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Crtiteria for Tenure and Promotion

Criteria for Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor
According to the Senate document

An Associate Professor is a matured scholar whose achievements at York and/or elsewhere has earned his or her colleagues' respect as an individual of superior qualities and achievements. A normal expectation of promotion to Associate Professor would be between three to six years of service in the rank of Assistant Professor ("B").

Under the rubric of "The Relation of Promotion to Tenure" it states the following:

The decision to grant tenure is one of the most important relationships between the faculty member and the University since it confers upon the scholar a continuing career appointment. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that a candidate who has been judged worthy of tenure is normally worthy of being promoted to the rank of Associate Professor ("B").

The Adjudicating Committee shall normally assess the candidate who is considered to have earned tenure by the standards of the Department Guidelines for Tenure and Promotion to have also earned promotion to Associate Professor. Under exceptional circumstances, tenure may be granted while promotion is delayed. Exceptional circumstances, in keeping with the Senate document, shall fall, for example, under the rubric of the following:

  • medical circumstances - where certain extended and severe medical problems have delayed a candidate from realizing his/her promise;
  • major change in field of academic concentration;
  • documented high promise of excellence or high competence in the three criteria categories to be realized in the immediate future (i.e., no longer than two years);
  • exceptional conditions where extraordinary service was rendered by a candidate ("B").
Criteria for Teaching

To the extent that there are uniform criteria applicable to all Department faculty, they spring from two sources: A) the University's general criteria for teaching as set out in the Senate document; and B) a more specific set of intellectual values rooted in the Department's mandate and central to its academic identity.

University Criteria

According to the Senate Document, "Tenure and Promotions Criteria and Procedures" (approved March 21, 2002), assessments of teaching should reflect the following considerations:

Members of faculty perform many functions, but all are teachers. At the level of the university, teaching is itself an expression of scholarship. In an age of intense specialization generating an information explosion, the scholar who can take information and synthesize it into coherent structures of knowledge is performing an essential and sophisticated task. To be able to create an intelligible and intelligent university course is a very significant accomplishment. The facile distinction between teachers and researchers comes from another era when a graduate education conferred upon the teacher a long-lasting competence in a single field. ..

To assess the quality of a candidate's teaching, there are certain standards which can and should be applied within the University. The content of the teaching must be evaluated - whether it is conventional and routine, or whether scholarship is revealed through research, analysis, reflection, synthesis, and the expression of original work. The effectiveness of communication must also be considered, since communication is the essence of good teaching. The performance of the candidate must be assessed in terms of specific situations - i.e., with undergraduate or with graduate students, in groups and tutorials, in the laboratory or in the field, in small or large lectures. A candidate may be more effective in one situation than in others. While no one situation should be given a premium value to the detriment of others, a candidate should be superior in at least one area of teaching.

The judgement of colleagues must be brought to bear on the assessment of teaching performance; reliance on mere hearsay should be avoided. The direct expression of students' evaluation of teachers should be solicited.

Departmental Criteria

With due attention to a balanced assessment of teaching, professional contribution and service, and recognizing with the Senate document that "[t]eaching is itself an expression of scholarship," the Department regards teaching as a cornerstone of its mandate. There are two key features of this mandate. On the one hand, teaching in this unit encompasses many different approaches to knowledge offered under the twin rubrics of general education and the interdisciplinary programs. On the other hand, all Department course offerings share an emphasis on apprehending social experience from critical interdisciplinary perspectives. Accordingly, the teaching contributions of candidates should be assessed for their effectiveness in meeting this latter goal, while bearing in mind that there are many ways of being both "critical" and "interdisciplinary." In keeping with this emphasis, collegial assessors should be selected with the candidate's interdisciplinary expertise in mind and requested to respond, insofar as the assessor's expertise permits, to the question of the candidate's interdisciplinarity in their written assessments of the candidate's undergraduate and graduate teaching.

"Elements of Teaching" in the Department: Teaching in the Department involves delivering courses with socially relevant content and integrated curriculum that cultivate critical and interdisciplinary thinking. The relevance of content is assessed by the ability of the course to bring the life experiences of students to bear on the topic of instruction and discussion as well as to mobilize the topic to enable students to critically reflect upon their life experiences. The integration of content is assessed by the ability of the course director to provide an overall direction, sense, and organization of the course, integrating lectures, tutorials (if any), assignments and exams all together in a cohesive whole. Teaching in the Department involves challenging students with new ideas and perspectives to enable them to develop critical judgement. Teaching in the Department also involves adopting a caring and engaging approach toward students that is attuned to their needs and capacities while simultaneously challenging them by encouraging innovation and inventiveness. All together, these may be called "elements of teaching" in the Department.

"Formats of Teaching" in the Department: Teaching in the Department involves different formats ranging from lecture classes to seminars, reading courses, and tutorials. Some elements of teaching are easier to practice and more appropriate than others in some formats. While the Department does not yet have a graduate programme, Department faculty are involved in teaching graduate courses and supervision of graduate students in other units. The Department expects course directors to adopt appropriate elements of teaching for appropriate formats.

The Adjudication Committee will take into account a specific combination of elements and formats of teaching in which the candidate is involved. The Committee will look for the clarity of course outlines, quality of assignments, appropriateness of readings, communication skills with students, organizational capacities, ability to generate an atmosphere conducive to productive debate, ability to develop critical skills, effective integration of new technologies, contribution to curricular development and availability to students.

Criteria for Excellence: To be ranked as excellent, there has to be a consensus amongst collegial assessments, student letters, and numerical course evaluations that the candidate performs above the statistical means in the Department and that the candidate excels in at least several elements and/or formats of teaching. The collegial letters should explicitly address the elements of relevance, integration, organization, care and engagement, contextualizing these as regards the format of teaching assessed. Being involved in teaching-related administrative positions or being a recipient of teaching awards are also important indicators demonstrating excellence.

Criteria for High Competence: High competence in teaching is demonstrated by a combination of assessments that indicate that the candidate has performed around the averages in the Department in both qualitative and quantitative terms. The candidate must demonstrate strength in at least some elements and formats of teaching.

Criteria for Competence: Competence in teaching is demonstrated by a combination of assessments that indicate that the candidate has performed at the Department averages in some elements and formats of teaching. The candidate must also demonstrate strength in at least one of the elements and formats of teaching.

Criteria for Competence Not Demonstrated: The ranking of unproven competence will be given in cases where the candidate fails to demonstrate competence in any of the elements and formats of teaching in the Department or a serious failing in one or more.

File-based Criteria

Given that strength in teaching can take many forms, the assessment of that strength should be open to a wide range of evidence. For the guidance of the File Preparation and Adjudication Committees, some forms of evidence potentially relevant to a teaching file are listed below, grouped according to the three areas enumerated in the Senate Document. Candidates who supply an appropriate rationale may include other forms of evidence as well.

Contents of Teaching

  1. Course creation: interdisciplinarity, innovation, creativity, quality of course-related materials;
  2. Textbooks and other published teaching materials prepared by the candidate;
  3. Knowledge of subject matter as demonstrated in syllabus and lectures;
  4. Scholarship as demonstrated by evidence of research, analysis, reflection, and synthesis;
  5. Evolution, renewal, of course content over time.
  6. Other teaching and teaching-related work in or beyond the classroom: Graduate teaching and supervision (recognizing that, with the limited access to graduate programmes in the Department, opportunity for this responsibility is variable across fields and within programmes); supervising and mentoring tutorial leaders in lecture courses; Foundations course work on critical skills; Centre for Academic Writing; etc.

Effectiveness of Communication

  • Clarity of expression, appropriateness of level of 'pitch', ability to stimulate discussion, learning, critical thinking, general engagement;
  • Response to problems of second-language instruction;
  • Recognition of student diversity, including ethnicity, gender, race, age, and intellectual range.
  • Classroom management: Maintenance of an atmosphere conducive to learning; respect for students; pedagogical alertness to differences in background and level of ability; success in getting students to understand and care about the issues.

Participation and Performance in Specific Situations

  • Ability in a variety of teaching formats: large and small lectures, tutorials, one-to-one office hours, reading and guided research courses (including availability outside of the classroom), and fieldwork;
  • In keeping with the Senate criteria (quoted on page three above), letters to colleagues, teaching assistants and students soliciting assessment should include a request that they address the question of superiority in any one of these areas.
  • Other teaching and teaching-related work in or beyond the classroom: Graduate teaching and supervision (recognizing that, with the limited access to graduate programmes in the Department, opportunity for this responsibility is variable across fields and within programmes); supervising and mentoring tutorial leaders in lecture courses; Foundations course work on critical skills; Centre for Academic Writing; etc.;
  • Classroom management: Maintenance of an atmosphere conducive to learning; respect for students; pedagogical alertness to differences in background and level of ability; success in getting students to understand and care about the issues.

Criteria for Professional Contribution and Standing

In meeting its interdisciplinary mandate the Department has recruited faculty from a wide array of academic backgrounds. Moreover, its hiring practices have favoured applicants who show strength in more than one field and concerns that span conventional disciplinary boundaries. The result has been an astonishing diversity of intellectual profiles. While some of these fit readily into the contours of emerging interdisciplinary fields (such as Communication Studies or Law and Society), others are not so easily categorized. The challenge, then, is to frame criteria for Professional Contribution and Standing that are somehow uniform and yet responsive to the many different logics, standards and disciplinary practices appropriate to a very diverse collection of research careers.

University Criteria

According to the Senate Document, "Tenure and Promotions Criteria and Procedures" (approved March 21, 2002), assessments of Professional Contribution and Standing should reflect the following considerations:

In most cases distinction within a profession arises from the communication of knowledge or skills through public service, scholarly publication, or the production of works of art. Although publication and performance are not in themselves a guarantee of excellence, one recognises that these kinds of professional activity are addressed to communities larger than York University, and that, therefore, they must be judged in this larger professional context. In certain cases a distinguished public expression constitutes prima facie evidence that the quality of the work has been assessed and found to be of a high standard; in other cases it may be necessary to solicit assessments from specialists in the same field.

When the candidate has written or produced a work as part of a team or group in a research project, as often happens in the sciences, the nature of his or her contribution must be assessed.

Intellectual achievement may also be manifested by studies or activities that have been commissioned by governments or by private institutions. Contributions of this kind are significant, but they can be uneven and should always be evaluated by a recognized authority in the same field.

Generally, the quality of a candidate's scholarship will be evaluated in the light of judgements by reputable scholars; in cases where there may be Department within a discipline, the Department should describe the nature of the conflict among schools of thought and present the Committee with a wider range of professional opinion. Where the candidate is relatively junior, judgment should point not only to immediate achievement, but to the promise or lack of promise for further development.

The work performed by members of faculty for public and private institutions is indeed an integral part of the relationship between the University and the community. Communication with the general public in a variety of forms and media will be a continuing necessity for the modern university, and outstanding contributions of faculty in this area must be recognized. Service in an advisory capacity to various public agencies, presentation of lectures and talks to other than professional audiences, performances with radio and television networks - all such activity should be documented as evidence of any special capacity to enhance the intellectual relationship between the University and the community.

These activities must not be separated from the other criteria; they will be weighed in relation to the central core of responsibility which belongs to every member of faculty not only to transmit but to extend the boundaries of perception, understanding, and knowledge.

Departmental Criteria

Assessment of Departmental faculty should also give some weight to the core intellectual values associated with the Department's interdisciplinary mission. In practice this means that attention to methodological and theoretical creativity, success in bridging disciplines, discourses or fields of inquiry, and relevance to communities outside the university should balance assessment of the sheer volume or disciplinary rigour of a candidate's work.

The most highly valued intellectual practices in the Department include conducting and disseminating (by publishing and speaking) research that is interdisciplinary (not only crossing over disciplines but also genres such as art and science and sectors such as governmental and non-governmental), collaborative (involving partners from within and without academia) and engaging (addressing multitude of publics). Traditional values such as innovation and originality are assessed in conjunction with these specific practices. The contribution of faculty to their fields is assessed with respect to their advancement of these values with their research and its dissemination.

The Department faculty are expected to promote and facilitate the formation of intellectual communities (e.g., through editing journals, creating and/or moderating online discussions, and organizing conferences) and cultivating new intellectual frontiers (e.g., editing significant anthologies or organizing conferences). Collegial assessors are expected to comment on these core and traditional practices of scholarship both in terms of quality and quantity of publications, speeches and other instruments of dissemination.

While the following criteria specifically focus on expectations of the Department under normal circumstances as regards peer-reviewed publications, the Adjudication Committee considers a combination of qualitative and quantitative contributions of the candidate as well as a combination of other forms of contribution that crosses over genres and sectors. The Committee will consider, for example, development of exceptional web portals, arts installations, addressing various publics and scholarly involvement with major policy issues also as contributions to scholarship. The Department assumes that the assessment of excellence, high competence, and competence not demonstrated is a qualitative analytic process, even when the source of information may be quantitative.

Criteria for Excellence: A ranking of excellence demonstrates active, continuing and sustained contribution to scholarly research and dissemination of its results during the probationary period. While the Department recognizes that there are various ways of contributing to interdisciplinary research as mentioned above, it expects that the candidate has published peer-reviewed articles, chapters and/or book(s) in well respected scholarly presses and journals within his or her field. As judged by the reviewers, an excellent candidate will have established a coherent body of work recognized within candidate's field(s) as having made an original contribution through a consistent output of regular-length refereed journal articles, book chapters and/or book(s) during probation.

Criteria for High Competence: A ranking of high competence would normally require a reasonable output of regular-length refereed journal articles or book chapters during probation that may have not yet cohered into a recognizable contribution but show growing evidence of originality and creativity.

Criteria for Competence: A ranking of competence would normally require a reasonable output of regular-length refereed journal articles or book chapters during probation that may not have cohered into a recognizable body of work.

Criteria for Competence Not Demonstrated: A candidate who does not meet the minimum requirements for competence would receive a rank of unproven competence.

File-Based Criteria

While the above sets of criteria apply equally to all Departmental faculty, individual candidates should also be assessed by methods and standards appropriate to their specific research profiles. Normally the "Professional Contribution" section of a candidate's file contains three kinds of evidence: a detailed list of the candidate's scholarly contributions included in his/her curriculum vitae; a personal statement by the candidate (should he/she choose to provide one); and a set of letters by arms-length assessors in the candidate's field. A fair evaluation of the candidate's specific research profile requires a thoughtful integration of these elements as the file is prepared.

The Adjudicating Committee will assess the candidate's file in keeping with three sets of criteria, in order of priority: those in the Senate document, those cited in the paragraphs above, and those appropriate to the scholarly and other communities addressed by the candidate' research.

Criteria for Service to the University and Community

University Criteria

According to the Senate Document, "Tenure and Promotions Criteria and Procedures" (approved March 21, 2002), assessments of service to the University should reflect the following considerations:

Service to the University will take many forms. Service to the University is performed by faculty members through participation in the decision-making councils of the University, and through sharing in the necessary administrative work of Departments, Faculties, the University or the Faculty Associations not otherwise counted under professional contribution and standing. Reviewers, will attempt to discriminate among the kinds of administrative work in which a faculty member has participated. Contributions through committees and administrative offices should be assessed as an area for the display of knowledge and good judgement in the creation of new courses, programmes, Faculties, and Colleges.

The work of some committees is routine; obligations to serve on them from time to time are implicit in being a member of Faculty and deserve no special weight. Committees relevant to the making of academic policy, or major duties assumed at the request of the University or assumed on behalf of the Association which have led to its improvement, are clearly more important and will be given proper consideration.

In exceptional cases the University must recognise its responsibility for the fact that the growth of a candidate's scholarly and academic development may have lagged because of the large demands which important administrative work has made upon his/her time. In such circumstances the Senate Committee will require full information from persons familiar with the extent and nature of the candidate's participation in a major service activity.

Departmental Criteria

Of the three areas, teaching, professional contribution and service, for which the Adjudicating Committee is charged with developing procedures and criteria of assessment, service would probably seem to be the one least open to claims of Departmental specificity. Nevertheless, the Department houses 12 interdisciplinary programs whose co-ordination requires ongoing and demanding attention of Departmental Committees above and beyond the administrative requirements for managing each programme. All together, the Department faculty are often required to make considerable commitment to not only their programmes for which they are hired but also running Departmental Committees that hold it all together.

Moreover, while the Senate Document "Tenure and Promotion Criteria and Procedures" speaks of Service as "Service to the University", the Department's submission for program review in 1999-2000 refers less restrictively to "community service". ("The many instructors who have been gathered together in this unit bring to their teaching, scholarship, and community service a determination to apply critical interdisciplinary perspectives to the study of social experience".) This may be taken to indicate the Department's special understanding of its intellectual and societal vocation.

Indeed for many members of the Department the very nature of their teaching and scholarship may well be deemed to be inseparable from commitment to a variety of services rendered not just to the university but to the larger community and public of which the university is a part. Assessment of Departmental faculty in this area should thus reflect this enlarged view of service. Moreover, because the Department as a whole has no graduate program, many members teach and perform service by contributing to the administrative and committee work of various departmental graduate programs.

Recognizing the variable and limited access to graduate responsibilities within the Department, attention should be paid and recognition given to such extra-Departmental contributions. The rubric, Service to the University and Community, honours this enlarged view of service. Accordingly in evaluating the extent and quality of the candidate's Service, the following criteria will be used:

  1. Regular participation on committees among the following areas: the Department, Departments, Colleges, Graduate Programs, Faculty, Senate, the University and Faculty Association;
  2. Chairing any such committees;
  3. Administrative work within the Department such as serving as Chair of the Department; Undergraduate Coordinator, Curriculum Coordinator or Coordinator of any of its Programs;
  4. Administrative work outside the Department such as serving as Master or Academic Advisor of a College;
  5. Service in an administrative or advisory capacity to various community organizations and public agencies outside the university including local, national and international organizations;
  6. Addresses, lectures etc., of a public service nature.

Criteria for Excellence: A ranking of excellence demonstrates active, continuing and sustained contribution to the Department, university at large and various local, national and international communities in significant capacities. The ranking of excellence requires not only serving in these various capacities outlined above but also demonstrating fairness, effectiveness, judgement, collegiality, respectfulness and other attributes of strong collegial spirit and conduct as assessed by collegial reviews.

Criteria for High Competence: A ranking of high competence would normally require also reasonable and consistent involvement in service. But such participation must demonstrate the promise of strong collegial spirit and conduct as assessed by collegial reviews.

Criteria for Competence: A ranking of competence would normally require a reasonable involvement in service in any combination of capacities outlined above.

Criteria for Competence Not Demonstrated: A candidate who does not meet the minimum quantitative or qualitative requirements for competence would receive a rank of unproven competence.

File-based Criteria

Evaluation of these contributions will be based on the following sources: the applicant's curriculum vitae; letters of assessments of the applicant's work from Chairs and colleagues of committees, etc., on which the applicant served; letters of assessment by officers and members of community organizations and public agencies on which the applicant served.

Criteria for Promotion to Full Professor
University Criteria
In addition to its criteria for promotion to Associate Professor, the Senate document provides a general orientation to criteria for promotion to "Professor" ("Preamble"; "B"). According to the Senate document: A Professor is an eminent member of the University whose achievements at York and/or in his/her profession have marked him or her as one of the scholars from whom the University receives its energy and strength. Clearly this level of achievement cannot be identified with serving several years as an Associate Professor; nevertheless, the rank should not be considered a form of apotheosis. The rank of Professor should be within the expectancy of all Associate Professors ("B").
Department Criteria

The Adjudicating Committee shall base its recommendation regarding a candidate's promotion on this overall standard as well as on the more specific criteria found in the Senate document and these Departmental Guidelines. Here again the guiding assumption is that candidates have different strengths and there are many paths to eminence. Bearing this proviso in mind, an abstracted (i.e., "ideal typical") pattern might appear as some variation of the following:

  • Evidence of commitment and achievement in teaching
  • A record of "service" teaching, particularly to first and second year students
  • Significant commitment and accomplishment in graduate supervision (recognizing that Department members do not all have equal access to graduate teaching opportunities)
  • Documented curricular innovation and course development
  • Positive relations with and mentoring of teaching assistants
  • Two books or book equivalents (again bearing in mind that ".assessment of the sheer volume or disciplinary rigour of a candidate's work should be balanced by attention to its methodological and theoretical creativity, its success in bridging disciplines, discourses or fields of inquiry, and its relevance to communities outside the university")
  • Demonstrable influence on the interdisciplinary fields in which the candidate participates
  • Contributions to the fields beyond York, e.g., leadership in professional organizations, editing journals, etc.
  • Consistent contribution to governance at Departmental, graduate, college, YUFA, faculty and/or Senate levels Evidence of impact within these levels of York governance
  • Leadership in some of these service areas in some circumstances, evidencing commitment and accomplishment
  • Evidence of service at the national level (e.g.. sitting on SSHRC committees)
  • Evidence of service in international academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations.

While not all candidates are likely to match this ideal profile, the expectation is that those who merit promotion will balance shortcomings in some areas with strengths in others in such a way as to make the candidate one of those "from whom the University receives its energy and strength."