Reappointment to Tenure-Track Positions

1. The Meaning of Reappointment
A decision to reappoint is an expression of satisfaction with a faculty member’s performance during the prereappointment period of a tenure-track appointment, potential for continuing development, and progress toward meeting the standards for tenure at Amherst College. Reappointment is a moment for the department and the Tenure and Promotion Committee to offer candid feedback to candidates about their strengths and weaknesses as scholars and/or creative artists and teachers; accomplishments at this early stage of their careers; and plans for the future.

2. The Criteria for Reappointment
The college values faculty whose commitment to the life of the mind is demonstrated through excellence in teaching, scholarship and/or the creation of works of art, and contributions to professional service. Amherst reappoints faculty members whose records are consistent with a positive trajectory toward meeting the tenure standards for growth, achievement, and continuing promise in the following areas: scholarly and/or artistic accomplishment, the ability to teach undergraduates effectively, and contributions to their home departments and programs, to the life and work of the college, and to their professional fields.

3. The Reappointment Schedule and Notification of Procedures
Initial tenure-track appointments to the faculty are 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 Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty notifies department chairs and candidates for reappointment of the schedule and procedures for reappointment in the spring of the penultimate year of tenure-track faculty members’ initial appointment. The chair of each department makes clear to its tenure-track faculty the considerations governing reappointment. The reappointment review of tenure-track faculty, at both the department and college levels, is normally conducted in the spring term of the third year of a tenure-track appointment. If a department makes a negative recommendation in the spring of the penultimate year of a faculty member's initial appointment, the Tenure and Promotion Committee reviews the case in the spring of the penultimate year.

4. Annual Conversations with the Chair Prior to and after Reappointment until the Time of Tenure
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). These documents do not become part of a candidate’s reappointment or tenure dossier.
 
5. Reappointment Procedures and Schedule
The tenured members of the department(s) make a recommendation to the Tenure and Promotion Committee for or against reappointment. In preparation for recommendations concerning reappointment, the department(s) gathers evidence concerning teaching effectiveness, scholarly or creative growth, and other contributions to the life of the college and the profession. In regard to scholarship and/or creative work, the tenured members of the department(s) are expected to review the scholarship and/or creative work submitted to the department by the candidate. The Tenure and Promotion Committee does not review candidates’ scholarship and/or creative work at the time of reappointment, but relies on the candidate’s letter to the department, the candidate’s CV, and the departmental recommendation when evaluating the candidate’s scholarly trajectory. 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 Tenure and Promotion Committee appoint an ad hoc committee of tenured faculty in related departments to supplement or serve in lieu of the departmental committee in making a recommendation to the Tenure and Promotion Committee. In cases where a faculty member holding appointments in two departments is recommended for reappointment, a tenured colleague holding appointments to the same two departments participates in the deliberation and voting in both departments. The Tenure and Promotion Committee, however, in its own consideration of the case, does not give double weight to the colleague's evaluation. Departments submit dossier materials for reappointment to the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty for communication to the Tenure and Promotion Committee by the first week in February of the year of the reappointment decision.

Reappointment dossiers include the following:

1) The candidate’s current curriculum vitae, which will include a list of all courses, including special topics courses, taught at Amherst College and the years in which they were taught and a list of senior theses supervised;

2)  A departmental letter of recommendation containing a judgment about teaching effectiveness; scholarship and/or creative work, and growth; and contributions to the general life of the college community and to the profession. The tenured members of the department(s) make a recommendation to the Tenure and Promotion Committee for or against reappointment. Further details are provided above.

3) Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness. For the reappointment review, departments are required to have solicited end-of-semester evaluations of teaching from all students from every course, including every special topics course, taught by a tenure-track faculty member, with the exception of honors students, since the time of appointment through the semester before the faculty member stands for reappointment. These end-of-semester evaluations are signed and normally solicited in essay format in all classes in the final week of each semester on a common evaluation form approved by the faculty.  After the submission of grades, they are made available to the instructor without the names of the respondents. In addition, on an annual basis, departments are required to solicit from all honors students advised by a tenure-track faculty member that year, whether the students complete their honors work or not, confidential "annual" letters, after students receive a final grade (after one semester, if students do not complete honors work, or after two semesters, if they do). In addition, on an annual basis, departments are required to solicit from all research students who were supervised by a tenure-track professor for 240 hours (the equivalent of six weeks of full-time work) or more that year confidential “annual” letters. Departments solicit annual letters from research students in the year in which the research experience took place—at the end of the academic year for research students who worked during the academic year, and at the end of the summer for those who worked during the summer.  In all cases, annual letters from research students are solicited before the start of the next academic year. Annual letters from honors and research students taught through the year before the reappointment review become part of the candidate's dossier at the time of reappointment. In addition, at the time of reappointment review, departments are also required to have solicited, after students have received final grades, confidential "retrospective" letters of evaluation from all students from every course, including every honors and special topics course, taught by a tenure-track faculty member from the time of appointment through the semester immediately preceding the semester in which the reappointment review takes place. In addition, at the time of reappointment review, departments are required to have solicited retrospective letters of evaluation from all research students who were supervised by a tenure-track professor for 240 hours (the equivalent of six weeks of full-time work) from the time of appointment through the semester immediately preceding the semester in which the reappointment review takes place.  Annual letters from honors and research students and retrospective letters are summarized in the departmental recommendation, a redacted version of which is shared with the candidate. Candidates are not provided with the letters themselves. Students asked to write letters are informed that their responses will be treated as confidential by the college. Reviews and ratings from informal and commercial websites, or any other anonymous materials, are inadmissible as evidence (voted by the faculty, May 17, 2022 and May 26, 2022).

The departmental evaluation of teaching effectiveness should draw upon a representative range of teaching activities in addition to evidence described above (3).  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 tenured member of the department, of the accomplishments of at least one of the candidate’s courses at the end of a semester.  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.  All written evidence used to evaluate teaching effectiveness assembled at the time of reappointment is also considered at the time of tenure review.

4) Candidate’s Letter(s). By December 1, candidates for reappointment 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 and the profession. Recognizing that Tenure and Promotion Committee members are usually not experts in candidates’ fields, candidates for reappointment may choose to write a modified version of this letter for the Tenure and Promotion Committee, 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 Tenure and Promotion Committee. The letter/s serves 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. This conversation provides the candidate with a forum to share information with the tenured members and to ask and answer questions. The letter/s do not become part of the tenure dossier.

Communication with the Candidate during the Reappointment Process
The chair of the department, by the due date for the reappointment dossier, provides the candidate with the text of the department's letter, which has been edited to protect confidentiality. The chair discusses the department's recommendation (whether positive or negative). Candidates who wish to comment on the departmental recommendation may send written commentary, in confidence, to the Tenure and Promotion Committee, within two weeks of receiving that recommendation. The departmental recommendation done at the time of reappointment is provided to the Tenure and Promotion Committee at the time of the candidate’s tenure review. If the candidate wrote a confidential response at the time of reappointment, that document is also forwarded to the Tenure and Promotion Committee at the time of the tenure review.

The Tenure and Promotion Committee’s Responsibilities in Reappointment Recommendations
The Tenure and Promotion Committee reviews each reappointment case individually, all members of the committee reading the documents submitted in each case. Its role in reappointment cases is to make recommendations to the president. When a candidate for reappointment is from the same department as a member of the committee, that member shall not be present during the committee’s discussion of the candidate’s case or vote on it. The member shall be present during any sessions in which the committee meets with the department about the case and will participate as a department member in that circumstance. Abstentions or absentations because of conflict of interest or other conscientious reasons are always acceptable when the vote is taken.
 
At least four members of the Tenure and Promotion Committee must review and vote on each reappointment case. In cases in which two or more members of the committee are required to abstain from such voting and discussion because they are from the same department as the candidate, or for any other reason, alternate Tenure and Promotion Committee members serve as replacements and are seated with voice and vote together with regular members of the committee for the session in which the candidate's case is discussed and a vote is taken. The alternates are drawn from the Tenure and Promotion Committee ballot, with the first alternate being the first runner-up, etc., excluding faculty members from the candidate's department.
 
After discussing each reappointment case, the Tenure and Promotion Committee notifies the recommending department(s) in writing about such aspects of the case as the committee finds to be in need of further clarification. If the Tenure and Promotion Committee, by straw vote, is tending toward a recommendation at variance with that of the department, it meets with tenured members of the department to hear arguments as to why it should support the department's recommendation.

The President's Responsibilities in Reappointment Recommendations
The president sits with the Tenure and Promotion Committee to review all reappointment cases, and the Tenure and Promotion Committee makes its recommendations for or against reappointment to the president. After receiving the committee’s recommendations, the president consults with the provost and dean of the faculty and then formulates the president’s own recommendations to the board of trustees. If both the department and the Tenure and Promotion Committee make negative recommendations, the president will recommend a negative decision to the board of trustees. If both the department and the Tenure and Promotion Committee make positive recommendations, the president will convey these recommendations to the trustees, together with the president’s own. If the president intends to make a negative recommendation to the board, the president will inform the Tenure and Promotion Committee, the department chair, and the candidate for reappointment of the fact. If the president makes a recommendation contrary to that of a department or of the Tenure and Promotion Committee, or of both, the president will present to the board the written recommendations of the department and the minutes of the Tenure and Promotion Committee and will, prior to the board meeting, give the reason(s) for that recommendation to the Tenure and Promotion Committee, department chair, and the candidate for reappointment. These procedures do not preclude presidential intervention in the reappointment process of a department if, after consultation with the Tenure and Promotion Committee, the president believes such intervention is warranted.

Notification of the Reappointment Decision
As noted above, the final decision concerning reappointment, whether affirmative or negative, is communicated by the president to the faculty member concerned and to the department chair. If the decision is affirmative, the faculty member will receive explicit notification in writing that the individual has been reappointed, and the term of the reappointment. If the decision is negative, the faculty member will receive explicit notification in writing of this decision. If the decision is made to reappoint for a second term, the chair and the provost and dean of the faculty will discuss with the candidate considerations that may enter into a subsequent tenure decision. 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. A faculty member failing to receive a positive reappointment decision will not normally be considered again for reappointment or for tenure. A faculty member who has been notified of a decision not to grant reappointment may request from the provost and dean of the faculty an explanation of the reasons which led to that decision. If the faculty member believes that improper procedures were followed, or that the negative decision constitutes a violation of academic freedom, the faculty member has the right to request a hearing by the Committee on Adjudication (see Grievance Procedure).  The provost and dean of the faculty, as secretary to the Tenure and Promotion Committee, in each case maintains minutes of the committee's deliberations, including the number of positive and negative votes and abstentions. The provost provides the minutes of individual cases to the candidate and the department chair(s) after the committee has approved the minutes, the president has formulated a recommendation to the trustees and shared that recommendation with the board, the board has ratified the recommendation, and the final reappointment decision has been communicated to the candidate and the department(s). (The votes of the Tenure and Promotion Committee are redacted before minutes are provided to departments and reappointment candidates.)

6. The Reappointment Schedule in Relation to the Tenure Decision
Faculty members whose first regular full-time appointment is at Amherst College are normally considered for tenure in their seventh year at the college. Faculty members who come to Amherst College after not more than three years of regular full-time teaching at another college or university are normally given appointments at Amherst College of such duration that the total possible period of untenured service, allowing for a terminal extension, is eight years, including any comparable prior teaching. (For part-time faculty, see Section F.) Any agreement about counting prior service is 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. In some cases, it may be agreed that faculty who arrive at Amherst with advanced standing may not stand for reappointment. All letters of appointment or reappointment specify the anticipated time of the decision. (Many revisions to the language describing reappointment procedures were voted by the faculty on May 17, 2022, with some additions on May 26, 2022.)