Frequently Asked Questions in Regard to PTC Issues

What constitutes a quorum in a PTC?

The standard definition of a quorum in Robert's Rules of Order is that the majority of an assembly must be present to conduct business. That is, if there are twenty members of a group, eleven must be present to constitute a quorum. The same requirement for a quorum applies to PTCs, with one additional provision. The Handbook (4.1.8.3) provides that absentee votes will be counted in PTCs, whereas Robert's really does not provide for a mixture of absentee and in person votes in an assembly. Because of the mixed voting method for PTCs, a quorum is defined as a majority of the PTC, counting both those present and those having provided an absentee ballot on the question at hand.

That underlined phrase is important. If a PTC of twenty has nine members present and two absentee ballots in favor of tenure for Candidate A, a quorum exists to make a recommendation regarding Candidate A. But if those same nine members are present but there are no absentee ballots regarding the case of Candidate B, the PTC cannot conduct business regarding Candidate B. Nor can the PTC conduct any other business as long as only nine members are present (either in-person or through absentee ballots specifically related to the question at hand). To explain the matter in somewhat different terms, it is possible to have a PTC quorum consisting of a combination of members, some who are present in-person and some who are present through having provided the committee chair with absentee ballots. But the absentee ballots must specifically relate to a question before the PTC. It is impermissible for a PTC member to be generically counted "present" for a meeting just because he or she has submitted an absentee ballot on one matter.

Another issue in relation to a PTC quorum is should departments count full time administrators whose tenure home is in the department in their total number of PTC members. The Faculty Handbook does not address this issue, but on a pragmatic level it is suggested that administrators who make recommendations on promotion and tenure will not want to attend meetings nor should they. Chairs might be wise to check with departmental members who have other kinds of full time administrative assignments to see if they want to participate. Faculty Senate may want to address this matter.

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What constitutes a positive or negative vote in PTCs?

All motions must be stated in the affirmative (4.1.8.7). A majority in favor of an affirmative motion means that it passes and that the candidate is being recommended. A majority against an affirmative motion means that a candidate is not being recommended. Regardless of the outcome, the vote tally is reported.

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Can an abstention vote be cast at a PTC meeting?

According to Roberts rules "an abstention is not a vote and is not counted as a vote" [(11th ed.), p. 400, ll. 7-12; p. 401, ll. 8-11; p. 403, ll. 13-24). When members abstain, they are in effect only attending the meeting to aid in constituting a quorum.

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Can a faculty member on OCSA or FML serve on a PTC?

Yes, faculty members on OCSA and faculty members on medical leave may participate as members of the PTC, but neither can be required to participate.

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How will additional members of PTCs be elected in departments with fewer than four tenured faculty members?

As stated in FH 4.1.6.1 In departments with fewer than four (4) tenured faculty members, the tenured faculty members will make nominations of tenured faculty in allied disciplines on campus and will elect from those nominated for a total of four (4) members who will serve for one year. Every election made to or by departmental Promotion and Tenure Committees shall use the procedures in Robert's Rules of Order as currently revised.

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Is a tenured faculty member going up for promotion in an academic year eligible for service on the PTC during that academic year?

Yes.

FH 4.1.8.8 A member may be present at the promotion and tenure committee meeting in which his or her case will be considered for the sole purpose of presenting information and answering questions. The candidate will be recused from the discussion and from the vote on his or her promotion. The candidate may rejoin the meeting for other considerations and will be allowed to participate in other PTC meetings during the year. Notification of results of the PTC vote for all candidates will not take place until the meeting is over. A member of the promotion and tenure committee may not address the PTC or cast a vote on any matter before the committee that concerns any related person.

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How can absentee ballots be cast?

4.1.8.3 Face-to-face deliberations among the departmental PTC members are a crucial part of the faculty review of candidates being considered for reappointment, promotion, tenure, and/or Emeritus status. The justification of votes in writing should take place only after, and cannot substitute for, such face-to-face deliberation. All reasonable efforts must be made to attend meetings to discuss the candidate's case. Absentee votes and vote justification letters are, therefore, permitted only in extenuating circumstances.

Departments may create rules governing the casting of absentee ballots, but departments may not prohibit the casting of absentee ballots. Departments may not create rules governing absentee ballots that are less restrictive than those given below.

At a minimum, absentee ballots must be delivered to either the department chair or the chair of the PTC no later than 5:00 p.m. on the business day before the PTC meeting is to take place. The absentee ballot must be delivered in a form (email, signed letter, hand-delivered ballot) that provides assurance that the ballot is genuine and is from an eligible voter. The PTC chair must be in possession of all absentee ballots at the beginning of the PTC meeting, and the PTC chair will announce the number of verified, relevant absentee ballots to be cast on a question at the beginning of the discussion of the affirmative motion. The PTC quorum consists of a combination of members, some who are present in-person and some who are present through having provided the committee chair with absentee ballots. The absentee ballots must specifically relate to a question before the PTC to be counted as part of the quorum. The identity of the voters casting absentee ballots will not be announced to the other PTC members. One area developed this procedure which provides clear directions:

  1. Obtain a packet of ballots from the departmental office in time to submit by 5pm on the business day before the PTC meeting is to take place.
  2. Enclose only one (1) ballot and one (1) Vote Justification Form (voluntary) per action per person in a standard business envelope (aka #10 envelope).
  3. Write your name on the outside of each envelope.
  4. Write the candidate's name and PTC action on each envelope, e.g. Jane Doe, Promotion.
  5. If voting on more than one action for a single person (e.g., promotion & tenure), use separate envelopes for each action completed as in b-d above.
  6. Deliver the envelope(s) in-person to PTC chair prior to 5pm on the business day prior to the meeting.
  7. The PTC chair will separate the envelope from the ballot and/or Vote Justification Form at the time of count to maintain anonymity of all votes.

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Why should members of the PTC fill out vote justification forms explaining their votes?

4.1.8.4 Voting will be carried out anonymously by paper ballots. In addition, each member of the departmental promotion and tenure committee (PTC) shall be encouraged to complete a university-wide vote justification form citing specific evidence of why the candidate does or does not meet departmental criteria for contract renewal, promotion, and/or tenure in the areas of teaching, research, and service as per the departmental guidelines. These forms are designed to provide important information to the deans and the provost in making their decisions.

The vote justification forms, which may be anonymous, shall be submitted within three working days of the PTC meeting at which the vote is taken. These letters shall be given to the committee chair, who will then provide these to the departmental chair and the dean at the end of the aforementioned working days, and sent through the dean to the provost and executive vice chancellor.

Essentially, PTC members are asked to explain how they compared the candidate's record to the relevant criteria. Criteria may be departmental, college/school, university, or University of North Carolina system criteria. PTC members are only responsible for discussing the criteria that they used. In most instances, they will primarily use departmental criteria, and the vote justification form specifically prompts PTC members to compare candidates to departmental criteria as stated in an approved departmental document. Vote justification forms will provide information about the recommendation of the PTC for the faculty candidate, the chair, the dean, and the provost.

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