Renewal, Tenure, and Promotion for Tenure-Track Faculty

Best Practices for Renewal and Tenure Cases

The most sensitive and important tasks that departments undertake are hiring, renewals, and promotions. The policy lists basic procedures and challenges typically encountered with renewals and promotions.


Renewals are important decisions. The review is a barometer for the candidate’s progress toward tenure. Decisions to renew are made only when there is evidence of a clear path to tenure. If a department is uncertain as to whether the range of its faculty expertise suffices to judge the merits of a particular renewal case, the chairperson should work with the Dean to determine whether additional reviewers will be consulted.

Tenure Decisions:

Granting tenure to an individual is the most important decision a university makes; it is not surprising that Notre Dame sets very high standards for tenure. Excellence in all three areas of the profession is expected. It is important for chairpersons to communicate the standards clearly to the faculty and to take the lead in making sure that the appropriate standards are met.

When evaluating candidates for tenure, we should ask not only what the candidate has done to date, but also what the record of accomplishment suggests concerning the future: Has the candidate marginally met our standards? Is the candidate someone who, in five or ten years, we would expect to promote and would be eager to retain? Is the candidate likely to attract students? Is the candidate likely to be a leader in the profession? If a case is in doubt, it should not be supported.

Promotion to Full Professor:

The standard in research for promotion to professor, according to the Academic Articles, is “widespread recognition as a scholar.” In such cases, PAC is looking for evidence of quantity, quality, and continuing activity. The standard practice is that in those disciplines that expect a second book publication for promotion to professor, the book is at least in proof before the case is forwarded to external reviewers. The only exception would be for a case that is superior in every other way. In such a case, one could go forward with the book being simply accepted, but the bar would be very high for compensating factors. Routine cases, without superior achievement in teaching, leadership, and in articles, lectures, grants, and other indicators of research, should wait for publication. It is desirable, although not necessary, to include favorable reviews.

A case for promotion to full professor should also demonstrate consistent activity in terms of journal articles, lectures, reviews or external grant activity. Quality of journal placement is especially important in the social sciences, but it is also important in the humanities.

Promotion to an Endowed Chair:

Departmental CRPT documents should specify procedures for the appointment of faculty to endowed chairs, whether internal or external candidates.  Issues to consider in OPs include nomination procedures, criteria for nomination, and the process of evaluation, including designation of the body that will cast a vote. If a department has a sufficient number of endowed chairs, this body should consider the case for appointment. Otherwise, the Full Professor Committee may be the most reasonable choice.

Endowed chair packets should include at least six letters from eminent scholars who hold the rank of professor or endowed professor. For a sample letter, soliciting a letter for an endowed chair case, see the template letter (see Forms). As with other promotion reviews, the letter writers should be persons who are independent and able to evaluate the candidate’s fitness for an endowed position objectively. Again, as with other promotion cases, a full set of published book reviews of the candidate’s work should be included. For both internal and external candidates, a detailed account of the candidate’s capacities as a teacher is expected.

The case for appointment to an endowed chair should be prepared by the departmental deliberating body in such a way that the College’s endowed chair review committee, which by definition consists of persons outside the field, can fully grasp the candidate’s contributions and make an unbiased judgment.

The Academic Articles permit the possibility of bypassing departmental review of a candidate for endowed chair at the department’s request. However, it is preferable, especially in departments with multiple endowed chair holders, to have an initial review within the department.

Following the submission of a completed packet, the divisional Associate Dean convenes a College-wide committee of three endowed chairs (ideally one from each division if sufficient endowed chairs are available, and all outside of the candidate’s department) to review the case. The divisional associate dean functions as the ex-officio chair of the committee. The minutes of this meeting and a letter from the Associate Dean are given to the Dean of the College for his or her recommendation. The packet then goes to the Provost and finally to the President.