APP 1-12: Academic Personnel Review Process

The following guidelines, which are based on policy found in APM Sections 160 and 220-80, are designed to assure fairness in the academic personnel review process. They set out the procedures to be followed to allow each faculty member access to information in his/her review file and the opportunity to comment on that information, as prescribed by University policy.

These procedures should be used for reviews involving most academic employees (titles specified in APM Policy 160-20-c (6)), modified as appropriate to departmental and campus procedures for actions in each series. For actions in some series, for example, consideration by the whole department is normally not required. For reviews concerning librarians or members of the Non-Senate Instructional Unit, consult the appropriate MOU.

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A. Chair Initiates Review

Timing: Before the Personnel Review File is Assembled

  1. The chair notifies the candidate of impending review (see UCI-AP-15 “Chair’s Guide for Academic Personnel Reviews”).
  2. The chair makes certain the candidate is adequately informed about the entire review process and is made aware of appointment and promotion criteria in APM Policies 210 and 220 and access to records in APM Policy 158, 160, 160 Appendices A and B.
  3. The chair makes certain the candidate is given an opportunity, within reasonable deadlines, to:
    1. Ask questions;
    2. Supply pertinent information and evidence;
    3. Suggest, where relevant, names of persons to be solicited for letters of evaluation; and
    4. Provide to the chair, in writing, names of persons who, for reasons set forth by the candidate, might not objectively evaluate the candidate’s qualifications and performance. Such a statement, if provided, shall be included in the personnel review file.
NOTE: It is not the candidate’s right to exclude eligible faculty or faculty administrators (chair, dean) from participation in their review. However, if the candidate believes there is a potential conflict of interest with a faculty administrator, the candidate may submit the rationale or evidence supporting this belief to the Vice Provost, Academic Personnel (VPAP). The VPAP will review the material and then discuss the potential for conflict and management of the conflict with the faculty administrators. If the potentially conflicted faculty administrator elects to recuse themselves from review of the candidate in their administrative role, they can still participate and vote at the Department level if they so choose. The VPAP will assign a surrogate faculty administrator in consultation with a non-conflicted faculty administrator. If the putatively conflicted faculty administrator opts not to recuse from the process, and the candidate believes the continued participation of the said faculty administrator has abridged their rights as laid out by the provisions of Senate Bylaw 335, the candidate retains the right to file a grievance with the Committee on Privilege and Tenure following the determination of the candidate’s personnel case.

Updated February 24, 2021, revisions by Committee on Privilege and Tenure and Vice Provost for Academic Personnel
B. Chair Solicits Confidential Letters
  1. In accordance with established policy applicable to the personnel action under consideration, the chair shall solicit letters from qualified persons, including a reasonable number of persons nominated by the candidate. If the candidate’s list includes all of the recognized experts in the field, this should be noted in the departmental letter. All solicited letters received must be included in the file.
    If the department’s practice is to solicit letters from individual students, especially graduate students, the unit should inform the students of UC’s guidelines on access to confidential letters. Each student should be aware that the faculty member may ask for and receive a redacted copy of his or her letter. Departments should establish consistent procedures that encourage candid evaluations from students and protect their confidentiality.
    The chair may also receive unsolicited letters. Generally, unsolicited letters should not be included in the file and should be returned. There may, of course, be exceptional cases of unsolicited letters that may be appropriately included in the review file. For example, if the letter provides a candid evaluation of some aspect of the faculty member’s work, it may be included.
    If unsolicited letters are used, the chair should include, attach or send a statement regarding confidentiality of such letters to the evaluators, and obtain written permission from the writers to include these letters in the file.
    NOTE: If a letter contains remarks improper to an academic personnel review, the question of whether or not to include the letter should be referred to the Office of Academic Personnel.
    The department chair may solicit letters from persons that the candidate under review has indicated might not be objective if the chair feels strongly that those persons would be appropriate. If this is the case, the dossier must include both the candidate’s statement indicating inappropriate referees and reasons for their inappropriateness and the chair’s reasons for soliciting letters from them.
  2. Letters of solicitation must include a statement specifying the degree of confidentiality of the letters.
    1. The following paragraph(s) should be included in all letters soliciting confidential evaluations:
      Although the contents of your letter may be passed on to the candidate at prescribed stages of the review process, your identity will be held in confidence. The material made available will lack the letterhead, the signature block, and material below the latter. Therefore, material that would identify you, particularly your relationship to the candidate, should be placed below the signature block. In any legal proceeding or other situation in which the source of the confidential information is sought, the University does its utmost to protect the identity of such sources.
  3. Where evaluation of publications is sought, it is helpful to include an updated bibliography and/or copies of publications not otherwise easily obtainable for the reviewer’s reference.
    1. It is suggested that chairs, when soliciting letters, indicate a date by which response is needed.
  4. When letters are solicited by telephone, it is important that written confirmation of the request with the appropriate confidentiality notification is sent as a follow-up.
C. Chair Provides Candidate with Access to Information

Timing: Before the Departmental Recommendation is Determined

  1. The Chair shall provide the candidate the opportunity to inspect all documents to be included in the personnel review file other than confidential academic review records, which shall be provided to the candidate upon request in redacted form.
  2. The chair shall provide to the candidate, upon request, access to confidential academic review records (as defined in APM 160-20-b(1)). The records shall be subject to redaction as follows:
    1. For a letter of evaluation or statement from individual evaluator, redaction shall consist of the removal of name, title, organizational/institutional affiliation, and relational information contained below the signature block of the letter of evaluation.
      Confidential individual letters of evaluation solicited from sources within the campus addressing specific questions (such as service on committees) should be included in the redaction as well as any outside letters.
      NOTE: The identities of persons who are sources of confidential documents shall not be disclosed.
    2. For information that refers to the scholarly credentials or relationship to the candidate of the authors of letters of evaluation, no access shall be provided to the individual/ This information will be described on From UCI-AP-11.
  3. The candidate may submit for inclusion in the personnel review file written statement commenting upon, or in response to , confidential or non-confidential material.
    The candidate’s response should be made available to the faculty prior to the meeting at which the departmental recommendation is determined.
    NOTE: If a candidate has received an oral summary and has not requested copies of redacted confidential materials within two working days, it will be assumed that the candidate does not intend to respond.
D. Department Determines Appropriate Recommendation

Timing: During the Departmental Review

  1. The chair is obligated to see to it that the departmental review is fair to the candidate and rigorous in maintaining University standards.
  2. The chair has the responsibility of making the complete file available for inspection by the voting members of the department before the departmental vote is taken.
    The “complete file” here refers to the review file prepared for the proposed personnel action and generally does not include previous review files or other materials which are not relevant for the proposed personnel action.
  3. The department shall adopt procedures under which the departmental letter setting forth the departmental recommendation shall be made available before being forwarded for inspection by all those members of the department eligible to vote on the matter or by a designated committee or group of such members. This letter may be written by the chair on behalf of the department, or by a departmental committee, as departmental procedures stipulate.
    The chair should ensure that individuals who have provided confidential letters of evaluation are not identified in the departmental letter except by code.
    If members of the department take issue with statements in the departmental letter, the letter should adjusted wherever possible. The departmental letter should be a statement which fully and clearly sets out the case for the action proposed and which accurately and fully sets out the substance of the departmental opinion, both pro and con, if necessary, on the case.
    NOTE: Once the departmental recommendation and opinion has been determined, it is not appropriate that the letter reflect opinions of those in the department who did not enter into the original deliberations and decision. For example, if a department habitually meets to discuss proposed actions and votes on them, it would not be appropriate for a member of the department who did not attend that meeting to expect that the departmental letter be modified to include arguments or opinions which he/she raised but which were not aired at the meeting. Individual members of the department who cannot participate personally in the departmental discussion for one reason or another should enter their opinions before the departmental discussion, by letter if necessary.
  4. If the chair should indicate his/her recommendation in a separate letter (the chair’s letter), the letter is not available for inspection by other department faculty and is treated in the same way as other confidential documents.
E. Chair Informs Candidate of Departmental Recommendation

Timing: After the Departmental Recommendation is Determined

  1. Before forwarding the personnel review file:
    1. The candidate shall be informed orally or upon request, in writing, of the departmental recommendation and the department evaluation.
      If the candidate has requested a copy of the departmental letter, the chair will provide information to the candidate, annotating the department letter with the date it was given to the candidate.
    2. The candidate has the right to make a written comment on the departmental recommendation. If the candidate wishes to write such a comment, the candidate should first request a copy of the department letter. The candidate’s written comment must be transmitted within five working days of receipt of the departmental letter, and may be addressed to either the chair or the dean. It shall become a part of the personnel review file.
      Candidates may insert their responses to the departmental recommendation at the level of the dean, if they so desire. However, under all but the most unusual circumstances, candidates should be encouraged to insert their letters at the departmental level (or to permit the dean to circulate the letter back through the department), so that the department will not lack evidence which might affect its recommendation. Any letter which the candidate insists that the department not see must bear the indication: “CANDIDATE ASKED THAT THIS LETTER NOT BE SHOWN TO THE DEPARTMENT.” This written comment shall become part of the personnel review file as the review proceeds.
      In the event the candidate responds to the departmental recommendation, the Chair may acknowledge the candidate’s response.
F. Opportunity to Provide Additional Information

Timing: During Academic Senate or Administrative Review of a Departmental Recommendation

  1. If, during the review process, the personnel file is found to be incomplete or inadequate, any additional information requested by reviewers shall be solicited through the Office of Academic Personnel.
  2. The department shall be shall be invited to comment on the new material.
    NOTE: If departmental procedures allow, the department chair may respond on behalf of the department.
  3. The candidate will have an opportunity to access and respond to the new material governed by APM 220-80-d,-e,-h, and -i.
G. Candidate's Access to Completed Review

Timing: After the Final Administrative Decision Has Been Communicated to the Candidate

The candidate shall have the right, upon written request, to receive from the Chancellor or other designated administrative officer a written statement of the reasons for the decision, including a copy of non-confidential documents and a redacted copy of the confidential academic review records in the personnel review file.

Refer to APP 1-11, Confidential Information regarding confidential information and summaries for more information.

H. Additional Safeguards for Tenure Reviews

According to Academic Personnel regulations, each appointment or reappointment of an assistant professor is for a maximum term of two years. Thus, it is possible that non-reappointment of an assistant professor may occur at the end of any such term of contract.

A proposal for non-reappointment of an assistant professor may originate with the department chair as a result of departmental review during consideration of reappointment or promotion to tenure. The case shall be reviewed in accordance with polices outlined in APM 220-82, 220-83, and 220-84.

If, during review of a departmental recommendation in favor of reappointment or promotion to tenure, there is a recommendation for non-reappointment from the dean, ad hoc review committee, and/or the Council on Academic Personnel; and if the Executive Vice Chancellor’s preliminary assessment is for non-reappointment, then before a final decision for non-reappointment is made:

  1. The dean, chair and candidate shall be notified of the preliminary assessment in writing by the Executive Vice Chancellor.
  2. The dean, chair, and candidate shall be provided redacted copies of all confidential materials added to the candidate’s personnel review file after the departmental recommendation.
  3. After receipt of the notice of preliminary assessment, the candidate will have five days to respond to the department and will have the opportunity to provide, in writing, any additional information and documentation. The chair, after appropriate consultation within the department, shall then have the opportunity to respond in writing and to provide additional information and documentation. In addition, the candidate will have the opportunity to review additional information submitted on his/her behalf by the department.
  4. The personnel review file, as augmented by the new material, shall then be considered in the review process by the Council on Academic Personnel before a final decision is reached by the Chancellor.
I. Special Considerations

Faculty on leave

If an appointee is on leave during his/her personnel review, the procedures in APP 1-12 to assure fairness should be followed as closely as possible by mail. Since chairs know in advance when an individual is going to take leave, they should complete as much of the review file as possible prior to the individual’s leave. If it is impossible to complete all steps of the procedures outlined in this policy prior to leave or by mail, and the department chair determines that the review file should go forward, the steps completed without consultation with the candidate should be noted in the file. Upon the candidate’s return to campus, the chair should inform the individual of the status of his/her review file.

In reviewing merits/promotion files, reviewers should consider, if a faculty member takes a medical leave they are not required to make progress during the period of time they are out on approved leave. For example, a documented medical leave of two quarters during a three-year review period would require achievements in all areas consistent with two years and one quarter.

Application of These Procedures to New Appointments

Procedures in APP 1-12 to assure fairness in review apply only to candidates who are currently University of California employees. They do not apply to candidates proposed for new appointments who are not currently University of California employees. However, the general principles of fairness in the review process should be accorded to prospective new appointees to whatever degree is feasible.

Ensuring Timeliness in Reviews

The following procedural guidelines should eliminate unnecessary delays in the review process while maintaining the University’s commitment to assure candidates of a fair review:

  1. Department chairs should establish, in writing, a deadline for the submission by candidates of all material for their review files. In all cases, candidates must have a reasonable period of time to gather and submit the material. The established deadline should also allow the necessary time for voting members of the department to review the material prior to the departmental meeting on the candidate’s case.
  2. If material is received after the departmental meeting and vote, the chair shall determine whether or not the added material is of such significance that it might change the departmental vote or recommendation. If so, it should be reviewed by all voting members and a new departmental meeting should be scheduled to reconsider the case. If the chair determines that the new material is not of such substance as to require a new departmental meeting and/or vote, the chair should take steps to include the material in the file and describe the degree of departmental review of the material.
    The candidate should also be informed of the degree of departmental review and asked to sign the “Certification Statement for Additional Information Added to Academic Reviews” (Form UCI-AP-50A) as an indication of the candidate’s awareness that the material has been added to the file.

Certification Statement

  1. Faculty are asked to review and sign the Certification Statement for Academic Personnel Reviews, Form UCI-AP-50, to indicate that these procedures have been followed in their reviews.
    1. If the individual under review believes the fairness procedures were not followed, the individual should so indicate on the form. It is then the chair’s responsibility to discuss the omitted procedural step(s) with the candidate in order to remedy the situation. If the candidate is then satisfied, he/she should sign a second Certification Statement. If the chair feels the candidate has had his/her rights, but the candidate does not, the chair should forward a memo explaining the disagreement along with the Certification Statement.
  2. The Certification Statement for Additional Information Added to Academic Review, Form UCI-AP-50A, must be completed by all faculty for any subsequent additions to their personnel review file (e.g., publications, additional letters of evaluation, responses to tentative decisions by the departments, etc.).

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