Duration of Appointments and Procedures for Reappointments to Tenure-Track Positions

1. Duration of Initial Appointment

Initial tenure-track appointments to the faculty will be made for a term of three years unless some other term is agreed upon by the provost and dean of the faculty, the department, and the appointee at the time of hiring.

The chair of each department will make clear to its non-tenured faculty the considerations governing reappointment. Recommendations concerning reappointment will be reviewed by the Committee of Six.

The reappointment review of untenured faculty, at both the department and college levels, is normally conducted in the spring term of the third year of employment (voted by the faculty, May 1995).

Department chairs and candidates for reappointment will be notified of the schedule and procedures for reappointment in the spring of the penultimate year of the initial appointment. When notification is given in the last year of the current appointment that a reappointment will not be made, an additional, terminal year will be granted. When, however, notification is given during the penultimate year of appointment that a reappointment will not be made, the contract ends at its original term.

2. Annual Conversation with the Chair

The chair, with at least one other tenured member of the department also present and participating, shall have at least one formal conversation per year with each of the department’s untenured faculty member(s) to discuss in detail performance and progress in teaching, research or creative work, and other contributions to the life of the college.  As to teaching, evidence should include all semester-end evaluations by students with signatures removed, the testimony of colleagues who have observed the untenured faculty member’s teaching, and such course materials as the untenured faculty member sees fit to submit for discussion (voted by the faculty, November 1998; amended, April 2014).  Prior to the annual conversation, the chair shall provide materials documenting the untenured faculty member’s progress to the tenured members of the department and consult with them to reach a shared understanding of what should be conveyed in the annual conversation.  Annual conversations are held each year until the time of the faculty member’s tenure review (voted by the faculty, April 2014).  A sum and substance letter about the conversation should be given to the untenured faculty member and be placed in the records of the department (voted by the faculty, May 1995).  On an annual basis, the chair must notify the provost and dean of the faculty that the annual conversation has taken place with each of the department’s untenured faculty members and that the sum and substance letter has been given to each candidate (voted by the faculty, April 2014).

3. The Meaning of Reappointment

The decision to reappoint is important, but should not be confused with the decision on tenure. A decision to reappoint is an expression of satisfaction with past performance and of confidence in the faculty member's potential for continuing development. At the time of the department's recommendation concerning reappointment, the chair of the department will discuss the department's recommendation (whether positive or negative) with the particular faculty member; if the decision is made to reappoint for a second term, the chair will discuss considerations which may enter into a subsequent tenure decision.

4. Reappointment Procedures

In preparation for recommendations concerning reappointment, the department will gather evidence concerning teaching effectiveness, scholarly or creative growth, and other contributions to the life of the college (voted by the faculty, October 2004).  Evaluations of teaching are to be requested of all students from every course, including every honors and special topics course taught by a tenure-track faculty member.  These evaluations are to be signed and are normally to be solicited in essay format in all classes in the final week of each semester on a common evaluation form approved by the faculty (voted by the faculty, May 23, 2019).  After the submission of grades, they will be made available to the instructor without the names of the respondents.  In addition, all departments will be required to have solicited from all students confidential letters of evaluation at the time of reappointment review (voted by the faculty, October 1998).  All student evaluations of teaching collected for purposes of reappointment are to be submitted to the Committee of Six with the department’s recommendation (voted by the faculty, May 1995).  Reviews and ratings from informal and commercial websites, or any other anonymous materials, are inadmissible as evidence. (voted by the faculty, May 23, 2019).

The departmental evaluation of teaching effectiveness should draw upon a representative range of teaching activities in addition to evidence described above. Evaluation should derive from, but need not be limited to, conversations about courses with some members of the department; attendance by some members of the department at a number of class meetings at mutually agreed upon times; and assessment, by the candidate with at least one senior member of the department, of the accomplishments of at least one of the candidate’s courses at the end of a semester (voted by the faculty, May 1999). Evaluations of teaching effectiveness should also be informed by the discussions of the tenured members of the department, the substance of which is conveyed during annual conversations (voted by the faculty, April 2014).

By December 1, candidates for reappointment will submit a letter to their department/s describing their teaching experience at the college, the present state of their scholarship or creative work and their aims and plans for the future, and their engagement in college life.  Recognizing that Committee of Six members are usually not experts in candidates’ fields, candidates for reappointment may choose to write a modified version of this letter for the Committee of Six, in which they describe their work and its significance in a less specialized idiom.  If two letters are written, both are shared with the department.  Both letters are also included in the reappointment dossier and forwarded to the Committee of Six (amended May 18, 2017).  The letter/s will serve as the basis for a conversation between the candidate and tenured members of the department/s before the department meets to finalize the reappointment recommendation. The letter/s will not become part of the tenure dossier (voted by faculty, February 2005; amended May 2012 and May 18, 2017).

After the department has reviewed the evidence and come to its recommendation, it will send a formal letter (with such accompanying evidence as seems appropriate) to the provost and dean of the faculty. The chair of the department will provide the candidate with the text of the department's letter, which has been edited to protect confidentiality, and will discuss that letter with the candidate (voted by the faculty, May 1992). If a candidate wishes to comment on the departmental recommendation, he or she may send written commentary, in confidence, to the Committee of Six, within two weeks of receiving that recommendation (voted by the faculty, November 1998).

In cases where there are fewer than two tenured faculty in the department of a candidate for reappointment, the provost and dean of the faculty and the Committee of Six will appoint an ad hoc committee of tenured faculty in related departments to supplement or to serve in lieu of the departmental committee in making a recommendation to the Committee of Six. The provost and dean of the faculty will remind departments of deadlines for review of individual reappointments. These are usually taken up by the Committee of Six early in the spring semester unless a department makes a negative recommendation in the spring of the penultimate year of a faculty member's initial appointment. In that case, the Committee of Six will review the case in the spring of the penultimate year.

The provost and dean of the faculty will report each department's recommendation to the Committee of Six and provide an opportunity for the Committee to review the evidence upon which a recommendation is based. The Committee of Six, as a safeguard to individuals, will also attend to negative recommendations.

After the Committee of Six has had an opportunity to review recommendations and to raise questions, the provost and dean of the faculty will convey any questions or comments to the department chair.

A letter about reappointment will be sent by the president to the individual under review, with a copy to the department chair, indicating the recommendation that the president intends to make to the board of trustees. Formal notification of reappointment will follow confirmation by the board of trustees. The provost and dean of the faculty will invite each candidate who is reappointed to meet with him or her soon after the reappointment process is completed to discuss the Committee of Six's reading of the candidate's case. The provost and dean of the faculty will also discuss the committee's view with the department chair (voted by the faculty, February 2005).

5. The Reappointment Schedule in Relation to the Tenure Decision

A faculty member whose first regular full-time appointment is at Amherst College will normally be considered for tenure in his or her seventh year at the college. A faculty member who comes to Amherst College after not more than three years of regular full-time teaching at another college or university will normally be given appointment at Amherst College of such duration that the total possible period of untenured service, allowing for a terminal extension, will be eight years, including any comparable prior teaching. (For part-time faculty, see Section F.) Any agreement about counting prior service will be made explicit in writing at the time of the person's initial appointment at Amherst College, and the most appropriate way of computing previous experience may be discussed at this time. The decision on tenure for such persons may be made in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh year of full-time service at Amherst College, depending on the circumstances at the time of appointment.

All letters of appointment or reappointment shall specify the anticipated time of the decision.

The timing and duration of appointments in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics differ from those of academic faculty in that the total probationary period may extend for up to twelve years, allowing for multiple reappointments.