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Guidelines for submissions of rank and tenure applications

Rank and Tenure are at the heart of a mutually acknowledged and mutually beneficial long-term relationship between the ordinary faculty and the university. They deserve special attention throughout the faculty member's career at the university. The Faculty Handbook spells out the larger frame of reference for this relationship, and individual departments provide the most immediate and long-term favorable environment for faculty members' growth.

At certain points during their employment history, whether at the time of initial appointment or later in their careers at the university, faculty members may elect or be required to apply for tenure and/or promotion. This document (the Guidelines) is intended to clarify the procedures pertaining to both of these application processes. Given the importance of rank and tenure, all members of the ordinary faculty will be provided with copies of the Guidelines at the time of initial appointment. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the department chairs to inform faculty members, early on, of the expectations for the granting of tenure and promotion that hold within a given department and within the university as a whole.

While these Guidelines are by no means exhaustive in that regard, they can provide a useful framework for the procedural steps to be taken in the actual application process.

General Statement

The procedures for submitting applications for tenure and promotion at Georgetown University are organized variously across the university's major divisions. Though there are different administrative entities and different decision-making bodies, all procedures should achieve a fair and objective evaluation of the applicant's total record in terms of teaching, scholarship and service.

In general, this evaluation takes place in three stages, at the departmental level, at the school level, and, finally, at the level of the University Committee on Rank and Tenure. The University Committee on Rank and Tenure (the Committee) serves as the president's advisory body on all matters pertaining to the granting of tenure and promotion. The Committee's deliberations are confidential and the Committee reports only to the president. All decisions on tenure and promotion rest with the president of the university.

Procedures at the Departmental or School Level

  1. Applications for tenure and promotion can be submitted by all full-time members of the ordinary faculty who are eligible to be considered for promotion and/or tenure in accordance with the Faculty Handbook. Internal support, whether from the department or the school, is not a prerequisite for consideration by the University Committee on Rank and Tenure. However, all applications must be forwarded through the department chairor dean or other official who normally is responsible for applications. This administrative officer will process them expeditiously through the relevant channels and will assure that all materials that were considered by the various deliberating bodies, whatever their conclusions, are included in the file that is transmitted to the Committee.

  2. Whatever procedural variations may exist in different originating bodies, the following points apply to all applications:

    1. Candidates must be assessed in the three categories of teaching, scholarship and service.
    2. Excellence in teaching reveals itself in a variety of ways. Course critiques submitted by students and faculty evaluations, although imperfect, still provide a useful measure of the manner in which a professor's teaching is received and perceived by students. Summary data of the Teacher and Course Evaluation Forms should be included in the application file. Obviously, the most useful evaluations are those in which the majority of students enrolled in a course have participated.

      In addition, systematic assessments prepared by the applicant's colleagues who have observed selected classes over several years and who in addition may have obtained formal or informal input from students can provide important additional information regarding teaching.

      Since teaching is considered an important component of a faculty member's professional life at Georgetown University, it is particularly important to help younger colleagues at the beginning of their career become successful teachers. Thus any indication of a colleague's growth in that regard, particularly as it is documented in the annual evaluations prepared by the department on tenure-track faculty prior to the granting of rank and/or tenure, should receive special note.

      In some fields, specifically within the Medical Center, teaching may be conducted in clinical settings. When a standard evaluation form is not available, evaluations from students, residents and/or fellows taught in such clinical settings would normally be in the form of letters. Testimonials from selected students or friends should not be expected to carry much weight in the Committee's deliberations.
    3. While there is no concise definition of what may constitute evidence of scholarship, it is generally recognized that a scholar has a wide and critical command of his or her field of study as well as broad cultural interests. The highest indication of scholarship is the ability to make original contributions in one's field of knowledge. Excellence in scholarship typically reveals itself as continuing research documented primarily in publications appearing in the relevant journals or in the form of books published by respected publishing companies. It may also be evidenced in certain areas of creativity demonstrated through the medium of communication customary in a discipline. Citation of a candidate's work in the professional literature is another indicator of scholarly standing.

      Consideration will be given to such subsidiary evidence as direction of or significant participation in research projects, particularly in the scholarly activities of learned societies and professional consultative service.

      Major invited addresses given at national and international conferences, election to editorial boards and service on peer review committees also reflect the applicant's scholarly productivity and ability.

      The publication of a textbook can be considered either under the category of teaching or scholarship, depending upon the nature of the textbook and the contributions it makes to the field. A judgment on this matter should be requested from the outside evaluators as part of their written statements. A textbook would be viewed as indicative of scholarship if, for example, extramural evaluators cite evidence that the book exhibits exemplary scholarship, offers original insights and perspectives in the field, and is read and cited by scholars and researchers.

      Extramural research funding from organizations using peer review committees is an index of scholarly potential for younger colleagues, and sustained support denotes peer acceptance of the importance of the research activity for senior members of the faculty.

      Work in progress is usually not considered by the Committee, unless it has been subjected to the same extramural assessment as published work.
    4. It is the responsibility of the academic department or other appropriate faculty committee to secure genuine and timely evaluations of the candidate's scholarship. The candidate may suggest appropriate outside reviewers. However, the ultimate decision on the group of reviewers rests with the academic department or the appropriate faculty committee that, in consultation with other appropriate faculty members, selects impartial and competent evaluators.

      A statement describing the procedures followed to select outside evaluators should be included with the application submitted to the University Committee on Rank and Tenure.

      Scholarship must be evaluated by extramural authorities in the field whoare in a position to give an objective evaluation.

      The Committee requires a minimum of three written evaluations of scholarship from extramural authorities. The chair of the department or committee should submit a brief statement concerning the qualifications of the external evaluators. Any social, academic or institutional relationship between the evaluators and the applicant should be clearly indicated by the evaluators and on the application's summary listing of reviewers.

      At least two evaluators should be distinguished scholars who are neither members of the Georgetown faculty nor former teachers, co-workers or students of the candidate. That is, evaluators should primarily be acquainted with the candidate through his or her published work or other professional accomplishments. Where a field is so small that this is not feasible, this should be justified in the application.

      All evaluations received should be included in the application.
    5. The applicant's curriculum vitae and copies of appropriate publications should be sent to the evaluators, together with an explanation of the conditions and expectations under which the applicant has worked. Since standards of acceptable scholarship may properly vary within a single unit from one time to another, from one unit to another within an institution, and from one institution to another, it is important that the standards applicable to a given application be clearly explained to each evaluator. A copy of the explanation of conditions and expectations that was furnished to each evaluator, should be included with the application.

      The rank, experience and overall standing of these evaluators determine the confidence the Committee has in the extramural letters of evaluation.

      Statements from extramural evaluators should provide answers to some of the following questions: Have the publications of the candidate added to or modified existing knowledge and how was this accomplished? Has the candidate developed a new idea? Has the candidate provided additional examples or applications for the theories stated by others? Has the candidate explained, at least partly, a difficulty encountered by other researchers? Has the candidate tested any theorem or idea under different conditions or in new circumstances?

      Each reviewer must be requested to justify any conclusions regarding the quality of scholarship of the applicant and do so at a level of detail that permits an understanding of the achievement of the applicant relative to standards of excellence in his or her field. Evaluations that do not identify clearly specific components of the applicant's work which support the evaluator's conclusions cannot be considered as persuasive.
    6. Service recognizes the applicant's record as a colleague rather than as a teacher or scholar. It covers departmental and extra-departmental administrative, committee-work and community service. Of particular importance is the advising that faculty offer to students in their own or in other departments.

      Since an applicant's record of relevant service may not always be known within the department or school, and may thus be overlooked easily, it is important to direct particular attention to this category in the preparation of the file.
    7. Secret and separate votes shall be taken on applications for promotion and/or tenure. These are to be reported to the Committee. In the case of applications for tenure, all tenured members of the department are entitled to vote. In the case of applications for promotion, all members holding at least the rank to which the applicant is applying are entitled to vote. Voting should take place at a meeting at which the application can be discussed by the group as a whole. Absentee votes, if permitted by the department, should be so noted in the transmission of the file.

      In schools or departments having executive faculties or separate committees on rank and tenure, applications will indicate the votes submitted by such bodies as well as votes obtained from the relevant department(s). Where applicants have interdisciplinary responsibilities they should also be assessed by their interdisciplinary program.

The University Committee on Rank and Tenure

The Committee, and therefore each member serving on it, is charged with judging each application according to the best interests of the university in terms of the candidate's record of teaching, scholarship, and service. In arriving at its recommendations to the president the committee is guided by the Faculty Handbook and considers all information that is relevant to the assessment of candidates in those three categories.

Membership on the University Committee on Rank and Tenure comes about either by presidential appointment (half of the membership) or by election by the Faculty Senate. It is offered for a three-year term. Although it is customary for members of the Committee to be drawn from a variety of academic divisions of the university, the members of the Committee are not "representatives" of particular departments or schools. An individual may serve on the Committee for no more than two terms in succession, and must remain off the Committee for at least one term between appointments.

At its initial meeting of the academic year, the Committee elects its officers, the chair, the recording secretary and the corresponding secretary.

The officers of the Committee may serve for no more than three consecutive years. As much as possible, successive chairs should come from different campuses of the university. Individual members of the Committee, as well as its officers, are not available to discuss the business of the Committee except with the President and those designated by him.

Preparation and Submission of Applications

Complete applications must include all of the following:

  1. A covering SUMMARY SHEET, with all applicable items completed, to include the number of dossiers enclosed, the number of publications enclosed and letters from department deans (Download the summary sheet here);

  2. The applicant's current curriculum vitae, including earned degrees (with institutions and dates), academic and professional history, publications, academic honors, speeches and addresses, professional memberships and academic and public service;

  3. Material demonstrating the applicant's record as a teacher, including student evaluations and assessment by colleagues;

  4. All letters from extramural experts addressing the quality of the applicant's scholarly contributions, including information about any relationship to the candidate;

  5. Copies of letters sent to the outside evaluators; a statement regarding the procedures used in selecting them and a brief statement concerning their qualifications;

  6. Letters from appropriate deans and chairs evaluating the candidate's record of teaching, scholarship and service;

  7. Letters, or summaries of letters, submitted by Georgetown colleagues;

  8. Two copies of representative publications.

All pages of the application are to be numbered consecutively. Submission of the full application to the Committee IN 18 COPIES, no later than March 1, is required for action during the current academic year. When practical, earlier submission is encouraged.

Applications dealing solely with promotion of current Georgetown faculty who already hold tenure are to be submitted to the Committee prior to November 15 for action during the current academic year.

Under extraordinary circumstances, at the request of the executive vice president for the Main Campus, the executive vice president for health sciences, director of the Medical Center, or the dean of the Law Center, applications will be accepted for review in the current year after the deadline date for submission. However, the request for special consideration must be received at the Office of the Corresponding Secretary by the deadline date and the completed application must be received no later than May 1.

A completed application includes all of the above components. Questions regarding guidelines specific to the processing of applications by each campus should be submitted to the appropriate campus head or the head's designee.

Departments deliver all copies of the completed application to the office of the appropriate campus head. The campus head or head's designee will then forward the application to the Office of the Secretary.

Inquiries regarding the mechanics of the application process that go beyond these Guidelines may be directed to the Corresponding Secretary or the Chairperson, c/o The Secretary of the University, Healy Hall, Room 205.

Some of the information in this document is taken from the Faculty Handbook (1990), with slight modifications in style, but not substance.

Last updated July 2007.


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