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Promotion and Tenure Policy
The Pennsylvania State University policy governing promotion and tenure (AC23) states that promotion and tenure decisions shall be based on criteria applied in light of the mission of the academic unit and the professional responsibilities carried by the faculty member. The University criteria have purposely been made general in the expectation of further definition and elaboration by each academic unit. The purpose of this document is to delineate the expectations and standards for tenure and promotion at Altoona College. This document should be read in the context of the broader procedures and standards of the University. Knowledge concerning the expectations and standards contained in this document should be generally available, especially to newly appointed faculty members. The criteria presented in this document are widely applicable to the variety of disciplines represented by the faculty at Altoona College.
The promotion and tenure policies of Altoona College should contribute to academic excellence and should also be consistent with the College’s mission of providing a high-quality education for its students; fostering research, creative activity, and scholarship; and enhancing the intellectual, cultural, and economic lives of the community. (The Altoona College mission statement in its entirety can be found in the Strategic Planning Report.)
Altoona College provides a university degree in a small college setting, and thus combines the teaching and service standards of a small college with the research and scholarship activities of a university. An understanding of this dual role is essential to the tenure and promotion process at Altoona College. Innovative solutions to the challenges inherent in this special combination are encouraged.
Levels of Review
Each Altoona College faculty member holds an appointment in one of the academic divisions of the College, currently: Arts and Humanities; Mathematics and Natural Sciences; Business and Engineering; Education, Human Development and Social Sciences; and the Library. The initial review of a candidate for tenure and/or promotion within Altoona College takes place at the academic division level. It is at the academic division level that specific criteria are presented and evaluated. Each academic division may therefore further define the specific criteria for tenure and promotion in a manner compatible with the general standards set by the University and Altoona College. The college-level of review will bring broader faculty and administrative judgment to bear and will also monitor general standards of quality and equity of academic division policies and procedures.
Criteria for Tenure and Promotion
Faculty members of Altoona College become eligible for tenure and/or promotion when they fulfill the norms specified in The Pennsylvania State University policy (AC23). With the exception of Altoona Library faculty, the criteria for this evaluation embrace three distinct but interrelated areas: 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. Evaluation of librarians includes a fourth criterion: librarianship ability and effectiveness as detailed in Promotion and Tenure criteria for the University Libraries. The Altoona College values continuing activities in each of these areas.
A candidate for tenure and/or promotion to Associate Professor must meet the criteria described below in the areas of 1) teaching; 2) research and creative accomplishments; and 3) service. He or she is further expected to demonstrate distinctive achievement in at least one of the categories of teaching or research and creative accomplishments, or high-quality performance in both of these categories. Similarly, candidates for promotion to Associate Librarian must meet the criteria specified for 1) librarianship, 2) teaching, 3) research and creative accomplishments, and 4) service, and are further expected to demonstrate distinctive achievement in at least one of the categories of librarianship or research and creative accomplishments or high-quality performance in both of these categories. In accordance with AC23, the presumption is that a positive tenure decision for an assistant professor or librarian will be sufficient to warrant promotion to associate professor or librarian. In exceptional cases, if a committee or administrator believes strongly that an individual should be tenured but not promoted, the burden is on that committee or administrator to show why promotion is not warranted.
For promotion to Professor or Librarian, candidates must demonstrate significant accomplishments beyond those presented at the time of promotion to Associate Professor or Associate Librarian. The candidate must show continued effectiveness as a teacher and, as appropriate, librarian; ongoing service to the University, the society, and the profession; and a level of research and/or creative accomplishments sufficient to earn a national reputation for excellence.
Elaboration of the Three Basic Criteria for Tenure and Promotion
- The scholarship of teaching and learning. In accordance with our mission, Altoona College highly values the teaching and advising roles of its faculty. Faculty members must possess an ongoing commitment to teaching and in particular, must demonstrate success in communicating their specialized knowledge to students. This commitment and communication are essential to the educational process. Effectiveness in this area will be measured primarily by input from students and faculty colleagues in the form of course and advising evaluations, peer evaluations, student interviews, letters from former students, evaluation of course syllabi and other course materials, and any other means that will attest to the candidate’s teaching and advising effectiveness.
- The scholarship of research and creative accomplishments. The vitality of the faculty, both collectively and individually, depends upon ongoing research or creative accomplishments. Such accomplishments are usually demonstrated through publication, exhibition, or performance. Additional demonstrations of achievement in this area may include presentations at professional meetings, obtaining grants, participation in professional seminars and workshops, external letters of assessment from leaders of the profession who are knowledgeable in the candidate’s field, outreach activities utilizing the candidate’s expertise, and the development of new courses and academic programs.
Altoona College encourages innovative, interdisciplinary ways for faculty to realize professional growth and achievement in these areas. Any demonstration of achievement in these areas should ultimately produce or enhance recognition of a faculty member’s expertise by members of the profession outside of Penn State University. Because of the demands made by teaching responsibilities and because of campus limitations, quantitative expectations for the research and scholarly output of Altoona College faculty must be different from that of faculty at locations which emphasize the research mission. However, similar qualitative expectations should apply to all locations.
- Service and the scholarship of service to the University, society, and the profession. Altoona College views a record of service as evidence of the candidate’s commitment to furthering the missions of the College and the University. This service usually takes the form of committee work, participation in governance bodies, administrative support work, service to student groups, and professionally related service to the public. Altoona College expects that this record of service will eventually incorporate positions of leadership at various levels: academic division, college, university, and professional organizations. Elected positions of major responsibility are viewed as evidence that a candidate’s service has earned the esteem of his or her colleagues.
Approved, June 10, 1997
Revised, January 21, 2003
Updated with revised “AC” policy references, January 12, 2018