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

*This does not constitute an employment contract

March 20, 2019
(Approved by Provost July 2019)

Psychology Department Criteria for the Reappointment and Promotion of Term Faculty

The purpose of this document is to describe the criteria for reappointment and promotion for term faculty in the Psychology department, including those in the professorial lecturer sequence, the term professor sequence, the research professor sequence, and in in-residence and postdoctoral appointments. 

Please note that departmental procedures on voting for term faculty reappointment and promotion can be found in our department’s constitution. Although often conflated with questions of reappointment and promotion, the merit review process is fundamentally distinct.

Guidelines for Evaluation of Files for Reappointment

Term faculty in the professorial lecturer and term professor sequences are eligible for reappointment if they:

  • Have attained—or, in the case of recent hires, are building toward—a record of teaching excellence and demonstrate that they remain current in their field;
  • Provide a meaningful level of service, appropriate to their rank, while demonstrating civility, collegiality and respect for different points of view.

The following sections outline the department’s expectations in the areas of teaching and service.

Teaching

Teaching includes activities inside and outside of classroom. Classroom teaching can range from undergraduate and graduate courses taught by traditional methods to nontraditional instruction using hybrid or entirely online formats.

Evidence of outstanding teaching in and beyond the classroom includes (not in ranked order) but is not limited to:

1. Course content and materials that reflect currency in the field

Faculty can maintain currency in techniques of instruction, or content in the topics being taught, or both. Currency in content is especially important. Currency can be shown in many ways, such as maintaining up-to-date course readings; developing and using new skills, technologies, or formats for instruction; or incorporating new theories and research findings into lectures, classroom exercises, and assignments. Currency can be fostered by attending presentations or pursuing continuing education at university and professional conferences such as the university’s Ann Ferren Conference or meetings of professional associations.

2. Detailed syllabi with clearly defined goals, policies, and course requirements.

3. Student assignments and projects that foster independent and critical thinking, research skills and/or the use of non-traditional assignments.

4. Use of innovative technologies and pedagogical strategies.

5. Major revision of existing courses.

6. New course development.

7. Engaging students by meeting with them to discuss coursework, future plans, and topics related to the mission of our university.

8. Effective use of office hours.

9. Supervision of independent study, internships, externships, capstone projects, theses, and dissertations.

10. Supervision of undergraduate and /or graduate students in conducting independent work in laboratories and community settings and in publishing research.

11. Community engagement beyond the classroom.

12. Initiatives to encourage student research beyond classroom assignments.

13. Reports of classroom observations by other University faculty members such as a faculty mentor, CTRL fellow, a colleague from the faculty member’s discipline, members of the Rank and Tenure committee or the chair.

14. Statements prepared by individual faculty members describing teaching philosophy, pedagogic strategies, and innovative approaches to enhance learning.

15. Student evaluations of teaching.

Or any other material deemed to be useful in considering teaching effectiveness.

Flexibility in teaching is important for term faculty. Flexibility could be demonstrated by successfully teaching large introductory in addition to smaller advanced classes, undergraduate lecture courses as well as graduate student seminars, online courses, or courses in multiple subdisciplines. These are only a few examples; flexibility can be shown in many other ways.

Service

In fulfillment of their duties, all term faculty in the professorial lecturer sequence are expected to demonstrate “a meaningful level of teaching unit, academic unit, or university service,” typically entailing, as a minimum participation in events and functions at the department, college, and/or university levels (Faculty Manual, section 10.a.iv).  

Evidence of outstanding service includes (not in ranked order) but is not limited to:

  1. Committee work at the department, college or university level.
  2. Taking on leadership roles in committees when possible.
  3. Developing new initiatives for the department, college or university.
  4. Mentoring junior faculty.
  5. Attendance at faculty development events, Teaching Round Tables, CTRL workshops, or the Ann Ferren Conference.
  6. Engagement with the community or supporting the mission of the university in other ways.

The expectation is that the service profile of term faculty will both broaden and deepen over time.

One-Year and Multi-Year Reappointments

Customarily, term faculty in their first year of full-time service at American University will be considered for one-year reappointment in the course of the spring semester, following completion of their first full semester. Assuming that enrollments in the department remain strong and that the faculty member fulfills a continuing teaching need, the College will endeavor to reappoint high-performing term colleagues in their second year and beyond in the course of the fall semester. 

As a general rule, the College only considers term faculty for a multi-year appointment when 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 when the dean’s and provost’s offices deem long-term funding of the position to be secure. The duration of a faculty member’s first multiyear contract is typically two years, followed by a three-year contract, then a five-year contract (renewable). Term faculty with major service responsibilities—such as program director, clinic director, director of undergraduate labs or director of undergraduate studies—may receive special consideration in the evaluation for a multi-year contract by the rank and tenure committee.

Please note that, although many term colleagues at higher ranks in the professorial lecturer and term professor sequences hold multi-year contracts, the recommendation to confer a given rank and appointment to a multi-year contract are separate actions. 

Professorial Lecturer Sequence

Term faculty with teaching appointments in the professorial lecturer sequence, which includes the ranks of instructor, professorial lecturer, senior professorial lecturer, and Hurst senior professorial lecturer—will normally be evaluated for reappointment and promotion solely on the basis of their teaching and service. Term faculty on this sequence may elect to include a supplemental evaluation of their research, without the necessity of external letters, in their reappointment and promotion reviews. 

In all instances, such review will involve a holistic assessment of the faculty member’s many contributions in light of the needs of the department, program, and/or the College as a whole.

Rank Criteria

The following section details specific performance expectations for each of the four ranks in the professorial lecturer sequence. 

Instructor

The rank of instructor is reserved for those term faculty members who have not yet been granted their terminal degree (customarily a doctorate). An Instructor who earns a terminal degree is eligible to apply for promotion to professorial lecturer. The rank is normally a temporary one-semester or one-year appointment, or for temporary appointments of faculty in certain skill areas or professional fields where the terminal degree is not deemed necessary. Reappointments at the rank of instructor are typically subject to annual review. Instructors will be evaluated primarily on their teaching and secondarily on their service to their department or college, in accordance with the general principles outlined above. 

Candidates for reappointment in the rank of instructor should be successful teachers who have built well-thought-out courses that foster student learning and achievement and that reflect the current state of their academic field(s). Their course materials will state clear objectives that are informed by the goals of their department or program. Their professionalism will be displayed through their syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching assessments. Candidates for reappointment as instructor will also provide service to the department, college, and/or university. At this rank, service primarily focuses on student advising and mentorship. 

Professorial Lecturer

The Faculty Manual states that term faculty members are “customarily awarded the initial rank of professorial lecturer if they hold the terminal degree in the field or have professional experience and achievement equivalent to a terminal degree”. 

Instructors applying for reappointment at the rank of professorial lecturer should be successful teachers who have built well-thought-out courses that foster student learning and achievement and that reflect the current state of their academic field(s). Their course materials will state clear objectives that are informed by the goals of their department or program. Their professionalism will be displayed through their syllabi, assignments, evaluation and supervision of student work in and outside the classroom, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching assessments.  A professorial lecturer is expected to engage in service primarily at the departmental level; leadership roles are not expected at this rank.

Senior Professorial Lecturer

Professorial lecturers are customarily eligible for promotion to the rank of senior professorial lecturer after five years of service. The Faculty Manual describes senior professorial lecturer appointees as demonstrating “excellence as a teacher and strong engagement with the university community” over and beyond the criteria for appointment as a professorial lecturer. Appointments at the senior professorial lecturer rank are also possible for candidates with “extensive professional experience but little direct teaching experience” (section 13.a.3).

Candidates for promotion to senior professorial lecturer should be expert teachers whose courses foster, in challenging and motivating ways, student learning and achievement. Their course materials will promote the goals of their department or program and demonstrate currency in their academic field(s). Their professionalism and expertise will be displayed through their course and curriculum development, syllabi, assignments, evaluation and supervision of student work in and outside the classroom, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching assessments. A senior professorial lecturer customarily will have a proven service record that extends beyond the department and/or includes leadership positions. 

Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer

The Faculty Manual describes appointees at this rank as having demonstrated “meritorious performance through sustained excellence in teaching and in service internally to the university and/or externally in their profession or field of scholarship” (section 13.a.iv). 

Senior professorial lecturers who are candidates for Hurst senior professorial lecturer should demonstrate a consistent record of marked teaching excellence and notable service.  Their professionalism and expertise will be displayed through their course and curriculum development, syllabi, assignments, evaluation and supervision of student work in and outside the classroom, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching assessments.  Their application portfolios will show that they have regularly refined their teaching, adapted to new student populations, and demonstrated currency in their field (as detailed above). A Hurst professorial lecturer customarily will have a proven service record that includes both leadership positions and service that extends beyond the department. 

The Term Professor Sequence

The Faculty Manual states that new appointments at the term assistant professor rank will be made “only under extraordinary circumstances and with approval of the provost” (section 13.b.i). Faculty at this rank who meet the criteria for promotion to term associate professor normally may apply for promotion after six years of fulltime service.

The standards for promotion to the ranks of term associate professor and term professor in the area of scholarship are functionally similar to those for their tenure-line equivalents, as outlined in the home department’s tenure and promotion guidelines. There are, however, several notable differences. Term assistant professors are not required to apply for promotion to term associate at the end of six years of service and, unlike their tenure-line peers, may be reappointed in the absence of such a promotion. Although always welcome, the securing of major grant funding is less critical for promotion in the term professor sequence than it is in its tenure-line analogue. For more on the university’s expectations of term associate and full professors, see the Faculty Manual, sections 13.b.ii and 13.b.iii.

Insofar as possible, the Psychology department will endeavor to grant term Associate Professors multi-year contracts, but that determination remains a function of teaching need, as outlined above. 

Faculty who wish to move from the term professor sequence to an equivalent rank in the professorial lecturer sequence to take advantage of the salary increases built into the latter may do so with a memo to, and approval of, their department chair, the College dean, and the dean of faculty. Moving from term assistant professor to senior professorial lecturer is a promotion and requires a corresponding faculty action. Movement from the professorial lecturer sequence to term associate or above requires a full review with external letters. Faculty contemplating such an action should explore its viability with their department chair and the College dean.

The Research Professor Sequence

The Research Professor Sequence ranks are possible for faculty in the term professor sequence according to the Faculty Manual and require substantial scholarship. Requirements for appointment and promotion to these ranks for term faculty in the Department of Psychology are, in fact, the same as the requirements for tenure-line faculty in our department. The differences are that term assistant professors are not required to apply for promotion to term associate at the end of six years of service, that there is no impact on future employment if a promotion is denied, and that there is no certainty of continued appointment beyond the one to five years of the current contract.

In-Residence Appointments

In-residence appointments in the Psychology department 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.

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 by the fellow’s faculty mentor to the department chair to the College’s dean, who makes the formal reappointment recommendation to the provost.

Postdoctoral fellows will be assessed primarily on the basis of 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.