March 2, 2017
John White, President (2016-2017), United Faculty of Florida
In a recent “Did you know” item you said: “Not having any discipline-specific guidelines leaves Promotion and Tenure decisions entirely at the discretion of administration, without feedback from departmental faculty.”
This statement seems misleading given the composition of department P&T committees, which are made up of departmental faculty, and the role their vote plays in the outcome of P&T cases. As well, department faculty are able to write department letters of recommendation. And the University P&T committee is made up of faculty as well, although not departmental faculty. How do you claim that P&T decisions do not have feedback from departmental faculty, and that discipline-specific guidelines are the antidote?
The questioner is correct in that the message noted above was unintentionally misleading. I apologize for not being clearer in how I worded the message.
My intent had been to highlight that a lack of specific department and/or disciplinary specific criteria (guidelines) on which to judge applicants for promotion and tenure make resulting evaluations prone to unstandardized and non-contextualized judgments. Without guidelines that elucidate what faculty know to be the most important aspects of their teaching, their scholarship, and their service, evaluations of their respective performance are more at the whim of others—including the ultimate decision makers in the administration. Similarly, a lack of department-specific guidelines may result in greater administrative autonomy and subjectivity in making evaluative judgments of a candidate’s overall performance.