Peer Review Procedures

Peer Review Procedures

Procedures for implementing the University’s policy on promotion and tenure are described in the “Administrative Guidelines for HR-23: Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations.” The following further specifies procedures for the Altoona College, but does not supersede University-wide guidelines.

Review Process

Tenure reviews. All provisional faculty must be reviewed according to University policy during the second, fourth, and sixth years following entry to a tenure-eligible position. Special reviews for the third or fifth year may be recommended by any review level during a second or fourth year review, and subsequently initiated by the chancellor at his or her discretion.

Promotion reviews. A faculty member will be reviewed for promotion only after being nominated by an appropriate academic administrator (division head, department head, or dean) of the University, or by the division review committee after consultation with the appropriate academic administrator.

In accordance with HR-23, candidates should be reviewed simultaneously in the sixth year for tenure and promotion to associate professor, and the presumption is that a positive tenure decision will be sufficient to warrant promotion. Consideration of only tenure in the sixth year should be an exception and the burden is on the committee or administrator choosing to do so to show why promotion is not warranted.

Early Tenure and Promotion reviews. Only candidates with exceptionally strong cases should be considered for early tenure and promotion to the associate rank. Divisional committees and division heads seeking to nominate such a candidate should consult with the chancellor. If the chancellor wishes to proceed, he or she must secure approval from the Executive Vice President and Provost by submitting a request in writing to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs together with documentation, in accord with the “Guidelines for Recommending Faculty for Early Tenure,” appended to the “Administrative Guidelines for HR-23.”

Preparation of the dossier. For all Altoona College faculty members seeking tenure and/or promotion, regardless of whether they retain or seek tenure in the Altoona College or in a college at the University Park Campus, the candidate’s Altoona College division head has the responsibility for preparing, in consultation with the candidate, the dossier documenting the candidate’s credentials and evaluative evidence with respect to the scholarship of teaching and learning; the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments; and service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession. Candidates shall assist in supplying relevant information for their dossiers. It is ultimately the responsibility of the college chancellor to insure that each dossier follows the proper format and is accurate and complete.

Evaluation of teaching and learning effectiveness shall be based on both student ratings and peer information about the quality of the teaching. Student ratings shall be obtained using the Student Rating of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTE) in accordance with the University Administrative Guidelines for HR-23. This survey will be supplemented by other forms of student evaluation at the discretion of the faculty of the candidate’s division. The methods and procedures of peer evaluation to be used by a division, as well as the manner in which they are presented in the dossier, shall be developed by or selected by the faculty of the division. They must be approved by the Altoona College Chancellor and by the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University.

Evidence of research and creative accomplishments will be provided through information about these activities from the candidate and through external letters of assessment. For all promotion and sixth year tenure reviews for candidates holding or seeking tenure in the Altoona College, the candidate’s division head, in consultation with appropriate department and/or division heads at other Penn State locations, will submit four names of possible external reviewers to the chancellor, and the division head will ask the candidate to submit four names of possible external reviewers to the chancellor. The chancellor will review these submissions for appropriateness, select six external reviewers from them, and solicit letters from these six external reviewers. The chancellor may solicit additional reviewers at his or her discretion. Dossiers must include a minimum of four letters from individuals of a rank higher than that of the candidate and in a position to make informed judgments about the candidate’s work, especially, but not limited to, the candidate’s research and/or creative accomplishments. In addition, at the request of the candidate or the division peer review committee, the division head, in consultation with the chancellor, shall solicit written evaluations, to be placed in the dossier, of the candidate’s research and/or creative accomplishments from expert peers in the candidate’s discipline from within the University.

Along with the chancellor’s letter of request to the external evaluators, the chancellor will send to them the following materials to facilitate the evaluation: an updated curriculum vitae for the candidate and copies of all or a selection of the candidate’s publications (whether in print, accepted for publication, or submitted for publication) and/or facsimiles of all or a selection of the candidate’s creative accomplishments. External evaluators may also be asked to comment on other aspects of the candidate’s scholarship with which they may have a first-hand familiarity, for example, papers heard delivered at conferences or performances seen live. Candidates are expected to assist in the compilation and selection of these materials. But the chancellor will have the final choice as to what materials will be sent.

For all promotion and sixth year tenure reviews for candidates retaining or seeking tenure in a department and college at the University Park Campus, the dean of the candidate’s tenure college will obtain the external letters of review following that college’s procedures.

Levels of Review

I. The Division Level of Review for Faculty Holding or Seeking Tenure in the Altoona College

For faculty holding or seeking tenure in the Altoona College, the first-level review for tenure and/or promotion takes place in the candidate’s division. Each division shall develop and make available to its faculty the specific expectations and standards by which candidates will be evaluated. Each division shall have a Division Peer Review Committee to conduct promotion and tenure reviews for faculty in the division. These reviews are based on the dossiers prepared by the candidates’ division heads.

Division Peer Review Committee

Size. Each Division Peer Review Committee shall consist of three, five, or seven faculty members.

Eligibility. Division promotion and tenure peer reviews shall be conducted by faculty members in the Division whenever possible. Committee members must be tenured either in the Altoona College or in another college within Penn State. A majority of the committee must hold the rank of associate professor, professor, or equivalent rank. Only faculty with rank higher than that of the candidate may vote during promotion decisions, and a minimum of three voting members is required. At least one voting member of the committee must be from the candidate’s academic discipline. A candidate’s discipline will be determined through consultation between the candidate and the division head. If necessary, the division head may utilize senior faculty from other units within the University in order to constitute a particular candidate’s committee with appropriate disciplinary representation. No faculty member may serve on more than one level of review of any given candidate during a particular review cycle.

Selection. Each division shall conduct an election to form its committee following procedures determined by the division head in consultation with the division faculty and approved by the chancellor of the college. All tenured and tenure-eligible faculty in the division shall be eligible to vote. The term of service for elected members shall be two years and terms shall be staggered to ensure continuity of membership. The division head shall be responsible for ensuring that the election of the committee for the following academic year is completed by the end of the second week in April. The committee will select its own chair.

Evaluation of the dossier by the committee. The division head will make completed dossiers available to the committee and will call the initial meeting of the committee to review policies and procedures. The division head shall consult with the committee to ensure that all members are well informed about each candidate’s dossier and about the criteria of the division, the college, and the University; however, the division head and the committee shall render independent judgments of the candidates being reviewed. The division head shall not be present during peer review discussions or when votes are being taken. After due deliberation and a vote, the committee will submit to the division head a letter of evaluation for each candidate based on the dossier. This letter must address each criterion based on the evidence in the dossier. When the committee has not reached a unanimous opinion, a discussion of the reasons for the divergent opinions must be addressed in the letter.

Evaluation of the dossier by the division head. After receiving the letter of evaluation of the division peer review committee and placing it in the candidate’s dossier, the division head shall prepare a letter of evaluation also addressing each criterion based on the evidence in the dossier and place it in the dossier. The division head shall submit the dossier to the Chancellor of the Altoona College for review by the Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee.

II. The Altoona College Second-Level Review for Faculty Holding or Seeking Tenure in the Altoona College and First-Level (Campus) Review for Faculty Retaining or Seeking Tenure in a University Park College

The Altoona College review is the second-level review for faculty holding or seeking tenure in the Altoona College. It is the first-level (campus) review for faculty retaining or seeking tenure in a University Park college.

The purpose of a college level of review for promotion and/or tenure is to apply criteria related to the college mission and standards, and to ensure that, where appropriate, criteria are applied evenly across divisions. Thus, the college review will bring broad faculty and administrative judgment to bear and will also monitor general standards of quality and equity of academic unit policies and procedures.

Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee.

Size. The Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee shall consist of five members with at least one member from each of the Altoona College divisions.

Eligibility. Any tenured Altoona College faculty member holding the rank of Associate Professor, Associate Librarian, or higher, regardless of locus of tenure, is eligible to serve. Only those members of higher rank than the candidate may vote on recommendations concerning promotion. In cases of a candidate being considered for promotion to Professor or Librarian, a minimum of three members should be at this rank. The candidate’s division (or University Libraries, if appropriate) should be represented among these three and, if necessary, a division representative of appropriate rank may be selected from another location jointly by the division head and chancellor, and subject to approval of the provost.

Selection. Each division will provide at least two candidates for a college-wide election. The eligible faculty will vote at-large for one person from each division and one additional person from any division if necessary to form an odd-numbered committee. The candidate in each division receiving the greatest number of votes will be the division representative and, when necessary, the person receiving the most votes among the remaining candidates will be the additional member. All tenured and tenure-eligible faculty are eligible to vote. The term of committee membership will be two years. Terms shall be staggered so that half the committee is elected each year. In the first year, half of the terms will be for one year. After each term, members are eligible for re-election. In the case of a tie for a division member, the division involved will be responsible for resolving the tie. Ties for at-large members and replacements for elected members who become unable to serve will be decided by the Chancellor. The chair of the faculty senate shall be responsible for ensuring that the election of the committee is completed by the end of the second week in April. The committee will select its own chair.

Evaluation of the dossier by the Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee. The chancellor will make dossiers available to the committee and will call the initial meeting of the committee to review policies and procedures. The chancellor shall consult with the committee to ensure that all members are well informed about each candidate’s dossier and about the criteria of the candidate’s division, the Altoona College, and the University; however, the chancellor and the committee shall render independent judgments of the candidates being reviewed. The chancellor shall not be present during peer review discussions or when votes are being taken.

Criteria for Faculty Holding or Seeking Tenure in the Altoona College (Second-level review). The Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee shall perform the second-level review of candidates for tenure and/or promotion in the Altoona College by evaluating them on the basis of the evidence presented in their dossiers using the appropriate Altoona criteria and shall ensure that these criteria are applied evenly across divisions. The committee shall also monitor the quality and equity resulting from each division’s criteria and make recommendations to the chancellor regarding these criteria. The committee shall not substitute new or different criteria in evaluating a particular candidate and shall respect the recommendations of the candidate’s division review committee and division head regarding division criteria as applied to the candidate.

The chancellor and the College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee must take special care to ensure that they exercise their judgment with consideration of the criteria of the candidate’s division and the particularity of the candidate’s discipline; consequently, the chancellor shall ensure that committee members are well informed on these matters. In addition, due to the interdisciplinary nature of Altoona College, the Provost’s office has granted permission for the College Committee to request consultation with the discipline representative on the candidate’s Division Peer Review Committee.

After due deliberation and a vote, the committee shall submit to the chancellor a letter of evaluation for each candidate based on the dossier. This letter must address each criterion based on the evidence in the dossier. When the committee has not reached a unanimous opinion, a discussion of the reasons for the divergent opinions must be addressed in the letter.

Criteria for Faculty Retaining or Seeking Tenure in a University Park College (First- level review). The Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee shall perform the first-level review of candidates for tenure and/or promotion in a University Park college by evaluating them on the basis of the evidence presented in their dossiers using the appropriate Altoona criteria.

The chancellor and the College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee must exercise special care to ensure that they exercise their judgment with consideration of the criteria of the candidate’s tenure department and college. Consequently, the chancellor shall ensure that committee members are well informed on these matters.

After due deliberation and a vote, the committee shall submit to the chancellor a letter of evaluation for each candidate based on the dossier. This letter must address all three of the criteria (the scholarship of teaching and learning; the scholarship of research and creative accomplishments; and service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession), but particular emphasis should be given to the scholarship of teaching and learning and service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession. When the committee has not reached a unanimous opinion, a discussion of the reasons for the divergent opinions must be addressed in the letter.

Evaluation of the dossier by the Chancellor. After receiving letters of evaluation of the Altoona College Promotion and Tenure Peer Review Committee and placing them in the candidate’s dossier, the chancellor shall prepare a letter of evaluation also addressing each criterion as described above based on the evidence in the dossier and place it in the dossier. The chancellor shall submit the dossier to the University Promotion and Tenure Committee via the Office of Human Resources or to the dean of the college in which the candidate has his or her tenure home for distribution to the candidate’s departmental peer review committee, as appropriate.

Consultation in the Review Process. In accordance with University guidelines for HR-23, consultation must occur when a division head differs with a division peer review committee, when the college peer review committee differs with the division head, and/or when the chancellor differs with the college peer review committee.

Consultation should be initiated after the previous review has been completed and a recommendation has been made in writing. In this consultation special care must be given to ensure that the criteria of the candidate’s division and the particularities of the candidate’s discipline are fully explored.

Approved, June 10, 1997
Revised, January 21, 2003
Revised, August 9, 2004
Revised (typo), October 15, 2004
Revised (typo), November 19, 2004
Revised (dean to chancellor), October 10, 2005
Revised (dissenting to divergent opinions) November 2, 2005