Faculty Tenure

Policy on Academic Tenure for Faculty

I. Introduction
II. Definitions
III. Consideration for Tenure
IV. Criteria to be Considered in Tenure Recommendations
V. Exceptions to Minimum Rank Qualifications
VI. Changes in Tenure and Tenure-Track Status

Tenure appointments at Nashville State Community College are made on the basis of this policy, consistent with TBR Policy 5:02:03:70 on Academic Tenure for Community Colleges. The campus policy includes information specific to Nashville State Community College. For faculty hired after July 1, 2004, the following Tenure and Promotion Policies apply. For additional policy information, see the TBR Policy.

I. Introduction

Tenure is awarded only by positive action by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), pursuant to the requirements and procedures of this policy. The award of tenure is in recognition of the merit of a faculty member and of the assumption that he/she would meet the long-term staffing needs of the division or academic program unit and the college. The continued professional growth and development of faculty is necessary for institutions of higher education to continue to provide educational programs in accordance with the college’s mission, goals, and the changing needs of the institution. Tenure is awarded only to those members of the faculty who have exhibited professional excellence and outstanding abilities sufficient to demonstrate that their future services and performances justify the degree of permanence afforded by academic tenure.

The quality of the faculty of any community college is maintained primarily through the appraisal, by faculty and administrative officers, of each candidate for tenure. Tenure at a TBR community college provides eligible full-time faculty with the assurance of continued employment during the academic year until retirement or dismissal for adequate cause, financial exigency, or curricular reasons, as further discussed herein. TBR does not award tenure in non-faculty positions. The following TBR policy on tenure is applicable to all community colleges within the system. These are minimum provisions and should be implemented in a manner appropriate to the individual missions, traditions, and needs of the colleges.

Tenure decisions are based on the overall actual and potential contributions of the faculty member to the college. Those making recommendations concerning tenure should consider not only the minimum requirements, but also the individual’s overall qualifications and achievements.

Faculty members who are not recommended for tenure may request an oral or written explanation from the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Faculty members must not approach members of either the Peer Review Committee or the Campus-Wide Committee for information. Faculty members serve on these committees as part of their professional service to the college and, as professionals, must not discuss the discussions and specifics of committee deliberations.

II. Definitions

The following are general definitions of terms used in this policy. They are further defined in the subsequent sections of this policy.

A. Academic Tenure – a personnel status in an academic division or academic program unit pursuant to which the academic or fiscal year appointments of full-time faculty who have been awarded tenure are continued at a community college until the expiration or relinquishment of that status, subject to termination for adequate cause, for financial exigency, or for curricular reasons.

B. Adequate Cause – a basis upon which a faculty member—either with academic tenure or on a tenure-track, term, or temporary appointment—prior to the end of the specified term of the appointment may be dismissed or terminated. The specific grounds which constitute adequate cause are set forth in Section V. G herein.

C. Financial Exigency – the formal declaration by TBR that one or more of its community colleges faces an imminent financial crisis, that there is a current or projected lack of sufficient funds (appropriated or non-appropriated) for the campus as a whole to maintain current programs and activities at a level sufficient to fulfill educational goals and priorities, and that the budget can be balanced only by extraordinary means that include the termination of existing and continuing academic and non-academic appointments.

D. Faculty Member – a full-time employee who holds academic rank as instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, or professor. Further definition can be found in Section 5:02:01:00 of TBR Policy.

E. Probationary Employment – period of full-time professional service by a faculty member for whom an appointment letter denotes a tenure-track appointment in which he/she does not have tenure and in which he/she is evaluated by the college for the purpose of determining his/her satisfaction of the criteria for a recommendation for tenure. Probationary employment provides an opportunity for the individual to assess his/her own commitment to the college and for the college to determine whether the individual meets its perception of quality and projected need. Faculty appointments are defined in a separate TBR policy.

III. Consideration for Tenure

A. Tenure Process
B. Tenure Appointments
C. Minimum Eligibility Requirements
D. Length of Probationary Employment
E. Calculating the Probationary Period
F. Tenure-Promotion Application Calendar

A. Tenure Process

The tenure process at Nashville State Community College is as follows:

  1. Recommendations for tenure originate from the division in which the faculty member is assigned.
  2. In the spring semester before the tenure application process begins, the faculty member may choose to have a Preliminary Advisory Committee from the division to review the tenure packet. This committee will consist of the Dean/Director of the faculty member’s division and campus, the faculty member’s Tenure Mentor, and one tenured faculty member from another program in the faculty member’s division.
    1. The Tenure Mentor will be chosen by the faculty member from tenured faculty members in the program or division, and the other tenured faculty member from the division will be chosen jointly by the faculty member and the Dean.
    2. The Preliminary Advisory Committee will review the faculty member’s tenure packet. The Preliminary Advisory Committee will also consider the staffing needs of the division/campus before recommending that the faculty member apply for tenure.
    3. The Preliminary Advisory Committee will provide counsel about the faculty member’s performance, and the Dean/Director will provide information about staffing needs. The Preliminary Advisory Committee serves in an advisory capacity only, and its members’ approval of the faculty member’s tenure packet in no way guarantees that the faculty member will be granted tenure. The committee will also discuss with the faculty member possible alternatives if tenure is not a feasible option at the time.
  3. The faculty member may begin the tenure application process in the fall semester of the sixth year of tenure-track service.
  4. The tenure application will be reviewed by a Peer Review Committee from the applicant’s division. This committee will consist of three to five tenured faculty members elected annually from within the division. At any step of the tenure application process, those responsible for reviewing the application may contact the tenure applicant to ask for needed information or clarification of packet material.
    1. Each division will annually elect its own Peer Review Committee to review tenure applications from that division. Tenure Mentors may serve on the Peer Review Committee, but they will be ineligible to vote to recommend for tenure the faculty members whom they have mentored.
    2. The Peer Review Committee shall maintain the confidentiality of individual tenure votes unless there is evidence that casts doubt upon the integrity of the committee.
    3. The Peer Review Committee makes a recommendation concerning the tenure application. Tenure recommendations are based on more than the minimum requirements. In addition to minimum criteria (see section IV. Criteria to be Considered in Tenure Recommendation), the Committee should consider the candidate’s achieved and potential contributions to the college.
  5. The Dean/Director makes a recommendation concerning the tenure application.
  6. In the spring semester of the applicant’s sixth year of service, the tenure application goes to the campus-wide Tenure Committee for discussion and approval.
    1. The Tenure Committee consists of six tenured faculty members, one representative from each of the five divisions and one representative elected from the Faculty Senate. The members of the Tenure Committee serve staggered, two-year terms. Members of the Peer Review Committee must not serve on the campus-wide Tenure Committee in the same year. Also, members of the campus-wide Promotion Committee must not serve on the campus-wide Tenure Committee in the same year
    2. The Tenure Committee shall maintain the confidentiality of individual tenure votes unless there is evidence that casts doubt upon the integrity of the committee.
    3. The Tenure Committee members review the applications and discuss them. Tenure recommendations are based on more than the minimum requirements. In addition to minimum criteria, the Committee should consider the candidate’s achieved and potential contributions to the college.
    4. The Tenure Committee makes a recommendation concerning the tenure application.
  7. The Vice President for Academic Affairs makes a recommendation concerning the tenure application.
  8. The President reviews all recommendations and decides which applicants to recommend to TBR for tenure. If an applicant is not recommended to the Board, the President will notify the applicant of this decision. Such notice of non-recommendation should be given no later than the final day of the academic year. Consistent with TBR policy, a faculty member not recommended for tenure will be offered a one-year, non-renewable contract.
  9. Faculty members who are not recommended for tenure may appeal the decision through the College grievance policy, found in the Human Resources section.
  10. The Tennessee Board of Regents reviews the recommendations and makes a decision regarding the tenure application.

B. Tenure Appointments

  1. Recommendations for or against tenure shall originate from the division or academic program unit in which the faculty member is assigned.
  2. The recommendation for tenure must be made by the President to the Chancellor and by the Chancellor to the Board of Regents. In the event that tenure is awarded by TBR, the President shall furnish to the faculty member written confirmation of the award. Tenure is awarded in the area for which the faculty member has appropriate qualifications.
    No person other than the President shall have any authority to make any representation concerning tenure to any faculty member. Failure to give timely notice of non-recommendation of tenure shall not result in the granting of a tenure appointment. Faculty not recommended for tenure will receive an offer of a one-year, non-renewable contract.

C. Minimum Eligibility Requirements

Tenure may be awarded only to regular full-time faculty members who:

  1. Hold academic rank as associate professor or professor.
  2. Have been employed in a tenure-track appointment and have completed the minimum probationary period of service and/or as agreed upon in writing and signed by the President or his/her designee.
  3. Have been determined by the college to meet the criteria for tenure and have been so recommended.

D. Length of Probationary Employment

Probationary faculty may be employed on annual tenure-track appointments for a probationary period that may not exceed six (6) years. The faculty member may apply for tenure at the beginning of the sixth year of service, following a probationary period of not less than five years, provided that exceptions to the minimum probationary period may be made under special circumstances upon recommendation by the President and approval by the Chancellor. Upon approval of such an exception by the Chancellor, the faculty member’s recommendation for tenure will go forward to the Board as meeting the requirements for the probationary period.

E. Calculating the Probationary Period

Only full-time continuous service at a college will be included in determining completion of the probationary period, unless a break in service is approved. Employment during summer terms and in part-time positions shall not be credited toward satisfying the probationary period.

  1. Credit for Prior Service. The minimum probationary period of five years may include credit for prior service when agreed to by the President. The credit is subject to the maximum permissible credit for prior service as noted below:
    1. Credit toward completion of the probationary period may at the discretion of the President be given for a maximum of three years of previous full-time service at other colleges, universities, or institutes provided that the prior service is relevant to the institution’s own needs and criteria. Any credit for prior service that is recognized and agreed to must be confirmed in writing at the time of the initial appointment to a tenure-track position.
    2. Credit toward completion of the probationary period may, at the discretion of the President, be given for a maximum of three years or previous full-time service in a temporary faculty appointment or term appointment at the same institution (see Types of Appointments, Section 1) or in an earlier tenure-track appointment at the same institution that has been followed by a break in service. Any credit for prior service in a temporary full-time faculty appointment at the same institution or in an earlier tenure-track appointment (at the same institution) that has been followed by a break in service must be recognized and confirmed in writing in the appointment letter to a tenure-track position.
  2. Leave of Absence. The period of approved leave of absence shall be excluded from the required probationary period. A faculty member may apply for a maximum of two, non-consecutive, one-year leave increments. Exceptions may be granted by the President of the college in writing prior to the leave of absence. Exceptions may include:
    1. crediting the leave periods to the probationary period and/or
    2. granting more than two, non-consecutive one-year increments. Exception (b), per TBR policy, requires approval of the Chancellor of TBR.
  3. “Stopping the Tenure Clock.” A faculty member may request to “stop the tenure clock” during his/her probationary period when circumstances exist that interrupt the faculty member’s normal progress toward qualifying for tenure. In such cases, the faculty member may request to “stop the tenure clock” for one year, if he/she demonstrates that circumstances reasonably warrant the interruption. Reasons will typically be related to a personal or family situation requiring attention and commitment that consumes the time and energy normally addressed to faculty duties and professional development. Examples may include childbirth or adoption, care of dependents, medical conditions or obligations, physical disasters or disruptions, military deployment, or similar circumstances.
  4. Administrative Appointment. A faculty member appointed to an administrative position may remain eligible for tenure consideration. The faculty member must: 1) qualify for tenure under the college’s guidelines and 2) maintain a significant involvement in academic pursuits including teaching, service/outreach, and scholarship/creative activities/research.
    The time (or prorated portion of time) spent in the administrative position may be credited toward completion of the probationary period.
  5. Transfer to Another Division or Unit. When a faculty member is serving a probationary period in a division or an academic program unit and is subsequently transferred to another division or unit, the faculty member may – with the approval of the President – elect to begin a new probationary period on the date on which the transfer occurs. If he/she does not so elect (and confirms this in writing to the President), time spent in the first appointment shall count toward establishing the minimum and maximum probationary period.

F. Tenure-Promotion Application Calendar

Date Deadline
March 31 Preliminary Applications due to Mentors (optional)
April 15 Feedback on preliminary applications due to faculty from Preliminary Advisory Committee (optional)
4th Monday in October Applications due to Deans/Directors for distribution to Peer Review Committees
4th Monday in November Recommendations due to Deans/Directors from Peer Review Committees
3rd Friday in December Recommendations due to VPAA for distribution to Tenure Committee
January 2 Recommendations available to Tenure Committee from VPAA
3rd Monday in February Recommendations due to VPAA
2nd Monday in March Recommendations due from VPAA to President
April Campus recommendations due to Tennessee Board of Regents
May Faculty will be notified of recommendation status by the last day of the spring term.
June Action by the Tennessee Board of Regents

IV. Criteria to be Considered in Tenure Recommendations

Performance Criteria: Teaching
Performance Criteria: Service and Outreach
Performance Criteria: Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research
Staffing Criteria

Performance Criteria: Teaching

In preparing applications for tenure and promotion, the faculty member must address each of the required criteria and select other criteria that are appropriate for that individual. Evaluation of teaching shall be conducted by the supervisors, peers, and students. The evaluation shall be based on the following criteria (evidence of each should be submitted):

  • Curriculum and/or program development.
  • Development and application of current instructional techniques (including development of online and computer-assisted course development), etc.
  • Documentation of teaching methodologies.
  • Documentation of staying current in his/her field of discipline/specialization.
  • Student evaluations of the teaching performance.

The listed examples of documentation are not all required; rather, they are included to give the faculty member some ideas about appropriate documentation. It is especially important for applicants to include evidence of student learning – e.g., evidence that students achieve course learning outcomes. Faculty members should not limit themselves to the documentation listed below and should include other material that answers the criterion question.

CriterionExamples of DocumentationReview Levels
What are my strengths and weaknesses based on student and supervisor evaluations? (required)Complete the NSCC summary template and add any analysis of results that seems appropriate (required).
Include student evaluations from all courses during probationary period or since last promotion (required).
Include supervisor evaluations from all years during probationary period or since last promotion (required).
All levels
Do I organize and present subject matter to students effectively? (required)Syllabi prepared by the instructor.
Evidence that students achieve stated learning outcomes for a course/program.
Use of classroom surveys or other student feedback about effectiveness of presentations, etc. for learning.
Analysis of grade distributions and/or specific course assessments over time.
Classroom presentations or handouts.
Analysis of specific student evaluation questions. Supervisor or peer observation comments.
All levels
Am I able to motivate and stimulate creativity among students? (required)Student awards/products.
Analysis of specific student evaluation questions.
Supervisor evaluation.
Peer observation evaluation.
All levels
What is my philosophy of teaching? (required)Include a statement not to exceed one page.All levels
How do I stay current in my field? (required)Professional development activitiesAll levels

Performance Criteria: Service and Outreach

In preparing applications for tenure and promotion, the faculty member must address each of the required criteria and select other criteria that are appropriate for that individual. The listed examples of documentation are not all required. Rather, they are listed to give the faculty member some ideas about appropriate documentation. Faculty members should not limit themselves to the documentation listed below and should include other material that answers the criterion question.

Service and Outreach activities shall constitute 10% to 30% of the weight of the total tenure or promotion decision, as determined by the applicant. This performance category includes professionally-related service that supports the mission of the college on the campus, through professional organizations, or in the community. Documentation should include a brief assessment of the faculty member’s effectiveness in addition to a list of the activities. The candidate’s effectiveness is judged by his/her impact on the institution, individuals, groups, or organizations served. This should include documentation of the success of his/her internal and external service, in terms of improvement of communities, programs, operating agencies, production processes, or management practices.

CriterionExamples of DocumentationReview Levels
What contributions have I made through service to the college? (required)Advising.
Mentoring other faculty.
Administrative responsibilities.
Committee membership and leadership.
Sponsorship of student organizations.
All levels
What contributions have I made to the college or my profession through outreach and public service?Community public service activities.
Represent the college in the community.
All levels
What contributions have I made to the college or my profession through professional service?Professional Organizations.
TBR or THEC committees.
Guest lecturing or consulting.
P-16 participation.
All levels

Performance Criteria: Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research

In preparing applications for tenure and promotion, the faculty member must address each of the required criteria and select other criteria that are appropriate for that individual. The listed examples of documentation are not all required. Rather, they are listed to give the faculty member some ideas about appropriate documentation. Faculty members should not limit themselves to the documentation listed below and should include other material that answers the criterion question.

Scholarship, creative activities, and research shall constitute 10% to 30% of the weight of the total tenure or promotion decision, as determined by the applicant. This performance category includes professionally-related service that supports the mission of the college. Documentation should include a brief assessment of the faculty member’s effectiveness in addition to a list of the activities.

CriterionExamples of DocumentationReview Levels
What in-service contributions have I made to the college?Preparation, delivery and evaluation of on-campus in-service sessions.All levels
In what ways am I an innovative teacher?New delivery systems used or new teaching methods used and evaluation of effectiveness.
Teaching awards.
Peer observation evaluations.
All levels
What scholarly research have I been involved in?Scholarship of teaching.
Discipline-related research.
Textbook authorship.
Professional presentations.
All levels
What contributions have I made through creative activities?Performances or shows.
Compositions.
Evaluations of artistic creations.
All levels
Have I contributed through written or oral publications/presentations?Journal articles.
Media appearances.
Peer reviews of work.
All levels

Staffing Criteria

TBR policy provides that campus policies must include sections that identify criteria to be considered in tenure decisions, clearly distinguishing between (1) criteria relative to the merit of the candidate and (2) criteria relevant to the program and division staffing needs.

The Office of Assessment and Planning will provide annual summary data by program area, including the elements listed below. The Deans/Directors and Vice President for Academic Affairs will consult one another about staffing issues likely to have an impact on tenure decisions and apprise likely tenure applicants of staffing concerns. The summary staffing information will be available to the Preliminary, Division, and College Committees. The Preliminary Advisory Committee will consider and provide counseling about staffing needs to the faculty member. Staffing information will be part of the formal review of tenure applications by the Dean, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and President.

CriterionExamples of DocumentationReview Levels
What is the current program enrollment relative to staff size? (required)Current SCH.
Range and average class size.
% of classes filled.
Average class size.
SCH produced per faculty member.
Dean/Director
VPAA
President
What are the enrollment trends in the program? (required)1-, 3- and 5-year trends.Dean/Director
VPAA
President
What is the outlook for future enrollment in the program?Projections and their basis.
Expected major changes.
Dean/Director
VPAA
President
How is instruction in the program staffed? (required)Total FT faculty.
Total tenure-track/tenured.
% SCH taught by adjuncts.
Projected changes.
Actual vs. funded positions.
Dean/Director
VPAA
President
What is the employment situation and outlook for career/technical programs?Job placement trends.
Government employment outlook data.
Dean/Director
VPAA
President
What are the costs of delivering the program?Kansas Study data.
Peer group comparisons.
Dean/Director
VPAA
President
Can the faculty member teach in more than one program area?Resume and transcripts.All


V. Exceptions to Minimum Rank Qualifications

The minimum rank qualifications should be met in every recommendation of tenure, appointment to academic rank, and promotion in academic rank. These minimum qualifications are listed in the NSCC Guidelines for Faculty Promotion Recommendation.

VI. Changes in Tenure and Tenure-Track Status

See TBR Policy 5:02:03:70 on Academic Tenure for Community Colleges.

Approved June 2017