Wildcat Statue

Department Head Promotion & Tenure Policy

Department Head Promotion & Tenure Policy

Academic Affairs, call 906-227-2920 or fax 906-227-2928

The policy set forth below applies to all academic department heads who are in a tenure-earning appointment.  Elements of the policy provide guidelines and expectations for tenure and/or promotion procedures for academic department heads.

Qualifications and General Principles

Department heads are expected to provide effective academic leadership for their department, which is part of their assigned responsibilities; and to set a standard of academic excellence in their other responsibilities including teaching (as assigned by the Dean), professional development (including scholarship) and service.  

Tenure: The provisions of the Master Agreement, Articles 5.5.1 through 5.5.3 shall be considered as generally applicable to department heads.  

Promotion: Appointment to the position of department head is a tenured or tenure-earning appointment usually at the rank of Associate or Full Professor.  Such an appointment should reflect a sufficiently strong record of achievement so as to merit one of the more senior faculty ranks.  Hence, for those individuals appointed to a department headship at a rank of less than Full Professor, the minimum credentials necessary to be considered for promotion in rank shall be: 

  • For Associate Professor: An earned doctorate or other appropriate terminal degree from an accredited institution as stipulated in the department’s bylaws, subject to the review and approval of the appropriate dean and VPAA;  normally six years at the Assistant Professor rank; a record of achievement in assigned responsibilities (leadership and teaching), professional development (scholarship) and service that meets or exceeds the standards for promotion to Associate Professor described in the Master Agreement and the department’s bylaws. 
  • For Professor: An earned doctorate (or other appropriate terminal degree) from an accredited institution as stipulated in the department's bylaws, normally five years at the Associate Professor rank; a record of achievement in assigned responsibilities (leadership and teaching), professional development (scholarship) and service that meets or exceeds the standards for promotion to Professor described in the Master Agreement and the department’s bylaws. 

Note:  These requirements are to be regarded as the minimum levels of academic preparation and achievement to be considered for promotion, i.e., promotion is not automatic upon meeting these requirements. (Note: Minimum credentials may be specified in greater detail by the individual college unit.) 


Application Process

A department head wishing to apply for tenure and/or promotion must submit an application consisting of five parts: 

  1. General information including applicant's name, department, date submitted, promotion history, educational attainments (baccalaureate through doctorate, if applicable), brief employment history, and letter of appointment from the University.  Also, provide a summary in outline format of professional and administrative accomplishments together with a statement of rationale as to the basis for the application. 
  2. Current curriculum vitae.
  3. Assigned responsibilities: Must include the department head's job description, yearly evaluations from the dean, a summary of student evaluations for all courses taught during the three years immediately preceding the year-of-application, and any additional documentation pertaining to teaching related endeavors such as course proposals and course syllabi.  Accompanying this summary should be a brief statistical analysis that will help explicate trends and matters of special note. 
  4. Professional development activities: This includes accomplishments resulting from research, scholarship and professional creative endeavors such as publications in professional journals, formal exhibitions, and presentations at professional meetings; also included are involvement in professional conferences, consulting, grants, etcetera.  A summary of professional development activities related to management, leadership    and/or the department head assignment should also be included here.
  5. Service: This includes, for example, committee assignments, service to the university, service to professional organizations, and professionally-related community service.  

The criteria outlined here generally parallel the judgmental criteria set forth in article 5.6.3 of the NMU-AAUP Master Agreement.  The more detailed standards for tenure and promotion described in the department's bylaws should provide a useful frame of reference for both the applicant and those involved in the tenure/promotion evaluation process.  However, since the standards outlined in the bylaws are designed as a performance gauge for full time faculty, expectations for "significant accomplishments" must be tempered in applying those bylaws to the evaluation of the department head.  Across the university, the administrative and other professional responsibilities of department heads are diverse in nature and the proportion of time available to department heads for teaching, research and service endeavors is highly variable. 

What this implies is the need for a more qualitative approach in evaluating the contributions and performance of a department head.  In the teaching category, for example, we would expect student advising, student and colleague evaluations, documentation of course development, and so on to be equally as high/strong as for a full-time faculty member; we would simply not expect as much of this effort quantitatively.  Similarly, in the area of professional development we would expect publications, grant proposals, presentations and the like to be similar in quality to those of a faculty member in that department.  The quantitative level of such effort would need to meet standards described in the bylaws of the department but would differ as between department heads, however, depending upon the relative level of administrative obligations. 

Under all circumstances the tenure/promotion applicant is responsible for providing the kind of description and documentation, including applicable colleague review, appropriate to demonstrate accomplishments in each of the three criteria.  In preparing the application, the department head should consider the importance of effective presentation as well as the need for documentation appropriate to support the statement of accomplishments outlined in the first part of the application. 

Note: The Tenure Review Process set forth in Article 5.5.5 of the Master Agreement is generally applicable to department heads on tenure earning appointments.  A key exception, however, is that it is the Dean, rather than the "department" or "departmental evaluation committee" who has responsibility for initiating and conducting a tenure and/or promotion review for the department head.  As stated earlier, evaluation and/or review of a department head's performance must take account of input provided by the department colleagues. 


Application and Evaluation Process

The Application for Tenure and/or Promotion described above should be submitted first to the appropriate Dean.  The dean will, after reviewing the application, prepare a written evaluation and recommendation for or against tenure/promotion and forward it, along with the application, to the Promotion/Tenure Committee.  The written evaluation must include statements or written evaluations received from department faculty relating to the applicant's performance in the categories of assigned responsibilities, professional development, and service. 

The Promotion/Tenure Committee, comprising a minimum of three department heads chosen by the VPAA in consultation with the Dean, will be convened during any year in which one or more applications for tenure/promotion are submitted by department heads.  The Committee will evaluate the application for tenure/promotion and prepare a written evaluation of the accomplishments of the applicant as related to each area of performance; i.e. assigned responsibilities (leadership and teaching), professional development (including scholarship) and service.  Also included must be a recommendation for or against tenure and/or promotion, with rationale.  The evaluation and recommendation of the Committee, along with the application and the Dean’s evaluation and recommendation, are to be forwarded to the VPAA, with the Committee’s evaluation and recommendation being copied to both the applicant and the dean. 

The VPAA will review the evaluations of the dean and Tenure/Promotion Committee and will independently review the full application submitted by the department head. Following this review, the VPAA will forward the name(s) of the department head(s) recommended for tenure and/or promotion to the President who, upon concurrence, will transmit the name(s) to the Board of Trustees for their consideration.  After the Board’s tenure and/or promotion decision, the tenure and/or promotion action becomes effective beginning the academic year following the year in which the application was submitted and evaluated.  Upon promotion, the department head will receive an increase in base salary equal to that of a faculty member promoted to the same rank. 



Promotion and/or tenure review shall be conducted in accordance with the following schedule: 

Dec. 1    Application for tenure or promotion shall be sent by applicant to his/her Dean.

Jan. 15    Dean's evaluation and recommendation shall be sent to the Department Head Promotion/Tenure Committee.

March 1    Promotion/Tenure Committee's evaluation and recommendation shall be sent to the VPAA, copied to the applicant and the Dean.

April 1    VPAA shall send recommendation to the President.


Date Approved:1-18-1993
Last Revision:10-18-2010
Last Reviewed:10-18-2010
Approved By:Academic Senate