Principles and Customs Governing the Procedures
of Ad Hoc Committees and University-Wide Tenure Review

revised: July 2010


     The University, including Barnard College but excepting the Faculty of Law and Teachers College, follows a regular system of review by an ad hoc committee whenever a school or department recommends a candidate for tenure. This review is conducted whether or not the nominee is already an officer of the University. The purpose of this system is to ensure that the same standards of judgment are applied to all appointments to tenure, regardless of the school or department originating the nomination, and thereby to secure a faculty of exceptional quality and distinction throughout the University.

     Ad hoc committees serve in an advisory capacity to the Provost who determines whether the nominees should be recommended to the President and Trustees for tenure. The ad hoc system is administered on behalf of the Provost by the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration.

     This document governs the review of all ad hoc tenure nominations with the exception of those originating in Barnard College. While the criteria and standards for reviewing nominations from Barnard are the same as those applied in evaluating candidates in the rest of the University, the procedures followed differ in some respects, as provided for in the Amended Agreement between the College and the University. Therefore, the process by which Barnard nominations are reviewed is described in a separate document.

     Part I of this document sets forth the general policies and procedures that guide the review process as a whole. Part II provides guidelines for schools and departments to follow in preparing nominations for ad hoc committee review and a schedule for submitting materials to the Provost.

Part I:  General Policies and Procedures

     This part of the document discusses the criteria by which nominations to tenure are evaluated and the evidence which is considered by an ad hoc committee. It also explains how ad hoc committees are constituted and describes the work of the committees and the manner in which their meetings are conducted. A final section discusses the confidentiality expected of all those who take part in the tenure review process.

Criteria for an Appointment to Tenure

     An appointment to tenure is made in the University only when an individual of widely recognized excellence is found to fill a scholarly need that is demonstrably vital to a discipline and central to the University's purposes. The process of tenure review, therefore, is concerned both with the state and objectives of the nominating department or school and with the qualities of the nominee.

     The rapidly changing nature of research and the diverse ways in which it is conducted make it impossible to expect any university to have tenured faculty in every disciplinary specialty. Appointments to tenure, therefore, are offered only to the most able scholars and in those areas of research of the highest priority to the University. Nomination to tenure is the occasion for a department or school to consider its condition and to restate its objectives, both within its discipline and the University. It is part of the work of an ad hoc committee to test the strength of these claims and, thus, the appropriateness of the appointment.

     Because of the financial implications of a tenure appointment, no school or department may proceed with a search to fill a tenure position without budgetary authorization from the appropriate dean or vice president. Budgetary authorization will generally specify the field or set of fields within which a school or department is seeking to make a tenure appointment, thus implying a decision on academic priorities. But it is not in itself a substitute for the case the nominating Faculty must make for the appropriateness of the appointment.

     Even more critical than the academic need for a tenure appointment, therefore, are the qualifications of the individual proposed to fill it. In every instance, the nominee must be an outstanding scholar; a person who has demonstrated the capacity for imaginative and original work in his or her field and who shows promise of continuing to make significant contributions to research. Excellence as a teacher is also an important prerequisite for tenure.

     Regardless of academic age, every candidate should have produced work of truly outstanding quality. The quantity of publications is of lesser concern. A candidate need not be one who has published much, provided his or her scholarly work meets the University's high standards of excellence. Tenure, however, is not simply a reward for past accomplishments. It is also a vote of confidence that the candidate will continue to be an important and productive scholar. Thus, a candidate must continue to have an active scholarly agenda that shows strong promise of yielding answers to fundamental questions in his or her discipline.

     Peer esteem is a valuable measure of scholarly ability. Established scholars must be widely recognized as among the leaders in their disciplines. Younger scholars must have achieved a level of scholarly accomplishment which demonstrates extraordinary promise. If a younger scholar lacks recognition, it must be for reasons of academic age alone. Serious consideration should be given only to those younger scholars who can be expected, with a high degree of confidence, to become leaders in their disciplines.

    Nor is any lesser standard to be applied when the candidate is in a professional or artistic discipline. The customary academic measure provided by publications and papers may be augmented or replaced by other considerations, such as journalistic achievements, built architectural projects or creative works of arts. However, in every case, candidates must have a record of highly original accomplishments, exhibit the potential for continuing to make influential professional or artistic contributions and be regarded by their peers as among the very best in their fields.

     These criteria must necessarily be interpreted with some flexibility to take into account the differing disciplines of the candidates and the missions of their Faculties. Nonetheless, all candidates must be or have the potential of becoming leading figures in a field that is intellectually vital and important to the University. The burden of demonstrating that a candidate meets those criteria rests with the nominating department or school. If the ad hoc committee believes that the department or school has not made a compelling affirmative case for the nomination, it should not hesitate to recommend against awarding tenure. If the committee is satisfied that the candidate is truly an outstanding scholar in mind and in performance, it should recommend in favor of the appointment.

Evidence Considered by an Ad Hoc Committee

     While the various Faculties appropriately follow different methods for nominating candidates for tenure, every nomination sent to the Provost should be accompanied by the same types of supporting materials. In many cases the department or division originating the nomination will take the lead in preparing these materials, but in every case it is the responsibility of the dean or vice president to review them for completeness and accuracy and to see that they are submitted in a timely fashion.

     The Provost has established a schedule for the submission of nominations and dossiers which may be found in Part II of this document. Failure to observe the deadlines it contains may result in the postponement of the ad hoc review to the following academic year. Alternatively, if the nominee is an internal candidate in the seventh year of counted service, or in the case of a faculty member with substantial clinical responsibilities in the Medical Center who is in the tenth counted year, it may result in a decision not to hold a review, in which case the individual's full-time instructional position will be terminated after one additional year of appointment.

     The Senior Vice Provost’s Office normally does not schedule the meeting of the ad hoc committee until it has received a complete set of the materials described in this part of the guidelines. The nominating dean or vice president should, therefore, send it the candidate’s dossier as early as possible. The original dossier may be augmented with new materials at any point up prior to the meeting of the ad hoc committee. It is especially important for the dean or vice president to ensure that the committee has a current curriculum vitae at the time of its meeting.

     In judging a nomination, an ad hoc committee relies especially on evidence of three kinds:

(1) supporting documents, including a representative sample of the candidate's work;
(2) letters of evaluation solicited from recognized scholars in the nominee's discipline; and
(3) the personal testimony of witnesses.

Each of these is briefly described below. Part II of this document contains more detailed guidelines for the preparation of the written materials in a candidate’s dossier.

     1. Supporting Statements: The nominating department or school prepares three written statements for the ad hoc committee:

a)  An Analysis of the Department or School and Its Objectives discusses the current state of the nominating department or school and its future direction, and describes the needs the proposed appointment is expected to fill. It is not used to discuss the nominee's qualifications but rather to establish the importance of the appointment in the plans of the nominating department or school.

b)  The Report on the Search and Selection Process addresses the methods by which the nominee was chosen. It describes how possible candidates were identified, explains the reasons why the nominee was selected over the other individuals considered, and reports on the formal vote by which the nomination was made. Whenever members of a nominating department or school oppose a nomination or abstain, it also includes an explanation of the reasons for their votes. A dissenting faculty member is also expected to prepare a written assessment of the candidate which may accompany this report or, at the individual's discretion, be submitted directly to the Provost.

The selection of an external nominee is normally preceded by a full outside search. Exception can be made with the permission of the Provost, or his or her representative, especially when a school or department can show that a rare opportunity has arisen to appoint an individual who is widely recognized to be among a very small group of leading scholars, none of whom would normally be expected to be available.

While a department or school may elect to conduct a formal outside search before recommending one of its nontenured faculty for promotion to tenure, it is not required to do so. The decision on whether to forego a full search is made by the Vice President for Arts and Sciences for the departments in the Arts and Sciences and by the individual deans for the other schools.

As part of the search for an external candidate, a department or school may, with the special permission of the dean or vice president, occasionally collect a few preliminary written evaluations before deciding whether to engage in negotiations with a candidates. Copies of any such evaluations are included with this report.

Nominations for ad hoc review require a positive vote by a majority of the tenured faculty in the department or school and the endorsement of the dean or vice president. At a minimum, a majority of the eligible faculty within the nominating unit must vote in favor of forwarding it for ad hoc review. With the approval of the dean or vice president, schools and departments may establish a higher percentage of positive votes as he requirement for making a nomination. The decision on whether to nominate must be made by an open vote or by signed ballots so that any faculty whose vote no can be identified and asked to provide the ad hoc committee with an explanation of the reasons for their opposition.

Joint appointments require positive votes from all of the nominating departments and schools. When it is anticipated that the candidate may be given a joint appointment after receiving tenure but the second department or school is not co-sponsoring the nomination, it does not need to vote. Instead, it provides the ad hoc committee with an explanation of its interest in the candidate and an assessment of his or her qualifications.

When one department or school has voted not to nominate, a second may initiate a review of the candidate only with the prior permission of the appropriate dean or vice president and the Provost. In such cases, this statement also describes the earlier evaluation, the reasons why the original decision was negative and why the nominating department believes those reasons are no longer valid.

c)  The Statement on the Nominee's Qualifications evaluates the nominee's scholarly achievements and potential for future growth, describes his or her teaching abilities, and compares the candidate with the leading scholars in the field. It also discusses how the nominee's qualifications as a scholar and teacher will further the objectives of the departments or schools described in the Analysis above.

     These statements provide the core of the nominating Faculty's case for the tenure appointment. They are accompanied by the following supporting materials:

A current dated curriculum vitae supplemented, if necessary, with sufficient information to provide a complete record of the nominee's academic and professional training, achievements, and previous employment.

A representative set of the nominee's written work, published and unpublished.

Evidence of the nominee's contributions to educational programing in his or her discipline, such as course syllabi..

Evidence of the nominee's abilities as a teacher, such as course evaluations either here at Columbia or from the candidate's previous institution, results of classroom observations, information on the candidate's former students and teaching awards.

For nominations in the Arts and Sciences, the vote of the counterpart department at Barnard College and a statement of its assessment of the candidate's qualifications.

A brief statement from the nominee that discusses his or her current research and teaching and plans for future projects. (At the discretion of the dean or the vice president, the department or school does not need to obtain this statement from external recruits to tenure.)

Any additional information the nominating department or school wishes the ad hoc committee to consider, such as reviews of publications.

         2. Referee Letters: Written evaluations of the proposed appointment by recognized authorities form a critical source of information for the ad hoc committee. Evaluations of candidates are solicited by the nominating vice president or dean, or by their designees. As part of its work of evaluation, described below, an ad hoc committee may request that the Provost solicit further referee letters on its behalf.

     Copies of the standard letters which are sent to referees for nominations in all Faculties are appended to this document as exhibits. These letters may be modified only with the consent of the Provost. If solicited by the Provost, referee letters are shared with the appropriate department chair, dean, and vice president unless specifically restricted to the Provost and the ad hoc committee by the referee.

     The dean or vice president responsible for obtaining the evaluations compiles the list of referees, taking into consideration suggestions received from the nominating department, division, or school. The nominee is not consulted in compiling the list of referees.

     The nominating dean or vice president determines how many scholars should be contacted for evaluations as well as their identities. While a dossier will typically contain 12-15 referee letters, the number of evaluations matters less than the scholars who provide them. Referees should consist primarily of the leading figures in the nominee’s area of specialization but may also be established scholars or professionals in related fields who can provide the ad hoc committee with informed evaluations of his or her work. They may include scholars from abroad as well as from other institutions in the United States but may not be members of Columbia’s faculty.

     Each referee is asked to compare the candidate with other scholars in his or her field. Care should be taken to define the field of specialization in a manner which is appropriate but not so narrow that the referees find it difficult to make meaningful comparisons between the nominee and other scholars.

The comparison list always contains leading figures in the nominee's specialization, even when the nominee is a younger scholar. In these cases, the referees are asked to give their assessment of whether the nominee has the potential of reaching the level of achievement of the more senior comparison scholars.

     Since the comparison scholars are chosen on the basis of their academic distinction, they too may be asked for evaluations of the nominee. While they should not be excluded from the referees simply because they are peers of the nominee, there may be other reasons why they should not be asked for evaluations. For example, a comparison scholar may hold a nontenured appointment at another university or have applied for the position for which the candidate is being considered.

     The dean or vice president collects the referee evaluations before the department or school decides whether to nominate the candidate for tenure. Typically the letters are solicited at the start of the unit’s internal deliberations but may be obtained at another point in the process. Regardless of when the letters are collected, they are shared with the tenured members of the department, division or school before it votes on the nomination, unless a referee states that the letter should be shown only to the Provost and the ad hoc committee.

     To assist them in their task, the referees are provided with the nominee's curriculum vitae and, at the discretion of the dean or vice president, samples of the nominee's written work. As a matter of courtesy, potential referees may be contacted prior to being sent a request for an evaluation to determine if they are willing to undertake the work involved. In schools with multiple departments or divisions, the dean or vice president may delegate the responsibility for making such inquiries to the unit initiating the review. The potential referees should be contacted in writing rather than by phone, and a list of those who declined to write should be included in the candidate’s dossier along with their responses explaining the reasons why.

     The administrator responsible for soliciting the external evaluations coordinates the selection of referees and comparison scholars with the search by the Office of the Provost for the outside member of the candidate’s ad hoc committee. The administrator submits the proposed lists to the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration, along with other materials as described in later sections of this document, and waits for the Senior Vice Provost to identify the outside member before sending out any requests for referee evaluations.

     3.  Witnesses: The Provost regularly calls upon persons to appear before the committee who can present information on the need for the tenure appointment and on the nominee's qualifications. These witnesses are selected in consultation with the chair of the ad hoc committee, the vice president or dean of the nominating Faculty, and, in those cases where a nomination originated from a department, with its chair.

     The appropriate department chair or dean presents the case for the nomination and is usually the principal witness. He or she may delegate this responsibility to another tenured faculty member who can more effectively discuss the nominee's qualifications and proposed role in the department or school. At the request of the chair, dean or vice president, a second witness from the nominating department or school will be asked to testify to the quality of the candidate's scholarship and teaching. When the candidate will have appointments in more than one department or school, the chairs or deans of all of the relevant units are routinely invited to appear before the committee.

     If the vote within the nominating department or school is not unanimously in favor of the candidate, special care is taken to ensure that all relevant views are adequately presented to the committee. At the discretion of the ad hoc committee, other witnesses from within or outside the University may also be invited to give testimony.

     The chair, dean or vice president of the nominating unit is informed of all witnesses who will appear before the ad hoc committee.

Selection of Ad Hoc Committees

     Each ad hoc committee consists of five members, one of whom serves as its chair. Ad hoc committees and their chairs are appointed by the Provost in consultation with the Tenure Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) consisting of members of the tenured faculty selected for three year terms by the Provost, plus the Vice President for Arts and Sciences, and the representative of the Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, who serve ex officio.

     The members of an ad hoc committee are chosen primarily from the tenured members of the University who are familiar with the candidate's field of specialization. They may hold appointments in any Faculty in the University, including Barnard College and Teachers College. Faculty with tenure of title who have passed ad hoc review may also be asked to serve, as may retired members of the tenured faculty when TRAC and the Provost conclude that they can bring a needed expertise to the evaluation of a candidate.

     Since the purpose of the ad hoc system is to provide a second, independent review of every nomination, members of a nominating department or school are not asked to serve on the ad hoc committees for its candidates, nor are individuals in other parts of the University who have collaborated with them. Similarly, faculty in other departments or schools are excluded from ad hoc service when they have voted on the candidacy, participated as members of a search committee which selected the nominee for the tenure appointment or served on a Faculty-wide personnel committee that assisted the dean or vice president in deciding whether to forward a nomination to the Provost.

     While every effort is made to avoid asking professors on leave to serve, it is sometimes necessary to appoint them to ad hoc committees.

     The Provost routinely selects at least one person from outside the University to serve on each ad hoc committee. The outside member of an ad hoc committee may not be someone who has collaborated with the candidate, written a letter of evaluation for his or her tenure review and served as a colleague at another institution. Similarly excluded from consideration are individuals who participated in the candidate's doctoral and postdoctoral training. To avoid the possibility of a prior association, the Provost normally does not ask other scholars who were at the institutions at which the candidate was a doctoral student or a postdoc.

     The Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration conducts the search for an outside member on behalf of the Provost. In compiling a list of recommendations, the Senior Vice Provost normally consults with the appropriate chair or dean and with scholars at other universities as well as the members of TRAC. The Senior Vice Provost typically starts by asking the chair or dean for suggestions. Before responding, that officer may consult with other members of the Columbia faculty or scholars at other institutions, but not with the candidate. Along with the recommendations for the outside member, the chair or dean submits the names of several scholars at other institutions with whom the Senior Vice Provost can consult for further suggestions, the proposed referee and comparison lists, and an electronic version of the candidate's curriculum vitae. Before submitting a list of possible outsiders to the members of TRAC and the Provost, the Senior Vice Provost will give the chair or dean an opportunity to comment on their suitability. It is the responsibility of the chair or dean to raise any questions about the appropriateness of a proposed outsider at that time. The Provost will take any such information into consideration but reserves the right to ask anyone he or she deems to have the expertise needed to evaluate the candidate.

     The selection of the outside members in the first step in evaluating a candidate for tenure. Subsequent parts of the process, in particular the collection of the external letters of evaluation, may not begin until the Senior Vice Provost has identified a short list of four or five scholars from which the outsiders will be chosen. Therefore, it is important for the deans and vice presidents to inform the Senior Vice Provost as early as possible of potential nominations and provide him or her with the materials he or she needs to find the outsider. For nontenured faculty already at Columbia, this information should be submitted in the spring of the year preceding the one in which the department or school expects to nominate the candidate.

     The nominating department or school should review the referee evaluations once they are collected to determine if the candidate has been compared with the outside member of the ad hoc committee. If it finds any such comparison, it should inform the Office of the Provost. Depending on the nature of the comments about the outsider, the Provost, after consulting with the nominating dean or vice president, may decide to redact the comparison or to withhold the letter from the ad hoc committee.

Work of an Ad Hoc Committee

     It is the responsibility of an ad hoc committee, working under the guidance of its chair, to conduct a thorough and independent review of the nomination it has been asked to consider. A committee should not feel pressured by external circumstances to come to a hasty judgment. At the same time, fairness to the candidate and the interests of the University require that the committee complete its review and reach its decision as soon as it responsibly can.

     The work of an ad hoc committee begins with a careful review of the nominee's dossier. This includes a critical reading of the candidate's scholarly work. While referee evaluations provide the committee with the views of leading scholars in the nominee's field, these cannot substitute for the members' own reasoned assessment of the quality of the nominee's scholarship.

     The committee chair is responsible for ensuring that the dossier is sufficient to meet the committee's needs. The chair is expected to consult with the rest of the committee in advance of its meeting to determine whether further information, including referee evaluations, is needed and to alert each member to any concerns that other members might have about the nomination.

     After evaluating the documentation presented by the nominating school or department, the ad hoc committee may make any further inquiries it feels are necessary to ensure that it has sufficient information about the proposed appointment. For example, a committee has the right to have the Provost solicit additional referee evaluations or ask for further written statements from the nominating unit. It may also ask for additional witnesses, even from outside the University, if it is not satisfied that those suggested by the school or department will enable it to make an informed judgment about the nomination.

     The committee may acquire additional information by letter, telephone, or personal interview from sources both within and outside the University. While all of its members may make such inquiries, they are expected to coordinate their efforts with their chair and act with the greatest discretion to ensure the confidentiality of the ad hoc review.

     The Coordinator for Tenure Reviews in the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration schedules the meetings of the ad hoc committee. While the Coordinator makes every effort to find a time that is convenient for everyone involved with a review, it is not always possible to avoid conflicts with other responsibilities. Since tenure is of the highest importance to the University, it may be necessary ask members and witnesses to reschedule other commitments to attend a committee meeting. Ad hoc meetings take precedence over all other committee assignments and all administrative duties within the University. In some cases, it may also be necessary to ask participants to rearrange consultations with students, and in very rare instances, rearrange classes in order to provide sufficient time for the committee's deliberations.

     It is not always possible to arrange for all members of the ad hoc committee attend the meeting in person, that is not always possible to arrange. The Provost may, therefore, choose to have members participate by videoconferencing or by telephone, especially those from other institutions.

     When the schedules of the committee members conflict with those of others who will participate in the review, the Coordinator gives priority to the former. While every effort is made to accommodate the witnesses, it may be necessary to ask the dean or chair of the nominating unit for someone else to testify on behalf of the candidate or to proceed with the ad hoc review without the individual who cannot attend. If the dean or chair considers both of those alternatives detrimental to the case for the nominee, he or she may ask the Senior Vice Provost to delay the ad hoc to a time when the witness is available.

     The Coordinator will schedule meetings at times when administrators who have the right to attend the ad hoc as observers are unavailable rather than unduly delaying the completion of the review.

     To ensure that the members of an ad hoc committee have adequate time to prepare for their meeting, the Coordinator normally does not start to schedule the review until the ad hoc committee members have received the candidate's dossier. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the nominating department or school to submit the supporting materials for a candidate in a timely manner in order to avoid delays in the completion of the review.

     The committee chair conducts the meeting of the ad hoc committee. The Provost, or a representative, attends all ad hoc committee meetings and may actively participate in the questioning of witnesses and in the discussion of the committee. When appropriate, other individuals, such as the Vice President for Arts and Sciences, the Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Dean of Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science are invited to attend the meeting of the committee.

     If the committee decides that additional information, testimony, or deliberation is required, further meetings are scheduled. Once the committee concludes its deliberations, its five members vote on the nomination, and the chair conveys their recommendation to the Provost in writing.

     The ad hoc committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Provost who is not bound by its recommendation. In particular, a split vote in favor of a candidate is not a strong recommendation. In addition to the final vote, the Provost weighs the evidence presented to the committee and the discussion of the members at their meeting before deciding whether to accept their recommendation. The Provost may also obtain additional information after the ad hoc meeting before reaching a decision on the nomination, such as written assessments of the nominee from the members of the ad hoc committee or further written or verbal evaluations from experts at other institutions. This additional information is normally not shared with the chair or dean of the nominating department or school.

     Upon completion of his or her review, the Provost submits a recommendation to the President on whether the candidate should be awarded tenure. A nomination is forwarded to the Trustees for their approval only if the Provost and President are satisfied that the candidate deserves tenure. Candidates from the Faculty of Medicine who pass their ad hoc reviews are also reviewed by the Faculty Council before they are proposed to the Trustees for appointment without stated term.

     After every ad hoc review, the Provost informs the appropriate department chair, vice president or dean of the decision who will, in turn, inform the candidate. In those unusual cases where the Provost, President or Trustees do not accept the formal recommendation of the ad hoc committee, the Provost informs its members of the reasons. A candidate who is denied tenure is invited to meet with the Provost to discuss the decision.

     A second review may be conducted for a candidate after a negative decision if the Provost determines that the first was marked by procedural irregularities of a magnitude that materially affected its outcome. In such cases, the Provost may choose either to reconvene the original ad hoc committee or, if the Provost feels that the irregularities compromise its ability to reach a reasoned decision, to appoint a new committee to consider the nomination.

     In the absence of procedural irregularities, a candidate is reconsidered only in rare instances when the Provost is satisfied that there is evidence of substantial scholarly growth following the original negative decision. It is incumbent upon the school or department to obtain the approval of the Provost to conduct a new review before it solicits any further letters of evaluation, votes on the candidate or begins to prepare for a new nomination in any other way. Requests from departments require the endorsement of the dean or vice president before they are forwarded to the Provost. In support of such requests, the nominating school or department submits a statement that explains why it believes the new work meets the standard for a second review. The Provost may seek the advice of selected scholars in the candidate’s field before reaching a decision on whether to reopen consideration of the nomination.

     The Provost normally reconvenes the original ad hoc committee to conduct a second review, replacing only those members who are not available. The committee does not reassess the quality of the materials submitted in support of the original nomination. Instead, it is asked to advise the Provost on whether the scholarship completed after the first ad hoc is of sufficient quality to overcome the reservations that led to the initial negative decision on the candidate’s nomination.


     All aspects of the ad hoc proceedings are conducted with strict confidentiality which is both an act of civility to all concerned and a prerequisite for the type of critical examination the ad hoc review requires. The membership of an ad hoc committee and the dates and times of its meetings are not made known to anyone other than those consulted in its appointment or participating in its deliberations. Information about the committee's deliberations and the actual vote on the nomination is similarly restricted to the members of the committee and to the President and Provost or their representatives. Committee members, witnesses, deans, department chairs, and any others who are involved with the tenure review process in any way are expected to maintain confidentiality at all times. Because of the need for confidentiality concerning every aspect of the ad hoc review, a member of the committee or anyone appearing before it who wishes to discuss the proceedings should do so by communicating with the Office of the Provost.

     While candidates are not told of the membership, date and deliberations of their ad hoc committees, the Office of the Provost does inform them of the process by which their nominations are evaluated. Upon receipt of a nomination, the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration sends the candidate a copy of this policy statement and invites the individual to call with any questions about how the evaluation will be conducted. The candidate may also ask to meet with the Senior Vice Provost to discuss the process. Further information should be obtained from the deans or chairs who have a special responsibility, subject to the limits imposed by the requirement of confidentiality, for advising their candidates on how ad hoc reviews are conducted.


Part II:  Guidelines for Preparing a Tenure Nomination

     Part II of this document is intended to assist departments and schools in preparing their tenure nominations in a thorough and timely manner, so as to avoid the delays that will result from incomplete documentation or late submission. It offers detailed guidelines on each of the materials that should be included in a tenure dossier and, in the final section, provides a schedule for their submission to the Provost. A checklist of the required materials is included at the end of this section.

     An ad hoc committee begins its evaluation of a nomination with the information provided in the tenure dossier. It is, therefore, in the interest of the nominating unit to present its case as clearly and coherently as possible, addressing all of the issues which an ad hoc committee is expected to consider. The following outline of the required materials should be read with reference to Part I of this document, particularly the sections which describe the "Criteria for an Appointment to Tenure" and the "Evidence Considered by an Ad Hoc Committee."

     It is the responsibility of the dean or vice president of the Faculty making the nomination to see that the dossier is complete, accurate and submitted to the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration on schedule even when it is prepared by a department or division chair. The Vice President for Arts and Sciences submits the nominations and supporting materials for the departments in the Arts and Sciences. The Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences transmits them for the Faculties of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Nursing and Public Health. Nominations and supporting materials from the other schools are submitted by their deans.

     Unless otherwise indicated, the nominating vice president or dean provides seven copies of the following:

Analysis of the Department or School and Its Objectives

     This statement describes the current state and objectives of the department or school and how the proposed appointment relates to them. It should cover the following topics:

A. Objectives

  1. The overall curricular, scholarly, and research goals of the school or department, or those of its divisions which the candidate will serve.

B. Current faculty and programs

  1. The current size, field distribution, strengths and weaknesses of the faculty in the school, department or division. If appropriate, include similar information on related units of the University.
  2. The curricular program(s) in the field(s) of the proposed appointment, including total enrollments, students by degree category and recent trends in graduation rates.

C. Purpose of the proposed appointment

  1. The reasons why the proposed appointment is in the field chosen, how it meets the objective stated in A above.
  2. The intended role of the nominee in the scholarly and instructional programs of the department, division, school and, where appropriate, other units within the University.

Please note that this statement should be limited to the points outlined above. The nominee's qualifications should be described in a separate statement (see below).

Report on the Search and Selection Process

     This statement should discuss the efforts made to locate the best possible candidate for the position. For nominees from other institutions, it describes the search and explains the reasons for selecting the nominee over the candidates.

It is not necessary to conduct a search before nominating a member of the junior faculty for promotion to tenure, as described in Part I of this document. If the department or school chose to forego an external search, it nonetheless should explain how it evaluated the qualifications of the internal candidate in comparison to the other scholars in the field and decided that he or she should be proposed for tenure.

This statement should also report on the vote of the tenured members of department making the nomination.

  1. It should indicate the number of faculty with the right to vote on the nomination, state the date and method of voting, and give the results. If the information is known, it should also state the reasons why absent members did not participate in the review. Voting on tenure cases cannot be by secret ballot. It should be conducted by an open vote or by signed ballots.
  2. If any faculty voted against the nomination or abstained, the report should explain the reasons why. Faculty who opposed the nomination or abstained should be asked to prepare a statement explaining the reasons for their vote. (Other members of the University's faculty may also communicate their views on the nomination to the Provost in writing, regardless of whether they support or appose the nomination.) At the individual's discretion, these statements may be included with the dossier or submitted directly to the Provost. In addition, a representative of the opposing opinion may be asked to appear as a witness at the ad hoc committee meeting.
If the candidate will have a joint appointment, this statement should also include a description of the process by which the second department conducted its review, a record of its vote and if any of its faculty opposed the nomination, a description of the reasons for their vote.

For a proposed tenure appointment in a Columbia department with a counterpart in Barnard, the vote of the tenured faculty in the counterpart department on the academic qualifications of the nominee is part of the record available to the ad hoc committee. In addition, the nominating department should obtain a written assessment of the candidate from its Barnard counterpart that explains the reasons for its vote on the nomination.

If the department or school is nominating a candidate it previously had decided not to propose for ad hoc review, it should include a full description of the earlier evaluation, accompanied by all of the materials it collected as part of that process. In such cases, this part of the statement should describe

1. The procedures used in the first review;

2. The vote or votes taken during the first review on the proposed nomination and the number eligible to vote who did not participate;

3. The reasons for the decision not to nominate, taking care to present all points of view; and

4. The reasons why the department or school reversed its earlier decision.

Any letters of evaluation obtained as part of the earlier evaluation should accompany the description of the review.

Similar information is required if the candidate was previously considered by a different department or school.       

Statement on the Nominee's Qualifications

     The nominating department or school uses this statement to discuss the qualifications, accomplishments, and future promise of the nominee in the areas of teaching, scholarship, research and University service, particularly in relationship to the objectives outlined in the "Analysis of the Department or School and Its Objectives."

A. Research and scholarship

This section of the statement evaluates the principal publications, research, and other scholarly accomplishments of the candidate. It assesses his or her qualifications in comparison with other leading scholars in the field, in the department or school. Finally, it discusses the candidates potential for future scholarly development.

If the candidate was previously evaluated for tenure and turned down at the school or departmental level, this statement also discusses the scholarship completed since the first review and describes why it was deemed to be sufficiently better in quality than the earlier work to merit a reversal of the original negative decision.

B. Teaching qualifications

C. University service

D. English proficiency

Referee Letters

     Every nomination to tenure must be supported by evaluations obtained from outside scholars using the "referee letters" appended to this document. Evaluations of candidates in the Arts and Sciences departments are sought by the Vice President for Arts and Sciences; those for candidates in the other schools by their respective deans. The vice president or dean may delegate this responsibility to the appropriate department chair or another designee. These letters are obtained sufficiently early in the internal deliberations of the department or school so that the members of its executive committee may review them before voting on whether to nominate the candidate.

     The individual responsible for obtaining the evaluations compiles the lists of referees and comparison scholars, taking into consideration suggestions received from the nominating department, division, or school. The candidate is not consulted in constructing those lists. When adequate assistance cannot be obtained from the University’s tenured faculty, the responsible person may seek the advice of scholars at other institutions. These lists are submitted to the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration prior to sending out the referee letters so that the collection of the external evaluations can be coordinated with the selection of outside members of the ad hoc committees.

     The criteria for choosing referees and comparison scholars are described in Part I of this document. Normally, the dean or vice president should collect no more than 12-15 letters. Care should be taken to include letters from the most prominent individuals in the candidate’s area of specialization. In the event that the ad hoc committee feels that the nominating unit has not obtained the views of the key people in the field, it may ask the Provost for additional letters which will delay the scheduling of the actual review. No referee should be a member of the Columbia faculty.

     The comparison list sent to each referee who is also a comparison scholar is modified to exclude the referee's name. The letter to referees who previously had given their opinion of the appointment of the candidate is appropriately modified to refer to the earlier correspondence (see Exhibit C ).

     The comparison list sent to referees evaluating a younger nominee will include scholars who are significantly senior to the candidate. These should include the leading figures in the candidate's area of expertise. It is appropriate in such a case to include the following paragraph at the bottom of the list:

Note that some of the persons listed above are very senior and well-established. By including these names in seeking a comparison with ______________, we are not suggesting that [he/she] is now comparable to them; rather, we are requesting your best estimate of [his/her] potential to reach their standing.

     At the discretion of the dean or vice president, samples of the candidate's publications may be included with the request for evaluations.

     As a matter of courtesy, all potential referees may be asked if they if they will review the candidate’s work before they receive the formal request for evaluation. The dean or vice president who collects the referee letters may make that inquiry or delegate that responsibility to a representative, such as a department or divisional chair. However, all preliminary inquiries should be made either by letter or e-mail and should ask the potential referee to respond in writing so that there will be a written record of who has declined to evaluate the candidate and their reasons. Individuals who declined to write in response to such an inquiry should be included on the annotated list or referees described below.

     Follow-up letters should be sent after an appropriate period of time to those referees who have not responded to the initial request. It may also be necessary to contact them by phone. The timing and form of these reminders is determined by the urgency of the tenure review.

     The following documentation should be included in the candidate's dossier with respect to the referees and comparison scholars:

A. A complete list of the potential referees who were approached for evaluations of the candidate, accompanied by a brief description of credentials of each, including complete title, area of specialization and standing in the discipline. The list should include any scholars who declined to write in response to a preliminary inquiry. The list should be annotated to note which of the referees, if any, assisted with the search by providing the department or school a written assessment of potential candidate. It should also include which referees declined to respond to the request for the evaluation.

B.  The list of scholars with whom referees were asked to compare the candidate, accompanied with a brief description of the credentials of each, including complete title, tenure status, area of specialization, and standing in the discipline.

C. A sample of any preliminary letter or e-mail used to ask if the referee was willing to provide an evaluation of the candidate.

D. A sample of the letter(s) formally requesting an evaluation, including the date or dates the request was made, and of the comparison list enclosed.

E. A sample of the follow-up letter, indicating the date the request was made, and a list of the people who received it.

F. Copies of all responses received, including those of any preliminary inquiry from the department or school.

                                   Departments and schools normally should collect only one round of evaluations as part of their internal assessment of a potential candidate. There may, however, be unusual circumstances where, with the special permission of the dean or vice president and the Provost, they ask for a few preliminary letters before embarking upon the process described above to obtain the referee letters. For example, a department or school may need a small number of evaluations to help it determine if it wants to open negotiations with a potential external candidate about moving to Columbia. Copies of all such letters should be included in the dossier, along with the following information:

A.  A complete list of the persons from whom the department or school solicited these assessments and their affiliations. Individuals who did not respond should be included with an indication that they did not write and an explanation of the reasons whhy, if that information is available.

B.  For each person, provide a brief description of his or her credentials, including complete title, area of specialization, and standing in the discipline.

C.  A sample of the letter(s) requesting the evaluation, including the date or dates the request was made.

D.  A copy of any comparison list included with the request for the evaluation.

E. Copies of all responses received.

Curriculum Vitae

     Submit a current curriculum vitae for the nominee, with its date of preparation, and any supplementary information that may be necessary in order to provide all of the following. Dates should be included where appropriate.

A.  Field of specialization

B.  Academic training

1.  Colleges and universities attended;

2.  Degrees;

3.  Dissertation title and name of sponsor; and

4.  Honors and fellowships received, society memberships (abbreviations should be explained).

C.  Teaching experience

1.  Courses which the nominee has taught and their enrollments (for internal candidates); and

2.  The nominee's experience as sponsor, first or second reader, and examiner of undergraduate majors and Master's and doctoral candidates; when possible, include the number of students in each category and titles of theses and dissertations.

D.  Employment record

All academic and non-academic positions held since baccalaureate degree was conferred.

E.  Publications (in bibliographic form)

1.  All published work;

2.  All unpublished work completed or in progress, together with information on the expected publisher when it is known.

Note: if any of the published or unpublished work was co-authored, indicate whether the nominee was the first author.

F.  Grants and contracts

1.  All grants and contracts, current and past that the nominee has received.

2.  All grants and contracts for which the nominee has applied but are still under review by the granting agency.

Note: For each grant or contract, include the full name of the granting agency, the period and amount of the award; and if the grant was awarded to more than one individual, an indication of whether the nominee was the principal investigator.

Statement of the Nominee

     The nominee should prepare a brief statement of no more than 5-10 pages on his or her current and future plans with regard to research and teaching. The purpose of the statement is to provide the ad hoc committee with information about projects that are underway but have not been completed and those that are still in the planning stage. This statement is required of all junior faculty being considered for promotion to tenure. The dean or vice president submitting the nomination may waive the requirement for an external candidate.


     The nominating department or school should provide a selected set of the nominee's published and other written works, to which it should attach a list of the materials submitted. The set need not be complete and should not be so large that it will be burdensome for the member of the ad hoc committee to read. It should, however, include a sufficient number of the candidate's key publications to be representative of the breadth and quality of his or her scholarship. It may include forthcoming publications and manuscripts, conference papers, and grant proposals that have a bearing on the nomination. If any of the papers or publications were written in collaboration with others, those works which the nominee was the principal author should be so indicated.  If important publications are in a language other than English, a brief synopsis in English of their content should be included.

     Seven sets of the selected material should be submitted with the copies of the nominee's dossier. Published books should be submitted in hard copy. They may be copied, double-sided, only when they are out of print and unavailable. Copies of articles should be checked for completeness and legibility. Missing pages and unreadable passages will lead to delays in scheduling the ad hoc review.

Supplementary Documentation

      Include in the candidate's dossier any additional information the nominating department or school wishes the ad hoc committee to consider, e.g., teaching citations, reviews of publications, etc.

Witnesses to Appear before the Ad Hoc Committee

     While the dean or department chair usually presents the case for the proposed appointment, this responsibility may be delegated to another faculty member who is closer to the field of the nominee. The nominating vice president, dean, or department chair should indicate who will present the case as part of the dossier. When a candidate is nominated by more than one department or school, a representative from each of the units is asked to appear.

     At the request of the nominating vice president, dean or department chair, the Office of the Provost will arrange for one additional witness to appear whose testimony will contribute to the ad hoc committee's evaluation of the purpose of the appointment, the nominee's accomplishments, and his or her qualifications for the position. The nominating vice president, dean, or department chair may recommend other witnesses as well, but the decision on whether to invite any further scholars to appear rests with the ad hoc committee.

Suggestions for Ad Hoc Committee Membership

     A dean or vice president is asked to suggest members of the Columbia faculty to serve on an ad hoc committee. These persons must be from departments other than those of the candidate. They also must not have served on a search committee which selected the nominee for a tenure appointment, written an evaluation of the nominee's qualifications, collaborated with the candidate, participated as members of the search committee which selected the nominee for the tenure appointment or served on a Faculty-wide personnel committee that assisted the dean or vice president in deciding whether to forward the nomination to the Provost.

Schedule for Submitting Materials to the Provost

     To assist the Office of the Provost in planning the work of the ad hoc system, deans or vice presidents should submit a list of individuals whom they expect to consider for tenure during the year no later than April 1 of the academic year preceding the expected nomination, with information on their department(s) and field of specialization. The list should also include the areas of specialization in which they plan to conduct an external search for a tenure appointment. For each candidate, the dean or vice president should provide an initial assessment of the likelihood of the nomination. If a nomination is certain, the dean or vice president should submit a list of recommended committee members at that time.

     When the identity of the candidate is known, the dean or vice president should by April 15 of the academic year preceding the expected nomination, send the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration the materials needed to identify the outside member of the ad hoc committee. These materials include:

• the candidate’s curriculum vitae;

• the recommendations of the department or school for the outside member;

• suggestions of scholars the Senior Vice Provost should consult for advice on the outside member;

• the proposed referee and comparison lists; and

• when the dean or vice president and the Provost have approved the collection of initial letters of evaluations, a list of the scholars from whom they were requested and copies of the responses received.

The lists should be annotated with the institutions and titles of the individuals who appear on them. These materials should be sent to the Senior Vice Provost in electronic form.

     In the case of some nominations, the candidate will not be known by April 15 of the preceding year. For example, searches may not be completed by that date. In addition, it may subsequently be necessary to organize an ad hoc review for a junior faculty member who is being recruited by another university. In such cases, the materials should be sent to the Senior Vice Provost as early as possible.

     The nomination and complete dossier for internal candidates must be submitted to the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration by December 17, 2010. The Provost will grant exceptions to that deadline only to meet a competing offer from another university or where there are other, special circumstances that make a late nomination unavoidable. A dossier is not considered complete until all of the materials described above have been submitted.

     Every effort should be made to identify external candidates as early as possible in the academic year. The University, along with most other major universities, endorses the AAUP policy guideline that sets May 15 as the last date that an offer can be made to a faculty member at another institution for appointment the following Fall. This offer cannot be a contingent one in any respect. In particular, it cannot be conditional on a favorable recommendation by an ad hoc committee, the Provost, or the President. To meet this deadline, schools and departments should request ad hoc reviews for external candidates and submit the supporting documentation by March 31, 2011 at the latest. Recognizing that negotiations with faculty at other universities can be protracted and delicate, the Provost will conduct ad hocs for external candidates nominated after that date. However, if such a review cannot be scheduled by May 15, the nominating dean or vice president will have to obtain a waiver of the AAUP’s deadline from the candidate’s institution before the ad hoc committee can be convened.