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Guidelines Regarding Extension of Time-to-Tenure

Assistant Professors (and non-tenured Associate Professors) are normally expected to be evaluated for promotion to tenured rank by the end of the 6 th year of their tenure-track appointment (or 2 nd year if non-tenured Associate Professors). It is recognized, however, that external circumstances sometimes preclude continuous progress towards tenure.  The University permits tenure track faculty to petition for a change in status in order to extend the time during which they may prepare for promotion review.  This extension may be accomplished either through a reduction in work hours that would be reflected in a reduction of the faculty member’s effort (with a comparable reduction in salary), or through a transfer of the faculty member’s appointment to a position of qualified academic rank (e.g., as a Visiting Assistant Professor).

Requests for interruption of tenure track service may be made for periods of up to one calendar year on each occasion, and may be divided into no more than two segments (i.e., one full academic year, one full calendar year, or two sequential fall or spring semesters).

Extensions of the tenure clock may be requested by the faculty member with a letter to the appropriate department chair or area coordinator, who will communicate the request to the Dean with his/her endorsement. Once approved by the Dean, the request is forwarded to the Provost’s office for final review and approval. Requests may not be retroactive nor may they be initiated once a tenure review process has commenced.

Extensions of the tenure clock may be requested for the following reasons:

  • Family and Personal care: obligations for the care of a significant elder or immediate family member; personal medical circumstances that significantly impede progress toward tenure and are beyond the control of the faculty member.
  • Professional readiness: unexpected special and extenuating circumstances that deprive the faculty member of reasonable opportunity to demonstrate their ability and potential as a faculty member and justify an extension of the tenure clock for a maximum of one academic year. Examples of extenuating circumstances would include research setbacks due to circumstances beyond the faculty member's control, physical-plant problems that retard the ability of the faculty to perform their work, unexpected delays in the provision of start-up funds, delayed lab renovations or in the provision of critical equipment, moves within campus, equipment or data destruction, animal/model system problems, or effects of natural disasters.
  • Professional opportunities: Tenure-track faculty may request to take a leave without pay (LWOP) during years 1-6, prior to the start of the tenure evaluation process .  Granting of LWOP is at the discretion of the Provost. LWOP may be taken to pursue full-time scholarly or creative work opportunities at national labs, government, or private sector facilities, to receive prestigious awards or fellowships, and/or to engage in special assignment opportunities.

 For the extension of the time-to-tenure, the department chair or area coordinator must submit a request to their Dean that includes the following information:

  1. The specific reason for the request, i.e., what are the circumstances that had an impact on the faculty member’s progression and justify making an exception to the standard procedures governing the tenure system.
  2. What is expected to be achieved at the end of the requested extension, including the prospects for success and a description of the resources and/or proposed changes that will be made to facilitate success.
  3. A curriculum vitae and a one-page summary of prior assignments in research, teaching, and administrative duties during the previous three years (two years for non-tenured Associate Professors) for the faculty member seeking the extension.
  4. Endorsement and signatures of the faculty member and department chair.

The faculty member should notify his / her chair of this request for change in status at the earliest possible date. It will be the responsibility of the Chair or area coordinator and Dean to secure substitutes for the faculty member's teaching and committee responsibilities.

When a faculty member has been granted an extension to the tenure clock, the Dean should explain the basis for the extension in the materials provided to the Provost's Office when the faculty member is eventually assessed for the recommendation for or against granting of tenure. A faculty member who is formally granted an extension of the probationary period will be judged and evaluated on the same basis and by the same standards as though there had been no extension.

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