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

*This does not constitute an employment contract

Promotion Guidelines for Term Faculty in the Department of Physics

Department Approved: 12/4/2018
Revised and Department Approved: 5/01/2019 
(Approved by Provost July 31, 2019)


Unless otherwise noted in the document below, we are taking the CAS Omnibus Criteria for the Reappointment and Promotion of Term Faculty (version October 17, 2018) as the department policy for appointment, reappointment and promotion of term faculty on sequences:

  • Professorial Lecturer
  • Term Professor
  • Research Professor
  • In-residence Appointment
  • Post-doctoral Fellow

For term faculty on both the professorial lecturer and term professor sequences, the promotion criteria include, broadly speaking, teaching, service and currency in the field. We have elaborated these criteria as they relate to our department and these two sequences below.


Candidates for promotion on either sequence must provide evidence that they are effective teachers. In general, the faculty member will be expected to demonstrate efficacy in General Education/Core Curriculum courses, as well as courses designed specifically for Physics majors and minors. Collaborative research with students is important to the Physics Department’s mission, so the candidate should provide evidence of work with the majors. Candidates are also expected to provide timely, fair, and objective assessment of student performance.

Candidates for promotion to Senior Lecturer or Associate Professor must demonstrate that they have achieved excellence in teaching. Candidates for promotion to Hurt Professorial Lecturer or Professor must demonstrate a sustained record of excellence in teaching.

Primary criteria

  • Peer review of teaching: We expect the members of the Rank and Tenure Committee and the department chair to schedule a visit to the classroom of any faculty member who will be coming up for an action. The faculty member under review will provide course materials such as syllabi to the reviewers and will receive feedback at the time of review. These visits will be documented and a record will be included in the file for action.
  • Intentional and effective teaching: Candidates should demonstrate efforts to enhance student learning. This could include:
    • Demonstration of attention to both course and department learning outcomes. Evidence for this could include formal and informal measures of student learning, course material development, annotated syllabi, and research-based pedagogy in the classroom.
    • Contribution to department assessment activities, in producing materials for review or reviewing materials, or both
    • Participation in professional development workshops and other activities that may lead to enhanced teaching strategies and student learning experiences
    • Peer observation of colleagues inside and outside the department


Secondary criteria

  • Course Evaluations: The course evaluation scores will be assessed in the context of each class, taking into account indicants such as the class size, the diversity of students being served, the inclusion of a laboratory component to the class, the number of times that the instructor has taught the course, the instructor’s inclusion of innovative pedagogy, etc. We encourage the course evaluations to be analyzed in context and using appropriate statistical measures. For subsequent promotion actions, the candidate will be expected to show a sustained record of teaching at this level. In their files, candidates should address scores that are below expectations; a discussion of course evaluation narratives in the context of the course may be useful in these cases. Using the current version of course evaluations, the following ratings receive special attention from higher levels in the review process, and so particular attention should be paid by the faculty member under review and the Rank and Tenure Committee:
    • Ratings of the degree to which the instructor required high levels of performance
    • Overall ratings of instructor
    • Ratings of students’ satisfaction with what they have learned in the course
    • Overall ratings of course
  • Contributions to efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the field, such as attending DEI training through HR, CTRL, etc; working to ensure access and equity when serving on committees and participating in activities (searches, curriculum, retention and advising, outreach); and working to ensure that the courses they teach provide curricula that involve inclusive pedagogy.
  • Teaching awards
  • New course development
  • Program development
  • Teaching innovations
  • Use of information technology in teaching 
  • Selection as a consultant or expert by external organizations for teaching-related projects
  • Community-based teaching and learning, both formal and informal
  • Currency in the field (defined below)


Definition of currency in the field: The fields prioritized by the Physics Department include (but are not limited to) physics, astronomy, material science, and engineering, as well as discipline-based education research, training and practice in any of those. For reappointment and promotion on the Professorial Lecturer track and for reappointment on the Term Professor track, any of the criteria listed below are valued and could be used to demonstrate currency in the field, but not all listed criteria are required.


  • Research and scholarship in the field: see the description of the evaluation of research and scholarship in the Tenure-Line Promotion Guidelines (attached).
  • Student research supervision in the field: This involves supervision of honors capstones, independent study projects, and other student research activities. We consider both the quantity and quality of research supervision. Among the factors we consider are:
    • Number of research supervisees
    • Student feedback on the quality of the professor’s supervision of them
    • Number and quality of publications and conference presentations with students
    • Funding for student research acquired
  • Professional development: This includes conference or workshop attendance and training.
  • Outreach and partnerships, including those that support broadening participation in the field.
  • Acquiring funding or other support for professional and educational activities in the field.
  • Selection as a consultant or expert by external organizations for professional and educational projects in the field.




For promotion on the Term Professor sequence, the criteria for research is the same as the research and scholarship criteria for promotion of tenure-line faculty, excepting the time constraint for tenure. Please see the document Rank and Tenure Guidelines (attached).




One type of service we value for promotion we will refer to as “Traditional.”

Candidates for promotion on professorial lecturer and term professor tracks must show evidence of traditional service to the Department, the College and the University. The service requirements for promotion to Professor or Hurst Professorial Lecturer will exceed those needed to achieve promotion to Associate Professor or Senior Professorial Lecturer. The small size of the department requires that all Physics faculty contribute substantially to departmental committees and service.

Service activities that are expected of all candidates for promotion:

  • Participation on Department committees
  • Participation on College or University committees
  • Recruitment and/or development at Departmental, College or University levels


Service activities that could be appropriate for all candidates for promotion, but that are not required:

  • Chair of departmental committees
  • Active involvement in professional societies
  • Service to government and non-profit agencies and organizations on professional, educational, or scientific matters


Service activities that are appropriate for faculty with rank of Associate Professor or Senior Professorial Lecturer for promotion to Professor or Hurst Professorial Lecturer include:

  • Mentoring of junior faculty
  • Leadership on College or University committees
  • Leadership in outside professional organizations or professional societies


Additionally, there is another type of service we will term “Administrative”.

We also value administrative service when evaluating appointment, reappointment and promotion, but do not require it. Administrative service is any service in an administrative role for Department (like Assistant Lab Director), College or University that lead to course releases and/or stipends.