ensure the comments are representative. Dossiers that do not have reviews of teaching (Section 7) should be returned by college offices to departments to avoid creating subsequent delays.

Guide to the Promotion Process