APP 3-50: Assistant Professors – Special Considerations

Specifies the terms of appointment as well as the timing of the mid-career appraisal and the tenure review.

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A. Each Appointment and Reappointment of an Assistant Professor is Limited to a Maximum Term of Two Years

Reappointment Review Process

Until an assistant professor has achieved promotion to tenure, a department chair must submit one of the following recommendations for each assistant professor who is serving the second year of appointment.

  1. Reappointment with a Merit Increase – In a normal case, the expectation is that an assistant professor will make satisfactory progress toward tenure and that the department will therefore recommend a two-year reappointment with a merit increase.
    NOTE: The department may wish to recognize exceptional achievement by recommending a merit increase for an assistant professor who is serving the first year of a two-year appointment. If this accelerated increase is approved, its effective date will mark the beginning of a new two-year appointment.
  2. Reappointment without a Merit Increase – If progress toward tenure is minimally acceptable but not outstanding, the department may recommend a two-year reappointment without a merit increase.
  3. Non-reappointment – In the case of an assistant professor who is not making minimally acceptable progress toward tenure, the department may recommend a terminal appointment.
B. Total University Service in the Assistant Professor and Other Specified Titles May Not Exceed 8 Years

In the University of California system, in order to remain as a tenured member of the faculty, a person must earn promotion from assistant professor to associate professor before the end of eight years of service. (See Appendix I of this section for guidelines on determining years toward the eight-year limit.) In some cases, appointees can receive additional time on the clock for childrearing. This type of approved leave will extend the eight-year maximum limit.

It should be noted that appointees are not guaranteed eight years of employment. The eight-year limit refers to the maximum amount of time in which the University may offer appointment in restricted titles. Decisions about retention and advancement are based on careful reviews of the appointee’s promise, progress and achievement. A review may result in a recommendation for non-reappointment earlier than the sixth year but not later than the seventh year because of the requirement to give a 12-month notice to the appointee.

Tenure Review Process

A department is required to conduct a formal appraisal of an assistant professor’s standing in regard to promotion to tenure both at mid-career (in the third or fourth year of service under the eight-year rule) and at the time of the tenure review (normally in the sixth year). The following table illustrates the timing of the tenure review in a normal case under the eight-year rule:

Years Toward TenureActionsComments
First YearInitial appointment
Second Year
Third Year
Fourth YearMid-career appraisal May occur earlier
Fifth Year
Sixth YearNormal tenure reviewPostponement to seventh year possible.
Seventh YearIf postponement is approved: mandatory academic year for tenure review to begin
Eighth YearReserved for notice (if necessary)
Appendix II in this section illustrates differences in the timing of the tenure review for an assistant professor appointed with a mid-year (other than July 1) effective date. See Appendix III for special timing of the tenure review for an assistant professor who has received a “childrearing extension.”

Mid-career Appraisal

Department chairs are responsible for conducting midcareer appraisals of assistant professors and persons in equivalent ranks during the third or fourth year of service under the eight-year rule. The purpose of the midcareer appraisal is for the department to provide the assistant professor with a careful, considered analytical evaluation of his or her performance to date in the areas of teaching, research and creative work, professional competence and activity, and university and public service, and to make a candid prediction concerning the probability or improbability of a favorable promotion decision based upon the evidence. Outside letters may be obtained but are not required if members of the department have the expertise to make the assessment.

Mid-career appraisal files often include a recommendation for reappointment or for a merit increase. The Mid-career Appraisal file and the reappointment/merit recommendation may be submitted with a single letter with reappointment/merit followed by specific section for Mid-career Appraisal.  However, there may be cases where the activity during the reappointment/merit period was significantly different than the full Mid-career Appraisal period, and therefore this might be best covered in two separate letters.  A separate department vote for reappointment/merit and Mid-career Appraisal will be required.  The department should assess the complete record-to-date (including work in progress), and it should carefully and frankly assess the prospects for the individual’s achieving promotion based upon continuation of that record. The appraisal should note specific areas of deficiency (if any) and should recommend actions to be taken by the individual and/or the department and chair.

The Mid-Career Appraisal should be clearly labeled as “Positive,” “Provisional Positive,” “Guarded,” or “Negative.”

  1. Positive: on the current trajectory the probability of a positive tenure decision is good.
  2. Provisional Positive: with improvements that address specific noted concerns, the probability of a positive tenure decision is good.
  3. Guarded: improvements that address moderate concerns in research/scholarship and/or teaching and service will be required to change the trajectory toward a positive tenure decision.
  4. Negative: improvement to address major weaknesses in research/scholarship and/or teaching and service will be required to change trajectory, and candidate cannot request postponement of tenure case.

The department or a designated committee should have reviewed the appraisal (with notation that a copy has been provided to the candidate.) The letter should assess the candidate’s prospects for promotion, contain a report of the faculty opinion and vote and an evaluation of the candidate’s performance in the following areas:

  1. Teaching
  2. Research or creative work
  3. Professional competence and activity
  4. University and public service

The chair must also convey to the candidate, in writing, the substance of the mid-career appraisal, along with any recommendations for changes in activities or emphasis. (A copy of this written statement should be included in the file.) The Council on Academic Personnel urges that the mid-career assessment be prepared by a departmental sub-committee instead of the department chair. After approval by the departmental faculty, the candidate should be given the opportunity to examine and comment on the assessment.

Because the mid-career appraisal is directed primarily to the candidate, it is in the best interest of the candidate and the department that the mid-career appraisal be careful, cautious and candid, addressing problems where they exist while there is still time for adjustment and improvement. It is important that the faculty member is made thoroughly aware, in a formal way, of his or her situation in regard to eventual promotion.

The mid-career appraisal should be forwarded to Academic Personnel through the appropriate dean. The Council on Academic Personnel will review the mid-career appraisal and decide whether it wishes to conduct further review. Academic Personnel will notify the chair (via the dean) of CAP’s decision, and at that time the chair should forward to the candidate any comments received from subsequent reviewers.

Postponement of Tenure Review

Review for promotion to tenure normally takes place in the sixth year of service under the eight-year limit; however, postponement is possible.

In the latter half of an assistant professor’s fifth year (under the eight-year rule), the department should determine whether the tenure review should take place, as normal, in the sixth year or whether circumstances exist which justify postponement of the tenure review until the seventh year. Postponement of the tenure review will be justified if the candidate has significant work in progress, the evaluation of which will occur within a year but not in time to be included in a sixth-year review.

Postponement may be justified in the case of an assistant professor who has a childrearing extension, and is making sustained progress, even if it is at a slower pace. A postponement may also be appropriate under exceptional circumstances, such as when serious illness has disrupted the candidate’s normal progress, but there is still sufficient evidence that a seventh-year tenure review will be successful.

Postponement of the tenure review is not appropriate for an assistant professor whose midcareer appraisal was negative, or for an assistant professor who has been reappointed without a merit increase.

To request postponement, the assistant professor should provide tangible evidence to the department that the record will change significantly in the sixth year. The department should discuss the evidence and vote for or against postponement of the tenure review.

The postponement file must be accompanied by the candidate’s full merit or reappointment file, which will normally be required for continuation beyond the sixth year. Form UCI-AP-38 itemizes the documentation required for the postponement of tenure review. The postponement file, accompanied by the merit or reappointment file, is forwarded to the appropriate dean’s office for recommendation, for further review by the Council on Academic Personnel and the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel.

Tenure Review

At the time of the tenure review (in the sixth or, with postponement, the seventh year), the department will submit one of the following recommendations:

  1. Promotion – If the department determines that the assistant professor’s record meets or exceeds the university’s expectations for promotion to the rank of associate professor, the department will recommend promotion to tenure.
  2. Non-reappointment – If the department determines that the assistant professor’s record does not meet the university’s criteria for promotion to tenure, the department should recommend non-reappointment, or a one-year terminal appointment if this is necessary to provide notice.
    NOTE: When a tenure review results in a recommendation for non-reappointment at any level, reviewers still need to follow the procedures to ensure fairness in the review of assistant professors set forth in APM Policy 220-84 and in this manual (APP 1-12). It is essential that a recommendation for non-reappointment be as carefully and thoroughly documented as a recommendation for promotion.
  3. Preliminary Assessment Procedure – In August, 1993, the campus was issued revised APM Section 220-84-b concerning preliminary assessment notification by the Executive Vice Chancellor in nonreappointment cases.During a tenure review of an assistant professor (or a comparable review for an assistant professor in residence, assistant professor of clinical X, or assistant adjunct professor), if the Executive Vice Chancellor’s preliminary assessment is for non-reappointment, the department chair and the candidate will be notified in writing and will have an opportunity to respond after receiving access to extra departmental documents in the review file.Under this policy, intact copies of the dean’s letter and the CAP report, plus redacted copies of the chair’s letter and any ad hoc report, will be sent to the candidate via the dean’s office at the time of the preliminary assessment. In addition, a copy of the department letter and redacted copies of outside letters will be provided to the candidate if he or she did not request such access at the time of the department review. Candidates will be given five working days to submit any additional materials to their chairs. Policy allows the candidate to respond directly to the Executive Vice Chancellor if he or she chooses, but the response will be returned to the department for advice. This response, together with additional recommendations from the department and dean, will be returned to the Council on Academic Personnel for final review.
Appendix I: How to Determine Years Toward the Eight-Year Rule

Years of service toward the eight- year limit are calculated from the beginning of the first complete quarter of service (see APM Policy 133-17 for complete details). Some special considerations for figuring years of service are:

  1. Service in acting professor and visiting professor titles counts toward the eight-year limit.
  2. Normally, appointments at any percent of time (including 0%, or Without Salary) count toward the eight- year limit. See APM Policy 133 for exceptions.
  3. A break in service does not invalidate the counting of service prior to the break.
  4. Periods of service on any campus of the University of California in any combination of the titles listed in APM Policy 133 count toward the eight- year limit.
  5. Applicability of periods of leave toward the eight- year limit:
    1. Periods of leave, whether with or without salary, will be included as service toward the eight- year period unless the Chancellor, after consultation with the Council on Academic Personnel but prior to approval of the leave, determines that the activity undertaken during the course of the leave is substantially unrelated to the individual’s academic career. (On this campus approved leave due to illness is normally excluded.)
    2. Any childbearing or parental leave which is equal to or exceeds one quarter is automatically excluded from service toward the eight- year limit. The maximum time which may be excluded for one or more of these leaves is one academic year (3 quarters for a 9- month academic appointee and 4 quarters for an 11- month fiscal year academic appointee) for each event of birth or adoption.
    3. Exclusion of one or two quarters will not necessarily affect the timing of the tenure or promotion review, since these reviews are conducted on an academic-year basis.
  6. An assistant professor who is responsible for 50 percent or more of the care of a newborn child or a child under age five newly placed for adoption or foster care is eligible to request that their tenure clock be stopped for up to one year for each event of birth or placement, provided that all the time off the clock totals no more than two years in the probationary period.   This request must be made within two years of the birth or placement of the child and exercised before July 1 of the academic year in which a promotion review is to occur (no later than the second half of the actual fifth year).  See APP 3-50, Appendix III.
Appendix II: Special Timing of the Tenure Review for Mid-Year Appointees

Service toward the eight-year limit for 9-month appointees is counted in quarter units (three quarters = one year). When total service includes a fraction of a year, the total should normally be rounded in years of service for review purposes. As an example, an assistant professor hired spring quarter, 2006, would normally be reviewed for tenure in the 2011-2012 academic year (the sixth year). This timing is necessary in order to provide a period for the review and to allow for a full year’s notice in the event of non-reappointment.

The following table illustrates the timing of reviews for a 9-month academic year appointee with a mid- year appointment effective at the beginning of Winter Quarter:

Table I: Mid-year Appointments (9-month – Winter Quarter)

Academic Years of ServiceMonths Toward TenureActionsComments
First Year (partial)Winter and Spring only- Quarters 1,2Initial appointment
Second YearQuarters 3,4,5
Third YearQuarters 6,7,8
Fourth YearQuarters 9,10,11Mid-career appraisalMay occur earlier
Fifth YearQuarters 12,13,14
Sixth YearQuarters 15,16,17Normal tenure reviewPostponement to seventh year possible
Seventh YearQuarters 18,19,20If postponement is approved: mandatory academic year for tenure review to begin
Eighth YearQuarters 21,22,23Quarters 22 and 23 must be reserved for notice (if necessary)
Ninth YearFall only- Quarter 24Quarter 24 available for notice (if necessary)

The following table illustrates the timing of reviews for a 9- month academic year appointee with a mid-year appointment effective at the beginning of Spring quarter:

Table II: Mid-year Appointments (9-month – Spring Quarter)

Academic Years of ServiceMonth Towards TenureActionsComments
(partial)Spring only- Quarter 1Initial appointment
First YearQuarters 2,3,4
Second YearQuarters 5,6,7
Third YearQuarters 8,9,10
Fourth YearQuarters 11,12,13Mid-career appraisalMay occur earlier
Fifth YearQuarters 14,15,16
Sixth YearQuarters 17,18,19Normal tenure reviewPostponement to seventh year possible
Seventh YearQuarters 20,21,22If postponement is approved: mandatoryQuarter 22 must be reserved for notice (if necessary)
Eighth YearFall and Winter only- Quarters 23,24Quarters 23 and 24 available for notice (if necessary)

Service toward the eight- year limit for 11- month fiscal year appointees is counted in 12 monthly units. When total service includes a fraction of a year, the total should normally be rounded upward in determining years of service for review purposes. Thus, any period from 61 months through 72 months should be counted as six years for such purposes.

The following table illustrates the timing of reviews for an 11- month fiscal year appointee with a mid- year appointment effective at the beginning of spring quarter (April 1):

Table III: Mid-year Appointments (11-month – Spring Quarter)

Academic Years of ServiceMonths Toward TenureActionsComments
(partial)Spring Quarter only- Months 1-3Initial appointment
First YearMonths 4-15
Second YearMonths 16-27
Third YearMonth 28-39
Fourth YearMonths 40-51Mid-career appraisalMay occur earlier
Fifth YearMonths 52-63
Sixth YearMonths 64-75Normal tenure reviewPostponement to seventh year possible
Seventh YearMonths 76-87If postponement is approved: mandatory academic year for tenure review to beginMonths 85-87 must be reserved for notice (if necessary)
Eighth YearSummer, Fall and Winter Quarters only- Months 88-96Months 88-96 available for notice (if necessary)

The following table may be used as a worksheet to plan the timing of reviews for an 11- month fiscal year appointee with a mid- year appointment different from the case illustrated above:

Table IV: Mid-year Appointments (11-month)

Academic Years of ServiceMonths Toward TenureActionsComments
(partial)Months ____ to ____Initial appointment
First YearMonths ____ to ____
Second YearMonths ____ to ____
Third YearMonths ____ to ____
Fourth YearMonths ____ to ____Mid-career appraisalMay occur earlier
Fifth YearMonths ____ to ____
Sixth YearMonths ____ to ____Normal tenure reviewPostponement to seventh year possible
Seventh YearMonths ____ to ____If postponement is approved: mandatory academic year for tenure review to begin
Eighth YearMonths ____ to ____Quarter/s ____ must be reserved for notice (if necessary)
Ninth Year (partial)Months ____ to ____Quarter/s ____ available for notice (if necessary)
Appendix III: Special Timing of the Promotion/Tenure Review for Faculty with Child-rearing Extensions

Any faculty member at the Assistant level, which falls under the provisions of APM 133, have the right, under certain circumstances provided for in policy APM 133-17-h, to initiate a stop the clock during the pre-tenure review time (the probationary period).

Requesting a “Stop the Clock”

A faculty member may request to stop the clock during the probationary period for personal reasons:

  1. Childbearing or Childrearing: care for any child who is, or becomes part of the faculty member’s family. A faculty member at the Assistant level must be responsible for 50 percent or more of the care of the child.
  2. Serious Health Condition Including Disability or Bereavement: A faculty member may request to stop the clock during the probationary period, when his or her ability to pursue his or her duties is significantly disrupted by a serious health condition or disability, by the need to care for a close family member who is seriously ill, or by the death of a close family member. This provision also covers other persons residing in the faculty member’s household or cases involving close personal connection or interdependence.
  3. Significant Circumstances or Event: A faculty member may request to stop the clock during the probationary period, for reasons due to a significant circumstance or event beyond the faculty member’s control that disrupts the faculty member’s ability to pursue his or her duties.

A faculty member may be granted no more than two years of extension during the probationary period. The birth or placement of one or more children at the same time constitutes a single event of birth or placement. An academic appointee must provide notice of his or her intent to stop the clock before July 1 of the academic year in which a promotion review is to occur. To initiate a Stop the Clock, complete the Stop the Clock Certification Form (UCI-AP-92).

  1. “Stop the Clock” is not a leave; it is a stoppage of the tenure clock and will automatically defer a mid-career appraisal and/or promotion review by one year. Please note, faculty at the Assistant level have the option to still submit a Mid-Career Appraisal and/or promotion/promotion to tenure review during its normal time.
  2. In order to automatically defer a Mid-Career Appraisal, the notification to “Stop the Clock” must be submitted by the end of the faculty member’s third year (by June 30). If the notification to “Stop the Clock” is submitted after the Mid-Career Appraisal, the notification of intent to “Stop the Clock” must be made before July 1 of the academic year in which a tenure or promotion review is to occur.
NOTES: (1) Quarters “off the clock” due to a combination of Childbearing Leave, Parental Leave, and/or Primary Child-rearing Responsibility may not exceed one year for each event of childbirth or adoption. (2) Because the review cycle is conducted in terms of full, not partial, years, and partial years count toward the next full year, exclusion of one or two quarters for an academic year appointee or up to three quarters for a fiscal year appointee will not necessarily affect the timing of the tenure or promotion review.

*The child may be the appointee’s child or that of the appointee’s spouse or domestic partner. 

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