Task force exploring modifying tenure policy

February 3, 2012

A recently formed task force is looking to help usher Purdue's tenure and promotion policy into the 21st century.

In the first comprehensive review of the policy since the 1970s, the Provost's Task Force on Promotion and Tenure is examining how the policy may best be updated to reflect the increasingly complex nature and scope of university faculty work.

The task force's goal, according to the Provost's Office, is to recommend by April 1 a draft of suggested modifications to the current policies and practices. They are detailed in the annual promotion and tenure letter from the provost, in the current policy titled Principles and Policies for Academic Freedom, Responsibilities and Tenure, and Procedures for Termination of Faculty Appointments for Cause (B-48) and in the current policy entitled Terms and Conditions of Employment of Faculty Members (B-50).

Consisting of 20 faculty members from the West Lafayette campus and additional representatives from the regional campuses, the task force is addressing a wide range of issues. They include the length of the tenure clock, changing faculty expectations and practices in terms of globalization, commercialization, joint appointments and engagement, and how best to measure faculty accomplishments, including online, interdisciplinary and other nontraditional scholarly activities, according to task force chair Laurie Jaeger, professor and head of basic medical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

A reconsideration of the six-year tenure clock is prompted by several factors. One is the national trend to extend it. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Michigan for example, recently have changed their tenure clocks to nine years.

A longer tenure clock allows faculty impact to play a larger role in tenure decisions. Also, says Beverly Davenport Sypher, vice provost for faculty affairs, longer tenure clocks are considered more supportive of family and other work-life issues.

The task force also likely will tackle whether post-tenure reviews should be implemented and in what form, and whether collegiality should be an evaluation criterion for promotion and tenure.

As the task force works to review Purdue's policy, its members will examine how Purdue's peer institutions have modified their policies in the past decade. Additionally, input will be gathered from faculty and administrators across Purdue's campuses.

Interested faculty members are encouraged to contact one of the committee members with their input. A  blog soon will be available for comments on the task force website (www.purdue.edu/provost/initiatives/Promotion%20and%20Tenure%20Task%20Force.html).

Committee recommendations will be presented at a public forum planned for later this spring and submitted to the University Senate for deliberation.

The goal is to develop a revised policy that incorporates practices best suited to support Purdue's mission and 21st century faculty goals and expectations, says Tim Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, who charged the task force with examining current policies and practices.

Members of the Provost's Task Force on Promotion and Tenure:

* Laurie Jaeger (chair), professor and head of basic medical sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine.

* Jack Barron, professor of economics, Krannert School of Management.

* Jenny Daugherty, assistant professor of leadership, technology and innovation, College of Technology.

* Otto Doering, professor of agricultural economics, College of Agriculture.

* Peg Ertmer, professor of educational technology, College of Education.

* Levon Esters, assistant professor of youth development and agricultural education, College of Agriculture, and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, College of Education.

* Donna Ferullo, associate professor of library science and director of the University Copyright Office, Purdue Libraries.

* Lucy Flesch, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, College of Science.

* Leonard Harris, professor of philosophy, College of Liberal Arts.

* Ananth Iyer, the Susan Bulkeley Butler Professor in Operations Management, Krannert School of Management.

* Jane Kirkpatrick, associate professor and head of nursing, and associate dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

* Klod Kokini, professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean of academic affairs, College of Engineering.

* James Litster, professor of chemical engineering, College of Engineering.

* James McCann, professor of political science, College of Liberal Arts.

* William McKinney, professor of philosophy and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

* Scott McLuckey, the John A. Leighty Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, College of Science.

* Beth McNeil, professor of library science and associate dean for academic affairs, Purdue Libraries.

* Jean Peterson, professor of educational studies, College of Education.

* Marvin Sarapin, professor and head of computer graphics technology, College of Technology.

* Karen Schmid, professor of consumer and family science and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Purdue University North Central.

* Mark J.T. Smith, the Michael J. and Katherine R. Birck Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, and dean of the Graduate School.

* Elizabeth Taparowsky, professor of biological sciences, College of Science.

* Thomas Templin, professor of health and kinesiology, College of Health and Human Sciences.

* James Tisdale, professor of pharmacy practice, Wishard Health Services, College of Pharmacy.

* Val Watts, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, College of Pharmacy.