The quality of Oregon State University is sustained through the dedicated and creative work of the faculty. Objective, systematic, and thorough appraisal of each candidate for initial and continued appointment, for promotion in academic rank, and for the granting of indefinite tenure is therefore important. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide common criteria and procedures for tenure and promotion for all Oregon State University faculty in the professorial ranks. Guidelines for promoting instructors, research assistants, and faculty with courtesy or research appointments are adapted from these criteria.

Promotions in rank and the granting of tenure are based on merit. They are never automatic or routine, and are made without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or national origin. In general, promotions are awarded to recognize the level of faculty members' contributions to the missions of the University in teaching, advising, and other assignments; in scholarship and creative activity; and in institutional, public, and professional service.

Responsibility for promotion and tenure recommendations rests principally with the senior members of the faculty, unit administrators, and academic deans. Final responsibility rests with the Provost and Executive Vice President. Reviewers base their recommendations on carefully prepared dossiers that document and evaluate the accomplishments of each candidate.


General Guidelines

Candidates for promotion and tenure will be evaluated objectively for evidence of excellence in their performance of assigned duties, in their scholarship or creative activity, and in their professional service. Each of these responsibilities will be documented in the dossier.

Oregon State University is committed to educating, both on and off campus, the citizens of Oregon, the nation, and the international community, and in expanding and applying knowledge. The responsibilities of individual faculty in relation to these fundamental commitments will vary and will be specified in position descriptions developed at the time of initial appointment and revised periodically, as necessary. Some positions will require more direct involvement in classroom instruction; others, more in conducting research and disseminating the results; others in extending the university's programs and expertise to its regional, national, and international publics. Whatever the assignment, faculty in the professorial ranks will engage in appropriate scholarship or other creative activity.

In additions to these primary responsibilities, all faculty are expected to be collegial members of their units, and to perform appropriate service that contributes to the effectiveness of their departments, colleges, and the University, and of their professions. Relative contributions expected in the three areas of responsibility will depend on the faculty member's assignment.

Criteria for the professional advancement of faculty without professorial rank (no-rank faculty) can be adapted from these guidelines, with the approval of the Provost.

Faculty Responsibilities

    1. Teaching, Advising, and Other Assignments

Faculty at Oregon State University have diverse assignments: classroom instruction, advising, extended education, counseling, academic administration, research, international assignments, information services, and student services. The university values and encourages collaborative efforts and international activities, which are an essential part of many of these assignments.


The teaching of students is central to the missions of Oregon State University. Most faculty have significant responsibilities in instruction:

When teaching is part of the faculty assignment, effectiveness in teaching is an essential criterion for appointment of advancement. Faculty with responsibilities in instruction can be promoted and tenured only when there is clear documentation of effective performance in the teaching role.

Faculty must demonstrate command of their subject matter, continuous growth in the subject field, and ability to organize material and convey it effectively to students. Other activities that provide evidence of a faculty member's particular commitment to effective teaching include:

Evaluation of instruction is based on a combination of systematic peer evaluations; tabulated responses from learners or participants; and evaluation, by student representatives, of materials in the dossier that pertain to teaching. Peer evaluations should be based both on classroom observations and on review of course syllabi, texts, assigned reading, examinations, and class materials. Where possible, evaluation is enhanced by evidence of student learning.


All faculty must also be committed to the well-being of students, both inside and outside the classroom. Effective advising helps create an environment which fosters student learning and student retention. The formal and informal advising and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students is an indispensable component of the broader educational experience at the University.

Faculty advising may take the form of assisting students in the selection of courses or careers, serving as faculty adviser with student groups, assisting learners in educational programs both on and off campus, and mentoring students. For promotion and tenure, performance in such activities must be documented and evaluated. Documentation should include the number of students served and the advising or mentoring services provided. Evaluation will consider the innovation and creativity of the services, and their effectiveness; it may be based on systematic surveys of and assessments by students and former students who received these services.


Many positions held by faculty with professorial rank enhance the learning environment for students and the larger social environment within which learning takes place, provide educational programs for resident students outside the classroom setting, extend the University's programs and expertise to publics off campus, and focus directly on the creation, integration, and application of knowledge. Faculty with assignments in research, extension, international development, information services, student services, diagnostic and analytical services, and administration will be evaluated by the standards appropriate to the field. Where faculty assignments entail serving students or clients, evaluation will focus on the quality of the specific services provided, determined by the purposes of the service and the faculty member's success in achieving them. Documentation should include number of students or clients served and the services provided. Evaluation will consider innovation and creativity, and evidence of effectiveness; and it may be based on systematic surveys of and assessments by those who received the services.

    1. Scholarship and Creative Activity

All Oregon State University faculty in the professorial ranks have a responsibility to engage in scholarship and creative activity. Scholarship and creative activity are understood to be intellectual work whose significance is validated by peers and which is communicated. More specifically, such work in its diverse forms is based on a high level of professional expertise; must give evidence of originality; must be documented and validated as through peer review or critique; and must be communicated in appropriate ways so as to have impact on or significance for publics beyond the University, or for the discipline itself. Intellectual work in teaching is scholarship if it is shared with peers in journals, in formal presentations at professional meetings, or in comparable peer-evaluated forums.

Scholarship and creative activity may take many forms, including but not limited to:

While the kinds of scholarship for faculty across the range of positions at the University will vary, the requirement that the significance of the scholarship be validated and be communicated to publics beyond the University will sustain a uniformly high standard. In some fields, refereed journals and monographs are the traditional media for communication and peer validation; in others, exhibitions and performances. In still other fields, emerging technologies are creating, and will continue to create, entirely new media and methods. In consideration for promotion and tenure, scholarship and creative activity are not merely to be enumerated but are to be carefully, objectively, and rigorously evaluated by professional peers, including ones external to the University

When work that is the product of joint effort is presented as evidence of scholarship, clarification of the candidate's role in the joint effort should be provided in the dossier.

In certain positions, seeking competitive grants and contracts is an essential responsibility, and success in this endeavor -- particularly when the grants are highly competitive and peer-reviewed -- is a component of achievement in scholarship.

    1. Service

Faculty service is essential to the University's success in serving its central missions, and is a responsibility for all faculty. Faculty members perform a broad array of services that are vital to supporting and sustaining the quality and effectiveness of the University and its programs. Faculty members are expected to provide service to the University, its students, clients, programs, and professional disciplines, as collegial an constructive members of the University and the broader community. Examples include service in faculty governance; in academic and student-support units; in international development; in community and state programs; in mentoring students and student groups; an don department, college, and university committees. In addition, service to professional organizations contributes to the national and international intellectual communities of which OSU is a part. Service that is relevant to a faculty member's assignment, and which draws upon professional expertise or contributes significantly to university relations, is considered and valued in promotion and tenure decisions. Service to the community not directly related to the faculty member's appointment, though valuable in itself and ideally a responsibility of all citizens, is considered in promotion and tenure decisions to the extent that it contributes to the University.

Criteria for Granting Indefinite Tenure

Tenure ensures the academic freedom that is essential to an atmosphere conducive to the free search for truth and the attainment of excellence in the University. But in addition, tenure also reflects and recognizes a candidate's potential long-term value to the institution, as evidenced by professional performance and growth. Tenure sets universities apart from other institutions. Faculty are not merely employed by the University but are the educational and research programs of the University; tenured faculty are the community of educators who create institutional stability and an ongoing commitment to excellence. Tenure, therefore, will be granted to faculty members whose character, achievements in serving the University's missions, and potential for effective long-term performance warrant the institution's reciprocal long-term commitment. The granting of tenure is more significant than promotion in academic rank.

Tenure is granted for achievement, not for years in rank, but under normal circumstances faculty will be considered for tenure in their sixth year of service in professorial rank. By the end of the sixth year on tenure track ("annual tenure"), the faculty member must be granted indefinite tenure or be given a year's timely notice that the appointment will bot be continued. Under extenuating circumstances, such as personal or family illness, or parental leave, a faculty member can request of the Provost and Executive Vice President that the tenure clock be extended.

The tenure decision is based primarily on the candidate's performance of assigned duties and achievements in scholarship. In judging the suitability of the candidate for indefinite tenure, however, it is also appropriate to consider collegiality, professional integrity, and willingness to accept and cooperate in assignments.

Criteria for Promotions

Criteria for Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor

Promotion to the rank of Associate Professor is based upon evidence of the candidate's:

Promotion to Associate Professor does not automatically grant tenure. Tenure will usually accompany a promotion, but the decision on tenure is made independently of the decision on promotion.

Criteria for Promotion to Professor

Promotion to the rank of Professor is based upon evidence of the candidate's:

Criteria for Promotion of Courtesy and Senior Research Faculty

Faculty with courtesy and senior research appointments will be expected to meet the same criteria for advancement in professorial rank as those with regular appointments. Given the nature of the appointments, commitments in some areas of responsibility may be greater than in others, but the criteria for scholarship and service will adhere to the same standard expected of faculty with regular appointments.

Criteria for Promotions of Instructors and Research Assistants

Faculty with non-professorial rank are hired in positions to meet units' specific needs. Criteria for promotion will therefore be specific to the candidate's position.

Promotion from the rank of Instructor to Senior Instructor may be considered after four years of service. To be promoted, a candidate must:

The criteria for Teaching, Advising, and Other Assignments in this document can provide guidelines for documenting and evaluating the level of achievement. Promotions cannot be made from non-professorial to professorial ranks.

Promotion from Faculty Research Assistant to Senior Faculty Research Assistant may be considered after four years of service. To be promoted, a candidate must:


Compilation of the Dossier

Promotion and tenure decisions are based primarily on an evaluation of the faculty member's achievements as described in his or her dossier. The dossier must document and contain evaluation of the candidate's performance in teaching, advising, or other assignments; in scholarship; and in service, consistent with the candidate's position. Copies of the current Dossier Preparation Guidelines and models for requesting letters of evaluation can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs.

Although the candidate prepares much of the material for the dossier, the immediate supervisor of the tenure unit (department chair or head, county staff chair, dean or director) will assure that the candidate receives assistance as needed, and will be responsible for seeing that the final dossier is complete and conforms to University guidelines.

Recommendations for the promotion or tenure of a unit supervisor will be reviewed in the same manner as for other faculty, except that the dean or director to whom the supervisor reports will appoint a senior faculty member to assume the supervisor's usual responsibilities.

Access to the Dossier and University Files by the Faculty Member

As described in the OSU Faculty Records Policy contained in the Faculty Handbook, faculty members will be allowed full access to their own dossiers, personnel files, and records kept by the institution, college, or department, except for:

Prior to the dossier receiving its first formal review, the candidate must sign and date a certification that the open part of the dossier is complete. Should the candidate and the supervisor of the tenure unit disagree on the inclusion of some materials, the candidate may indicate his or her own objection in the statement of certification. Once the dossier is certified, the only materials to be added subsequently will e the letters of committee and administrative review, and in some cases the candidate's statement as described in the following section.

Throughout the process of review, the open parts of the dossier remain available to the candidate at his or her request. The candidate will be notified when letters of evaluation by reviewers at the unit and college levels are added to the dossier.


The process for earning promotion and tenure begins at the moment of hiring. Faculty are hired with expectations in job performance, scholarship, and service that are established in position descriptions, which may then be revised as the tenure unit's needs and the faculty member's assignments change. From the time of their arrival at the University, new faculty should be well advised of what is expected of them for promotion and tenure. Reports from the annual Periodic Review of Faculty (PROF's), while not included in the candidate's dossier for promotion and tenure, are used by supervisors in tenure units to inform faculty, in a constructive way, of their progress toward promotion and tenure.

Initiation of the Recommendation

Tenure resides in the academic unit, which for most faculty will be the department. Final decisions on promotion and tenure are made by the Provost and Executive Vice President, but the primary responsibility for evaluating the candidate's performance and recommending promotion and tenure actions rests in the tenure unit and college. The supervisor of the tenure unit or a committee of faculty assigned this responsibility, in consultation with the candidate, will normally initiate the candidate's review for promotion and tenure. The supervisor of the tenure unit will also work in cooperation with any other supervisors to whom the faculty member reports. The candidate, however, always has the right to initiate the review. In either case, a complete dossier will be compiled.

Tenure Unit Review and Recommendation

In all but rare cases, the supervisor of the tenure unit and a promotion-and-tenure review committee formed from among the tenured faculty within the unit (at or above the rank for which the candidate is being considered) will independently evaluate the materials in the dossier, and will recommend either for or against the candidate's promotion or tenure. The supervisor will also consult the candidate's personnel file maintained in the unit. If both the supervisor's and the committee's recommendations are negative, the dossier will not be forwarded to the next level of review, unless the candidate, following discussion with the supervisor, insists, or the candidate is in the final year of annual tenure. In such cases the dossier must be forwarded for consideration.

The letters from the supervisor and the promotion-and-tenure review committee are to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidate's performance. These letters should summarize and comment on key points in the letters of evaluation solicited from qualified reviewers in the candidate's field.

As required by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, students will be invited to participate in the review of faculty for promotion and tenure. The supervisor of the tenure unit or dean will select and invite an appropriate number of students to evaluate that portion of the candidate's dossier related to teaching. A letter of evaluation written by the student representatives will be added to the dossier. Units may develop a similar process for evaluating the delivery of programs to other clients.

Prior to the dossier leaving the unit, the supervisor will meet with the candidate to share the outcomes of the unit reviews. The candidate may add a written statement regarding these reviews, to be included in the dossier. In addition, at any time during the review process the candidate may withdraw his or her dossier.

College Review and Recommendation

The candidate's dossier -- including the letters of evaluation and recommendation from the supervisor, the faculty committee, and the student or client representatives; together with the candidate's statement when one is added -- is forwarded for review at the college level. The college review should insure that each dossier has been carefully and properly prepared, and that uniform or equivalent standards are applied to all faculty within the college. The reviewers at the college level are to determine whether the letters of evaluation from the unit accurately assess the candidate's performance as documented in the dossier. Due to the diversity of college structures, each college will establish its own procedures for this review, but care should be taken to insure appropriate and adequate input by faculty throughout the review process. A letter of evaluation from the dean, and from the review committee in colleges where one is established for this purpose, are added to the dossier as it is forwarded for review at the University level.

University Review and Recommendation

Each dossier will be reviewed for completeness by the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. Where additional information is needed, the candidate's supervisor or dean will be contacted.

Completed dossiers that have received uniformly positive recommendations at the previous levels of review will be forwarded to the Provost and Executive Vice President, who will assure that University-wide standards have been met. In reaching a final decision, the Provost and Executive Vice President may confer with others as appropriate. All dossiers that have received mixed recommendations at the unit or college level will be reviewed by the University Administrative Promotion and Tenure Committee, which is chaired by the Provost and Executive Vice President and consists of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, the Vice Provost for Research and International Programs, the Dean of Extended Education, and the Dean of the Graduate School.

The Faculty Senate Promotion and Tenure Committee will have access to all dossiers under consideration, and representatives of the committee will observe the deliberations of the University Administrative Promotion and Tenure Committee, to ensure an equitable process for all faculty.

The purpose of the University review is to ensure that all faculty are held to common standard, and to resolve disagreements in previous recommendations. In cases in which the members of the University Administrative Promotion and Tenure Committee are divided over the final recommendation, or in which their recommendation differs from those of the college or unit, the candidate's dean and supervisor will be invited for discussion.

Decisions and Appeals

When all necessary reviews and discussions have been completed, the Provost and Executive Vice President will make the final decision. Candidates will be informed of the decision in writing. In the case of a negative decision, the basis for the denial will be stated, along with information on the right to appeal.

Faculty not approved for promotion or tenure by the Provost and Executive Vice President may appeal to the President within two weeks of receipt of the letter announcing the decision. Extenuating circumstances, procedural irregularities that were not considered by the Provost and Executive Vice President, and factual errors in the evaluations are grounds for appeal.

Return of Dossiers

After the institutional review is finished, the complete dossier is retained temporarily in the Office of Academic Affairs. The dossier is subsequently returned to the appropriate dean, typically at the start of the next academic year. The dean will then return it to the tenure unit, where, after confidential letters have been removed, the dossier is retained as part of the faculty member's personnel files.