The decision to award tenure to a probationary faculty member is an affirmative act based upon an individual’s performance, accomplishments, and potential for ongoing contribution to the University’s academic programs and teaching, research, and service/academic citizenship missions.

A. Criteria and Standards

To merit the award of tenure, a probationary faculty member must satisfy the following criteria and standards of performance.

1. A successful candidate must present convincing evidence of good instructional performance and effectiveness; each candidate’s record must be judged sufficient in quality to demonstrate continuing and substantial progress toward an outstanding level of performance.

Documentation of a candidate’s instructional performance should include at least the following:

(a) Evidence of effective performance by the candidate in the classroom and/or other instructional settings and evidence of the degree of the candidate’s commitment to instructional excellence, including judgments by members of the departmental tenure committee and the departmental chairperson.

(b) Student opinions regarding the candidate’s instructional performance, together with their opinions concerning the quality of the course.

(c) Any available evidence that the candidate has made contributions (beyond those included in responsible service/academic citizenship) to improving the quality of the instructional programs in the academic area. Such contributions may include improving the presentation of course materials, developing effective instructional aids, developing new courses or programs, strengthening the content of existing courses, preparing useful and current course syllabi, participating effectively in the supervision of research efforts of graduate students, assisting in student recruitment and career placement, performing meritoriously in adult and professional continuing education programs, providing distinguished curricular or instructional leadership, and obtaining or participating effectively in grants and contracts that enhance the University’s instructional efforts.

2. A successful candidate must present a strong, continuing record of productive research, publication, creative activity, and scholarly achievement appropriate to the discipline and field of specialization; this record must be sufficient in both quantity and quality to demonstrate substantial progress toward an outstanding level of performance.

Although many ways exist for a candidate to establish a strong, continuing record of productive research, publication, creative activity, and scholarly achievement, each successful candidate is expected to have published a number of substantial articles in recognized refereed journals in the discipline (or the equivalent in the case of candidates whose disciplines are in the creative, visual, or performing arts). In evaluating the totality of a candidate’s record, consideration is given to all appropriate types of original scholarship, creative effort, and professional activity relevant to the candidate’s discipline. The weight placed on each scholarly and professional activity necessarily varies according to the contribution it makes to the discipline and to the professional stature of the candidate. The following are examples of the types of scholarly and professional contributions that are considered:

  • Articles published in refereed journals in the candidate’s discipline;
  • Books and book-length research monographs;
  • Invited or juried or reviewed exhibitions, presentations, or performances;
  • Chapters in books and edited collections of readings;
  • Research reports submitted in connection with research grants or contracts;
  • Participation in research contract or grant activities;
  • Papers published in the proceedings of meetings of professional associations;
  • Articles in non-refereed periodicals;
  • Papers presented at professional meetings;
  • Appointment as a referee, as a member of an editorial board, or as an editor of a scholarly academic or professional journal;
  • Any other types of scholarly publications and creative efforts that contribute to the candidate’s fields of specialization; and
  • Important professional activities that contribute materially to the individual’s professional stature and to the University’s mission.

In appraising the quantity and quality of a candidate’s scholarly and creative contributions to the discipline, emphasis is placed upon: 1) whether the amount of productive research, publication, and creative activity the candidate presents is commensurate with what should be expected of someone applying for tenure; 2) evidence as to the substantive and consistent nature of the candidate’s scholarly or creative efforts; 3) the quality of the refereed journals in which manuscripts have been published (or the quality of invited or juried or reviewed exhibitions, presentations, or performances); 4) the caliber of the publications in which the candidate’s works (other than refereed journal articles) have appeared; 5) any evidence of the impact that the candidate’s works have had on the discipline and of the extent to which the candidate’s publications have been recognized or cited by others; 6) the emerging professional stature of the candidate; 7) the quality of any invitations to consult or lecture; and 8) the quality of any participation by the candidate in research contract or grant activities.

3. Each successful candidate must show evidence of a continuing record of responsible service/academic citizenship appropriate to the candidate’s area, as defined at the departmental and divisional levels. These activities include, but are not limited to, work on departmental, college, and university committees and projects; mentoring students and advising student groups; providing service and education to external groups in a variety of forms; engaging in partnerships with target groups on enterprises aimed at problem-solving; working to advance the profession by serving on editorial boards; serving in leadership roles at the state, national, regional, and/or international levels; providing expert testimony on matters of professional expertise; serving as invited or elected members of boards, panels, and commissions; community engagement; clinical service and training; and enhancing the visibility and mission of the University by work outside the classroom.

The absence of a continuing record of service/academic citizenship on the candidate’s part detracts from what otherwise may be a strong set of qualifications for tenure. Similarly, a pattern of continual lack of collegiality will be a factor in tenure decisions.

4. Each successful candidate must have made substantial progress toward achieving a professional status that will enhance the stature of the University’s faculty and must be judged to have the potential to make a continuing contribution to the University’s mission in teaching, research, and service/academic citizenship.

When a tenure-track candidate in their mandatory tenure review year applies for tenure and for promotion from assistant to associate professor in the same review cycle, the Provost will issue one consistent outcome – to grant tenure and promotion or to deny both.

B. Duration of Probationary Status

The appointment letter for a probationary faculty member should specify the last academic year during which a tenure decision can be made (the mandatory tenure decision time). This mandatory tenure decision time is the academic year preceding the last full academic year of the probationary period. The probationary period for a faculty member whose appointment begins during an academic year normally will be considered to have begun at the start of the academic year, while faculty members whose appointments begin between May 15 and August 16 will not start their probationary period until August 16. Exceptions to this rule must be approved by the Provost and must be described in the appointment letter.

The probationary period includes all full-time service at a faculty rank after earning an appropriate terminal degree and may include full-time service prior to receiving a terminal degree. However, time spent in appointments prior to beginning a probationary appointment at the University may be excluded. The decision as to whether to count time spent in prior appointments or service prior to receiving an appropriate terminal degree will result from negotiations between the individual and the dean, with concurrence by the Provost, and will be reflected in the mandatory tenure decision time specified in the appointment letter conferring probationary faculty status. Factors to be considered in the decision concerning credit for prior appointments include the extent to which the appointment permitted normal professional progress and the possibility that moving to the University can be expected initially to cause some delay in normal professional progress. If a person holding a probationary faculty appointment at the University participates in a faculty exchange, takes leave for no more than six months, or takes leave for scholarly purposes, the time spent on exchange or leave will count as part of that person’s probationary period unless the individual and the Provost agree in writing to an exception to this provision at the time the exchange or leave is approved.

The total period of full-time service in a probationary status normally will not exceed seven years at the University, with a final tenure decision made during the sixth year. The probationary period will normally not be less than four years at the University, with a final tenure decision made during the third year. Faculty members appointed at advanced ranks may have shorter probationary periods, as specified in their original appointment letters.

Normally, candidates do not apply for tenure until the year before their probationary period ends. Faculty members whose academic credentials and performance are outstanding may be considered for tenure sooner. Candidates must satisfy all criteria for tenure regardless of the timeframe.

At any time preceding August 16 of the mandatory year for tenure decision, a probationary faculty member may request an extension of the probationary period. An extension, if granted, normally will not be for more than one year. Application for extension must be made by the probationary faculty member through the department chair to the dean of the college. A positive response to the application must be approved by the Provost.

Upon the birth or adoption of a child, a faculty member holding a tenure-track appointment will, upon written notice, be granted a one-year extension of the date on which the probationary period would end. Only one such extension is allowed per faculty member. A written notice to exercise this option must be provided to the department chair, the dean, and the Provost, preferably within six months but no later than 12 months of birth or adoption. Further, regardless of the date of birth or adoption, this notice must be given no later than the December 15 prior to the October 1 on which the original mandatory tenure application was to be made. During this extension, the retention process continues, with the probationary candidate receiving normal feedback from the department about job performance. A candidate who chooses to return to the original probationary period is not considered to be applying for early tenure.

C. Initial Appointment with Tenure

It is the policy of The University of Alabama not to award tenure at the time of initial appointment to faculty rank. Exceptions may be made at the ranks of associate professor and professor, provided candidates have a record of substantial experience and accomplishments and provided they possess the professional stature and abilities to merit the award of tenure without a probationary period for evaluation. In making a decision to award tenure at the time of initial appointment, the candidate’s record and credentials are examined from the standpoint of: 1) teaching experience and evidence of instructional effectiveness; 2) quantity and quality of research, publication, creative activity, and scholarly achievements; 3) professional stature in the discipline; and 4) potential for making an ongoing contribution to the University’s mission in teaching, research, and service/academic citizenship.