Employee Resources - Promotion and Tenure

College of Engineering Promotion and Tenure

Promotion and Tenure Information:

COE Promotion and Tenure Criteria

Adopted by the College of Engineering & Technology on May 5, 2000. The promotion and tenure guidelines rewrite committee recommends that the College of Engineering adopts the following guidelines as the only set of guidelines for promotion and tenure in the College. Furthermore, the committee recommends that only one committee, the College Promotion and Tenure Committee, consider promotion and tenure.

These guidelines will be effective August 14, 2000. A candidate who was appointed to a tenured/tenure track position prior to 1 August 2000 may choose to use the new guidelines or those guidelines in place at the time of their appointment to the tenured/tenure track position. The Dean's office of the College of Engineering will develop a form for this option. Effective with the 2005-2006 academic year, all cases for promotion and/or tenure will be considered under the guidelines described in this document.

Process for Continuous Appointment: Promotion and Tenure


Scholarship encompasses four areas: discovery, integration, presentation and application. Faculty members are expected to guide, motivate, and inspire students and colleagues.

Teaching refers to the broad area of student/faculty interaction for educational purposes. This includes activities inside and outside of the classroom that result in student development. Faculty are expected to continually improve their teaching. The scholarship of teaching enlists creative and critical thinking, which transcends the boundaries of the classroom walls.

The scholarship of research involves scientific activities in the creation of new knowledge and the continual testing and revaluation of previous work. Research in the broad sense includes not only scientific investigations, but also design, creative problem solving, and other forms of creative activity. The principal part of the research function is the directing and support of graduate students and the dissemination of research results.

Service is the application of professional knowledge by a faculty member in a responsible manner to consequential problems. Professional development activities, such as short courses, workshops, and obtaining and maintaining a license or certification in a specific field, are encouraged in appropriate fields and may provide evidence of a candidate's continued competence in an area of specialization. However, these professional activities are not scholarly in nature and should not be used in assessing the scholarly performance of a candidate.

The evaluation of a candidate for promotion and/or tenure is based upon the candidate's performance in their assigned workload over the time period under review, which may include time spent at other institutions. The relative proportion of time assigned to teaching, research, and service varies among candidates and must be considered in all performance evaluations. 1

Simultaneous promotion and tenure at the required tenure consideration date2 is the normal case for advancement from Assistant to Associate Professor. Promotion and tenure before the. required tenure consideration date is based upon a rapid start in the candidate's scholarly work. Associate Professors seeking tenure follow the guidelines for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor.

1This is negotiated between the individual and the Department Chairperson on an annual basis and must be in written form.

2The required tenure consideration date is documented at the time of the candidate's appointment on the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Tenure Decision Dates.


II.A Promotion from Assistant Professor or Associate Professor to Associate Professor with Tenure

Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor with tenure is primarily dependent upon evaluations of documented evidence of scholarly work in teaching and/or research, because Assistant Professors are rarely given significant explicit service appointments. Teaching assignments may include the teaching of undergraduate classes, graduate classes or both. Evaluations of a candidate's performance in the areas of teaching and research must take into account the relative proportions assigned to these two areas in the candidate's appointment, and what kind of classes the candidate is expected to teach. Service activities are considered an essential component of a candidate's performance, but are given less weight in promotion and tenure decisions.

II.A. 1 Teaching

A candidate for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor must demonstrate the scholarship of teaching and the ability to transfer knowledge effectively to undergraduate students and/or graduate students. His or her students should be prepared for succeeding classes and for further development in professional practice or graduate school. The academic advising of undergraduate students is an important aspect of teaching and candidates are expected to provide effective undergraduate advising.

In the scholarship of teaching, discovery is the creation of new knowledge, and integration is the weaving of the discovery into the students' educational experience. Presentation attracts and engages the learners (both students and teachers), enabling them to further explore the knowledge, and through application, the learners use the knowledge to solve problems. A candidate whose scholarly work is in the area of teaching is expected to seek funding from appropriate sources to assist with their educational creative activities and to disseminate the results of these activities.

II.A2 Research

A candidate whose scholarly activities are in the area of research is expected to participate in the graduate program. This participation includes the support and supervision of graduate students, teaching of graduate level courses, presentation of seminars, presentation and publication of research, submission of proposals, and direction of projects.

The candidate for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor should show the ability and commitment to conceive, develop and direct research projects and the ability to disseminate peer accepted results of that research. There must be demonstrable results of the research. These results include graduate students that have completed their programs under the direction of the candidate, published results (refereed journal papers, refereed conference papers, etc.) and research support from external sources.

In the area of research, the candidate is expected to have participated successfully in the M.S. and/or Ph.D. program by teaching at the graduate level, being a member of graduate student committees and supervising graduate students. The peer accepted research results must include original work beyond that included in the work presented for the terminal degree. Finally, the candidate must have demonstrable results, which show the ability to establish a research. program.

II A.3 Service

The service function includes service to the institution, the community, the nation, and to the faculty member’s profession. The area of service is not a primary objective of a candidate for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor with tenure. However, at a minimum the candidate should have provided service to the University, College, or Department through participation on committees and by advising undergraduate students. The candidate is also encouraged to become involved in other service activities such as those listed below.

  • University, college and departmental committees.
  • Advising student organizations and student recruiting.
  • Reviewing papers and proposals.
  • Professional societies at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Chairing sessions at regional and national meetings.
  • Service to regional and/or national level committees or holding office of the appropriate professional societies.
  • Editing of journals and/or symposium proceedings.
  • Providing technical assistance through the University Engineering Extension center, or other University, College, or outreach organizations.
  • Governmental committees and advisory boards.
  • Uncompensated consulting in the private sector in the candidate’s area of expertise.
  • Operating a business or research center that contributes to the university system.
  • Giving public service presentations or testimony in the person’s areas of expertise.

Owning and/or operating a business outside the profits of the university system is not considered service. Other extracurricular services such as participating in civic organizations are not discouraged, but are not included among faculty expectations.

II.B. Promotion from Associate Professor to Professor

Promotion to Full Professor is usually recognition of sustained excellence in research and teaching at a level beyond that required for promotion to Associate Professor and tenure. The candidate for Full Professor should have assumed leadership roles in their areas to be considered for promotion. In addition, a candidate for promotion to Full Professor must have moved beyond the milieu of their individual scholarly work and have contributed to the improvement of the research and/or teaching environment of their colleagues.

Long term, exceptional performance in scholarly teaching and service may also lead to promotion to Full Professor in those situations where the candidate's appointment as an Associate Professor does not have a significant research component. More details may be found in the current UNL Guidelines for the Evaluation of Faculty: Annual Evaluations, Promotion, and Tenure (which were approved by Chancellor Perlman on December 5, 2001). Note that it is imperative that departments who have candidates who choose to pursue promotion based primarily on excellence in teaching and/or service or outreach follow the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs instructions:

  “For those promotions-to-full reviews where the primary claim for promotion is based on excellent performance in teaching and/or service or outreach, the department should have taken care to develop evaluation criteria, ways of measuring quality, and external validation that reflect standards as rigorous as (though different from) the standards applied in cases with a more traditional faculty profile.”


Because each case is unique it would be impossible to identify these metrics ahead of time. Therefore each candidate must declare that they are pursuing this option in writing to 1) their department chairperson, 2) the chairs of the college and unit promotion and tenure committees, and 3) the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at least three (3) years in advance of seeking promotion (during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 promotion and tenure cycles the three year declaration requirement will be waived, if appropriate metrics have been previously identified by the candidate and the program unit). The unit committee chair, in conjunction with the department chair, will be responsible for identifying the evaluation criteria and the methods for measuring quality for this candidate. These evaluation criteria will be agreed to in writing by the Dean. These criteria and quality metrics will be used for annual evaluations for the candidate so that a record of their achievements over a sustained length of time will be available. In addition, the committee chair will be responsible for developing an external validation process that reflects the rigorous standards required for promotion at UNL. As an example, if a candidate chooses to pursue promotion based on excellence in teaching he or she will have to demonstrate scholarly and creative accomplishments with national impact on teaching. Evidence of this impact could include journal papers in peer reviewed engineering education journals, external letters from prominent educators describing how the candidate’s initiatives in this area have had a national impact on teaching, etc and a documented record of obtaining external funding in engineering education.

II.B.1 Teaching

The candidate for promotion from Associate Professor to Professor must demonstrate a sustained record of evidence of their teaching effectiveness and innovation in knowledge transfer at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition, there should be a demonstrated commitment to improvement in the quality of one's teaching performance. This commitment is evidenced by such activities as continued participation in teaching, improvement programs, continuing education in the area of teaching effectiveness, research and publication of innovative teaching approaches, the incorporation of technological advances into course materials, curriculum development, and recognition by individuals noted for their teaching excellence within or outside of the college. In exceptional cases promotion may occur with demonstration of excellent, nationally recognized activity in the teaching area alone.

II.B.2 Research

The candidate for promotion from Associate Professor to Professor should demonstrate a sustained record of excellence in scholarly research, graduate student development, and publication. It is expected that the research will be recognized at the national level. The acceptance of high quality research is evidenced by such activities as a sustained peer-reviewed external funding and publication record, invited reviews and lectures, invitation to participate in review and planning panels and specialist's conferences, and reference to the candidate's work by others in the field.

II.B.3 Service

In addition to the service activities listed for promotion from Assistant to Associate professor with tenure, the candidate for promotion from Associate Professor to Professor is expected to demonstrate leadership abilities in the service activities.


III. A. Teaching

There are many approaches to the scholarship of teaching, and careful evaluations must take this into account. No single source of data or method, including student evaluations of teacher performance, provides sufficient information to make a judgment concerning a candidate's teaching ability. To aid in the evaluation of the scholarship of teaching, a Teaching Portfolio is useful for candidates who are using teaching as their major emphasis for promotion and tenure.

If a Teaching Portfolio is used, it must be created in consultation with a tenured faculty member, chair, or professional schooled in the proper procedure so that the material represented indicates empirical evidence of scholarly teaching. The Teaching Portfolio should include the following: examples of items such as a course syllabus, homework and laboratory assignments, examinations, grading methodology, samples of student work (both good and bad), and descriptions of special teaching techniques. The following list indicates examples of items that could be placed in the Teaching Portfolio to aid in evaluating the teacher's ability to transfer knowledge to the student.

  • Student evaluations of teacher performance. They must be used by all faculty for every course except for independent study courses and thesis.
  • Teaching Analysis by Students (TABS) scored by the University’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). TABS is designed to be given at intervals deemed necessary by the instructor to critique the method of delivery so that the instructor can make appropriate changes as needed. TABS is an excellent resource in the evaluation process.
  • Student exit cards and student interview documenting teaching effectiveness.
  • Publications in scholarly journals on teaching, writing of textbooks, workbooks, or manuals.
  • Peer evaluations in the classroom preferably by an appropriate designee trained I teaching assessment methods. Written summaries by the evaluator are a documentation of teaching performance.
  • The development and presentation of new courses or new course material. This includes uses of novel means of presentation such as classroom demonstrations, educational software; self ¬paced workbooks, television and other audio-visual media.
  • Participation in short courses and seminars, either as a student or a presenter.
  • Teaching awards.

For candidates who choose not to use a Teaching Portfolio to frame their teaching, many of the items in the previous list are important to include in the teaching section of their Promotion and Tenure document.

III.B Research

The documentation of research effort is greatly aided by the review processes that exist within professional groups and agencies that either publish or fund research. The criteria for evaluation of a candidate's research rely heavily on the outcome of these review processes. Independent external peer reviewers, as well as internal reviewers, should be asked to evaluate the quality and the impact of the research.

Publication of original research results in refereed journals is a strong indication of significant contributions in research. Research monographs, research reviews, the receipt of patents, and research awards are evidence of research contributions. Technical presentations, conference proceedings, and technical papers presented at national or international meetings are valuable measures of research and may provide visibility for research performance.

The theses and dissertations of graduate students serve as a means for communicating and documenting the results of the research directed by the candidate. Thus, successful completion of MS and PhD students provides a record of directed research.

The ability to attract external support may be a measure of research activity. The funding process provides documentation of this effort. Funding agency reviews of proposals may provide an assessment of the quality of the proposed research. Regular reports to a funding agency may also serve as indicators of progress in the research. Funding that supports research leading to scholarly publications is a strong indication of significant contribution in research.

A proposal receiving good reviews should be considered a positive indication of effort even if limited agency resources prevent funding. Obtaining research equipment, acting as a collaborating investigator on a major research project, or making a major contribution as co-principal investigator on a research project that involves more than one faculty member are all indications of research activities.

III.C Service

Letters of recognition, certificates, awards, program listings and other indications of participation in service activities are examples to document service contributions.

IV. Amendments

Adopted May 5, 2000

Amended section II.B April 27, 2006

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