Faculty Rights Tip of the Week: Tenure and Promotion During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the coming years, faculty members will be applying for tenure and promotion after serving as faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It’s possible that the COVID-19 crisis will limit faculty members’ abilities to teach as effectively, complete as normative forms of expected research, and perform familiar forms of university service.  It is conceivable that student evaluations of teaching will, on average, decline, conference presentations may be cancelled, and research opportunities may be limited during this period of social distancing. 

In order to ensure fair evaluations, faculty members may take steps to protect integrity of the evaluation process.

Applicants for tenure and promotion may include a statement as part of their WPAFs that describe the impact that the pandemic had on their teaching, research, and service contributions. Article 15.8 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) allows for the “inclusion of all information specifically provided by the employee being evaluated” into the WPAF.

Review committees may consider the impact of the pandemic on the performance of candidates for tenure and promotion.  Reviewers should always consider the conditions of employment when making recommendations and should take into account the impact that the pandemic and social distancing may play in an application.

DepartmentsColleges, and Academic Senates may want to adjust their policies on tenure and promotion to explicitly consider the impacts that the pandemic has on tenure and promotion applications. For example, a department that requires a minimum average on student evaluations of teaching may choose to adjust that average or exclude student evaluations from the Spring 2020 semester.  Likewise, a department that requires a minimum number of peer-reviewed publications may consider adjusting the number to reflect limitations from the pandemic. Article 15.40 of the CBA allows faculty to revise the policies for tenure and promotion, subject to Presidential approval.  

Want to learn more? Become active with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team. Find your representative here.