Post-tenure review is viewed by many professors with skepticism.As InsideHigherEd reports, “To some, it seems like an attack on tenure; to others, a waste of time. And recentannouncements by two colleges, Ball State and Suffolk Universities, that they’re considering adopting post-tenure review policies that could in some cases lead to dismissal have brought out those skeptics.
“But at another college, administrators say they’re hoping to shore up an existing post-tenure review policy not in an attempt to weed out the bad professors, but to make the good ones better. So Westmont College’s newly mandatory, peer-led reviews for full professors raise the question: Can post-tenure review win faculty backing?
“One principle that I think is important in thinking about full professor reviews is to think of them as something that’s designed to be enriching for anyone who goes through it,” he said, “rather than something that’s designed to be a bureaucratic competency check for all faculty members.”Sargent said that means the process has to be faculty-driven. Luckily for him, even before his arrival at the college two years ago, Westmont had in its faculty handbook a periodic peer-review policy for “accountability of full professors.”
“The policy was formerly enforced on a voluntary basis. Sargent is making it mandatory, starting next year.The policy says that after a faculty member becomes a full professor, he or she will participate every six years in a “structured process of discussion, reflection, evaluation and future goals.” The purpose of the process, Westmont says, “is to encourage ongoing personal and professional development in all areas of service to the college.” The review process involves meeting with the provost and an individual written reflection component, but it hinges on work with a mutual mentoring group that meets on its own throughout the semester. This is not a system for getting rid of tenured professors. Continue reading “Rethinking full-professor reviews”