Yale Faculty Committee Proposes Changes to Promotion and Tenure Policies

The Tenure and Appointments Policy Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale University has recommended significant changes to the procedures used to hire, promote and grant tenure to professors at Yale.

The text of the report was presented yesterday to Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton and shared with the faculty.

“An effective modern tenure and appointments system has one goal—to develop, nurture and sustain a faculty so widely acknowledged as distinguished that both the faculty and the means of its appointment are taken as measures of excellence in modern university research and scholarship,” the report states. “The faculty’s intellectual leadership, scholarly stature, engaged teaching and committed citizenship constitute the heart of the University.”

The new procedures explicitly uphold Yale’s long-held standard for tenure appointments, that faculty must “stand in competition with the foremost leaders in their fields throughout the world.”

Key proposals include hiring new non-tenured “ladder faculty” such that a promotion to tenure is based on the quality of their scholarship, teaching and university citizenship rather than resource considerations; shortening the time between initial appointment and tenure decision; focusing specifically on the accomplishments of internal candidates when they are considered for tenure rather than requiring them to compete in open searches for senior positions; ensuring mentoring for all assistant and associate professors; and strengthening efforts to diversify the faculty by hiring more women and under-represented minorities.

These modifications to the tenure and appointment system will bring Yale more in line with other universities and allow Yale to compete for top faculty candidates more effectively. “Many departments find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in hiring non-tenured faculty because other high-ranking departments can promise tenure decisions earlier and without reference to resource constraints,” the report states.

“Yale now is alone among American colleges and universities in failing to provide, at the initial appointment, resources for a potential tenured appointment should the faculty member eventually qualify,” according to the report. Current Yale policy requires that academic departments grant tenure to a non-tenured professor only when they lose an already tenured faculty member through retirement or departure, or if they are granted an additional tenured position. The new system “emphasizes the importance of initial faculty appointments,” the report notes.

The report recommends that newly hired assistant professors be given four-year terms, and be evaluated for renewal in their third year. Assistant professors who are progressing in their scholarship, research, teaching and university citizenship would then be reappointed for an additional three years. In the fifth or sixth year after the initial appointment, assistant professors would be reviewed for promotion to “associate professor on term” and remain in that rank until considered for tenure, no later than the end of their eighth year.  Current policy allows tenure decisions to be made in the ninth year—later than at most other American universities.

The Tenure and Appointments Policy Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was appointed in April 2005 by Provost Hamilton. The committee, co-chaired by Jon Butler, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Peter Salovey, dean of Yale College, included directors of the four academic divisions: representing the Biological Sciences, Anna Marie Pyle; the Humanities, Howard Block; the Physical Sciences, A. Douglas Stone and the Social Sciences, Alvin Klevorik. Also on the committee were professors Jonathan Holloway, Marcia Johnson and Meg Urry.

The full faculty will discuss the report at meetings in late March and early April. The changes are expected to be implemented beginning July 2007.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325