Changes to Evaluation Processes for Faculty, Librarians, and Law Clinic Faculty

Dear Colleagues:

We deeply appreciate your continued investment in the well-being of students, the University, and our broader community during this unprecedented time. Faculty, instructors and librarians are working creatively to advance our research and teaching mission, but it is unreasonable to expect that we will function as we do in normal times. Conferences and research-related travel have been cancelled, labs and databases have reduced access, research involving human subjects is limited, and instructors have transformed their classes to meet students’ needs. We know that people are experiencing stress as they balance professional and personal demands during this period of uncertainty.

This memo provides information about changes to our policies related to promotion and tenure and course evaluation. These changes were developed after consultation with faculty governance and many others, and are meant to recognize the unique challenges we are currently experiencing.

Extension of the Probationary Period for Tenure System Faculty, Continuous-Track Librarians, and Law Clinic Faculty
The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will provide an automatic one-year extension of the probationary period (2020-2021 continuation year). This automatic extension will include faculty who are currently in their probationary periods and continuous-track librarians and law clinic faculty. It does not include those who are currently under review and who will be presented to the Board of Regents in May. Faculty whose decision year is 2020-2021 may elect to be considered for tenure/promotion as scheduled.

  • Departments must allow faculty or continuous-track librarians and law clinic faculty whose probationary period was extended for this reason to go up during their regular decision year if they choose to do so. Our system is built on the principle that promotion and tenure and continuous appointment are granted based on achievement rather than time in rank. As such, evaluation should be based on the criteria in a unit’s promotional statement (7.12 statement) and candidates should not be considered to be “early” if they retain their regular review schedule.
  • Given the uncertainty associated with this pandemic, future requests beyond the automatic extension may be considered.

Evaluation of Teaching
The sudden need for instructors to switch to remote teaching is affecting students’ experiences. As such, we will use a modified survey to collect data on students’ experiences during Spring 2020. The emphasis of this survey will be on understanding students’ experience during the semester and collecting information to help instructors identify effective educational strategies.

  • Results from the Spring 2020 survey are intended to provide feedback to instructors and departments and may not be used for purposes of summative personnel reviews, including merit pay, promotion and tenure, and reappointment. Instructors who wish to include Spring 2020 survey results in P&T dossiers or for other purposes may opt to do so if they wish.
  • Results from the Spring 2020 survey will be annotated to indicate that student feedback was collected using a revised survey during unusual circumstances.

Thank you for your ongoing contributions to the University. If you have questions or need further information, please be in touch with your chair/head or contact us at [email protected].


Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

Rebecca Ropers
Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs

email sent to select groups of faculty and academic leaders on the Twin Cities, Morris, and Rochester campuses on April 1, 2020