Criteria for Tenure and Promotion for Tenure-track Faculty

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication hires tenure-track faculty at the assistant professor level, generally with a terminal degree of either a Ph.D., J.D., or a M.F.A.; or a master’s degree with significant professional experience, as determined by the search committee in consultation with the Director and Dean.

  1. Teaching

    Faculty are expected to develop a strong track record in the classroom, as exhibited by responsiveness to teaching evaluations from professional colleagues and teaching peers, as well as students, professional improvement and industry engagement as appropriate. Criteria for the evaluation of teaching are listed in Table 1 in the Appendix to this Section of the Handbook. Course revision is defined as making a substantial modification to a course, such as addition of distance learning options or multi-media instruction, formally proposing to change course content/format, etc. Other information, such as written comments from students, colleagues within and beyond the School, College, or University administrators shall be considered when available. Peer reviews and summaries of Student Surveys of Instruction (including all student comments) must be submitted as part of a candidate’s file for reappointment, tenure and promotion. Copies of representative syllabi, examinations, and other relevant teaching material also should be available for review.

  2. Scholarly/Creative Work

    The School’s tenured and tenure-track faculty are expected to be engaged in endeavors that support the School’s mission. It is expected that these activities will lead to presentation and then to publication in quality scholarly or professional venues. Evaluation criteria are listed in Table 2 in the Appendix to this Section of the Handbook.

    The quality of the work and the venues are important components in tenure and promotion decisions. Tenure is granted with the expectation that the faculty member will continue to be engaged at the same or a higher level of quality.

    Given the School’s professional mission, published journalism of the highest quality qualifies as published research, using standards defined in more detail below.

    Publication, for purposes of this document, is used in the broadest sense to include multiplatform distribution to defined audiences in print, web, audio, video, or mobile formats. Considering the proliferation of open-access information and audience-generated content, we anticipate that scholarly/creative activity may be published and evaluated in new ways, such as online or in other digital venues. It is up to the tenure or promotion applicant to assess and document how his or her work is significant in leading professional change. Such documentation must include meaningful peer review conducted in a detached and dispassionate manner.

    Generally, the School expects tenure-track faculty to build a body of scholarly, journalistic, and/or creative work that:

    a. shows substantial and consistent engagement by exhibiting focused growth that is documented by professional evaluations or assessments.

    b. extends to publication or presentation in appropriate professional or academic venues as defined below.

    c. engages peer or juried review or other evidence of detached, dispassionate vetting by peers or recognized experts as defined below.

    d. creates a positive recognition and reputation for those scholarly and creative endeavors, leading in time to national recognition measured by citations or letters of recognition, invitations to present or publish, awards and honors, or other documented means.

    e. aids communities and media organizations in better understanding their roles in a democratic society and/or advances the body of knowledge about the processes, economics, uses, effects, freedoms, and responsibilities of professionals and audiences of journalism and mass communication. The School recognizes the importance of faculty working in and with emerging media and technologies. Such work is essential to the future of media-related businesses and organizations. We also encourage faculty to build partnerships locally, regionally, and nationally.


  3. Service

    The School defines service as administrative service within the university, professional service through academic and professional associations and provision of professional expertise to public and private entities beyond the university.

    Service activity is expected and required; however, service of any magnitude cannot be considered more important than a candidate’s teaching and scholarly/creative responsibilities. Nonetheless, a faculty member’s willingness to make contributions to the overall progress of the School is an important measure of the faculty member’s fitness for tenure or promotion.

    Contributions as a University citizen include service to the School, the College, and the University as outlined in Table 3. The merits of University service should be evaluated as to (1) whether or not the candidate chaired the committee listed and (2) the importance of the service to the mission of the unit served. Other components of citizenship include active participation in School events, such as faculty- undergraduate- and graduate-student recruitment, seminars, and department meetings, etc.

    Additional components of service include public outreach and professional or academic service. These may differ in their importance among faculty members, depending on each faculty member’s duties and responsibilities within the School.

    Expectations in service for promotion to Professor are higher than for promotion to Associate Professor.

  4. Note on external funding and collaboration

    The School recognizes and supports the value of teaching, scholarly/creative, or service endeavors that generate external funding, particularly when the work is aligned with the goals and missions of the School, College, University, or our professions. Similarly, collaboration among colleagues within the School, College, and University and other universities is encouraged.

  5. Evaluation tables and documentation examples

    The text in this section and the tables in the Appendix to this section are designed to facilitate assessing performance of candidates being evaluated for tenure and promotion. During the probationary period, these tools should be used for developmental assistance and projection of future success in achieving tenure and promotion and for determining the faculty member’s qualification for reappointment.

    Tables 1, 2, and 3 in the Appendix provide worksheets for use in the evaluation of candidates. For promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor, the faculty member must meet the criteria for at least a “very good” evaluation in scholarly/creative activity and at least a “very good” evaluation in teaching. University citizenship must at least meet the minimum School criteria as outlined in Table 3. These same categories and assessment tools apply for tenure decisions.

    A candidate for promotion to Professor must meet the criteria for an “excellent” evaluation in either scholarly/creative activity or teaching and no less than “very good” in the other category. Service must exceed the minimum School criteria. A candidate for promotion to Professor may not have equal activity in scholarship, teaching and service, as he/she becomes more specialized.

    Given the wide range of venues in which scholarly/creative work may be published or presented, faculty are expected to provide clear documentation regarding publication or presentation of scholarly/creative work. Such documentation should include an assessment of its quality, impact or contribution to the body of professional or scholarly knowledge.

    Conference papers and presentations, for example, generally do not carry equal weight with published articles or creative work. Original scholarship or journalism based on original reporting or research, for example, generally would be weighted more heavily than analysis or review of another’s work. In collaborations, the contributions of each author should be clear.

    Assessment may be through traditional scholarly peer-review processes, demonstrated by client or external colleague evaluation, or adjudication (e.g., critical reviews, letters from acknowledged experts). Examples of acceptable assessment are provided below. Reviews by close colleagues and collaborators do not carry the same weight as dispassionate reviews by more objective, detached, external colleagues.

    For peer-reviewed articles, faculty are expected to document:

    • acceptance rate
    • quality of the publication
    • targeted audience
    • impact of the article
    • citations

    For peer-reviewed paper sessions, faculty are expected to document:

    • acceptance rate
    • significance of the organization
    • indication of how paper or presentation may advance to publication

    For invited papers or presentations, faculty are expected to document:

    • the significance of the organization
    • significance of the presentation, cited in a letter from the person who extended the invitation
    • audience for the paper or presentation

    Books also represent scholarly/creative activity. The relative weight depends on such factors as the original research behind the text, the importance of the book to the field and the candidate’s role as single author, multiple author or editor. Faculty are expected to document:

    • publishing process
    • targeted audience
    • copies sold
    • reviews or other evaluations
    • citations

    For articles in professional media, faculty are expected to document:

    • the circulation of the publication
    • description of audience
    • significance of the article, cited in a letter from the supervising editor, when available
    • other external validation such as awards or contests
    • citations, references
    • description of the reporting, research and/or creative process used to produce the article
    • acceptance rate

    For articles and blogs online, faculty are expected to document:

    • unique visitors or other accepted measures
    • links
    • significance of the organization that owns the web site
    • significance of the work, cited in a letter from the supervising editor, critical reviews or other evidence or in the case of a blog, qualified outside resources
    • other documented citations

    For video/broadcast work in professional reporting or production, faculty are expected to document:

    • selection for distribution by a television station, network or online
    • description of audience
    • significance of the work, cited in a letter from the supervising producer, when available
    • assessment through professional or academic awards competitions
    • reviews from relevant professional or academic experts.

    In addition to reporting/writing/producing, the practice of journalism encompasses such creative activities as editing, photography, and design for print and digital media. These are to be vetted in a similar fashion to the three preceding examples.

    The practice of public relations, on behalf of businesses and/or nonprofit organizations, encompasses:

    • Conducting formal communication audits and/or research initiatives.
    • Developing strategic public relations campaigns or programs that produce measurable results.
    • Developing and executing substantial public relations initiatives such as websites, social-media campaigns, large-scale events, etc.
    • Providing senior-level counsel leading to the adoption of more effective and ethical public relations practices.

    Although the School puts the highest value on original research and creative activity, the following also are valued as part of a candidate’s portfolio: book reviews, grant proposals, as well as reviewing manuscripts and programs.

    Faculty also may apply their expertise as advisers or consultants in significant problem-solving activities for an organization and may create workshops and seminars for professional audiences. Candidates will be expected to provide evaluation and impact of their work.

    Because of the heavy teaching responsibilities for tenure-track faculty members at the regional campuses, expectations for scholarly and creative activity will not be as great as they are for faculty on the Kent campus.