Criteria for Promotion to Tenure
November 5, 1999
This statement has been prepared in response to the June, 1999, request from the Provost of the University at Buffalo and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences that departments have on record a document that is a clear expression of the criteria for promotion to tenure in the discipline and that this document be available to all junior faculty members upon appointment. This document is meant to be advisory and to be suggestive of certain expectations. It does not have any official status in terms of procedures governing University decisions about appointments or promotion to academic ranks. This document in no way modifies or replaces the official University guidelines on criteria for promotion, which are stipulated in the University at Buffalo's Faculty/Staff Handbook. The procedure for evaluating candidates includes solicitation of letters from distinguished scholars from leading public or private research universities and letters from colleagues at the University at Buffalo.
A candidate for promotion to tenure in the Department of Psychology is evaluated in four areas: research, teaching, department and university service, and professional service. Career patterns may differ among candidates. Flexibility in the criteria and a balanced evaluation of the candidate will acknowledge these differences. The basic considerations in assessing a candidate are mastery of subject matter, commitment to high standards, a high level of performance as a researcher, effectiveness in teaching, effective participation in department, university, and professional service, and potential for continuing professional growth. Additional expectations may be outlined in the initial letter of appointment from the Chair or Dean to the candidate.
A candidate for promotion to tenure should present evidence of an active research program while at the University at Buffalo that addresses questions of significance, that is of the highest quality methodologically, that is highly regarded by peers as indicated by publication in top-ranked, peer-review journals and by letters from relevant scholars, and that has a visible impact on psychology and perhaps other disciplines. The candidate should have made credible efforts to obtain external research funding. Success in obtaining external research funding can strengthen the candidate's case for promotion to tenure. The candidate should demonstrate the potential for future growth and contribution to the discipline.
A candidate for promotion to tenure should present solid evidence of teaching effectiveness. Teaching is understood broadly to include teaching in large lecture classes, small classes, seminars, research laboratories and settings, and tutorials, in undergraduate and graduate advisement, and in thesis and dissertation committees. Promotion to tenure requires solid evidence of teaching effectiveness in at least one of these areas. Excellence in teaching is to be valued; it cannot, however, counter-balance a lack of research achievement. Similarly, excellence in research activity is to be valued and recognized but will not counter-balance failure in teaching.
A candidate for promotion to tenure may present evidence of committee and administrative service within the Department of Psychology and within the university. The candidate may present evidence of professional service such as involvement in scientific organizations, organization of conferences and symposia, and participation on editorial boards. Service to the department, to the university and its community, and to the profession of psychology is important but cannot be a substitute for growth and achievement as a researcher and a teacher.