You are here: American University Provost Office of the Dean of Faculty Term Faculty Environmental Science Term Faculty Promotion Guidelines

*This does not constitute an employment contract

(Approved by Provost July 2019)

Guidelines for Reappointment & Promotion of Term Faculty, Research Faculty, Scholars in Residence and Postdoctoral Fellows

The goal of this document is to establish substantive and actionable criteria for reappointment and promotion for full time term faculty, research faculty, scholars in residence and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Environmental Science (ENVS). Guidelines for tenure- line faculty are covered in a separate document. This document is a supplement to the minimum standards set forth in the University’s Faculty Manual and highlights instruments and metrics for evaluating t e r m  faculty members’ accomplishments.

In contrast to tenure-line faculty, who need to apply for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor at a specified time, term faculty can file for promotion at any time. A strong and consistent record of teaching excellence is expected of term faculty, as evidenced by the same measures outlined for tenure-line faculty (i.e., SETs, engagement, teaching materials, classroom visits, comments from faculty colleagues, etc.). Term faculty in the Assistant Professor/Associate Professor/Professor sequence are expected to provide significant service contributions at the departmental, college, and/or university levels.

The Professorial Lecturer Sequence
I. Reappointment to Single-Year Contracts

A term faculty member will be eligible for reappointment to a single-year contract if (1) the teaching need remains and (2) the faculty member has performed their job responsibilities in a satisfactory manner.

II. Multi-Year Contracts
Although many term colleagues at higher ranks in the professorial lecturer sequence hold multi-year contracts ranging from two to five years, the recommendation to confer a given rank and appointment to a multi-year contract are, strictly speaking, separate actions. As a general rule, the College only considers term faculty for a multi-year appointment when a) the faculty member will have taught at AU on a full-time basis for at least three years at the time of formal reappointment, and b) the Dean’s and Provost’s offices deem long-term funding of the position to be secure. Exceptions to (a) above may be put forward in situations where continuity is vital for the success of the pedagogical obligations of the department, as is often the case with laboratory director positions. The ENVS department believes that it is in the best interest of both faculty and students to avoid needless turnover of term faculty members. Therefore, any term faculty member who has been performing their job responsibilities in a satisfactory manner will be eligible to be considered for a multi-year contract, subject to CAS guidelines and policies.

III. Promotion
As described in the faculty manual, term faculty can be promoted along two sequences: the professorial lecturer sequence and the term professor sequence. These are described separately below. A term faculty member may move from one sequence to the other at any time as long as they meet the criteria.

A.  Professorial Lecturer Sequence: (Professorial Lecturer/Senior Professorial Lecturer/ Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer)

Teaching and service are the primary criteria on which term faculty on this sequence are evaluated for promotion. However, the faculty manual (Section 15.a) requires that term faculty remain current in their field. Therefore, professional engagement is necessary and viewed as a contribution to teaching.  The Department's metrics for determining "currency" are discussed in section A.3 below.  A strong and consistent record of teaching excellence will be expected of term faculty, as well as significant ser vice contributions at the departmental and college or university levels.

i. Teaching
Becoming an excellent teacher is an ongoing process, and new term faculty members, especially

those without substantial prior experience teaching at the university level, are expected build a record of teaching excellence. Faculty members are encouraged to consult their mentors and Chair regarding their overall development as teacher.

Excellence in teaching results in students who have developed competencies in their core discipline and who have acquired critical faculties for understanding not only advances in their own field, but also significant work in related disciplines. To this end, the faculty shall provide timely, fair, and objective assessment of student performance.

Because “excellence” in teaching is not easily captured by any one measure, evidence could be sought in a variety of ways including (but not limited to):

• student evaluations of teaching (SETs)

• narrative comments by students on teaching evaluations

• classroom visits and peer evaluations from colleagues

• teaching materials such as course syllabi, assignments, and examinations that serve as evidence of a well-organized, rigorous, and professional approach to teaching

• active engagement with students outside of the classroom, such as supervision of student research and ser ving as faculty mentors

Among these, SETs, although imperfect, are important indicators. At a minimum, SETs should be comparable to scores of others in the department teaching similar types of courses.

The general criteria for teaching excellence, described above, are identical to those for tenure-line faculty. However, we recognize that the teaching responsibilities of term faculty often differ from those of tenure-line faculty, requiring some modifications in how teaching accomplishments are assessed. Specifically:

a)  Term faculty typically teach a larger number of Core courses than tenure-line faculty. Any effect of course audience on SET scores will be taken into consideration during assessment of teaching.

b)  Curriculum development, including developing, refining and directing the laboratory components of courses, will also be considered in teaching evaluations. Numbers of new laboratories, new class preparations, and frequency of course offerings will be part of the assessment.

c)  Currency in the field may be demonstrated in several different ways. These include, but are not limited to:

• Conducting research (scientific or pedagogical)

• Publishing related to the term faculty member’s teaching or research (scientific journal articles, articles about education or pedagogy, books or book chapters)

• Serving as a peer reviewer or editor for journals focusing on either science or education

• Organizing sessions or giving oral or poster presentations at teaching or research conferences

• Integrating primary research into the classroom through discussion, assessments and/or projects

• Participating in professional development activities on or off campus to learn about new teaching techniques

• Incorporating pedagogical best practices in the classroom

Term faculty are expected to provide evidence of multiple ways they have stayed current in their field, but no specific number or combination of the items listed above is required.

d)  Term faculty who are not teaching lecture classes (Laboratory Directors for example, who do not receive formal SETs) will work with the Chair to develop appropriate tools for teaching evaluation, possibly to include internal evaluations administered by the department to the laboratory sections.

e)  Supervision of student research by term faculty will count towards teaching effort and engagement.

Critical for promotion from Professorial Lecturer to Senior Professorial Lecturer is evidence of effective experiential learning. Experiential learning activities may include but are not limited to case studies, field trips, guest lectures, designing effective and engaging lab and field experiences, advising students on research projects in or outside of class, and designing and leading trips (domestic or abroad) for academic credit. The effectiveness of these activities will be determined using the SETs for the courses where appropriate.

Promotion to Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer requires demonstration of breadth and excellence in teaching. This could include developing and implementing the experiential learning activities detailed above, teaching in other departments or universities (including guest lectures), helping junior colleagues improve their teaching through formal or informal mentorship, leading sessions at the Ann Ferren conference or other teaching oriented conferences, and working with outside entities (public schools, nonprofits, etc).

ii. Service
ENVS regards service as an important aspect of professional development for all term faculty (including professorial lecturers). Thus, a strong record of ser vice will be essential for promotion.  For term faculty, service might include, but not be limited to mentoring (both of students and colleagues), committee membership or chairing, directorship of programs, and participation in governance at all levels of the institution.  Candidates for promotion to Senior Professorial Lecturer are expected to have led departmental committees. Promotion to Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer will require a still more substantive and lengthy record of leadership, especially at the college and university level.  Examples of service leadership may include (but are not limited to) the CAS Dean’s Advisory Committee, Term Faculty Task Force, Educational Policy Committee, Senate committees or the Active Learning in STEM Workgroup.

B.  Term Professor Sequence (Term Assistant Professor/Term Associate Professor/Term Full Professor)
Advancement along the Term Professor sequence requires the same level of teaching and service as does the Professorial Lecturer sequence. In addition, term faculty wishing to advance along this sequence must demonstrate excellence in scholarship. Their publication record (journal quality and number of publications) should be similar to tenure-line faculty in the corresponding rank, but may occur over a longer period of time due to the term professor’s greater teaching load. There is no specified time table for term professors to apply for promotion. Co-authored publications, including with former advisors and supervisors, are expected and encouraged, since term professors will generally need to rely on collaborators for funding, lab space and equipment. Term professors are not required or expected to obtain external funding to support their scholarship; however, if they are able to do so it counts in their favor.

The department will follow university guidelines with respect to the solicitation of external letters in promotion cases involving faculty in the term professor sequence. The solicitation letter from the Science Rank and Tenure Committee will make it clear that the candidate has no laboratory space, is on a six-course teaching load, and is not expected to submit external grant proposals.  If an evaluator returns a letter that shows they are not aware of the distinction between tenure-line and term faculty, their comments will be discounted in the promotion decision.

C.  Research Professor Sequence
Faculty in the research professor promotion sequence are appointed and reappointed principally on the strength of their research, scholarship or creative activity.  Typically, fully funded by external grants to AU PIs or by grants that they themselves bring to AU, research faculty hold renewable time-limited appointments, which may be full- or part-time.  All recommendations for appointments and reappointments in the research professor sequence must be reviewed by the sponsoring department’s Rank and Tenure Committee, its chair, the College dean, and the provost.

There is no formal external review process for changes in research professor rank.  At the time of reappointment, the department may recommend reappointment at one rank higher than that of the previous appointment, based on the candidate’s history of external funding, contributions to scientific knowledge and/or practice, and nationally or globally recognized achievements. Although the role of research faculty is typically quite different from that of their tenure-line peers—they often engage in applied research, frequently work on another’s project(s), and rarely provide substantial service or teaching—successful candidates for reappointment at a higher rank will have presented a record of scholarly achievement roughly comparable to that of tenure-line colleagues at the equivalent rank. Final approval of appointment at the new rank rests with the provost.

D.  In-Residence Appointments
In-residence appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences are typically granted to individuals who have achieved distinction in a career outside American University.  As the Faculty Manual stipulates, “the in-residence designation constitutes a title rather than a rank and should be reserved for individuals who bring notable experience and accomplishments to their teaching or other primary responsibilities” (section 16.e).

All in-residence faculty hold formal ranks within the professorial lecturer or (more rarely) term professor promotion sequences. As such, they are reviewed in the same manner as colleagues in their formal sequences and are eligible for the standard salary increases associated with promotions in those sequences.

E.  Postdoctoral Appointments
Postdoctoral fellow appointments are made on an annual basis and are normally renewable, so long as funding is available, for no more than five years.  In the case of postdoctoral fellows funded on grants, the grant PI(s) will serve as the fellow’s research mentor and will formally recommend reappointment to the department chair, dean and provost.

The College’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Academic Diversity are capped at two years. Annual reappointment in this program follows a positive recommendation of the home department chair to the College’s dean, who makes the formal reappointment recommendation to the provost.

Postdoctoral fellows will be assessed primarily based on their research productivity during the term of appointment, although assessment of teaching is expected in the case of fellows whose letters of appointment specify teaching duties.  In all cases, postdoctoral fellows need only submit an up-to- date CV, a brief summary of their annual accomplishments in the areas of research and (if applicable) teaching, and appropriate teaching documentation such as syllabi, a peer observation report, and SET results (if applicable).