Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion for Tenure-Track Faculty

Best Practices

The most sensitive and important tasks that departments undertake are hiring, reappointments, and promotions. The policy lists basic procedures and challenges typically encountered with reappointments and promotions.

Reappointment Process Map

Promotion to Tenure Process Map

Promotion to Full Professor Process Map


Reappointments are important decisions. The review is a barometer for the candidate’s progress toward tenure. Decisions to reappoint are made only when there is evidence of a clear path to tenure. If a department is uncertain as to whether the range of its faculty expertise suffices to judge the merits of a particular reappointment case, the chairperson should work with their Associate Dean to determine whether additional reviewers will be consulted.

Tenure Decisions

Granting tenure to an individual is the most important decision a university makes; it is not surprising that Notre Dame sets very high standards for tenure. Excellence in all three areas of the profession is expected. It is important for chairpersons to communicate the standards clearly to the faculty and to take the lead in making sure that the appropriate standards are met. Standards for reappointment, promotion, and tenure are found within the department CRPT documents. 

Promotion to Full Professor

The standard in research for promotion to professor, according to the Academic Articles, is “widespread recognition as a scholar.” In such cases, PAC is looking for evidence of quantity, quality, and continuing activity. The standard practice is that in those disciplines that expect a second book publication for promotion to professor, the book is at least in proof before the case is forwarded to external reviewers. The only exception would be for a case that is superior in every other way. In such a case, one could go forward with the book being simply accepted, but the bar would be very high for compensating factors. Routine cases, without superior achievement in teaching, leadership, and in articles, lectures, grants, and other indicators of research, should wait for publication. It is desirable, although not necessary, to include favorable reviews.

A case for promotion to full professor should also demonstrate consistent activity in terms of journal articles, lectures, reviews or external grant activity. Quality of journal placement is especially important in the social sciences, but it is also important in the humanities.

Promotion to an Endowed Chair

Departmental CRPT documents should specify procedures for the appointment of faculty to endowed chairs, whether internal or external candidates.  Issues to consider in OPs include nomination procedures, criteria for nomination, and the process of evaluation, including the designation of the body that will cast a vote. If a department has a sufficient number of endowed chairs, this body should consider the case for appointment. Otherwise, the Full Professor Committee may be the most reasonable choice.

Endowed chair packets should include at least three letters from eminent scholars who hold the rank of professor or endowed professor. For a sample letter, soliciting a letter for an endowed chair case, see the template letter (see Forms). As with other promotion reviews, the letter writers should be persons who are independent and able to evaluate the candidate’s fitness for an endowed position objectively. Again, as with other promotion cases, a full set of published book reviews of the candidate’s work should be included. For both internal and external candidates, a detailed account of the candidate’s capacities as a teacher is expected.

The case for appointment to an endowed chair should be prepared by the departmental deliberating body in such a way that the College’s endowed chair review committee, which by definition consists of persons outside the field, can fully grasp the candidate’s contributions and make an unbiased judgment.

The Academic Articles permit the possibility of bypassing departmental review of a candidate for an endowed chair at the department’s request. However, it is preferable, especially in departments with multiple endowed chair holders, to have an initial review within the department.

Following the submission of a completed packet, the divisional Associate Dean or Dean convenes a College-wide committee of three endowed chairs (ideally one from each division if sufficient endowed chairs are available, and all outside of the candidate’s department) to review the case. The divisional Associate Dean functions as the ex-officio chair of the committee. The minutes of this meeting and a letter from the Associate Dean are given to the Dean of the College for his or her recommendation. The packet then goes to the Provost and finally to the President.

CRPT Meetings

Committee on Reappointments, Promotions, and Tenure meetings must be conducted according to University and departmental procedures.

All members of the committee accept personal responsibility for assuring that reviews are procedurally correct, fair, and free of bias for all faculty members. Any procedural difficulties or other concerns about a review should first be brought to the attention of the chairperson or the relevant divisional Associate Dean. If CRPT members are uncertain about a procedure, they should contact either their divisional Associate Dean or the Dean before proceeding. Some departments appoint a member of the CRPT to oversee that written procedures are observed and that proceedings are carried out professionally and without bias.

Under the Academic Articles, CRPT meetings and deliberations are confidential. A breach of confidentiality is a serious violation of professional ethics. If a faculty member is unable or unwilling to act according to this policy, he or she should withdraw from all CRPT deliberations.

External Letters

Outside evaluations for tenure and promotion cases should come from faculty in leading or peer programs, or justification for their selection is necessary. Only letters from full professors should be used in tenure and promotion cases, although there may be rare and justified circumstances for asking an associate professor to serve. Department chairs must consult with their Associate Dean regarding proposed lists of external letter writers. 

We do not normally offer honoraria to external reviewers. However, if offering an honorarium is encouraged within a particular discipline, up to $200 may be offered with the permission of the Dean’s Office. If a department offers honoraria for this purpose, the Dean’s office will share those costs 50/50 with the department.

Organizational Plans

Every department is required to have an approved organizational plan (OP) that governs the formation and activities of its Committee on Reappointment, Promotions, and Tenure.

It must also contain the basic procedures stipulated by the Provost’s Advisory Committee (PAC) for the promotion process. Departments are required to provide a statement that includes disciplinary criteria for promotion in the OP. These statements should sketch in broad strokes the expectations that we have for promotion to a specified rank at Notre Dame. The statements may be viewed as interpretations of the official standards in the Academic Articles in specific and disciplinary terms. They should be clear, for the sake of both the external reviewers and the members of PAC, and will become part of the official packet for promotion cases. The statements should also explain how departments evaluate interdisciplinary research and less conventional scholarly contributions such as textbooks, computer software publications, translations, or creative work.

The OP should reflect the unit’s specific procedures for evaluating teaching, congruent with the ACPET Guidelines.

The chairperson should inform the probationary faculty members of the requirements for tenure, relevant timetables and deadlines, and the process of evaluation. Each new faculty member should receive a copy of the department’s OP.

The OP should be regularly reviewed. Revised OPs are submitted to the divisional associate dean. After preliminary approval, they are sent to the Dean and the Provost for final approval. Documents do not become legally binding until they have the signatures of the chairperson and the Dean.

Preparation of Packets

All reappointment and promotion packets are handled electronically through OnBase and are typically due on the first Friday in November. Instructions for preparing the packets are found on the Provost's website. Please note that you will need to use your University login information to view the documents.

Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Checklist

The Form PT checklist is used to create the reappointment, promotion, and tenure packet. The Provost's office website will have the most updated forms. (Please note that you will need to provide your University login information to view the documents.) 

Timelines for Renewal and Tenure Cases

The tenure "clock" begins on the hire date for assistant professor.

Assistant professors in the college serve on a seven-year tenure “clock.” An assistant professor is normally hired on a first contract for three years. He or she will apply for renewal at the end of the second year or the start of the third year (departmental CRPT documents and the department chair will advise of precise deadlines for submitting materials). Following a successful renewal, the assistant professor will receive a second contract for four years, and will normally apply for tenure at the end of the sixth or start of the seventh year (again, departmental CRPT documents and the department chair will advise of the precise deadline for submitting materials). Notifications of tenure decisions are normally delivered at the end of the spring semester of the seventh year. Associate professors without tenure will be retained in a probationary status following the schedule of assistant professors, i.e. they will apply for renewal in their third year and will normally apply for tenure in their seventh year.

Faculty may choose to be considered for tenure and promotion earlier than the regular schedule; if they do so, the case will be treated as a non-obligatory promotion case.

Faculty members may not “stop the clock” during or in connection with research leaves. Faculty may, however, “stop the clock” in connection with family and medical leaves or primary caregiver status, as dictated by the Academic Articles. Each clock extension adds a full year to the probationary period. Faculty may receive one extension per FMLA leave, up to a maximum of two extensions before they must apply for tenure.

The University of Notre Dame responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing disruption by extending the tenure clock by one year for all faculty who were assistant professors during the 2019-2020 academic year or who joined the university as assistant professors during the 2020-2021 academic year. We explicitly have not reduced tenure standards, and we are asking all evaluators not to use any additional time on the tenure clock as a reason to elevate expectations in their review of candidates.


Related Links

Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure (RPT)

Faculty Administration Support & Training (FAST)