Tenure is not defined in the Collective Agreement, but is discussed in Senate Bylaw 23. In that bylaw, the concept of tenure is linked to the protection of academic freedom, the basic idea that faculty members are entitled to the free pursuit of truth over their intellectual ideas and engagement. However, academic freedom is not a licence for excess or absolute autonomy; as the bylaw states, “proper exercise of academic freedom is contingent upon the recognition and adequate discharge of duties and responsibilities.”
The decision to grant tenure is one at the heart of the academy; it carries with it the recognition of one’s colleagues that the candidate for tenure is worthy of becoming a fully engaged and supported member of a community of scholars. The process surrounding tenure must be honest, fair, and procedurally just.
Who Is Eligible for Tenure?
Tenure is only granted to those faculty members who hold a regular probationary appointment as defined in Senate Bylaw 126.96.36.199(a).
The Tenure Clock
A faculty member who holds a regular probationary appointment must obtain tenure by the end of the sixth year of their appointment in a regular probationary appointment. This means that the final application to obtain tenure must be lodged at the commencement of the sixth year of full employment in the position of a regular probationary appointment. If tenure is denied by UCAPT or the President, the member shall be offered a one-year, non-renewable, full-time limited term appointment, or six months' salary on the termination of the probationary appointment (Collective Agreement 12.05[b]).
Senate Bylaw 188.8.131.52 states that an “untenured faculty member at the Assistant level can be considered for tenure after two full years of employment in a probationary appointment.” This clause, in conjunction with Collective Agreement Clause 12.05(b), means that the candidate must have completed two full years of employment, and only becomes eligible to apply in the fall term of their third year of employment. As a general rule, early tenure should be discouraged so that there is sufficient period of appointment to be able to make extrapolations as to future engagement as a teacher and scholar. A candidate will typically apply in their fifth year after four years of employment so that tenure commences at the beginning of the sixth year of their employment.
An application for tenure and its success will carry with it promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor (Senate Bylaw 22.4.6).
The Tenure Process
The tenure process starts much earlier at each time a probationary faculty member has a performance review. In the performance review, the AAU head will indicate the position of the faculty member in terms of their preparedness to successfully gain tenure.
What follows are key points in the process. AAU heads, who largely control the tenure process, should closely read the Senate Bylaws 22 and 23. See also the annual guidebook produced by the Provost’s office regarding the Renewal, Tenure, and Promotion process. A guiding principle is that, at each stage of the process, the candidate is entitled to have notice of any recommendation, to be afforded an opportunity to respond, and to be heard by the body that is making a decision affecting the candidate’s career.
By October 15, the AAU head shall review with the candidate his or her work. The AAU head shall indicate what recommendation s/he plans to make regarding renewal of contract, and/or tenure/promotion (Senate Bylaw 22.4.4).
Where a candidate is seeking tenure, the obligation is upon the candidate to make his/her case for consideration. Thus, the candidate should be strongly encouraged to file a teaching dossier establishing the case for meeting the requisite standards regarding teaching, and the University’s electronic curriculum vitae (Collective Agreement Clause 5.31 and Schedule A), together with statement of research/creative/scholarly development to establish the case for meeting the requisite standards regarding teaching/creative/scholarly attainment.
The procedures before the departmental AAU Renewal, Tenure, and Promotion Committee (RTP) commence with the AAU head’s recommendation. The composition of the RTP committee is established in Senate Bylaw 22.3. Note the difference between departmentalized faculties, and non-departmentalized faculties with respect to the role and voting rights of Deans. In all cases, it is the AAU head that has the obligation to chair, and the right to vote, on RTP matters. This is built on the idea that disciplinary experts should exercise judgment. In departmentalized faculties, a dean may not be of the same discipline as the candidate. Nevertheless, a dean will file a separate document indicating whether the dean supports or opposes the AAU committee’s decision, together with the reasons for the recommendation (Senate Bylaw 22.6.4).
A candidate for tenure has a right to make personal representation to the AAU RTP committee (Senate Bylaws 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11).
An AAU RTP committee shall meet in camera. A quorum is one less than the full voting membership of the RP committee. It is advisable to take a vote by secret ballot. A simple majority is all that is needed. However, where the vote is tied, this shall be treated as a positive vote and a positive recommendation shall be communicated to UCAPT (Senate Bylaw 22.6.1).
The AAU head shall prepare a summary of the proceedings of all RTP committee meetings including a record of the deliberations of the committee (Senate Bylaw 22.6.2).
The decision of the RTP committee, whether positive or negative must be communicated to the candidate prior to forwarding the recommendation and file to UCAPT.
Recommendations of the AAU RTP committee on renewals should be sent to the Associate Vice President Academic’s office by October 31, and for tenure by December 15.
All applications for tenure must be supported with at least three referees’ reports. The choice of referees is left to the AAU RTP committee in the following way:
- One referee must be selected by the RTP committee from a list provided by the candidate.
- One referee must be selected by the RTP committee from a list that it has generated.
- One referee must be selected from either the candidate’s list or the RTP committee’s list.
AAU heads should give early consideration to generating a list of potential referees for the RTP committee, and the selection of referees by the TTP committee should happen early in the process to give the referees adequate time to complete their review. Ideally, referees should be determined in June. Referees should be senior and respected academics in their field with an established reputation in the candidate’s field of scholarship (Senate Bylaw 18.104.22.168). Referees should be at "arm’s length" from the candidate, meaning that they do not share an active research or co-author relationship with the candidate. Nor should they have been the candidate’s graduate supervisor, or involved in aspects of the supervision of the candidate, or be a colleague from the University of Windsor.
Once a referee has agreed to accept, they should be sent a package, either by post or electronically, of the candidate’s eCV, sample publications (at least three), the bylaw for tenure and promotion, and the approved departmental criteria. Candidates should be encouraged to provide a statement of their research/scholarly/creative agenda and to explain the significance of the sample scholarly work being sent to the referee. Referees are asked to comment on the scholarly/research/creative aspects of the candidate and not their teaching performance.
Promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor
As indicated above, and as enshrined in Senate Bylaw 22.4.6, a successful tenure decision carries with it promotion to Associate Professor.