UNL Post Tenure Review Implementation Procedures

1. Purpose

The special peer review process is intended to assist tenured faculty in achieving their professional goals and maximizing their contributions to the University throughout their professional careers, to provide assurance to the public that tenured faculty are accountable for their performance, and to provide continued peer involvement in the review of tenured faculty members. (It remains the responsibility of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, respectively, to ensure that annual reviews referred to herein are conducted in all departments in a rigorous and equitable manner.)

2. Applicability of Review Process

The special peer review process is applicable to all members of the faculty who have been on a continuous contract pursuant to Board of Regents By-laws 4.4.3 for a period of three years or more. A faculty member shall not be subject to or eligible for a special peer review more than once every four years. A faculty member shall be reviewed in accordance with the special peer review process in either of the following circumstances:

  1. A faculty member receives (after the third year of a continuous appointment):
    1. A written annual evaluation from the unit administrator that identifies a substantial and chronic deficiency (*1) in the faculty member's performance and clearly states that if the faculty member does not make substantial, acceptable progress toward remedying the deficiency by the next annual evaluation, a post-tenure review will be initiated; and
    2. Notification deriving from the next annual review that the unit administrator has determined that the substantial and chronic deficiency identified in the previous evaluation has not been remedied, that a post-tenure review is appropriate, and that the dean concurs. Ordinarily, the faculty member shall be provided notification by June 30 that a review will be scheduled for the following academic year. Upon recommendation of the unit administrator and approval of the dean, a faculty member subject to post-tenure review under this section may be exempted or deferred for review if there are clearly extenuating circumstances (such as health problems) and an alternate plan for addressing the problems is adopted.
  2. A faculty member requests a review in accordance with the special peer review process. The purpose of such a review would be to provide helpful evaluation and assistance to the faculty member in planning a prospective program by which the faculty member can maximize his or her contributions to the University and more fully realize his or her professional goals.

3. Initiating the Review Process

  1. Whenever a special peer review is initiated, either by the faculty member or the unit administrator, the unit administrator shall first consult with the faculty member and then shall establish a schedule for the conduct of the review. Ordinarily, the review shall be scheduled for the academic year, and preferably the fall term, following notification of, or request by, the faculty member.
  2. For a review initiated under 2.a above, the unit administrator shall construct a special peer review file containing a clear identification and description of the deficiency or deficiencies, copies of the faculty member’s last three annual reviews, such other materials as are relevant, and a document suggesting ways in which the deficiency could be removed. For a review initiated under 2.b above, the unit administrator shall provide the Review Committee with a file containing copies of the faculty member's previous three annual reviews and such other materials as are relevant.
  3. The faculty member shall have the opportunity to supplement the special peer review file throughout the review process by including any information the faculty member believes to be material and helpful to the Review Committee or to administrators involved in the review process. The unit administrator shall cooperate with the faculty member to provide relevant information and shall periodically notify the faculty member of additions to the file. The faculty member shall be given access to all materials in the special peer review file. If the faculty member acknowledges a deficiency in performance, he or she is encouraged to include in the file a plan to remedy the deficiency or to otherwise maximize the faculty member's achievement of professional goals and contribution to the unit's mission, with specific goals and timetables for their achievement.
  4. The faculty member and the unit administrator may include in the file a response to material provided by the other.
  5. The unit administrator shall provide the Review Committee with a copy of the procedures and schedule for the special peer review.

4. Appointing the Review Committee

  1. A Review Committee shall be selected to conduct the review of the faculty member's performance. The Committee shall be composed of an appropriate group of tenured faculty from within and outside the unit who hold an academic rank at least equal to that of the faculty member to be reviewed. The Committee shall include some representation of the discipline and mission of the faculty member under review. Ordinarily the Committee should be composed of 3 individuals capable of providing a fair and unbiased assessment of the faculty member's performance.
  2. Initially, the unit administrator and the faculty member shall meet and attempt to agree on the composition of the Committee, which must be approved by the dean.
  3. If the unit administrator and the faculty member are unable to agree on the composition of the Committee, the Committee shall be chosen by an appropriate elected faculty committee within the unit, or, for departments with fewer than ten full-time faculty members, within the College; the composition of the Committee is subject to approval by the dean. Each unit, in its by-laws or otherwise, shall have previously designated the appropriate elected faculty committee for this purpose.

5. Conducting the Review

  1. The Review Committee shall review the file constructed for this purpose and may meet with the unit administrator and the faculty member, either together or separately. The Committee may consult other sources of information not included in the file with the approval of the unit administrator and the faculty member.
  2. Evaluation by peers external to the campus is required when research productivity is an issue: evaluation by peers external to the campus may be used when teaching and/or service/extension productivity is in question. If the Review Committee determines that evaluation by external peers is required or would be useful, the Committee shall notify the unit administrator and the faculty member. Thereafter, such outside reviews shall be obtained in accordance with the same procedure utilized by the unit to obtain outside reviews for purposes of making tenure decisions.
  3. In accordance with the schedule for the review established by the unit administrator, the Review Committee shall make a written report of its findings and recommendations, if any.
  4. If the special peer review is conducted at the request of the unit administrator pursuant to section 2.a of this procedure, the written report of the Review Committee shall be provided to the unit administrator, the faculty member's dean, and the faculty member.
  5. If the special peer review is conducted at the request of the faculty member pursuant to section 2.b of this procedure, the written report of the Review Committee shall be provided solely to the faculty member. The faculty member, at his or her discretion, may keep the Report confidential, share it with the unit administrator, or share it with the unit administrator and dean. If requested by the faculty member, the unit administrator and dean shall provide a written response to the Report, indicating the extent to which he or she agrees or disagrees with the findings and recommendations of the Report and why. At the request of the faculty member, the Report and any response from administrators shall be made part of the faculty member's permanent personnel record.

The faculty member, the unit administrator, and the dean shall work together to implement those recommendations on which they mutually agree. Nothing in the Report shall be used in any university evaluation without the consent of the faculty member. However, the faculty member may not attempt to utilize only a portion of the Report or any edited version of the Report in other university evaluations.

6. Preparing the Review Committee Report

  1. The purpose of the Review Committee Report is to provide an assessment of the performance of the faculty member subject to review and, where appropriate or necessary, to provide recommendations to maximize the faculty member's contributions to the unit and the University. The Review Committee Report is advisory. The Report shall include part (1) below and, as appropriate, parts (2) through (5):
    1. An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty member's performance;
    2. Recommendations for ways, if any, in which the faculty member could enhance achievement of his or her professional goals and his or her contributions to the mission of the unit, including suggestions, where appropriate, for adjustment in the faculty member's responsibilities, goals and timetables for meeting the goals, and criteria for assessing the faculty member's achievement of enhanced performance.
    3. An evaluation of any proposed plan submitted by the unit administrator or the faculty member to remedy any deficiency in the faculty member's performance and any recommended modification to such a plan.
    4. Recommendations for ways, if any, in which the unit administrator could provide professional development support to assist the faculty member in enhancing achievement of his or her professional goals and his or her contribution to the mission of the unit.
    5. For a review initiated under 2.a. above, any recommendations for sanctions to be imposed upon the faculty member for performance characterized by substantial and chronic deficiency.
  2. The Review Committee, if it believes that inappropriate criteria have been used to evaluate the faculty member, shall also indicate that fact in its Report.
  3. For a review initiated under 2.a above, the Review Committee shall make one of the following findings, to be clearly stated in its Report:
    1. The faculty member has not identified substantial and chronic deficiencies. If the Review Committee finds that the faculty member's performance does not reflect any substantial and chronic deficiency or deficiencies for the period under review, the faculty member and the unit administrator will be so informed in writing and the review is thereby completed.
    2. The faculty member has substantial and chronic deficiencies. The Review Committee shall state and describe the deficiency or deficiencies in its Report, which shall include all the elements listed under 6.a, items (1) through (5). The Committee shall provide a copy to the faculty member and the unit administrator.
  4. The unit administrator shall allow the faculty member being reviewed an opportunity to provide a written response to the Review Committee Report. Except when the review was conducted at the faculty member's request, the Report and any response from the faculty member shall be made a part of the faculty member's permanent personnel record.

7. Completing the Review Process under a Finding of Substantial and Chronic Deficiency

  1. Upon receipt of a Review Committee report and the faculty member's response, if any, the unit administrator shall meet with the faculty member reviewed to consider the report and any recommendations therein. The unit administrator shall then provide the faculty member and the dean with a written appraisal of the faculty member's performance, together with all documentation pertaining to the faculty member's review, including the file constructed for the review, the Review Committee's Report, and the faculty member's written response to the review, if any. The appraisal shall include, where appropriate:
    1. the extent to which the unit administrator accepts or rejects the findings and recommendations of the Review Committee Report and the reasons for doing so; the unit administrator may reject the Review Committee's findings only for compelling reasons, communicated in writing to the faculty member and the dean.
    2. a plan outlining the expectations of the unit administrator as to how the faculty member can remedy any deficiency in performance or enhance the faculty member's professional goals and contribution to the unit, including specific goals and time tables for achieving such goals and the criteria to be applied in making such a determination;
    3. the resources the unit administrator is willing and able to provide the faculty member to assist in implementing the plan;
    4. any adjustment in assignment or responsibilities of the faculty member; and
    5. any sanction to be imposed on the faculty member related to his or her performance. Sanctions governed by Regents By-laws shall only be imposed following the procedure prescribed in the by-laws.
  2. The dean, after review and consultation, may accept, modify, or reject the unit administrator's written appraisal and recommendations, but where the dean's appraisal differs from that provided by the Review Committee or where the dean accepts recommendations that differ from those provided by Review Committee, the dean may modify or reject only for compelling reasons, communicated in writing. The dean's response shall be provided to the faculty member and to the unit administrator.
  3. A faculty member dissatisfied with the results of the special peer review and the unit administrator's subsequent appraisal, or the dean's acceptance, modification or rejection of it, may pursue any appeal or remedy otherwise available to faculty members relating to matters that affect their employment status(*2).
  4. Progress towards achieving the goals and timetables set out in the unit administrator's plan, as approved by the dean, will be reviewed in subsequent annual reviews. If the faculty member fails to achieve the goals and timetables defined in that plan, those administrative processes defined by the Regent's By-laws (and different from special peer review) may be initiated as appropriate. Special peer review is not a prerequisite for initiation of those other administrative processes.

Footnotes

(*1). The standards for substantial and chronic deficiency shall be determined by the faculty in each unit and, when approved by the appropriate unit administrator, dean and vice chancellor, shall become part of its evaluation procedures.

(*2). By University regulations and tradition, faculty members have appealed adverse personnel decisions up the chain of administration from Deans to the Senior Vice Chancellor or Vice Chancellor for IANR to the Chancellor. This process would be unaffected by the regulations governing special peer review. In addition faculty have the option of invoking established University procedures administered by the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee. Allegations of violation of academic freedom, procedural irregularity and professional misconduct are currently handled through that Committee. In the unusual case in which a recommendation of termination is made against a tenured faculty member, established University procedures would require the case to be heard by an Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee.