A-Z Index  |  Directories

Faculty Handbook

3.5. General Expectations for Tenure, Promotion, and Post-Tenure Review

A. Tenure
Academic tenure is an employment status at the University that assures a tenured faculty member of continuous appointment from contract year to contract year, except under conditions of dismissal for cause or financial exigencies. The awarding of tenure is a highly important decision through which the University incurs a major commitment to the individual faculty member well into the future. Years of service or successful annual reviews alone are not sufficient to qualify for tenure. It should only be granted to those faculty members whose achievements demonstrate the quality and significance expected of their current rank and who demonstrate potential for long-term effectiveness at the University. All tenure-track faculty are expected to produce scholarship in at least one performance area. This scholarship must be consistent with departmental, college, and university guidelines, and it must clearly document quality and significance to review parties beyond the department. Only under exceptional circumstances will a candidate be recommended for tenure without at least one form of scholarship as articulated in approved tenure and promotion guidelines. In awarding tenure, the University recognizes the long-range value of the faculty member to the institution and ensures them the academic freedom that is essential to an atmosphere conducive to the proper operation of the University. 
The review for tenure involves a retrospective analysis of how well the individual has met the needs and expectations of the University during the probationary period. Perhaps the greatest value of that retrospective analysis is in how well it informs the judgment of colleagues about the individual’s prospects for future contributions and achievements as a KSU faculty colleague. The fundamental issue underlying the tenure decision is whether, in the judgment of teaching and administrative faculty colleagues, the faculty member will continue to meet institutional needs and expectations in the future. Based on BoR policy (, tenure requires the earned doctorate or its equivalent in training, ability, and/or experience. Neither the possession of the doctorate nor longevity of service is a guarantee of tenure.
Due to its long-term implications, the granting of tenure constitutes a significant decision and, therefore, requires a thorough review process that includes the judgments and recommendations of the faculty member’s teaching and administrative faculty colleagues. The entire process has two major parts: the pre-tenure review and the tenure review. The timing of these two parts depends upon several factors that are determined at the initial employment in the professorial ranks, which will be explained below. It is important to note that the number used to designate the year of review for tenure (and used similarly for promotion) indicates the year that the review process takes place. Because this review process starts at the beginning of the academic year, only the documentation of the fully completed years of service up until that point will be reviewed. Thus, a third year review in the third year considers only two years of service, and a tenure review in the sixth year considers only five years of service. 
Based on BoR policy (, in exceptional cases, the president may approve an outstanding distinguished senior faculty member for the award of tenure upon the faculty member’s initial appointment under the following circumstances: appointed as associate or full professor, was tenured at a prior institution, and brings a demonstrably national reputation to KSU. In most cases, the president will consult the Tenure & Promotion Committee and Chair of the department hosting the faculty member before awarding tenure. If the person is being appointed to an administrative position and has not previously held tenure, the award of tenure must be approved by the BoR.
Third Year Review
The first of the two parts of the tenure review process is a pre-tenure review that takes place in the third year of a tenure-track faculty member’s appointment.  All tenure-track and tenured faculty must receive a third year review during their third year of appointment to that tenure-track or tenured position. For tenure-track faculty, the purpose of this  third year review is to assist faculty members in determining whether they are making appropriate progress toward tenure and to assess the individual’s current readiness toward tenure (for tenure-track professors), tenure and the option of promotion (for tenure-track assistant and associate professors), or promotion to assistant professor (for instructors). (Faculty initially hired as instructors should see Section 3.6 for guidelines applicable to them.) The third year review does not constitute a tenure, post-tenure, and/or promotion decision, but rather, provides feedback to the faculty member as to his or her strengths and weaknesses. At each level of the review, a summary letter will be produced that describes in detail how the faculty member is progressing toward meeting or not meeting the expectations for tenure, post-tenure, and/or promotion (as appropriate). The letter will also include specific suggestions for maintaining and enhancing further preparations for a successful tenure decision in the future. These third-year review letters and the descriptive assessments they contain become part of the individual’s portfolio for the later review.  

Tenure Review
The second major part of the process is the review at the end of the probationary period that leads to a tenure decision. All tenure-track faculty must be reviewed for tenure. The length of the probationary period over which this review is to occur depends upon several factors. For faculty who enter KSU at the assistant professor rank or above, the probationary period is five to six years, with a mandatory review for tenure being conducted in the sixth year, if tenure has not already been given. However, faculty may be granted years of credit toward tenure for work experience prior to coming to KSU. This credit will be noted in writing before the faculty member is employed and can range from one to three years, with the latter figure being reserved for rare cases of exceptional service elsewhere, such as administrative work. Any, all, or none of the granted credit can be applied toward tenure, at the discretion of the individual faculty member. If applied toward tenure, this credit plus the number of years of service at KSU must match the minimum probationary period of five years, and the tenure portfolio will include evidence from this credited time and must include evidence of relevant work experience prior to employment at KSU. The amount of the probationary period spent at KSU must be continuous unless the interruption is for a leave of absence or for part-time service, which must not, in either case, exceed two years. A faculty member who is granted two or three years of credit toward tenure may replace the third year of review with a tenure review in the second year in the position (if taking three years of credit toward tenure) or in the third year of the position (if taking two years of credit toward tenure).
Tenure-track eligibility for a faculty member will be stated in a letter offering employment from the Provost/VPAA. An administrative faculty member who is appointed without academic rank or with a part-time rank is not on track for tenure. Part-time limited term, adjunct faculty, temporary or visiting faculty, and lecturers or senior lecturers are not eligible for and do not accrue any credit toward tenure. Service as a part-time, limited term, temporary or visiting faculty member at KSU does not earn credit toward the probationary period if the individual is hired later into a regular permanent faculty status. However, BoR policy (8.3.8) does allow for credit toward tenure for a lecturer/senior lecturer. 
Academic deans and department chairs are appointed as tenure-track teaching faculty members. Tenure does not reside in an administrative position, however, and deans and chairs are subject to a similar tenure-track review process as all other tenure-track faculty. Once tenured as a faculty member, an individual does not lose tenured status as a function of changing positions, responsibilities, or departments at the University. 
Tenure-track faculty who are not recommended for tenure during their required sixth or ninth year reviews automatically receive a terminal one-year contract and formal notice that they will not receive another employment contract after their seventh or tenth years, respectively. 
A non-tenured or non-tenure track administrative or teaching faculty member who is employed through an annual term contract is not assured of continuing employment at KSU once his or her contract expires with due notice of non-renewal. Such individuals are employed from contract to contract and only for the term specified in the contract. Subsequent or future appointment results solely from a separate offer and execution of a new and distinct contract. The offer of a new contract under these circumstances is the prerogative of Kennesaw State University, provided that sufficient advance notice is given informing the individual of the institution’s intent to exercise its option of not renewing the current employment contract.
It is recognized that there are a small number of tenure-track faculty members who were hired at KSU in the past without the earned doctorate. Since these individuals have a required tenure review, these individuals have two options: 1) switch to a non-tenure-track faculty position (e.g., lecturer) based upon the positive recommendation of their department chair, dean, or the Provost/VPAA (this decision must be made prior to the point of a tenure recommendation decision by the Provost/VPAA) or 2) to successfully demonstrate that the equivalent of the earned doctorate has been achieved. The following guidelines are applicable specifically to those individuals who do not have doctorates and are currently in tenure-track positions at the rank of Instructor or Assistant Professor.
Kennesaw State University takes the view that the qualities of knowledge, experience and ability that would qualify as equivalent to the earned doctorate must be demonstrated at a high level of achievement. Doctoral equivalency should be awarded only in cases when the demonstrated evidence is clear and convincing. In addition, the judgment of equivalency depends on many variables specific to the particular discipline in question and to the individual achievements of the person making the case for equivalency.
The following criteria are established as a guideline for faculty committees and administrators who will use their professional judgments to recommend doctoral equivalency as a tenure application begins in the tenure and promotion committee of the relevant department and follows the procedural path for all tenure reviews.
Required criteria for doctoral equivalency include: 

  • Holding a master’s degree in the appropriate discipline; 
  • Demonstrating broad and in-depth knowledge and understanding of the body of information in the discipline; 
  • Demonstrating the ability to implement one’s own research and creative activity agenda, to apply research and creative methodologies, and to produce scholarship that meets the criteria for quality and significance outlined in departmental guidelines. 

A variety of other factors may be considered in determining doctoral equivalency. Additional supporting evidence might include the following: 

  • Completing graduate coursework in the discipline beyond the master’s degree; 
  • Holding appropriate professional licensure or certifications in the discipline;
  • Achieving a leadership position in and/or honors and awards from a professional society or societies which indicates regional, national, and/or international peer recognition of professional accomplishments; 
  • Having professional work experience relevant to the faculty member’s teaching assignments that are significant in level of responsibility and duration; 
  • Having already been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor. 

In addition to the criteria mentioned, there may be other discipline-specific achievements that constitute doctoral equivalency that colleges and/or departments have outlined in college and department tenure and promotion guidelines.
Faculty members submitting portfolios for tenure who do not hold the doctorate (or terminal degree) must address the criteria for doctoral equivalency in their portfolios. The review committee or administrator will consider doctoral equivalency at the time the tenure decision is considered. Candidates without a doctorate or terminal degree can be tenured if, in addition to the criteria for tenure, they meet the requirements for doctoral equivalency (as stated in departmental, college, and university guidelines). In no case will doctoral equivalency be considered without an application for tenure. Each level of review will make a decision for tenure and a decision on doctoral equivalency.

B. Promotion for the Professorial Ranks
The professorial ranks are typically linked to the different stages of career development and accomplishment for University faculty. Faculty members at the different stages of an academic career tend to have different levels of experience, expertise, accomplishment, effectiveness, and productivity. They also tend to have different opportunities for contribution, leadership, and mentorship. Consequently, KSU’s general expectations for faculty performance and for promotion in rank differ from one experience level and rank to the next in keeping with the typical patterns of career development for University faculty.

Experience is correlated with professorial rank, but years of service or successful annual reviews alone are not sufficient to qualify for a promotion in rank. When a faculty member’s experience, accomplishments, and career development evolve to the point where expectations applicable to the beginning level of the next highest rank are being met, the faculty member can make a strong case for promotion. A decision of promotion will result from a thorough review of a faculty member’s accomplishments and contributions to the University by KSU teaching and administrative faculty colleagues. This review is accomplished in consideration of one’s situational context and in relation to one’s stage of academic career development. 
Faculty members serving in tenure-track positions must be reviewed and recommended for tenure  during or before their sixth full academic year of service at KSU or be given a terminal employment contract in their seventh year. However, only faculty who were hired in professorial rank with credit toward tenure and credit towards promotion (BoR Academic and Student Affairs Handbook 4.5.1) can undergo a tenure review before the fifth full academic year of service at KSU. (Thus a faculty member who was hired without credit toward tenure may apply for tenure only during the fifth or sixth year of service.) Faculty can be concurrently reviewed for both tenure and promotion in rank, (from assistant professor to associate professor or from associate professor to full professor), but the awarding of promotion can only be approved after a positive decision on tenure has been made by the KSU president. Since the earliest date faculty members without credit toward tenure are eligible for tenure is the fifth year at KSU, only faculty members with credit toward tenure can apply for promotion to associate professor during the fourth year. It should be noted here that there is no maximum time by which a faculty must be promoted to the next level. BoR policy (Academic & Student Affairs Handbook 4.5) requires that strong justification should be provided for early promotion wherein the individual has served fewer than the minimum years in rank defined by BoR policy. At KSU, before a faculty member submits an application for early promotion, the faculty member should seek guidance from the department chair, dean, and Provost/VPAA. However, according to the Board of Regents policy (Academic & Student Affairs Handbook 4.5),  strong justification must be provided to support any consideration of “early” promotion wherein the individual has served fewer than the number of years in rank at the current institution as listed below:

For Promotion to

Minimum Service in Rank

Associate Professor

4 years as Assistant Professor


4 years as Associate Professor


C. Post-Tenure Review (PTR)
In April 1996 the Board of Regents (BoR policies and Academic & Student Affairs Handbook 4.6) developed a policy statement requiring that all institutions conduct post tenure reviews of all tenured faculty members, beginning in the sixth year, five full years after the faculty member’s most recent promotion or personnel action. 
The primary purpose of post-tenure review is to examine, recognize, and enhance the performance of all tenured faculty members, thereby strengthening the quality and significance of faculty work. Post-tenure review serves to highlight constructive and positive opportunities for all tenured faculty to realize their full potential of contributions to Kennesaw State University and the University System of Georgia. It also serves to identify deficiencies in performance and provide a structure for addressing such concerns.
Post-tenure review is not a reconsideration of the faculty member’s tenure status. Instead, it is a comprehensive five-year performance review that occurs after an individual is tenured. This post-tenure performance review is more comprehensive and concerns a longer time perspective (at least five years) than the annual performance reviews; post-tenure review feedback also comes from multiple peer and administrative perspectives, rather than from the perspective of one administrative head as is the case in annual reviews. 
Post-tenure review provides both retrospective and prospective examination of performance, taking into account that a faculty member probably will have different emphases and assignments at different points in his or her career. It is directed toward career development and a multi-year perspective of accomplishments and plans for professional development.
The primary evidence to be considered by review committees/administrators for post-tenure review consists of the five most recent annual evaluations and a current curriculum vitae (see Section 3.7 for portfolio instructions). Three or more positive annual evaluations (achieving/meeting or exceeding expectations) are necessary but are not sufficient to guarantee a positive decision. Post-tenure review also considers the broader peer and administrator perspectives provided by members of the College Promotion and Tenure Committee as well as administrative levels of review. Faculty who have three or more unsatisfactory annual evaluations (not achieving/not meeting expectations) will be considered as candidates for remediation. 
Post-tenure review will result in an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in the quality and significance of a faculty member’s performance in the context of his or her individual roles and responsibilities. The overall outcome of the assessment will be categorized as either: 1) Achieving Expectations in Post-Tenure Performance, or 2) Not Achieving Expectations in Post-Tenure Performance. Basic guidelines for differentiating between achieving expectations and not achieving expectations in post-tenure performance are as follows: 
Achieving/Meeting Expectations
Achieving/meeting or exceeding expectations in teaching, supervising, and mentoring of students, research and creative activity, and professional service has been sustained in annual performance reviews with three or more positive annual reviews over the last five years and the candidate has met the performance and quality expectations of his or her area of emphasis over the period of evaluation.
Not Achieving/Not Meeting Expectations 
Achieving/meeting expectations in teaching, supervising, and mentoring of students, research and creative activity, and professional service has not been sustained in annual performance reviews over the past five years; specifically there are three or more unsatisfactory annual reviews. 
Failure by a faculty member to submit the documentation required for post-tenure review shall be considered by the review committee as not achieving expectations. In this case, a faculty development plan will be developed by the candidate and the department chair. The plan must include a requirement to submit materials for post-tenure review the following year. If, after one year, the tenured faculty member has not completed satisfactorily this faculty development plan, one of several consequences could occur as delineated below for the case of a three-year developmental plan.
In cases where the faculty member is found to be “achieving expectations in post-tenure performance,” no formal faculty development plan is required. The results of the post-tenure review are likely to reveal that the faculty member is performing well, and any development activity would focus on further enhancing the faculty member’s performance.
In cases where a faculty member is identified in the post-tenure review as “not achieving expectations in post-tenure performance,” a formal faculty development plan must be developed and written. The formal faculty development plan should address how deficiencies cited in the post-tenure review will be corrected. In developing a mutually acceptable plan, administrators may wish to renegotiate the faculty member’s workload assignments such that some expectations are lessened or dropped in favor of increased expectations in other areas. In all cases, face-to-face meetings and discussions among the principals are required to ensure thorough exploration of all options and clear communication of the understandings reached. 
A formal plan for faculty development should: a) define specific goals or outcomes that are to be achieved; b) outline the activities that will be undertaken to achieve the goals or outcomes; c) identify appropriate sources of faculty development, whether they be located on campus, on other campuses of the University System, at the system level, or in other locations; d) set appropriate times within which the goals or outcomes should be accomplished; and e) indicate appropriate criteria by which progress will be monitored. 
The following parties should be involved in the creation of a formal faculty development plan, monitoring the faculty member’s progress in completing the plan, and signing off on the plan’s completion: 1) the affected faculty member; 2) his or her administrative unit head; 3) the administrative officer one level above the faculty member’s administrative unit; and 4) an optional fourth colleague —the affected faculty member may ask one of the members of the College  Review Committee to serve as this fourth principal. The affected faculty member will be free to seek other mentors as needed for the successful completion of the plan. 
The administrative unit head and the administrative officer at least one level above are jointly responsible for arranging appropriate funding for the development plan, if required. However, development plans will typically expect faculty to remedy deficiencies within existing resources and the normal level of support available for faculty development and for achieving faculty expectations. Furthermore, faculty with unsatisfactory performance reviews should not expect to receive paid leaves to pursue further study or research for the purpose of remediating deficiencies. The maximum time allowed to complete a faculty development plan will be three years. The three-year period will normally start in the spring of the academic year in which the post-tenure review was conducted and in which the faculty development plan is formulated. Depending upon the circumstances, remediation could occur in less time. An assessment of progress made on the faculty development plan will be incorporated into the individual’s annual performance review each year. A written progress report on the plan will be prepared as a supplement to the annual performance evaluation and be reviewed by the next level administrator. Satisfactory completion of the faculty development plan must be documented in writing and approved by the signatories of the plan, and copied to the Provost/VPAA. 
If after three years, the tenured faculty member has not completed satisfactorily his or her formal faculty development plan, one of several consequences could occur as determined by the parties involved in the creation of the plan: 1) university colleagues would continue to work with the individual toward the completion of the plan, but the individual’s salary would be frozen until the plan was finished satisfactorily; 2) a reassignment might be considered if it appears that the individual will not successfully complete the original plan; or 3) academic administrators could initiate other personnel actions. In any of these cases, an unsatisfactory ruling and its consequences should be fully documented for the faculty member, department chair, dean, and Provost/VPAA. 
KSU’s policy on post-tenure review affects all faculty who are tenured who have primarily teaching responsibilities at Kennesaw State University. Based on BoR policy, administrators who have tenure and who may also have some teaching responsibilities are not subject to post-tenure review as long as their duties are administrative in nature (see Section 3.8). Faculty members serving in administrative positions, including interim administrative positions, will have their post-tenure review clock reset at the end of the administrative appointment. A tenured faculty member will be expected to have a required post-tenure review, five full years after the award of tenure and at five-year intervals (occurring in the sixth year) thereafter, unless one of several intervening circumstances occurs. Such intervening circumstances may substitute for, defer, or waive the next scheduled post-tenure review as follows: 

  • A successful review for promotion in professorial rank is considered comprehensive and comparable to post-tenure review; the promotion will restart the individual’s five-year “clock” for the next post-tenure review.
  • A successful selection and appointment to a different KSU position as a result of a competitive national search and screening process is considered comprehensive and comparable to post-tenure review; the appointment will restart the individual’s five-year clock for the next post-tenure review.
  • As is presently the case in eligibility for tenure or promotion consideration, a leave of absence taken during one or more terms of the nine-month academic year would exclude that year from being counted on the five-year clock for post-tenure review, deferring the next scheduled review accordingly by a year. 
  • The Provost/VPAA may waive a scheduled post-tenure review for a faculty member whose written notification of retirement is formally accepted and is effective within the two-year period immediately following the next scheduled post-tenure review.
  • The five-year clock for post-tenure  review will be restarted in the year in which an individual has completed successfully a formal faculty development plan.