Dear Faculty and Staff: Several weeks ago, we announced that the University’s ongoing virus surveillance testing program would transition from repeated testing of all students to large-scale “freedom from disease” sampling of the residential campus population. Faculty epidemiologists from the…
Extension of Tenure Clock in Response to COVID-19
Hopefully, each of you and your families are well. Thank you for supporting our students and one another during this period of tremendous disruption and uncertainty. I commend each of you for the swift transition to remote instruction and applaud your creativity and dedication to delivering a meaningful educational experience for our students this semester. I recognize and acknowledge the upheaval these extraordinary circumstances have presented and remind you of the valuable University resources available to support your success and well-being during this transition and onward. I also appreciate that these circumstances will likely impact faculty differently depending on your academic discipline and the nature of your research and creative and scholarly work. I write today to announce a temporary policy regarding the tenure clock for most of you who are on the tenure track.
Currently, Faculty Manual, Section 2.32—Processes and Limitations provides:
Tenure is granted in one of two ways: First, faculty appointed to a full-time tenure-track position without tenure are reviewed for tenure following a probationary period. This review is conducted by the department(s) or appropriate unit(s), and school/college, in accordance with each unit’s governance procedures. Each case is forwarded to the Vice Chancellor and Provost for a decision, and to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees for concurrence. Candidates must be considered for tenure before the end of the sixth credited year, but may be considered any time before that date.
. . .
The formal review process for faculty in the probationary period will begin with the signed and dated irrevocable request on the standard form from the individual to initiate the tenure review. A request must be submitted to the office designated by the respective school and college prior to the solicitation of external evaluations of the candidate’s qualifications for tenure. After the formal review process has begun, candidates for tenure may not withdraw from consideration and subsequently reapply for tenure. If an eligible faculty member fails to submit a formal request for a tenure review prior to the college or school deadline for completing the tenure review before the end of the sixth year of the probationary period, the University will consider the faculty member to have waived all claims for consideration for tenure.
* The full text of Section 2.32—Processes and Limitations can be found at provost.syr.edu/faculty-manual/2-32-processes-and-limitations/.
Today, I announce that the University will extend the tenure clock by one year for any current tenure-track faculty member whose tenure case is scheduled to be reviewed by their department, school/college and the University in the 2020-21 academic year or later.
· This tenure clock extension is available to any faculty member who has already filed their Candidate Request for Tenure Review, indicating their desire to be reviewed by their department, school/college and the University in the 2020-21 academic year. If you desire to exercise this provision, please notify your department chair/school director, dean and the associate provost for faculty affairs that you wish to withdraw your signed Candidate Request for Tenure Review by May 1, 2020. If you intended to file your Candidate Request for Tenure Review this spring but missed the deadline due to campus closure, you still may submit a request to extend your tenure clock by notifying your department chair/school director, dean and the associate provost for faculty affairs of your intent.
· This additional year will augment any previous tenure clock adjustments, awarded for any reason, including those already granted for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. The policy announced here is independent of and does not impact the provisions for tenure clock flexibility found at Faculty Manual Section 2.37—Tenure Clock Flexibility.
· For those who have yet to undergo third-year review, you may, using this one-year extension, delay your review until your fourth year of service on the tenure track. If you currently are in your second year on the tenure track, please notify your department chair/school director, dean and the associate provost for faculty affairs of your decision by May 1, 2020. If you currently are in your first year on the tenure track, please notify your department chair/school director, dean and the associate provost for faculty affairs of your decision by May 1, 2021. It is not required that you exercise this option to delay your third-year review; but if you want this flexibility, it is available to you.
· This additional time will automatically extend appointments for all pre-tenure faculty, and you will receive a letter from the associate provost for faculty affairs reflecting the new date by which you must submit your Candidate Request for Tenure Review. For those who completed their third-year review and were recommended for reappointment, the time will be added to the reappointment period. Again, you are not required to use this extra year if you want to continue on track as scheduled.
If you choose not to take advantage of an additional year on the tenure clock, or if you wish to move forward with your third-year review and/or tenure evaluation on the timeline originally scheduled in your letter of appointment, you may do so. There is no expectation that everyone will want to extend the tenure clock by this additional year. However, there is an expectation that those who do wish to extend their tenure clock under this policy will not be prejudiced in the tenure review process for having elected to take this additional year. As is currently the case, any faculty member who desires to be considered for tenure earlier than the sixth credited year on the tenure track still may do so. This new policy is intended to provide flexibility for any faculty member impacted by the current coronavirus and COVID-19 health crisis.
Faculty Under Review for Tenure in Academic Year 2019-20
The policy announced today does not apply to faculty members whose tenure cases are currently under review this academic year. Those reviews will be concluded according to the normal timetable and processes established for tenure review.
Faculty Whose Tenure Clock Starts in Fall 2020
We are not making a decision at the present time regarding eligibility for an additional year on the tenure clock for faculty whose tenure-track appointments began after Aug. 24, 2019, (the start date for faculty beginning in Fall 2019) or will begin after the date of this announcement. This temporary policy applies only to faculty who started on the tenure track in Fall 2019 or earlier. We will continue to monitor the current public health crisis and its impact on University functions and faculty life before making a final determination on whether to extend the tenure clock for those faculty members. In the absence of any future announcement, the provisions in Faculty Manual Section 2.32—Processes and Limitations will apply to new faculty.
We hope that you will be able to stay on track in your progress toward tenure and hope that the policy announced today offers flexibility for those who need it.
Zhanjiang (John) Liu, Ph.D.