Academic Tenure

I. Introduction

The quality of the faculty of any university is maintained primarily through support of a wide variety of professional development. It is monitored through the appraisal, by competent faculty and administrative officers, of each candidate for tenure. Tenure at Tennessee Technological University provides certain full-time faculty with the assurance of continued employment during the academic year until retirement or dismissal for adequate cause, financial exigency, or curricular reasons, as further discussed herein.

II. Definitions

The following are general definitions of words and terms used in this policy that are not hereinafter specifically defined; however, the words and terms are subject to further qualification and definition in subsequent sections of this policy.

A. Academic Appointment -- a personnel status (as distinct from an assignment of responsibilities) in an academic department/unit pursuant to which professional services in the areas of teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service/outreach are retained by the University from a faculty member. Academic appointments shall be made with academic rank, and may be temporary, tenure-track, or with tenure (see Faculty Appointments at Tennessee Technological University).

B. Academic Department/Unit -- an academic organizational unit (e.g., a department or division) or program, including the Library, within the University, generally devoted to the pursuit of a specific discipline, in which a faculty member holds academic rank.

C. Academic Rank -- an element of faculty status limited to individuals who meet the minimum criteria that distinguish between academic ranks as established in the policy on Faculty Promotion (see Faculty Promotion, Section IV. A., B., C. and D.).

D. Academic Tenure -- a personnel status in an academic department/unit pursuant to which the academic or fiscal year appointments of full-time faculty who have been awarded tenure are continued at the University until the expiration or relinquishment of that status, subject to dismissal for adequate cause, financial exigency, or curricular reasons.

E. Adequate Cause -- a basis upon which a faculty member, either with academic tenure or a tenure-track or temporary appointment, prior to the end of the specified term of the appointment, may be dismissed or terminated. The specific grounds which constitute Adequate Cause are set forth in Section V. herein.

F. Financial Exigency -- the formal declaration by the Tennessee Board of Regents that Tennessee Tech faces an imminent financial crisis, that there is a current or projected absence of sufficient funds (appropriated or non-appropriated) for the University as a whole to maintain current programs and activities at a level sufficient to fulfill its educational goals and priorities, and that the budget can only be balanced by extraordinary means which include the termination of existing and continuing academic and non-academic appointments (see TTU Faculty Handbook, Financial Exigency Procedures).

G. Faculty Member -- a member of the academic profession (including professional librarians) who holds academic rank as instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, or professor, and whose responsibilities primarily include teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service/outreach.

H. Peers/Departmental/Unit Peers -- in the context of this policy, the terms "peers" and "departmental/unit peers" refer to those regular, full-time tenured members of the departmental/unit faculty whose professional responsibilities to the University lie in the areas of teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service/outreach. The terms do not refer to those whose primary responsibilities are administrative, such as departmental/unit chairpersons, directors of Centers of Excellence, assistant and associate deans, deans, assistant and associate vice presidents, vice presidents, the President, and any others in similar situations. No evaluation and/or recommendation shall be submitted by peers (either within or without the department/unit) who are members of a faculty member's immediate family. Immediate family members will not be included in the plenum of peers when a tenure or promotion vote is taken. (For more information see 3. i. of Tenure Procedures.)

I. President -- the President of Tennessee Technological University.

J. Probationary Employment -- a period of full-time professional employment by a faculty member for whom an appointment letter denotes a tenure-track appointment in which he/she does not have tenure and in which he/she is evaluated by the University for the purpose of determining his/her satisfaction of the criteria for a recommendation for tenure. Probationary employment provides an opportunity for the individual to assess his/her commitment to the University and for the University to determine whether the individual meets it perception of quality and projected need.

K. TBR/Board of Regents/Board -- the Board of Regents of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee.

L. University/this institution/ TTU/Tennessee Tech -- Tennessee Technological University

III. Consideration for Tenure

A. Tenure Appointments

The awarding of tenure is recognition of the merit of a faculty member and of the assumption that he/she meets the long-term staffing needs of the academic department/unit and the University. Tenure is awarded only to those members of the faculty who have exhibited professional excellence and outstanding abilities sufficient to demonstrate that their future services and performances justify the degree of permanence afforded by academic tenure. The Board of Regents does not award tenure in non-faculty positions. Tenure appointments reside in the academic departments/units or programs, and are assurances of continued employment during the academic year subject to expiration, relinquishment, or termination of tenure as set forth in Section V. herein. Recommendations for or against tenure should originate from the academic department/unit in which the faculty member is assigned and should include appropriate participation in the recommendation by tenured faculty in the academic department/unit as specified in this policy.

Tenure is awarded only by positive action of the Board, pursuant to the requirements and procedures of this policy. No faculty member shall acquire or be entitled to any interest in a tenure appointment at Tennessee Tech without a recommendation for tenure by his/her peers and by the President and an affirmative award of tenure by the Board of Regents. No other person shall have any authority to make any representation concerning tenure to any faculty member. Failure to give timely notice of non-renewal of a contract shall not result in the acquisition of a tenure appointment, but shall result in the right of the faculty member to another year of service at the University, provided no tenure appeals remain outstanding due to lack of cooperation and/or appropriate action on the part of the candidate in completing the appeal process.

B. Tenure Process

University procedures shall ensure that peer committees have qualified privilege of academic confidentiality against disclosure of individual tenure votes unless there is evidence that casts doubt upon the integrity of the peer committee. This policy shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Tennessee Public Records Act, as recorded in T.C.A. Sections 10-7-101 et seq. The President must make the recommendation for tenure to the Chancellor and the Chancellor to the Board. In the event that the Board awards tenure, the President shall furnish to the faculty member written confirmation of the award.

Annual evaluations conducted by the candidate's academic department/unit chair or program head are an important aspect of the criteria for tenure at this University. Types of evidence relevant to evaluating effectiveness and contributions in teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service/outreach are identified in subsections IV. A. 1., 2. and 3. herein.

The Tenure Procedures and Forms List, Tennessee Technological University, covers the process required by Section III. B. 2. of Board Policy 5:02:03:60. http://www.tbr.state.tn.us/policies/default.aspx?id=1484

Proposed changes in the process for student evaluation of teaching will be submitted to the TTU Student Government Association (SGA) for consideration and reaction. The SGA will review the uses of student evaluation of instruction on a regular basis and will bring its questions, concerns, and suggestions to the Academic Council.

C. Minimum Eligibility Requirements for Consideration for Academic Tenure

Academic tenure may be awarded only to full-time faculty members who: (a) hold academic rank as instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, or professor and meet the minimum criteria for that rank as specified in TBR Policy 5:02:02:20, Section IV (http://www.tbr.state.tn.us/policies/default.aspx?id=1474); (b) have been employed pursuant to tenure-track appointments and have completed a probationary period of service, and/or as agreed upon in writing and signed by the appropriate academic officer; and (c) have been determined by the University to meet the criteria for recommendation for tenure and have been so recommended pursuant to this policy.

  1. Faculty members whose appointment is supported in whole or in part by funds available to the University on a short-term basis, such as grants, contracts, or foundation sponsored projects, shall not be eligible for tenure unless continuing support for such members can be clearly identified in the regular budget of the University upon the recommendation of tenure to the Board.
  2. No faculty member shall be eligible for tenure unless the employee's contract specifies his/her tenure-track status; provided that where a faculty member with tenure is appointed to an administrative position, he/she will retain tenure in a former faculty position only; and provided further that a faculty member otherwise eligible for tenure who also holds a non-faculty position may be awarded tenure in the faculty position only, subject to the requirements of this policy.

Tennessee Technological University may establish additional reasonable requirements for the eligibility of faculty for consideration for tenure. These should include, but are not limited to, the completion of the doctorate or other specified terminal degree in the faculty member's discipline, a minimum rank of instructor or assistant professor, and prescribed achievements in teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service/outreach. The Board of Regents, using national standards, will determine what constitutes the terminal degree for each discipline (see TTU Faculty Promotion Policy, Section VI.). The University may request exemptions to this standard based upon the institution's mission, or based upon an extraordinary candidate. In the latter instance, the exception shall be requested when the faculty member is employed and/or when the length of the probationary period is determined.

D. Probationary Employment

Faculty may be employed on annual tenure-track appointments for a period that may not exceed six years. The faculty member may apply for tenure at the beginning of the sixth year after completing a probationary period of not less than five years. (See III. E. and F. for exceptions.) A faculty member may apply for tenure only once.

E. A faculty member may receive a reduction of the probationary period in the following instances:

  1. Reduction of the minimum probationary period may be made for a faculty member who shows exceptional accomplishment during the probationary period. Such requests for probationary period reductions are made upon recommendation of the departmental/unit peers to the department/unit chair, thence to the dean, the provost, and the President and with the approval of the Chancellor. The application for tenure does not occur until after the Chancellor's approval. A faculty member may apply for tenure only once. If the ultimate result of the tenure application is negative, there is no second chance.
  2. Prior service credit may be applied toward the completion of the tenure probationary period, upon recommendation of the departmental/unit peers to the department/unit chair, thence to the dean, the provost, and the President of the University, thereby resulting in a reduction of the tenure probationary period. Credit toward tenure for prior service must be agreed upon at the time of employment and must be included in the appointment letter. Faculty members who have received prior service credit may not subsequently request that the credit not be applied to their probationary period. For example, if a faculty member receives two years of prior service credit, he/she must apply for tenure at the beginning of the fourth year. A faculty member may apply for tenure only once. If the ultimate result of the tenure application is negative, there will be no second chance.

F. Calculating the Probationary Period

  1. Credit for Prior Service
    The probationary period may include credit for prior service when agreed to by the departmental/unit peers, the chair, the dean, the provost, and the President and subject to the maximum permissible credit for prior service as noted below:
    a. Credit toward completion of the probationary period may, upon the recommendation of the peers to the chair and thence to the dean, the provost, and the President of the University, be given for a maximum of three years of previous full-time service at other colleges, universities, or institutes, provided that the prior service is relevant to TTU's own needs and criteria. Any credit for prior service that is recognized and agreed to must be confirmed in writing in the letter of appointment. Years of credit for prior service will be accepted in lieu of the final, not the initial, year(s) of the probationary period (e.g., one year of credit for prior service will be accepted in lieu of the fifth year of the probationary period, etc.). See the Tenure-Track Years document for important dates to be observed during the tenure-track years.
    b. Credit toward completion of the probationary period may, upon the recommendation of the peers to the chair and thence to the dean, the provost, and the President of the University, be given for a maximum of three years of previous full-time service in a temporary faculty appointment at the same institution (see Types of Appointments) or in an earlier tenure-track appointment at the same institution that has been followed by a break in service. Any credit for prior service in a temporary full-time faculty appointment at the same institution or in an earlier tenure-track appointment at the same institution that has been followed by a break in service must be recognized and confirmed in writing in the appointment letter to a tenure-track position.
    Only full-time continuous service at a university will be included in determining completion of the probationary period, except where a break in service was pursuant to an approved leave of absence.
  2. Approved Leave of Absence
    A period of approved leave of absence shall be excluded from the requisite period for completion of the probationary period unless the President of the University specified in writing before the leave of absence that it shall be included in the probationary period. Leaves of absence may not be granted retroactively. A faculty member may apply for a maximum of two extensions in one-year increments so long as the total probationary period does not exceed six years. Requests for a second extension follow the same procedure and are subject to the same considerations as the original extension.
  3. Stopping the Tenure Clock
    A faculty member in a tenure-track appointment may request to "stop the tenure clock" during his/her probationary period when circumstances exist that interrupt the faculty member's normal progress toward building a case for tenure. Discretion for stopping the tenure clock rests on the University and requires supervisory approval. In such cases, the faculty member may request to "stop the tenure clock" for one year if he/she demonstrates circumstances reasonably warrant such interruption. Reasons for approving a request to "stop the tenure clock" will typically be related to a personal or family situation requiring attention and commitment that consumes the time and energy normally addressed to faculty duties and professional development. Examples may include, but are not limited to, childbirth or adoption, care of dependents, medical conditions or obligations, physical disasters or disruptions, or similar circumstances that require a fundamental alteration of one's professional life. The intent of this policy is to serve the best interests of Tennessee Tech while providing neither preference to nor adverse effect on a faculty member's process of developing a case for tenure. Once approved, the "stop the tenure clock" year is not counted in the probationary period accrual.
  4. Procedure
    A faculty member seeking a leave of absence and/or a stoppage of the tenure clock must submit his/her request, in writing and addressing the considerations described above, to the department/unit chair for consideration and recommendation. The chair's recommendation is forwarded to the dean of the faculty member's college for consideration and recommendation; thence to the provost for consideration and recommendation; and finally, to the President for approval or denial. Within one month of receiving the request, the President will notify the faculty member, in writing, of the decision to approve or deny such exceptions. Requests for modification of the probationary period that are based on a faculty member's health or care for an immediate family member should also be submitted to the University's legal counsel or the TBR's Office of the General Counsel for review.
  5. Administrative Appointments Before Tenure
    A faculty member that is appointed to an administrative position prior to a tenure award remains eligible for tenure under two considerations: (1) the faculty member must qualify for tenure under academic department/unit, college, and University guidelines; and (2) the faculty member must maintain a significant involvement in academic pursuits including teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and service/outreach. The time (or prorated portion of time) spent in the administrative position may be credited toward completion of the probationary period.
  6. Departmental Transfer Before Tenure
    Where a faculty member is serving a probationary period in an academic department/unit and is subsequently transferred to another academic department/unit, the faculty member may elect, with the approval of the President, to begin a new probationary period on the date that the transfer occurs. If he/she does not so elect and confirm, in writing, to the President, time spent in the first appointment shall count toward establishing the minimum and maximum probationary period (see F.1. above).

IV. Criteria To Be Considered In Tenure Recommendations

A. Overview

The relative importance of the criteria for the recommendation for tenure depends upon the nature, mission, and goals of the University and of the academic department/unit in which a faculty member holds academic rank. The recommendation for tenure, subject to the requirements of this policy, shall devolve from the professional judgment of tenured peers in the academic department/unit in which the faculty member holds academic rank; the tenured peers representing that segment of the wider community of scholars best qualified to evaluate the faculty member in the performance of his/her professional services. Recommendation for tenure for librarians shall be based upon the performance of professional library responsibilities. The faculty member is expected to maintain minimum professional levels of performance with the weightings agreed upon in the word Agreement on Responsibilities. Greater specificity is provided in the Tenure Procedures and Forms List 2005, Tennessee Technological University, which constitutes the process section of this policy. At this point, it is sufficient to state emphatically (1) that the faculty member is assumed to have been trained professionally in an academic discipline, (2) that the faculty member is aware of the standards of excellence in his/her discipline, (3) that the faculty member's principal responsibility is to practice that discipline in pursuit of excellence to the limits of individual capacity and institutional duties, and (4) that the faculty member's success will be determined by the professional judgment of his/her tenured peers. This determination shall, consistent with this policy, establish the basis for the faculty member's recommendation for tenure.

Criteria for tenure relate to the University's three traditional and often inter-related missions: teaching, research/scholarship/creative activities, and service/outreach.

  1. Teaching
    Effective teaching is an essential qualification for tenure, and tenure should not be granted in the absence of clear evidence of a candidate’s teaching ability and potential for continued development. Excellence in teaching is a strong recommendation for both tenure and promotion though it cannot be considered in isolation from research/scholarship/creative activities and service/outreach. Although it is difficult to establish evidence of teaching excellence, each academic department/unit must develop a procedure to ensure that information relative to a candidate’s teaching is available at the time he/she is considered for tenure.

    The teaching dossier should include, but is not limited to, evidence of teaching excellence as follows: ability to organize and present subject matter in a logical and meaningful way; ability to motivate and stimulate creativity, intellectual curiosity, and interest in writing and inquiry in undergraduates and/or graduate students; and evidence of peer evaluation. Documentation of teaching should routinely include: statement of teaching philosophy; course materials; student evaluations for every course evaluated during the probationary period; and evidence of supervision of student projects and other forms of student mentorship. A candidate for tenure may choose to include other types of evidence that support his/her application for tenure such as additional student input; student products; teaching recognition; teaching scholarship; peer input; evidence of professional development in teaching; evidence of disciplinary or interdisciplinary program or curricular development; alumni surveys and student exit interviews; and other evidence of excellence in teaching or mentoring, or both.
  2. Research/Scholarship/Creative Activities
    A candidate for tenure must present evidence of his/her research/scholarship/ creative activities when he/she applies for tenure. Such evidence should cite books, journal articles, monographs, creative activities, performances or exhibitions that have undergone appropriate peer review. Research publications in refereed journals or media of similar quality are reliable indicators of research/scholarship ability. Written reviews and evaluations by qualified peers, either in person or aided by other forms of reports, or both, are appropriate for performances, compositions and other artistic creations. Books published by reputable firms and articles in refereed journals, reviewed by recognized scholars, are more significant than those not subjected to such rigorous examination. It should be emphasized that quality is more important than quantity.

    The tenure dossier must include evidence of peer review of the candidate's record of research/scholarship by qualified peers. The research/scholarship of teaching is a valid measure of research capability. It goes beyond doing a good job in the classroom. Faculty should organize, record and document their efforts so colleagues may share their contributions to the art of teaching. Appropriate textbooks or educational articles in one’s discipline and innovative contributions to teaching, if published or presented in a peer-reviewed forum, constitute scholarship of teaching.
  3. Service/Outreach
    Service/outreach encompasses a faculty member's activities in one of three areas: outreach or public service, University service, and professional service.
    a. The outreach or public service function is the University’s outreach to the community and society, with major emphasis on the application of knowledge for the solution of societal problems. Outreach primarily involves sharing professional expertise and should directly support the goals and mission of the University. A vital component of the University’s mission, public service must be performed at the same high levels of quality that characterize the teaching and research/scholarship/creative activities missions.
    b. University service refers to work other than teaching and research/scholarship/ creative activities done at the department/unit, college, or University level. A certain amount of such service is expected of every faculty member. University service includes, but is not limited to, serving on departmental/unit, college and University committees. Some faculty members may accept more extensive citizenship functions, such as a leadership role in the Faculty Senate, membership on a specially appointed task force, service as advisor to a University-wide student organization, and membership on a University search committee.
    c. Professional service refers to the work done for organizations related to one’s discipline or to the teaching profession generally. Service to the profession includes association leadership, journal editorships, article and grant proposal review, guest lecturing on other campuses, and other appropriate activities. While it is difficult to define the exact nature of significant professional service, more is required than organizational membership and attendance. Examples of significant service would be that done by an officer of a professional organization or a member of the editorial staff of a journal.

V. Changes In Tenure/Tenure-Track Status

A. Assessment of Satisfactory Progress Toward Tenure

As part of the annual evaluation of faculty on tenure-track appointments, the departmental chairperson, in consultation with the tenured members of the departmental faculty, shall assess whether or not the faculty member is making satisfactory progress toward achieving tenure. Deadlines for this assessment vary according to the faculty member's years of service on tenure-track appointment and appear on the Tenure-Track Years chart in the TTU Faculty Handbook.

To complete this assessment, the departmental chairperson shall notify each tenure-track faculty member of the deadline to compile and submit a dossier of information similar to that required by Form T3, Tenure Procedures and Forms List, or pdf_icon_smForm T3-05 , Tenure Procedures and Forms List 2005. No letters of recommendation shall be included in the dossier. Once submitted, the dossier is available to departmental peers for review. By the identified Deadline for Tenure-Track Review, the departmental chairperson shall call a meeting of the departmental peers to discuss the tenure-track faculty member's qualifications. During this meeting, each peer will complete pdf_icon_smForm T15-05 , thereby conveying to the departmental chairperson her/his assessment of the faculty member's progress toward tenure. The chairperson of the department shall provide written communication of the results of his assessment to the faculty member. In the event the faculty member's performance is such as to justify non-renewal during the probationary period, the decision not to renew the appointment shall be made by the departmental chairperson in consultation with the tenured departmental peers and with the approval of the appropriate administrative officers.

B. Non-Renewal of Probationary Tenure-Track

  1. When tenure-track appointments of faculty are not to be renewed for further service, the faculty member shall receive notice of his/her non-retention for the ensuing academic year as follows:
    a. No later than March 1 of the first academic year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if the appointment terminates during an academic year, at least three months in advance of its termination;
    b. No later than December 15 of the second year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if the appointment terminates during an academic year, at least six months in advance of its termination;
    c. No later than the close of the academic year preceding the third or subsequent year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if the appointment terminates during an academic year, at least twelve months in advance of its termination

    The above stated dates are the latest dates of notice of non-renewal of faculty on tenure-track appointments. Notice of non-renewal shall be effective upon personal delivery of the notice to the faculty member, or upon the date the notice is mailed, by registered letter, to the faculty member at his/her current home address of record at the University.

    Applicable dates for notice of non-renewal are based upon actual years of service at Tennessee Tech and are in no way affected by any credit for prior service. When a faculty member on a tenure-track appointment completes his/her probationary period, the President will recommend the faculty member for tenure or will notify the faculty member of non-renewal of the appointment during the spring term following application for such status. Notice of non-renewal should be given no later than the final day of the academic year. The faculty member’s right in an instance where timely notice is not given is described in Section III. A. herein. When a tenure-track faculty member’s probationary period has ended and the faculty member has not been awarded tenure, the faculty member may remain at the University one more academic year, but on a temporary appointment, not a tenure-track appointment.
  2. Faculty members on tenure-track appointments shall not be terminated during the term of the annual appointment as stated in the employment contract except for reasons which would constitute adequate cause for the termination of tenured faculty.
  3. The non-renewal or non-appointment of any faculty member on a tenure-track appointment does not necessarily carry an implication that his/her work or conduct has been unsatisfactory.
  4. A tenure-track faculty member who is dissatisfied with the reasons given for the non-renewal of his/her appointment may appeal that decision through the Faculty Affairs Committee and/or the TTU Grievance and Complaint Policy or through a committee specifically empowered by the President to hear such appeals.
  5. Unless there is a violation of state or federal law under the limitations described in the TBR Policy on Appeals (http://www.tbr.state.tn.us/policies/default.aspx?id=4834), decisions that are not subject to appeal to the Chancellor include (a) non-renewal of a tenure-track appointment during the first five years of the probationary period and (b) denial of tenure accompanied by notice of termination in the sixth year of the probationary period.

C. Transfer of Tenure

Tenured faculty may have their academic appointments transferred within the institution to accommodate the changing needs of the University. Before implementing any such transfer, the tenured faculty member and the academic department/unit in which his/her new academic appointment is to be located shall be consulted and informed of the reasons for the proposed transfer. The peers in the receiving academic department/unit shall vote to advise the President of the acceptability of the tenured faculty member under consideration for transfer. When a tenured faculty member is transferred to another academic department/unit other than that with which he/she was originally associated, the transfer will be made with tenure. In no instance may the faculty member be compelled to relinquish tenure as a condition for effecting the transfer.

Tenure-track faculty on probationary appointments may have their academic appointments transferred within the institution to accommodate the changing needs of the University. Before implementing any such transfer, the tenure-track faculty member and the academic department/unit in which his/her new academic appointment is to be located shall be consulted and informed of the reasons for the proposed transfer. The tenure-track faculty member may request that a new probationary period begin at the time of the transfer. The tenured faculty members in the receiving academic department/unit shall vote to advise the President of the acceptability of the tenure-track faculty member being considered for transfer and whether to credit the tenure-track faculty member with the years of prior service completed in the previous academic department/unit.

For the transfer of either a tenured or a tenured-track faculty member from one academic department/unit to another, both the faculty member and the receiving academic department/unit shall be consulted concerning the transfer and, in the case of a tenure-track faculty member, concerning the probationary period required in the receiving academic department/unit. In either type of transfer, no tenure committee shall be formed and no dossier compiled. However, in the case of a tenure-track faculty member, the information compiled in the faculty member’s former academic department/unit, including tenure-track reviews, shall be transferred to the receiving academic department/unit.

In cases involving transfers resulting from reorganizations of entire programs, academic departments/units, colleges or schools, the President shall carry out procedures similar to those described in Section V. G. Termination of Tenure for Curricular Reasons. In such terminations resulting from reorganization, the same principles apply as stated above, namely, all tenured faculty retain their tenured status, and both the faculty members and the receiving academic departments/units shall be consulted concerning the transfer.

D. Expiration of Tenure

Tenure status shall expire upon retirement of the faculty member. Tenure shall also expire upon the event of permanent physical or mental inability of a faculty member, as established by an appropriate medical authority, to continue to perform his/her assigned duties.

E. Relinquishment of Tenure

A faculty member shall relinquish or waive his/her right to tenure upon resignation from the University or upon failure to report for service at the designated date of the beginning of any academic term, which shall be deemed to be a resignation unless, in the opinion of the President, the faculty member has shown good cause for his/her failure to report. Where a tenured faculty member is transferred or reclassified to another academic department/unit by the University, the transfer or reassignment shall be with tenure. Tenure is not relinquished during approved leaves of absence or administrative assignments at this University.

F. Termination of Tenure for Reasons of Financial Exigency

A tenured faculty member may be terminated as a result of financial exigency at this University subject to Board declaration that such financial conditions exist. All personnel decisions that result from a declaration of financial exigency at this University will comply with the Board Policy on Financial Exigency (http://www.tbr.state.tn.us/policies/default.aspx?id=1492) and the Financial Exigency procedures of Tennessee Technological University.

G. Termination of Tenure for Curricular Reasons

The appointment of a tenured faculty member may be terminated (1) because an academic program is deleted from the curriculum or (2) because of substantial and continued reduction of student enrollment in a field. Each of these reasons for termination of tenure for curricular reasons must denote shifts in staffing needs that warrant greater reductions than those which are accommodated by transferring appointments from one academic department/unit to another to handle changing enrollment patterns.

Before declaring that curricular reasons exist that warrant the termination of appointments of tenured faculty, determining where such terminations might be required, or initiating the procedures described below, the President shall ensure meaningful participation by the Faculty Senate in making these decisions and shall inform that body of all considerations that warrant the termination of tenured appointments for curricular reasons. The President shall work with the Faculty Senate in identifying specific curricular reasons, considering alternatives to termination, evaluating the long-term effect of shifting enrollment patterns of the University’s curricula, mission and strategic planning goals, and determining where such reductions in faculty might best be made so as to least seriously compromise the educational programs of the University. These decisions shall take into account the extraordinary nature of such conditions, as outlined above, and shall be based upon careful assessment of the impact of any proposed actions on the staffing requirements of the academic department/unit, as compared to overall patterns of faculty responsibilities in comparable academic departments/units within the University and in other institutions similar enough to warrant comparison.

The Faculty Senate shall have the opportunity of responding in writing to the President on all matters relating to any proposed termination of tenured appointments before the Procedures for Termination of Tenure for Curricular Reasons described below are initiated.

H. Procedures for Termination of Tenure for Curricular Reasons

  1. Upon determination by the President, after consultation with the Faculty Senate, that termination of the appointment of one or more tenured faculty members is warranted for curricular reasons and where such terminations might best be made, the order of faculty reductions within an academic department/unit shall take place according to the following order, unless the President demonstrates (preferably by means of past annual performance evaluations) that an exception should be made to reduce qualitative compromise of an educational program:
    a. Before a tenured faculty member is terminated, part-time faculty should not be renewed.
    b. Before a tenured faculty member is terminated, temporary faculty or tenure-track faculty in the probationary period should not be renewed.
    c. Among tenured faculty, those with lower rank should be terminated before those with higher rank.
    d. Among tenured faculty with comparable rank, those with lower academic degrees should be terminated before those with appropriate higher academic degrees.
    e. Among tenured faculty with comparable rank and comparable degrees, those with less seniority in rank should be terminated before those with greater seniority.
  2. Upon determining that termination of one or more tenured faculty members is required for one or more of the reasons cited above, the President shall furnish each faculty member to be terminated a written statement of the reasons for the termination. Those reasons shall address fully the curricular circumstances that warrant the termination and shall indicate the manner and the information upon which the decision was reached of which faculty members were to be terminated. The President’s written statement shall also indicate that the faculty member has the opportunity to respond in writing stating any objections to the decision.
  3. If the faculty member to be terminated indicates objections to the President's written statement(s) and requests a review, the Faculty Affairs Committee shall conduct that review. That committee shall conduct a hearing on each review requested, considering, inter alia, the identification of the academic department/ unit in which the reductions are required, the order of reductions within the academic department/unit, exceptions to the normal order of reductions, and the possibility of relocation within the University. The committee shall report its findings and recommendation to the President, who shall, in a reasonable time, inform in writing the faculty member proposed for termination either that the decision for termination stands or that it has been altered.
  4. The President’s decision to terminate a tenured faculty member for curricular reasons is subject to appeal to the Chancellor and the Board as provided in the policy on appeals to the Board (TBR Policy 1:02:11:00, (http://www.tbr.state.tn.us/policies/default.aspx?id=4834).
  5. When a tenured faculty member is terminated for curricular reasons, the position will not be filled by a new appointee with the same areas of specialization as the terminated faculty member within a period of three years unless the terminated faculty member has been offered, in writing, reappointment to the position at his/her previous rank and salary (with the addition of an appropriate increase which, in the opinion of the President, would constitute the raise(s) that would have been awarded during the period that he/she was not employed), and with tenure.
  6. Upon determining that termination of one or more tenured faculty members is warranted for curricular reasons, the President shall base his/her decision about which faculty member(s) should be terminated upon his/her assessment as to what action would least seriously compromise the educational programs of the academic department/unit. Termination for curricular reasons presumes a staffing pattern in an academic department/unit which cannot be warranted either by comparison with general load practices within the University or by comparison with faculty loads in comparable academic departments/units at similar universities. In that light, the President shall also, at his/her discretion, base his/her decision on a careful assessment of the impact of the curricular reason on staffing requirements in the academic department/unit as compared to overall patterns in the University and to comparable academic departments/units which, in his/her judgment, are in universities similar enough to warrant assessment.
  7. Definitions
    a. "Program is deleted from the curriculum” means that the Board takes formal action to terminate a degree major, concentration, or other curricular component, and that such termination eliminates or reduces the need for faculty qualified in that discipline or area of concentration.
    b. “Substantive and continued reduction of student enrollment in a field” means that over a period of at least three years, student enrollment in a field has decreased at a rate in considerable excess of that of the University as a whole and that such reduction has resulted in faculty-student ratios that, in the opinion of the President, cannot be warranted either by comparison with equivalent faculty load practices within the University or by comparison with faculty loads in comparable academic departments/units at similar universities which the President deems appropriate for comparison.
  8. When a tenured faculty member is to be terminated for curricular reasons, the President will make every possible effort to relocate the tenured faculty member in another vacant position for which he/she is qualified. In instances where, in the opinion of the President, relocation within the University is a viable alternative, the University has an obligation to make significant effort to relocate the faculty member, including the bearing of reasonable retraining costs. The final decision on relocation is within the discretion of the President.
  9. Since the primary responsibility for the curriculum is vested in the faculty, and to prevent the inadvertent creation of situations in which curricular reasons for the termination of tenured faculty members might arise, no decision shall be made to create, combine, dissolve, or otherwise reorganize academic departments/units, colleges or schools of the University without the prior participation of the Academic or Administrative Council, whichever is appropriate, and of the faculty members involved.

I. Termination for Adequate Cause

A faculty member with tenure, or a faculty member on a tenure-track appointment or temporary appointment, may be terminated for adequate cause, which includes the following:

  1. Incompetence or dishonesty in teaching or research.
  2. Willful failure to perform the duties and responsibilities for which the faculty member was employed or refusal or continued failure to comply with the policies of the Board, the University, or the academic department/unit, or to carry out specific assignments, when such policies or assignments are reasonable and non-discriminatory.
  3. Conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.
  4. Improper use of narcotics or intoxicants, which substantially impairs the faculty member’s fulfillment of his/her departmental/unit and University duties and responsibilities.
  5. Capricious disregard of accepted standards of professional conduct.
  6. Falsification of information on an employment application or other information concerning qualifications for a position.
  7. Failure to maintain the level of professional excellence and ability demonstrated by other members of the faculty in the academic department/unit in which he/she holds academic appointment.

J. Procedures for Termination for Adequate Cause

Termination of a faculty member with tenure, or a faculty member on a tenure-track appointment or temporary appointment, shall be subject to the following procedures:

  1. No termination shall be effective until steps 4 through 9 below are completed.
  2. Suspensions pending termination shall be governed by the following procedure:
    a. A faculty member may not be suspended pending completion of steps 4 through 9 unless it is determined by the University that the faculty member's presence poses a danger to persons or property, or a threat of destruction to the academic or operational processes of the University. Reassignment of responsibilities is not considered suspension; however, the faculty member must be reassigned responsibilities for which he/she is qualified.
    b. In any case of suspension, the faculty member shall be given an opportunity at the time of decision or immediately thereafter to contest the suspension; and, if there are disputed issues of fact or cause and effect, the faculty member shall be provided the opportunity for a hearing on the suspension as soon as possible at which time the faculty member may cross-examine his/her accuser, present witnesses on his/her behalf, and be represented by legal counsel. Thereafter, whether the suspension is upheld or revoked, the matter shall proceed pursuant to these procedures
  3. Except for such simple announcements as may be required concerning the time of proceedings and similar matters, public statements and publicity about these proceedings by either the faculty member or administrative officers will be avoided as far as possible until the proceedings have been completed, including consideration by the Board.
  4. Upon a recommendation by the chief academic officer of the University to the President or upon a decision by the President that these procedures should be undertaken in consideration of the termination of a faculty member, the proposed termination shall be preceded by (a) discussion between the faculty member and appropriate administrative officers looking toward a mutual settlement and (b) informal inquiry by the Faculty Affairs Committee which may, failing to effect an adjustment, determine whether in its opinion termination proceedings should be undertaken, without its opinion being binding upon the President.
  5. If no mutually acceptable resolution is reached through step 4, the following steps shall be taken:
    a. The faculty member shall be provided with a written statement of the specific charges alleged by the University that constitute grounds for termination and a notice of hearing specifying the time, date and place of the hearing. The statement and notice must be provided at least twenty days before the hearing. The faculty member shall respond to the charges in writing at least five days before the hearing. The faculty member may waive the hearing by execution of a written waiver. If the faculty member waives the hearing, but denies the charges against him/her or asserts that the charges do not support a finding of adequate cause, the hearing committee will evaluate all available evidence and rest its recommendation upon the evidence in the record.
    b. A hearing committee consisting of five tenured faculty or tenured faculty and administrators shall be appointed to hear the case and to determine if adequate cause for termination exists according to the procedure herein described. The President shall appoint two members of this committee and the President of the Faculty Senate shall appoint three members. The committee may not include any member of the Faculty Affairs Committee. Members deeming themselves disqualified for bias or interest shall remove themselves from the case, either at the request of a party or on their own initiative. Members of the committee shall not discuss the case outside committee deliberations and shall report any ex-parte communication pertaining to the hearing to the President who shall notify all parties of the communication.
  6. The hearing committee shall elect a chairperson who shall direct the proceedings and rule on procedural matters, including the granting of reasonable extensions of time at the request of any party and upon the showing of good cause for the extension.
  7. The chairperson of the hearing committee may at his/her discretion require a joint pre-hearing conference with the parties that may be held in person or by a conference telephone call. The purpose of the pre-hearing conference should include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
    a. To notify of procedure for conduct of the hearing.
    b. To exchange witness lists, documentary evidence and affidavits.
    c. To define and clarify issues.
    d. To effect stipulations of fact. A written memorandum of the pre-hearing conference should be prepared and provided to each party.
  8. A hearing shall be conducted by the hearing committee to determine whether adequate cause for termination of the faculty member exists. The hearing shall be conducted according to the procedures below:
    a. During the hearing, the faculty member will be permitted to have an academic advisor present and may be represented by legal counsel of his/her choice.
    b. A verbatim record of the hearing will be taken and a typewritten copy will be made available to the faculty member, upon request, at the faculty member's expense.
    c. The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the University and shall be satisfied only by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole.
    d. The faculty member will be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence. The administration will cooperate with the committee in using its best efforts to secure witnesses and make available documentary and other evidence that is under its control.
    e. The faculty member and the administration will have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. Where the witnesses cannot or will not appear, but the committee determines that the interests of justice require admission of their statements, the committee will identify the witnesses, disclose their statements and, if possible, provide for interrogatories. An affidavit may be submitted in lieu of the personal appearance of a witness if the party offering the affidavit has provided a copy to the opposing party at least ten days prior to the hearing and the opposing party has not objected to the admission of the affidavit in writing within seven days after delivery of the affidavit or if the committee chairperson determines that the admission of the affidavit is necessary to ensure a just and fair decision.
    f. In a hearing on charges of incompetence, the testimony shall include that of qualified faculty members from the University and other institutions of higher education.
    g. The hearing committee will be bound by strict rules of legal evidence and may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every possible effort will be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available.
    h. The findings of fact and the report will be based solely on the hearing record.
    i. The President and the faculty member will be provided a copy of the written report. The committee’s written report shall specify findings of fact and shall state whether the committee has determined that adequate cause for termination exists and, if so, the specific grounds for termination found. In addition, the committee may recommend action less than termination. The report shall also specify any applicable policy the committee considered.
  9. After consideration of the committee’s report and the record, the President may in his/her discretion consult with the faculty member before reaching a final decision regarding termination. Following his/her review, the President shall notify the faculty member of his/her decision, which, if contrary to the committee’s recommendation, shall be accompanied by a statement of the reasons. If the faculty member is terminated or suspended as a result of the President ’s decision, the faculty member may appeal the President’s action to the Chancellor pursuant to TBR Policy 1:02:11:00 (http://www.tbr.state.tn.us/policies/default.aspx?id=4834). Review of the appeal shall be based upon the record of the hearing. If upon review of the record, the Chancellor notes objections regarding the termination and/or its proceedings, the matter will be returned to the President for reconsideration, taking into account the stated objections, and at the discretion of the President, the case may be returned to the hearing committee for further proceedings.

NOTE: This policy became effective on July 1, 1976, as to all faculty then and thereafter employed in the Tennessee Board of Regents System. The minimum qualifications and requirements for eligibility for an award of tenure applied to all faculty who had not previously been expressly awarded tenure by the Board, and the previous probationary period for such faculty was extended to a maximum of seven years. Faculty who had previously been awarded tenure retained their tenure status under this policy, subject to its terms and conditions. The definition of tenure became effective January 1, 1984. That definition applies to faculty tenured subsequent to the effective date. For faculty members tenured previous to January 1, 1984, the applicable definition of tenure shall be: “a status pursuant to which the academic year appointments of full-time faculty who have been awarded tenure are continued at a university until the expiration or relinquishment of that status, subject to termination for adequate cause, for financial exigency, or curricular for curricular reasons" (see policy adopted June 25, 1976).

This policy is a result of a comprehensive revision of former TBR Policy 5:02:03:00, Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure (http://www.tbr.edu/policies/default.aspx?id=1482). The former policy included provisions related to academic freedom, responsibility, and tenure in both universities and community colleges. The revision, approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents on April 2, 2004, created a separate policy on academic freedom and responsibility pertinent to both universities and community colleges, established separate policies relative to tenure for universities and community colleges, and instituted separate policies on faculty appointments for universities and community colleges. The revised policy will be applicable to all tenure action taken on or subsequent to July 1, 2008, for faculty whose employment began before July 1, 2004.

[Approved by the University Faculty April 27, 2005]

Apply Now