Tenure clock extensions due to COVID-19

Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic has created extraordinary circumstances that have significantly impacted productivity for faculty at Appalachian State University. While the University is working to mitigate this impact for all faculty, special attention must be given to our faculty working toward tenure and reappointment. Our pre-tenured faculty are on time-bound contracts that include mandatory years during which they must be considered for tenure or reappointment.

As a result of the extraordinary circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Appalachian State University is automatically extending the tenure/reappointment clock by one year for all pre-tenured faculty.

The policy, as passed by the Faculty Senate on April 27, 2020, states:

Due to disruption to faculty work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2019-2020academic year, all tenure-track faculty will have one year added to their probationary term. By no later than June 1 of the calendar year of the faculty member's original mandatory year, the faculty member must notify in writing their chair of their intent to submit a request to be considered for tenure in that fall term. Should the faculty member decide prior to the department's portfolio submission deadline that they do not wish to be considered that fall, they may withdraw their letter of intent.

Who will receive this extension?

All faculty who were in their probationary period during the Spring 2020 semester, and who were not on approved full-time leave during the 2019-20 academic year, will receive this extension. This includes all tenure-eligible, pre-tenured faculty, regardless of rank.

  • A faculty member on approved leave during the Fall of 2019 and/or the Spring of 2020 will automatically receive an additional year on their contract due to the leave, per Section 6.2.1.1(g) of the Faculty Handbook. Such faculty will not receive a second additional year under this policy.

How does this work?

   

Faculty in their first probationary term

For faculty in their first probationary term (i.e., those working toward reappointment), an additional year will be added to the current contract. That is, faculty in their first probationary term will have one additional year to work toward reappointment should they wish to retain that additional year.

  • Faculty who are considered for reappointment in the 2020-21 academic year can opt to have the additional year added to their second probationary term contract instead.

Faculty in their second probationary term

For faculty in their second probationary term (i.e., those working toward tenure), an additional year will be added to the current contract, such that the faculty member will have one additional year to work toward tenure should they wish to retain that additional year.

Contracts for pre-tenured faculty will clearly indicate both the original mandatory year for reappointment or tenure and the extension year. Faculty members should let their chairs know by June 1 of their original mandatory year for reappointment or tenure if they wish to go up for reappointment/tenure in that original year.

This indication of intent is only to permit department chairs to plan for PTC meetings during that academic year. The June 1 deadline is NOT a hard deadline; chairs have flexibility and discretion to move that deadline to a later date, and faculty members have the ability to later withdraw their intent (up until the portfolio submission deadline established by the department). The policy as passed by the Faculty Senate was intended to provide maximum flexibility to faculty, and we ask that chairs keep this in mind as they work with their pre-tenured faculty on the timing of their reappointment and tenure votes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my PTC hold it against me that I accepted the additional year, or expect that my productivity exceed departmental standards because I had an extra year?

No. There is a clear and definitive expectation that those who extend their tenure/reappointment clocks under this policy will not be prejudiced in the review process for having elected to retain this additional year.

If I decide to go up for tenure during my original mandatory year, am I actually going up "early" and would then be subject to the language in Section 3.8.5.13 of the Faculty Handbook, which states that I have to have demonstrated exceptional performance by exceeding departmental criteria?

No. A request by a faculty member to be considered for tenure during their original mandatory year is NOT a request for "early" tenure, per Section 3.8.5.13 of the Faculty Handbook. In this case, the faculty member is simply not accepting the extension year, and must only meet (not exceed) their departmental criteria.

Can I still go up for tenure one year early, per Section 3.8.5.13 of the Faculty Handbook?

Yes. Faculty retain the right, per Section 3.8.5.13 of the Faculty Handbook, to request review for promotion and tenure one year earlier than the original mandatory year. Per the Faculty Handbook, a faculty member who is unsuccessful in their early review may request review in the following, original mandatory year.

Can I go up for tenure or reappointment in my original mandatory year and, if I don't receive a positive recommendation, go up again the following year?

No. A faculty member who decides against the extension year and is considered for tenure or reappointment in their original mandatory year is bound to that decision. If, in such a case, the faculty member is denied tenure or reappointment, they cannot then opt to be re-considered in the following year. Being considered during the original mandatory year is not the same as being considered a year "early" as discussed in Section 3.8.5.13 of the Faculty Handbook.

I'm currently in my first probationary term, and am working toward reappointment. If I do not opt to take the extension year toward my first probationary term (reappointment), can I then apply the extension year to my second probationary term (tenure)?

Yes, but only if your mandatory year for reappointment is the 2020-21 academic year. In this case, you may opt to have the additional year added to your second probationary term contract, instead of your current, or first, probationary term contract.

There is language in the Faculty Handbook that the total time not counted toward a faculty member's probationary period with respect to permanent tenure may not exceed two academic years. Does the extension year granted under this policy count as one of those two years?

No. This year is being granted to all pre-tenured faculty due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis in an attempt to hold pre-tenured faculty as harmless as possible. The extension year granted under this policy will not count as one of the two years, per Section 3.8.5.12 of the Faculty Handbook.