Letter to Vice Provost re: P&T

May 6, 2016

To:         Dr. Jack Finney, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Virginia Tech

RE:        Statistics for Promotion and Tenure / Promotion Cases

From:   Virginia Tech chapter of the American Association of University Professors

Contact:  Uwe C. Tӓuber, VT AAUP Chapter Vice President, tauber@vt.edu

Dear Dr. Finney,

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has a strong national tradition of promoting shared governance and the professional security of faculty in higher education. Since the re-establishment of Virginia Tech’s AAUP chapter in September 2014, we were delighted to welcome President Dr. Timothy Sands and subsequently Provost Dr. Thanassis Rikakis to our open fora and engage with them in constructive and collegial conversations about the current state and future of our university.

We were especially pleased to read Provost Rikakis’ letter dated May 2, 2016 to the Deans and Department Heads, subsequently shared with various faculty on campus, wherein the Provost lists the numbers of promotion and tenure cases reviewed by the University Promotion and Tenure Committee, and states how many of these were positively recommended to the Board of Visitors for their meeting on June 6. We appreciate his detailed description of the discussions and recommendations that emerged from the University Committee’s deliberations.

Yet in our frequent interactions especially with untenured faculty, we perceive a persistent sense of insecurity among our newer colleagues that pertains to the tenure and promotion process. We strongly feel that further transparency could alleviate many of their concerns, and would further enhance their perception of Virginia Tech as a welcoming and nurturing institution that awards tenure in a challenging but fair procedure to accomplished and deserving individuals of highest academic caliber.

Thus we respectfully request that you please share with us the following purely statistical data:

Over the past five years, i.e., academic years 2011/12 through 2015/16,

  • how many dossiers total were submitted for promotion to associate professor with tenure, or just tenure for faculty already holding the associate professor rank;
  • how many dossiers total were submitted for promotion to (full) professor;
  • how many cases in each of these two categories were negatively assessed and hence terminated, respectively, on the department level;
  • how many cases in each of these two categories were negatively assessed and hence terminated, respectively, on the college level;
  • how many cases in each of these two categories finally were negatively assessed by the University P&T Committee, and how many were negatively assessed by the Provost;
  • how many cases in each of these two categories went to appeal through the Faculty Senate;
  • and finally, how many dossiers in each category were recommended for approval by the Board of Visitors.

We are confident that sharing this statistical information should not compromise the confidentiality of the tenure and promotion process.

Sincerely yours,

Uwe C. Tӓuber

Professor, Department of Physics; Vice President, Virginia Tech AAUP Chapter

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