Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Toolkit

Resources for Early Career Faculty (Promotion from Assistant to Associate with Tenure)

Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures in the MSU Faculty Handbook

Workshops, Programs and Resources on Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure

Check List of Required Practices in RP&T – Unit Guidelines Check List of Required Practices in RP&T – College Guidelines


Resources for Early Career Faculty
(Promotion from Assistant to Associate with Tenure)


  • At MSU, faculty are expected to be both active scholars and student-focused. They must demonstrate substantial scholarhip and ability to promote learning through our on-campus and off-campus education and research programs.
  • MSU must improve continuously. To do so requires that academic personnel decisions must result in a progressively stronger faculty— a faculty who meet continuously higher standards that assures enhanced quality within a national and international context. Individual personnel actions for tenure recommendation should result in the improvement of academic unit quality.
  • Assessment of faculty performance should recognize the importance of both teaching and research and their extension beyong the borders of the campus as part of the outreach dimension.
  • The achievement and performance level required must be competitive with faculties of leading research-intensive, land-grant universities of international scope. (comparison important)
  • Details regarding the Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure process is provided in an annual letter sent out to chairs and directors in fall semester. The basic content of that letter can be found at:


Timeline for RP&T - What Happens and When?

1. Initial Appointments

  • The normal initial appointment for an Assistant Professor is for 4 years followed by a second 3 year probationary appointment. 
  • If at any time during the two probationary appointments, an assistant professor is promoted to associate professor, tenure is awarded and there are no further probationary appointments.
  • New Associate Professors are typically appointed for one 4-year probationary appointment, but these appointments may range from 2-5 years. 
  • All tenure system probationary appointments begin on August 16 (following the initial appointment in the tenure track) regardless of when during the calendar year the appointment is effective.

2. Early Promotion or Tenure

  • Early promotion/tenure is based on an exceptional record of accomplishments at MSU that is based on department/school/college and University criteria. Early promotion/tenure is reserved for extraordinary cases.
  • An assistant professor without tenure may request promotion to associate professor with tenure prior to the conclusion of the stipulated probationary appointment period. A negative decision on such a request does not preclude consideration for promotion at the normal time.
  • Early promotion and tenure for an assistant professor can be requested– faculty should seek guidance from their unit administrator, unit promotion and tenure committee members or mentor. Review any unit or college evaluation criteria for promotion to see if your professional accomplishments match the expectations for promotion and tenure.
3. Extension of Tenure System Probationary Appointment 
The tenure system probationary appointment is extended automatically for one year for the following reasons:  
  • Leaves of absence with or without pay that are one semester to twelve months. Changes in appointment to 50% time or less for one year.
  • Upon request from a faculty member on approved leave of absence (paid or unpaid) for twelve weeks or longer for reasons related to the birth or adoption of a child. Automatic extensions for this reason are limited to two separate one-year extensions.
  • Immigration/visa status that does not permit the award of tenure for candidates who have been recommended for tenure.
  • An extension recommended as an outcome of a hearing and/or appeal conducted pursuant to the Faculty Grievance Policy.
  • Additionally, extensions of the probationary appointment may be requested from the University Committee on Faculty Tenure (UCFT). These requests may be due to reasons related to childbirth, adoption, the care of an ill and/or disabled child, spouse, or parent;  personal illness; to receive prestigious awards, fellowships, and/or special assignment opportunities; or other such serious constraints. Who do you ask: First your unit administrator.

4. When do you develop your reappointment, promotion or tenure materials

  • Download Form D:
  • Start organizing your productivity measures from the beginning of your appointment
  • Begin to review the materials needed to be submitted near the end of the academic year before the year when materials are to be submitted for reappointment/promotion.
  • In the spring talk with the chair or unit administrator about what to include in the packet and when the materials are due in the unit.

 ______  The University’s timetable for RP&T is distributed to units in August, and includes a list of faculty scheduled for review. At that time the Dean’s Office informs units when packets are due from the departments.
______  Also begin to plan writing the reflective essay.

  • Units define their own deadlines for submission of RP&T materials; usually the packets are due to the departmental committee in early fall.
  • Departments must submit their input and recommendations for all RP&T packets to the college early in the spring semester.
  • In March and April, Deans meet with Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources, Senior Associate Provost and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Students to review each RP&T recommendation.
  • Provost decisions are announced to deans usually by the end of April.
  • Deans notify chairpersons and directors of actions taken after receiving notice from the Office of the Provost.
  • Lists of reappointments and promotion involving award of tenure are forward to President and Board of Trustees for their approval in June.
  • Notification of final approval for actions is sent to deans who notify chairpersons and directors who notify the faculty in mid to late June.


Preparing Materials for RP&T: A Checklist of Best Practices for Faculty

For details, see the Faculty Guide for Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Review: 

______ Document EVERYTHING – from the beginning of your appointment—If it isn’t documented it didn’t happen!!!
______ Set up a system to record your professional activities and accomplishments in systematic way.

In your document demonstrate:

  • Excellence
  • Vitality
  • Impact
  • Synergies
  • Growth and Trajectory
______ Review contents of Annual Review letters from prior years and be sure to highlight improvements in areas of concern.
______ Review examples of RP&T packages submitted previously. Your unit administrator may be able to provide such materials.  
If you are jointly appointed in more than one department or college:

______ You should meet regularly (at least once a year) with the appropriate administrators in the department/unit in which you have a minor appointment.  You should request input, ideally in writing, regarding progress related to your minor appointment in that unit.
______ Your RP&T materials will be reviewed by your primary department/college. Only that college will make the final recommendation.
______ Your RP&T materials may be shared with the unit/college in which you have a minor appointment. Input will be requested by the lead department/college before developing their recommendation
______ If you have an appointment in a unit such as MAES or the NSCL, your packet may be shared with those units and input will be requested
Preparing Materials for RP&T: A Checklist of What Needs to be Documented
1. Teaching
  • Formal Classes

  ______  Schedule, class size and format
  ______  Syllabi, course materials
  ______  Exams and grade distribution
  ______  Student evaluations
  ______  Colleague evaluations
  ______  Evidence of student learning

  • Workshops, Seminars, etc. (conducted by you)
  ______  Format, materials, evaluations
  ______  Attendance & Audience 
  • Advising & Mentoring
  ______  Schedule and load of formal student advising
  ______  Mentoring activities
  ______  Student supervision of independent study, clinical, internship or thesis projects 
  • Supervision and Training of Graduate Students

  ______  In research: as major professor, on advisory committee
  ______  For teaching assistance
  ______  In service and outreach activities 

  • Course and Curriculum Development

  ______  Develop/redesign course
  ______  Develop teaching materials
  ______  Planned/developed out-of-class experiences 

  • Professional Activities

  ______  Instructional research and instructional grants
  ______  Professional development: attendance at workshops, professional meetings

  • Additional Ideas for Teaching Documentation

  ______  Reflective statement
  ______  Your philosophy, approach, goals, objectives
  ______  Your teaching methods
  ______  How these fit within your unit and discipline
  ______  How your teaching has changed over time 

  • Course Reflections

  ______  Your goals for student learning
  ______  How you help students achieve these goals
  ______  New approaches and innovations you have developed
  ______  Impact on students – outcomes assessment, unsolicited comments

  • Relationship of Teaching to Other Work

  ______  Teaching, research, service, outreach

2. Research and Scholarship

  • Products of Research

  ______  Books or monographs (can include reviews of books)
  ______  Book chapters
  ______  Articles in refereed journals
  ______  Non-peer reviewed publications
  ______  Creative works—exhibits, performances
  ______  Edited works—journals, other publications
  ______  Presentations at scholarly/professional meetings
  ______  Other papers, reports, reviews

  • Funded Projects

  ______  Grant proposals—funded and non-funded
  ______  Grant management—budgets, staff
  ______  Reports 

  • Reflective Statement related to research

  ______  Standing in the Discipline
  ______  Journal rankings
  ______  Citation analysis
  ______  Reviews and published reactions
  ______  Awards and honors
  ______  Invited activities
  ______  Unsolicited testimonial

  • Involvement in the Discipline

  ______  Manuscript review
  ______  Grant evaluation panels
  ______  Leadership activities in scholarly societies
  ______  Collaborations

  • Relationship of Research to Other Work

  ______  Research and Teaching
  ______  Research and Service/Outreach 


3. Service, Outreach and Professional Service

  • Service to Scholarly/Professional Organizations

  ______  Leadership roles—elected and appointed
  ______  Committee memberships
  ______  Reports written
  ______  Grants developed
  ______  Conferences planned

  • Service within the University

  ______  Department, college, university leadership roles
  ______  Department, college, university committees
  ______  Grants for the institution
  ______  Task forces and reports 

  • Other service and outreach information CAN include

  ______  Broader Community
    ______  Activities Disseminating Knowledge
    ______  Evaluation and Development of Products
    ______  Partnerships with Agencies
    ______  Clinical Service

  • Other Ideas

  ______  Reflective Statement related to service
  ______  Evidence of Expertise
    ______  Invited Talks/Presentations
    ______  Proposal reviews
    ______  Awards and honors
    ______  Published reactions
    ______  Collaborations
    ______  Unsolicited testimonials

  • Evidence of Impact

   ______  Program evaluations
   ______  Outcomes assessments
   ______  Constituency reactions
   ______  Examples of change related to your work

  • Relationship to Other Work

   ______  Service and Teaching
   ______  Service and Research 


4. Other materials in the RP&T package

_____ Candidate’s CV (Include honors and awards, other professional recognition, professional certifications,  leadership positions in disciplinary society or on campus, consulting activity, intellectual property development, professional service)

_____ External Letters of Evaluation (University Guidelines)
_____ Chair/Director Cover Letter of Support
A letter is usually prepared by the Chair/Director after reviewingthe materials submitted by the candidate and after reviewing the recommendation by the unit’s RP&T committee. The letter then becomes a part of the packet.

Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures
in the MSU Faculty Handbook

Operating Principles of the Tenure System

Provides principles regarding the start dates for probationary appointments, leaves of absence, notification of non-reappointment, appointments of foreign nationals, interpretation of the tenure rules and where tenure resides.

Granting Tenure

Summary: Faculty members with the Rank of Professor in the tenure system are granted tenure from the date of appointment.

Faculty members appointed as Associate Professors without tenure and who have served previously at MSU are appointed in the tenure system for a probationary period of, generally, two to five (2-5) years.

A newly appointed Associate Professor can be granted tenure from the date of appointment.

Faculty members appointed as an Assistant Professor are appointed for an initial probationary period of four years and may be reappointed for an additional probationary period of three years.

Reassigning Tenured Faculty

Tenure at MSU resides in the University. Thus, if a unit is discontinued, reassignment of the faculty is normally in another academic unit and is negotiated with the faculty member and the receiving unit.

Stopping the Tenure Clock
Implementation Practices

Provides reasons for automatic, one-year extension of probationary appointments and information about the process for requests of extensions for other reasons.

Post Tenure Review

There is not a distinct process for post tenure review. Post-tenure review is implemented by monitoring performance through the annual performance evaluation process. The post tenure review process can result in a plan which leads to increased productivity or enhanced professional achievement by the faculty member. Depending on the outcome of the plan, the process can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.

Faculty Handbook Policies:

Appointment, Reappointment, Tenure and Promotion Recommendations
Policies in the Faculty Handbook:

Handbook outlines the process initiated at the unit level, based on both peer review of candidates and unit standards for performance. Candidates are reviewed at the college and university levels; these reviews are based on explicit unit criteria and quality evaluations, consistent with college and university policies and goals. Recommendations can be positive or negative for: reappointment of an Assistant Professor for a second probationary period; reappointment of a tenure-system, untenured Associate Professor with the award of tenure; promotion of Assistant Professor to Associate Professor with the award of tenure; promotion of an Associate Professor to Professor. An overview of the standards for such recommendations is presented.

Tenure Action and Promotion
Overview in the Faculty Handbook

This section includes an overview of the extensive information needed to evaluate faculty performance for tenure action and promotion. Expectations for action are unit specific and dependent on an individual’s particular assignment.

College-Level Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee Policies
Guidelines in the Faculty Handbook:

University Policy
Each college is required to establish a college-level reappointment, promotion and tenure committee that is charged to provide advice to the dean about department/school recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure. Deans are responsible for personnel matters in her or his respective college, taking into account the college’s advisory procedures. College-level reappointment, promotion and tenure committees provide input to the dean in making reappointment, promotion and tenure decisions.

Each college must include in its written materials rules governing the reappointment, promotion, and tenure process, a procedure for establishing a college-level reappointment, promotion and tenure review committee, including methods for selecting committee members and how the committee will function.

Guidelines for Academic Unit Peer Review Committee Composition
Guidelines in the Faculty Handbook:

Each unit establishes procedures to provide peer review advice to unit administrators regarding recommendations for academic personnel actions, including merit salary increases. The unit bylaws should indicate the designated group(s) to whom recommendations regarding reappointment, tenure and promotion should be made. Guidelines for Peer Reviews Committee Composition are outlined.

External Letters of Reference
Policies in Faculty Handbook:

External letters of reference are required for all reviews involving the granting of tenure or promotion. Some units require external letters for reappointment. Practices may vary by unit, but the principles of soliciting letters of reference are outlined.

Policies regarding the Confidentiality of Letters of Reference:

In soliciting letters of reference a specific statement of confidentiality MUST be included in the request. The suggested wording of the statement is listed in faculty handbook reference above.

Evaluation of Non-Tenured Faculty in the Tenure System
Policies in the Faculty Handbook:

The above reference outlines the process for evaluating non-tenured, tenure-system faculty. The actions to be taken upon decision not to reappoint are outlined and the possible responses of the faculty member not reappointed are presented.

Faculty Guide for Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure – an Overview
General Guidelines:

Provides overview of RPT process including time table, early promotion & tenure, visa status, effective dates for various decisions and outcomes, Survive and Thrive workshop descriptions, University level review and tenure and promotion recognition dinners. Also presents data on RPT processes from the last five years.

Workshops, Programs and Resources on Reappointment, Promotion & Tenure

For Faculty

1. Survive and Thrive in the MSU Tenure System
Normally scheduled in Mid October – Half day Workshop
The workshop has the following objectives:
  • To expand faculty members’ understanding of department and University reappointment, promotion and tenure procedures.
  • To discuss approaches to documentation and record keeping for reappointment, promotion and tenure purposes.
  • To provide practical information on making choices, balancing conflicting demands, and managing departmental politics.
  • To provide an opportunity for communication and problem solving among faculty and academic administrators. Many faculty members find it helpful to attend this program more than once, finding different elements useful at different stages of their pre-tenure experience.


2. From Associate Professor to Professor: Productive Decision-making at Mid-Career
For Recently Appointed Associate Tenure-System Professors
This one-half day workshop is scheduled during the spring semester and has the following objectives:
  1. To clarify expectations for attaining the rank of full professor;
  2. To enable new associate professors to better anticipate the opportunities and challenges they will face and to inform their mid career decision-making and experiences; and
  3. To provide a venue for faculty members to ask questions about this new stage in their careers.


3. Spring Institute on College Teaching and Learning
Single and multi-day workshops are offered on topics related to active learning, inclusive teaching, and assessment.


4. Online Instructional Resources
Instructional resources on a large number of instructional resources that are available on the web are available from this site, organized by major topical areas.


5. Orientation For New Tenure System and Health Programs Faculty, Continuing System Librarians and National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory Appointments
Orientation for all NEW tenure system faculty events occur in late August and includes, in addition to the general orientation, a research section and an additional technology workshop.


6. Workshop for Faculty Leaders
Workshops for Faculty Leaders (WFL), provide leadership development for faculty in their many roles in governance, search committees, research projects and large labs, and the myriad of contexts in which faculty rely on leadership skills.


7. Support for Research
Office of Research Facilitation and Dissemination sponsors a variety of faculty research workshops, seminars and discussion groups.


8. Events and resources provided by the Women’s Resource Center:
Past programs have included:

  • "Letting Off a Little Self Esteem"
  • "College to Career Transition"
  • "Training for a Future in Political Office"

For Administrators

Orientation for New Administrators – Office of Faculty and Organizational Development
Three half-day sessions, mandatory orientations for department chairs, school directors, and deans, are held in early August. The program includes:

  1. Hiring, Promotion, Tenure and Performance Review
  2. University Research Policies and Procedures
  3. Survival Skills for New Administrators
  4. Conflict Resolution Resources
  5. Legal and Regulatory Environment

LEAD programs – Office of Faculty and Organizational Development
LEAD workshops are offered for deans, chairs, directors and executive managers, sponsored by the Office of Faculty and Organizational Development in the Office of the Provost. These programs are designed to promote ongoing communication among academic administrators, provide leadership development opportunities, and support campus leaders (deans, chairs, directors, and executive managers) in their efforts to foster organizational change in their units.
Past programs have included topics such as:

  1. Making Joint Appointments a Success
  2. Tackling the Human Resources Challenges of the Chair/Director
  3. Study of Mid-Career Faculty: Implications for Practice
  4. Strategies for Advancing Diversity and Quality at MSU in a Post-Prop 2 Environment
  5. Success in the Academic Hiring Process from Start to Finish
  6. Faculty Performance Review and Development: Improving the Process and its Outcomes

Resources from the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives

  1. Bias-Free Communication Brochure
  2. Sexual Harassment training programs
  3. Bias Incident Reporting and Training
  4. Brochure on Assuring Equity and Non-discrimination
  5. Annual Data Reports on Inclusion and Diversity at MSU


Check List of Required Practices

In Reappointment, Promotion & Tenure Practices (Unit Guidelines)

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Below are guidelines regarding required practices for UNITS when reviewing Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures.

The unit has written materials governing the appointment, promotion and tenure processes and the procedure for establishing a unit-level merit review committee.
The unit has developed general guidelines and expectations for tenure-system faculty reappointment as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor with Tenure, and for promotion from Associate to Full Professor.
All guidelines and expectations for reappointment, promotion and tenure are available to all faculty in the unit.
Guidelines and expectations for RPT are discussed on a regular basis by the faculty.
Guidelines and expectations for RPT at the Unit level are reviewed to be consistent with the guidelines and expectations of the College (or Colleges for jointly administered units).
Description of the materials that must be submitted for the unit-level RPT reviews for reappointment and promotion are readily available to all faculty members.
The process for evaluation of RPT packages at the unit level is clearly defined and readily available to all faculty members.
The chair/director or designated person(s) uses the annual performance review process to inform and guide pre-tenure faculty regarding progress to promotion/tenure.
The chair/director or designated person(s) uses the annual performance review process to inform and guide tenured Associate Professors regarding progress to promotion to full professor.
The unit guidelines regarding the number and type of external evaluation letters to be included in the performance review are clearly defined and readily available to all faculty.
The timeline for the unit-level RPT process is made readily available to the faculty each year.
The guidelines for RPT for faculty jointly appointed in multiple units are made readily available to all RPT peer review committee members.
The multiple appointment memorandum is consulted when reviewing faculty members who are jointly appointed in more than one unit (see -
The unit makes information regarding unit, college and university resources to assist faculty in preparing for RPT readily available to all faculty members.
The Unit RPT committee is given input and guidance regarding the review process so that evaluations are consistent, objective, and are aligned with the written unit-level expectations for the faculty.
The unit and college guidelines and expectations, as well as the university RPT policies are reviewed by the unit RPT committee prior to reviewing RPT materials. Unit (and college) expectations should support the missions of MSU.
The chair/director meets with the unit RPT committee and discusses each recommendation made by the committee.


Check List of Required Practices

 Reappointment, Promotion & Tenure (Colleges Guidelines)

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Below are guidelines regarding required practices for COLLEGE DEANS' OFFICES to consider when developing, reviewing or revising Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures.

The College has written materials governing the reappointment, promotion and tenure process and procedure for establishing a college-level RPT review committee
Dean has informed the unit administrators about the procedures and criteria that the College will use regarding decisions about reappointment of Assistant Professors and untenured Associate Professors with the award of tenure.
The College has developed general guidelines and expectations for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure and from Associate to Full Professor.
All guidelines and expectations for reappointment, promotion and tenure are available to all tenure system faculty members in the College.
Guidelines and expectations for RPT are discussed on a regular basis with the unit chairs and directors.
Guidelines and expectations for RPT at the College level are reviewed to be consistent with the University guidelines and expectations.
The process for evaluation of RPT packages at the College level is clearly defined and readily available to all faculty members in the College.
The College RPT committee reviews (1) the unit and college criteria for reappointment or promotion prior to reviewing unit recommendations, and (2) the university policies and procedures regarding the RPT process.
The Dean meets with the College RPT committee and discusses each recommendation from the committee.
Information regarding unit and college evaluation criteria and expectations are included with the Dean's recommendation to the Provost's Office.
The multiple appointment memorandum is consulted when reviewing faculty jointly appointed in more than one unit (see -
For faculty jointly appointed in another college, input is sought from the secondary college when reviewing RPT recommendations at the college level.