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Suggestions for Review of Personnel

The following memo, written by Dean Steve Kaplan, is still used to provide guidance to personnel committees as they undertake review of Arts and Humanities faculty members.
TO:   All Departmental Personnel Committee Members
FROM:  Steven H. Kaplan, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

SUBJECT:  Promotion, Tenure, and Renewal Recommendations

DATE:  1/30/97

I would like all recommendations for Promotion, Tenure and Renewal to contain the following information:

1) A detailed narrative on teaching effectiveness, citing a broad selection of student comments and interpreting all departmental data. If possible, I would also like to see all peer reviews of teaching and an assessment of the strengths and validity of the observations offered by colleagues not on the committee. At least  two members of the committee should observe and comment on a candidate's teaching -- one on a lower division class and one on an upper division class if possible.

2) An assessment of all items of service, discussing the time commitment involved and the importance to the department, college, discipline or community.

3) A thorough evaluation of all scholarly and creative activity used as supporting evidence. If, for example, an exhibition is being cited, I would like to know how important this type of exhibition is and how difficult it is to have one's work appear in such an exhibition.

4) Written presentations at conferences or programs for exhibits or performances should be analyzed/evaluated when possible, and each conference, exhibit or performance should be evaluated in terms of the difficulty of having work accepted by a given professional organization. If possible, I would like to have each exhibition, performance, or lecture weighted within the discipline in terms of importance, preparation time involved, and achievement.

5) If you mention a publication, I expect you will have read all or at least part of it and be able to comment candidly on its significance -- including dissertations where appropriate. If you do not feel qualified to make these judgments with regards to a renewal decision, then I would like you to seek external evaluations. If this becomes necessary, I would like the committee to seek out at least one person who can provide a competent evaluation in the form of a letter of recommendation. In the case of promotion and tenure decisions, I would like to have at least two external letters of recommendation for all candidates. [Please see DOPS for alternative forms of external evaluation].

6) When applied research is being evaluated, I would like you to follow the guidelines set forth in the document on applied research submitted by Provost Gemmett to the College Senate. Applied research can be cited as evidence of service or scholarship, depending on the nature of the work.

7) The assessment of scholarship/creative activity, teaching, and service should follow the criteria in DOPS, and committees should allude to this document and to what degree its requirements have been met. Your evaluation should also take into consideration the departmental letter of expectation, the department's statement on its standards on scholarship, and the most recent personnel decisions.

8) I do not expect a candidate to necessarily be equally strong in all three areas of evaluation. If a faculty is weak in service, for example, but has just been granted a Distinguished Teaching Professorship and published a book, you need to emphasize the importance of the latter two activities to the department and the college and how they might compensate for the gaps in service.

In short, I do not simply want a list of qualifications. I expect all supporting arguments to contain a thorough evaluation. I also implore you not to avoid being critical in order to remain collegial. By pointing out a colleague's strengths and weaknesses, you are benefiting that person on a long term basis far more than if you overlook areas which need improvement. Especially in the case of all decisions up to promotion to Professor, you are not just evaluating past accomplishments but pointing out areas which will need to be addressed as a colleague's career progresses.

I know this procedure might cost you more time than has often been given to such recommendations in the past, but I feel we owe this time to one another as colleagues and professionals. Finally, I would like to remind you that breaches of confidentiality with regard to personnel issues cannot be tolerated. Any documented violations of this policy will result in a recommendation for removal from a committee. I thank you in advance for your commitment to maintaining high standards and supporting the peer review process.

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School of Arts and Humanities

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Buffalo, NY 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-6326 •  Fax: (716) 878-6914