*This does not constitute an employment contract
WLC Term Faculty Guidelines for Reappointment and Promotion
(Approved by Provost July 2019)
Faculty Action Procedures Specific to Term Faculty
The American University Faculty Manual calls for all departments or schools (a.k.a. “teaching units” and “academic units” respectively) to develop guidelines establishing the overall contributions expected of all faculty candidates for reappointment and promotion, in accordance with the “General Criteria for Evaluation of Faculty” outlined in section 15 of the Manual.
The purpose of this document is to establish WLC reappointment and promotion criteria for term faculty, including those in the professorial lecturer sequence, the term professor sequence, the research professor sequence, and in in-residence and postdoctoral appointments. These guidelines follow the Omnibus Criteria for Reappointment and Promotion of Term Faculty established by the College of Arts and Sciences.
Please note that WLC procedures on reviewing and voting for term faculty reappointment and promotion will be found in WLC by-laws.
Although often conflated with questions of reappointment and promotion, the merit review process is fundamentally distinct. Further information on this process will be found in WLC by-laws, as well as in the College’s “Faculty Merit System Guidelines.”
1. Term Faculty Reappointment Criteria
As established in the CAS Omnibus Criteria for the Reappointment and Promotion of Term Faculty: term faculty fundamentally enrich American University’s teaching, service and (in many cases) research missions. The College is committed to providing term faculty with stable employment and a viable promotion path, limited only by enrollments and service needs in the faculty member’s home department(s) and by reasonable anticipated constraints in the university’s instructional budget.
Term faculty in the professorial lecturer and term professor sequences are eligible for reappointment at American University if they have attained—or, in the case of recent hires, are building toward—a record of teaching excellence; and if they provide a meaningful level of service, appropriate to their rank.
The following sections outline the Faculty Manual’s expectations in the categories of teaching and service as established also in CAS Omnibus Criteria for the Reappointment and Promotion of Term Faculty.
For the purpose of all term faculty actions at American University, “teaching excellence” is defined by the Faculty Manual as enabling students
to acquire knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and become active participants in the learning process…. Faculty may demonstrate teaching excellence through a variety of ways, including course design, development of new curricular initiatives, up-to-date course content, advising of students, student engagement and achievement outside the classroom, and adherence to evaluation procedures that accurately reflect student accomplishments. Teaching units or academic units may also view publication and presentation of teaching materials and methodologies as a contribution to teaching. (section 15.a)
To the Manual’s list of ways to demonstrate a commitment to teaching excellence, and following the College´s recommendations, WLC would add to this list additional considerations in determining a commitment to teaching excellence: the overall quality of syllabi and course materials; clear articulation of course goals; evidence of rigor in courses taught; the innovative use of classroom formats or technologies; development of new courses and curricula (for those term faculty teaching topics courses in their programs); development of online and hybrid courses (when the candidate agrees to fulfill that task in consultation with the program director); effective use of regularly scheduled office hours; supervision of independent study courses, internships, capstones and dissertations (for those term faculty teaching topics courses). Where applicable, the ability to teach courses in more than one language may be considered a commitment to teaching excellence.
Student evaluations of teaching are important, if imperfect and insufficient, indicators of teaching excellence. Evaluations indicating widespread dissatisfaction with a professor likely reveal a serious teaching problem. On the other hand, no professor is likely to be able to satisfy all students, and the professor with the highest teaching evaluations may not be the best teacher. The College values intellectually rigorous courses, even if they do not necessarily achieve popularity as measured by standardized SETs.
Peer assessment can be a valuable tool for faculty seeking additional feedback and perspectives on their teaching. Term faculty are strongly encouraged to invite their language program and WLC colleagues to conduct peer classroom observations. Term faculty may choose to include any written evaluations based on peer assessment in their files.
Because faculty are better equipped to help students “acquire knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and become active participants in the learning process” to the extent that they themselves “remain current in their field,” the Faculty Manual strongly encourages “scholarly or professional engagement that enhances teaching” (section 15.a). Currency in the field may be demonstrated by one or more of the following: maintaining up-to-date syllabi and course readings; professional development in teaching and pedagogical methods; new instructional modalities pertinent to the candidate’s discipline or field; scholarly research; high-level creative and professional work and grant development.
In fulfillment of their duties, all term faculty in the professorial lecturer sequence and in the professor sequence are expected to demonstrate “a meaningful level of teaching unit, academic unit, or university service,” typically entailing, as a minimum, a significant commitment to student advising and mentorship (in the classroom, in office hours, and online); participating in curriculum development and, specifically in the language programs, in the development of hybrid and online courses; creating/redesigning, and teaching Community Based Learning courses; advising students for study abroad; advising graduate and/or undergraduate students; and participating in events and functions in their language program, WLC, the College, and University levels (Faculty Manual, section 10.a.iv). Further ways in which term faculty can fulfill their service expectations are: participating in freshman visiting days; participating in recruitment efforts at the program, department and college levels; serving as faculty advisors who help plan and/or accompany students on “alternative breaks” and/or other trips that involve students; serving on WLC and College committees and task forces; serving on university at-large committees; providing support to the Office of Merits Awards by participating in Fulbright language assessments and serving on Fulbright, Truman, Critical Language Scholarship and Boren advisory panels; or conducting language evaluations for study abroad. External service to the DC community and to the profession is also relevant and encouraged.
“As members of the learned profession responsible for educating the community,” all faculty members at American University are expected “to exhibit civility, collegiality, and respect for different points of view in the academic community” (Faculty Manual, section 15). Failing to model these core values is grounds for denying reappointment in the College.
Candidates for senior professorial lecturer and Hurst senior professorial lecturer, associate professor and professor are subject to additional service expectations, as detailed in section 2.1.b. and 2.1.c.
1.1 One-Year and Multi-Year Reappointments
Term faculty enrich American University’s teaching, service and (in many cases) research missions. The College is committed to providing term faculty with stable employment and a viable promotion path, limited only by enrollments and service needs in the faculty member’s home department(s) and by reasonable anticipated constraints in the university’s instructional budget.
Customarily, WLC term faculty in their first year of full-time service at American University who meet the criteria for excellence in teaching and service as outlined below (see General Principles 2.1) 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 their WLC language program 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 has 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 multi-year 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 language program coordinator—may receive special consideration in the evaluation for a multi-year contract.
When available, WLC reappointments on a multi-year contract may prioritize term faculty who coordinate their language programs or have other administrative duties. The criteria for evidence of outstanding teaching and service described in these guidelines will inform decisions on multi-year contracts. The unit’s chair and/or associate chair will customarily request individual meetings with WLC term faculty prior to reappointment, in which faculty performance will be holistically reviewed. Guided by the dean´s office, the WLC chair may initiate the conversation towards converting a single-year contract to a multi-year one. The WLC Committee for Term Faculty Actions will also make its recommendation on the length of faculty contracts.
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.
2. Criteria for Promotion
2.1 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 in 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 WLC, their language program, and/or the College and the University as a whole.
The following section details specific performance expectations for each of the four ranks in the professorial lecturer sequence.
In the College of Arts and Sciences and thus in WLC, the rank of instructor is reserved for those term faculty members who have not yet been granted their terminal degree, in which case the rank is normally a temporary one-semester or one-year appointment. In WLC specifically, this rank is also reserved for faculty in the field of language instruction where the terminal degree is not deemed necessary (section 13.a.i). 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 at the rank of instructor should be successful teachers who have built and/or taught well-thought-out courses and implemented syllabi 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 WLC and their language program. Candidates will demonstrate their professionalism through their syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching. Candidates for reappointment as instructor will also provide service to their language program, WLC, the College, and/or the University, commensurate with the general expectations conveyed above. Instructors who meet the criteria for professorial lecturer may apply for promotion to that rank.
2.1.b 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” (section 13.a.ii). Candidates who were hired as instructors and do not hold the terminal degree in their field may apply for promotion to professorial lecturer.
Instructors applying for reappointment at the rank of professorial lecturer should be successful teachers who have designed and/or taught well-thought-out courses and implemented syllabi that foster student learning and achievement and that reflect the current trends of their academic field(s).
Their course materials will state clear objectives that are informed by the goals of WLC and their language program. Candidates will demonstrate their professionalism through their syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching. Candidates for professorial lecturer will also provide service to their language program, WLC, the College, and/or University, with the expectation that their service profile will both broaden and deepen over time. Professorial lecturers who meet the criteria for promotion to the rank of senior professorial lecturer customarily may apply for promotion to that rank after five years as professorial lecturer.
2.1.c Senior Professorial Lecturer
After five years of service, professorial lecturers are customarily eligible for promotion to the rank of senior professorial lecturer. The Faculty Manual describes the senior professorial lecturer appointee 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).
Promotion to senior professorial lecturer is based upon teaching performance as well as significant service and professional-development contributions to the candidate´s language program, WLC, the College and/or the University. Candidates for promotion to senior professorial lecturer should be expert teachers whose courses foster student learning and achievement in challenging and motivating ways. Their course materials will promote the goals of WLC and their language program and demonstrate currency in their academic field(s). Candidates will demonstrate their professionalism and expertise through the creation and/or implementation of syllabi; the development of additional materials; the completion of peer observation reports, feedback on students´ performance, student evaluation of teaching, and any other relevant documents that the candidate chooses to submit. In addition to staying current in the field, they typically will demonstrate leadership in the profession, for example, through active participation in conferences and professional development opportunities. They will provide significant service and engage in professional development, which might include leadership activities such as faculty mentoring, assessment work, and research in their field, in addition to significant service to their language program, WLC, the College, and/or University.
2.1.d 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 teaching excellence. Candidates will demonstrate their professionalism and expertise through the development of course curricula, syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching. Their application portfolios will show that they have continually refined their teaching, adapted to new student populations, and attended to best practices, current theories, and innovations in their field. These candidates will also have demonstrated strong leadership, will have engaged in consistent service and will have contributed significantly to professional development initiatives and to facilitating the vision of their language program, WLC, the College, the University community, and their field.
2.3 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 full time 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 College 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 the WLC chair and the College dean.
2.4 The Research Professor Sequence
Faculty in the research professor promotion sequence are appointed, reappointed and promoted 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, reappointments and promotions in the research professor sequence must be reviewed by WLC’s Rank and Tenure Committee, its chair, the College dean, and the provost.
There is no formal external review process in the case of research professor promotions. At the time of reappointment, the WLC 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.
2. 5 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.
2.6 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 WLC 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 WLC 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. 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).