UArizona Faculty Retention Recommendations
One of the highest institutional priorities of the University of Arizona is retaining exceptional faculty. Faculty support our university mission and purpose of working together to expand human potential, explore new horizons and enrich life for all.
These recommendations include useful, concrete, and relevant retention information for UArizona academic departments and colleges in those cases when faculty are being recruited by another institution or organization.
Types of retention efforts
Preventive retention are efforts to identify high-performing faculty who are critical to the strategic initiatives of their department, college, or university, or who are highly accomplished, broadly recognized, or potentially at risk of being recruited by another institution. These faculty members should be targeted as retention priorities and efforts should be made at any time to help preempt their interest in other institutions. Department heads / chairs / directors and college deans are encouraged to develop a practice of identifying and investing in high-performing faculty before they seek other job opportunities or are actively recruited by other organizations.
Active retention are efforts to induce high-performing faculty to remain when they are being actively recruited by other institutions. A formal job offer is not required in order to engage in the retention process. As appropriate, in return for accepting a retention offer, faculty may be asked to agree to withdraw from consideration for an external position.
There are multiple ways in which a department head may become aware of the need for a retention effort:
- Faculty becoming highly visible nationally / internationally such that that department head believes the likelihood of recruitment efforts by other institutions is very high.
- Faculty may inform the department head that they are being contacted, pursued, or recruited from another institution.
- Individuals inside or outside of the department may alert the department head to the potential recruitment of a faculty member outside the UArizona.
College deans have lead responsibility for assessing and supporting departmental retention efforts.
Department Heads are expected to inform their dean promptly of all retention cases in their departments. Department heads are asked to provide the following information when contacting the college dean to request support for a retention:
- Why does the faculty member have a high probability of being recruited away? (for preemptive effort)
- If another institution is involved, how does it compare with UArizona in terms of national and international rankings, prestige, productivity, and ranking in the discipline?
- Why is the faculty member attracted to the other institution?
- What is the faculty member's compensation?
- What is the recent history of annual evaluations and salary increases?
- Has salary equity within the department been considered?
- What research support is currently available to the faculty member? Please include research funds, course releases, internal and external leaves and grants, as well as any remaining balance in the faculty member's start up account.
- How would the loss of the faculty member diminish the reputation, productivity, and mission-focused efforts of the department?
- What is the level of faculty support in the department for a proposed retention effort?
Department heads are asked to propose specific terms (see the Retention Offers section below) for a possible retention offer. The college will consider the information provided by the department head.
Expectations for faculty who receive a retention package
When faculty accept a retention package, they are expected to use any additional operational funding to continue to make an impact in their scholarship, students, university initiatives or other identified position activities. Department heads should be clear about expectations related to the retention, specifically what the faculty member will do with the retention package. Those faculty who are seeking a second or third retention package will be asked by the department head and dean to provide a report that includes data demonstrating the effective use of the previous support.
Roles in the retention process
Faculty retention is a highly collaborative effort between the department, college, and central administration, and each plays a different role in the process:
Department Head / Chair / Director
The department heads are the first point of contact in a retention effort. They should alert the dean immediately when they become aware that faculty are actively being recruited or are in danger of being recruited away. It is the role of the department head to discern what type(s) of additional support the faculty member may welcome to remain. Department heads work closely with the dean to determine whether a retention effort is warranted.
The dean (or designee) works with the department head to determine the nature and scope of the retention or preemptive retention effort. In some cases, the dean may determine that a retention is not warranted. When retention is pursued, the dean should be in personal contact with the faculty member to be retained.
The dean must alert the Provost's Office at email@example.com and Research, Innovation & Impact (RII) at firstname.lastname@example.org on the developing retention if central resources such as compensation or core facilities are of interest or needed. The dean can contact RII to request a summary of the faculty member's research portfolio.
After talking with the faculty member and department head, and determining the nature of the retention, the dean is responsible for the implementation of the retention plan, which needs to be reviewed and approved by the Provost's Office.
RII may be consulted to consider potential support for instrumentation or access to core facilities.
The standards for making a retention offer should be high.
Faculty must have an outstanding scholarly record and a significant positive impact on students, their disciplinary community (national, and / or international), the university community, and their colleagues consistent with their rank and experience. These faculty must have a record of above-average performance evaluations:
- Be in the top 10-20% of their department.
- Play a vital role with regard to institutional mission and purpose.
- Be identified as not being adequately compensated at market rates and are therefore at risk of being recruited away.
When faculty have external offers, it is important to consider the following in crafting a responsive retention offer:
- Is the offer from a peer or more prestigious institution or department?
- A retention effort is less likely to occur in response to offers from institutions not identified as peers (visit the UArizona list of peer institutions), even if the offered salary is higher.
- A retention effort may be made when the offer is from industry or a non-academic employer.
- Consideration should be given to the length of time since a previous retention offer was made.
Many retention efforts include an increase in base salary, but there are other mechanisms that can be considered as part of a retention effort, such as:
- Summer salary support
- Funding in support of the faculty member's research/creative activity, e.g.;
- Support for a postdoc, graduate assistant, undergraduate students or staff member
- Support for professional development
- Support for travel
- Seed funding for research
- Funding for instrumentation
- A named professorship
- A change in the faculty member's workload assignment
- Research space, new or remodeled
- An effort to support a partner accommodation
- UArizona partner hiring program
Evidence-Based Faculty Retention Ongoing Practices
- Holistic onboarding:
- Offer transparent information and clearly communicate departmental policies, processes and expectations early
- Offer targeted teaching and research resources
- Make use of accommodating practices and policies
- Provide institutional, college and department level mentoring resources
- Facilitate networking opportunities for faculty
- Celebrate and recognize contributions and outstanding performance
- Monitor course and service commitments to ensure faculty have feasible workloads
- Examine faculty workload, appointments and compensations to avoid inequities
- Support targeted career development opportunities for early, mid-career and senior faculty:
- Leadership programs and opportunities
- Professional conferences
- Instructional improvement
Relevant resources on campus to enhance retention:
The university regards partner hires as a legitimate practice of non-competitive recruitment and retention. It is expected that the partner hire will have qualifications commensurate with the position that they are hired into and will adhere to standards of performance associated with that position.
The University Handbook for Appointed Personnel covers the policies and procedures for requesting delays in promotion reviews for tenure-track faculty in 3.3.01 and for continuing-status in 4A.3.01. Delays can be requested for the birth or adoption of a child, personal reasons such as a health problem for a candidate or family member, bereavement over the loss of a child or partner, adverse professional circumstances that are beyond a candidate’s control, or a prestigious external commitment that detracts from a candidate’s research. Click here to see how to request clock delays.
Our institution recognizes the pandemic circumstances of coronavirus and impact on our faculty and professionals working toward tenure or continuing status, respectively. Therefore, we are offering a one-year extension of the promotion clock to all tenure-eligible or continuing eligible candidates.
Faculty Development Communities for Promotion (FDCP) Mentoring Program
Faculty Affairs offers the Faculty Development Communities for Promotion (FDCP) Mentoring Program. The vision of this program is to prioritize guiding values of excellence, honesty, trustworthiness, and compassion to help faculty communities discuss and navigate their professional development while on the pathway to promotion/tenure.
The goal of this program is to create small faculty groups and link them with one faculty mentor who has participated on promotion review committees. These communities help faculty explore their individual objectives, hopes, and aspirations as well as to reflect on their common challenges, concerns and solutions about promotion and tenure.
These awards are the highest faculty honors that our university bestows. They allow us to recognize the contributions of outstanding colleagues who have had significant impacts locally, nationally, and internationally.
University Distinguished Awards
These awards are reserved for full-rank tenured and continuing-status faculty members with exceptional achievements in their work.
- University Distinguished Professor Awards
- University Distinguished Outreach Faculty Awards
- Distinguished Heads/Directors Award
- Distinguished Innovation & Entrepreneurship Award
- Henry and Phyllis Koffler Prize
Midcareer and Early Career Distinguished Faculty Awards
These awards recognize tenure-eligible and continuing-eligible faculty at the associate and assistant ranks for transformative contributions to their disciplines.
- Distinguished Scholars Awards
- Early Career Scholars Awards
- Early Career Innovation & Entrepreneurship Award
Teaching Excellence Awards
These awards recognize outstanding accomplishments in teaching. All tracks and ranks are considered.
- Gerald J. Swanson Prize for Teaching Excellence
- Leicester and Kathryn Sherrill Creative Teaching Award
- Provost Award for Innovations in Teaching
These awards recognize faculty for their exceptional mentoring of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students.
The Provost's Author Support Fund
This award is designed to cover special production charges associated with permissions, figures, photographs, indexing, or production of scholarly book-length manuscripts or other creative works accepted for publication and accompanied by formal reviews.
The University of Arizona has a number of inclusive affinity groups for faculty and staff. Each affinity group works independently form the central administration and they offer a wide range of support resources and social activities for their members. See link above for contact information for all groups.
Faculty-Only Affinity Groups
- UA Native Faculty
- Black Faculty Group
- Latinx faculty Group
- University of Arizona Faculty of Chinese Heritage Association (UAFCHA)
Faculty & Staff Affinity Groups
- 2SLGBTQIA+ Faculty & Staff Association
- Asian American Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Association (AAFSA)
- Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
- Disabled Staff and Faculty Coalition (DSFC)
- Latinx Faculty & Staff Association
- Native American Faculty & Staff Association (Skoden UA)
- Sankofa, Black Faculty & Staff Association
- Veterans Faculty & Staff Association
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- Vader, M. H. S. (2021). Improving Faculty Retention and Job Satisfaction for Physician Assistant Educators. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science, 3(3), 122.
- Wapman, K. H., Zhang, S., Clauset, A., & Larremore, D. B. (2022). Quantifying hierarchy and dynamics in US faculty hiring and retention. Nature, 610(7930), 120-127.