Plant Pathology Promotion & Tenure Guidelines (Adopted July 2020)

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Recommendations for promotion and tenure in the Department of Plant Pathology are the combined responsibility of the faculty and the Department Head (unit administrator). Faculty will follow the Promotion and Tenure (P&T) requirements as outlined by the University and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s (IANR) “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Faculty: Annual Evaluations, Promotion, and Tenure” and this document. All faculty with the potential of promotion, or promotion plus tenure, are strongly encouraged to read the IANR P&T guidelines. The evaluation of a candidate’s performance will be based on the individual’s assigned responsibilities in teaching, research, extension, and service, as outlined in their position description. A recent copy of each faculty member’s job description is available from the Department Head. Independent recommendations for promotion and tenure by the P&T Committee and the Department Head are based on the candidate’s cumulative performance in their assigned area(s) of responsibility. All faculty are expected to engage in creative and scholarly activities while demonstrating excellence and professional growth in their discipline.

Assessment of faculty performance is an annual process with two distinct phases within an individual’s career. Upon accepting an academic position, the candidate in a tenure-track position enters the first phase of evaluation of annual progress towards promotion and tenure. Each pre-tenure assessment reflects the likelihood that evidence presented in the annual evaluation is sufficient for future success and a positive tenure decision. Once a faculty member achieves tenure, the second phase of the annual assessment involves evaluation of progress towards promotion in rank. The same expectations of excellence and professional growth exist for tenured faculty. The same level of expectation is applied to non-tenure-track faculty for evaluation and assessment of progress toward promotion.

General Criteria for Faculty Success

The general criteria listed below are specified in the IANR Guidelines referenced above and are affirmed by the Department of Plant Pathology. The foundation of tenure and/or promotion is scholarship that can be demonstrated through a variety of means (see Appendix 1. Plant Pathology Indicators of Excellence).

  1. Sustained level of performance in the candidate's assignments. Performance will be judged in relation to the specific appointment, whether it be in research, teaching, extension, service, or other domestic or international activities of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  2. Creative and scholarly activity such as professional publications, peer recognition, patents and inventions, development of germplasm and variety releases, program innovations, significant computer programs, educational programs, or other scholarly and creative activities typically associated with academic endeavor.
  3. Professional development judged by continued improvement, singular or collaborative research, teaching (instructional improvement), extension programs, other services, or participation and leadership in professional activities.
  4. The obligations of academic responsibility as specified in Section 4.1 of the Bylaws of the Board of Regents (Appendix 2).
Department of Plant Pathology Review Criteria

All Department of Plant Pathology faculty are expected to contribute to the research, teaching, and extension mission as articulated in their current unique position description, with an expectation of attaining national impact and recognition. More clarity is provided in Appendix 1. Plant Pathology Indicators of Excellence. All are expected to contribute to departmental and IANR priorities and demonstrate effective leadership, teamwork, and mentorship. Through service, all are expected to contribute to UNL (department, college, and/or university level), to the community, and to their professional societies. All faculty should demonstrate scholarship for promotion, tenure, and merit consideration, regardless of their appointment. The department P&T Committee and Department Head will annually evaluate all faculty that are not fully promoted and provide feedback on progress toward promotion and/or tenure.

Considerations for Tenure

The annual evaluation of pre-tenured faculty should be considered a formative process. The evaluation will identify areas of progress and strength, and alerts the faculty member to performance deficiencies at the earliest possible time. The primary focus is on the candidate’s suitability for reappointment and the likelihood that continued progress, as evidenced by the annual evaluation document, will result in a positive tenure decision. Granting tenure is a long-term commitment by the institution to the individual faculty member and therefore requires a rigorous, in-depth assessment of the faculty member’s cumulative accomplishments and a determination of whether the performance is likely to continue to meet or exceed expectations in the future. The tenure decision ultimately is based on an evaluation of the quality and quantity of work accomplished and is an expectation and prediction of future faculty member success. The P&T Committee members base their discussions, reviews, and evaluations on the material submitted in the candidate’s tenure dossier. The P&T Committee conduct their tenure evaluation independent of the Department Head.

The P&T Documentation Process: Preparation of the Candidate’s Tenure Dossier

A detailed explanation of the current guidelines for the composition of the dossier are provided in the “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Faculty: Annual Evaluations, Promotion, and Tenure.” Components to be assembled by the administrative unit and candidate are outlined in the IANR guidelines document referenced above. It is the faculty member’s responsibility to document their progress toward tenure and promotion and provide this documentation in the form of a cumulative promotion and tenure or promotion dossier to the P&T Committee in the year which they wish to be considered for promotion and/or tenure.

External Reviews of the Candidate

Part of the Department Head’s responsibility is the solicitation of 3-5 external reviews of the candidate. The Department Head will request and obtain a minimum of three external, independent review letters. Typically, up to 5 letters will be solicited to ensure a minimum of 3 are returned. Reviewers are faculty or other scientists not affiliated with UNL, with relevant expertise, and typically at the equivalent or higher rank than that for which the applicant is applying. “Independent” is defined here as limited or no professional interaction with candidate. The external reviewer should affirm that they meet this definition of independence with the intent to provide an objective review of the dossier.

The Department Head can solicit review suggestions from the candidate, P&T Committee, or faculty, but the final selection of reviewers is solely the Department Head’s responsibility. The Department Head will consult with the candidate to identify potential reviewers who have a conflict of interest or may fail to be impartial for reasons known to the candidate. The candidate is entitled to review and comment on External Review Letters received and inserted into the Promotion and/or Tenure Document, unless the candidate waives their right to do so. The Department Head will provide and explain the Right to Review External Letters Waiver Form to the candidate. The candidate is required to sign and return the waiver form to the Department Head in a timely manner, before letters are solicited.

Annual Review Process by the P&T Committee
  1. The departmental P&T Committee will provide annual review and evaluation of pre-tenure and tenured, but not fully promoted, faculty. Fully promoted faculty will be evaluated by the P&T Committee at least every three years. This section explains in more detail the role of the P&T committee in the annual review process.

    The following items will be requested annually for the P&T Committee evaluation:
    1. Current Activities Insight document
    2. A 5-year record of publications in these categories - refereed journals, articles, abstracts, reviews/book chapters, other scientific and extension publications
    3. A 5-year record of courses taught, workshops, crop protection clinics/extension outreach, student mentoring
    4. A 3-year record of grants
    5. Teamwork documentation (Team Definition: two or more faculty working toward a common goal). The Department of Plant Pathology recognizes teams as a significant contribution; however, we do not penalize a faculty member for not having team activities in their program. The following points should be addressed by faculty members in teams during annual activity reporting:
      1. Identify your role in the project (e.g. one of 8 investigators, team leader, co-leader, advisor, instructor, secretary, etc.)
      2. Identify how your contributions synergize team activities that lead to the synthesis of new ideas and outputs. 
      3. Identify team objectives you are involved in and your contribution.
      4. Identify team outputs (published papers, reports, presentations, online content, etc.)

        Identify how your activity on the team facilitated overall team outputs. For publications on your CV, this can be done by using categories and labels to indicate how you contributed to a specific manuscript. The following two examples used these categories and labels:  I = Ideas Experimental or Conceptual, F = Produced with extramural funding to my program, E = Experiment Implementation, A = Analysis of Data, W = Writing and/or Critical Editing.  Those labels were then used to annotate each manuscript entry in the respective CV.  Examples below are from Everhart (1) and Garcia-Ruiz (2):  
        1. Amaradasa, B.S., and S.E. Everhart. 2016. Effects of sublethal fungicides on mutation rates and genomic variation in fungal plant pathogen, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. PLoS ONE. 11(12): e0168079. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0168079. [I F E A W; Views & Downloads = 3,130; Cited by 6; Impact Factor 2.766; H-index = 241]
        2. Garcia-Ruiz, H., Gabriel Peralta, S.M., Harte-Maxwell, P.A. Tomato spotted  wilt virus nss protein supports infection and systemic movement of a potyvirus and is a symptom determinant. Viruses 2018, 10, 129. [I F E A W. Views= 1,583; Downloads=1,342; Cited by 6; Impact factor=3.81.]
  2. Faculty with joint appointments in extension, teaching, research, and service will be evaluated on all areas relative to the appointment apportionments. Demonstration of a satisfactory or higher performance in each area of their appointment indicates positive progress toward promotion and tenure. Unsatisfactory performance in one or more areas of the appointment, regardless of the apportionment of the component(s) will raise concerns about progress toward promotion and/or tenure.
  3. The P&T Committee and Department Head will provide each pre-tenured faculty member and not fully promoted faculty member with annual feedback regarding progress toward tenure and promotion. This includes tenure-track faculty, professors of practice, and research professors.
    1. It is expected that pre-tenure faculty in the probationary period will have accumulated at least five years of experience and, more typically, six years, prior to consideration for promotion and tenure. If a faculty member has been in a tenure-track position at another institution, with a governmental agency, or with industry, and would like to have prior experience counted towards as time in service for early promotion and/or tenure, they should have this agreement written into their letter of offer from UNL or negotiate this with the Department Head and appropriate IANR Dean(s) after being hired.  In such cases, the faculty member must provide the P&T Committee with evidence of this agreement along with a summative dossier of their accomplishments at their previous institution.  The faculty member must also have a record of productive accomplishments for not less than 2 years at UNL before being considered for promotion and/or tenure.
Considerations for Promotion in Rank

Promotions to higher ranks are benchmarks in the process of faculty development and recognition. Initial decisions on recommendations for promotion are made by the P&T Committee and Department Head. To attain the rank of professor, all phases of the candidate’s performance in relation to their appointment must be evaluated as “Good Work” per the annual evaluation form and “Satisfactory” per the annual Faculty Progress Toward Promotion and Tenure document at the minimum. It is also expected that the faculty member’s creativity would merit national and/or international recognition in teaching, research, and/or extension.

Adjunct Faculty Evaluation

Adjunct faculty will be evaluated with similar rigor to our state-funded faculty. However, their current position description at their place of employment will be considered in the evaluation. In many instances, adjunct faculty will not have the same level of engagement and opportunities to be equivalent to UNL faculty, which will be considered in their evaluation for promotion. The apportionment of activity for adjunct faculty may vary significantly depending on their current job responsibilities.

Timeline for development and transmittal of faculty promotion and/or tenure file.

Submission and Decision Dates: Plant Pathology Department policy is to allow the candidate to submit their dossier as late as possible to allow a submission to the IANR Vice Chancellor by 15 November, with a successful promotion and or tenure being effective the following July 1 or September 1 depending on a 12-month or 9-month appointment, respectively. To that end, Plant Pathology will follow the posted “Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources Promotion and Tenure and Faculty Evaluation Timeline” and specific dates will be identified with department head and faculty member requesting consideration for promotion and/or tenure. This timetable allows time for potential reconsideration of negative recommendations.

Appendix 1. Plant Pathology Indicators of Excellence

A.  Quality and Quantity of Work

Refereed Publications:  research papers, review papers, journal articles, book chapters, conference symposia, textbooks, etc.

Other In-House Reviewed Publications: NebFacts, NebGuides, Extension Circulars, conference proceedings chapters, and technical, teaching and popular articles.

Creative Work: patents, cultivars, videos, blogs, websites, webpages, displays, software, statistical analysis packages, recorded presentations used for district, state, regional, or national programs.

Invited Presentations: local (other UNL departments), state, regional, national, and international meetings.

Teaching: Faculty with a teaching appointment should teach graduate and/or undergraduate classes, as assigned. Faculty participation in professional teaching development activities is expected and should be documented. All faculty should have a peer review of teaching performed in their first two years of appointment and strive for excellence in their teaching activity. A number of resources developed by CASNR are available to guide teaching improvement (see CASNR online documents: “CASNR Expectations and Evaluation” (2013); and “Teaching Improvement and Reflection” (2018)). Peer review of teaching documentation should be included in promotion and tenure dossiers. Evidence of teaching scholarship may include pedagogical publications, grants, workshops, and the development of teaching resources. The breadth of teaching scholarship can also be demonstrated in contributions to extension education programs, competency in advising undergraduate and graduate students, and successful integration of team teaching. Creativity in teaching is evidenced by a willingness to introduce new subject matter on priority issues; demonstration of innovative instruction, such as use of multimedia, web-based courses, and distance delivery; development of copyrighted material and patents; and evidence of providing new ideas, methodology, and interpretation to a field of inquiry.

B.  Teamwork

In most cases, your dossier should include evidence of teamwork. Successful teamwork should be clearly communicated with publication references, presentations, and other outputs related to the project, and your impacts in teams should be clearly documented. One way to provide this is to identify your contributions to the output (e.g. experimental ideas or conceptual, extramural funding obtained to support the implementation of experiments, analysis of data, and writing and technical editing). Involvement in teams and leadership, as well as collaborative teaching, extension, research, and service, should be documented. Involvement in teams is a key indicator of long-term faculty success.

C.  Grants, Contracts, User Fees, and Other Intra-/Extra-mural Funding

Evidence of an active approach in seeking and obtaining outside support for extension, research, and/or teaching program enhancement. This should include evidence of pursued funding, especially if funding success has been low. Evidence of adaptation to challenging factors affecting funding should be demonstrated if challenges in funding have been encountered. Strong funding with collaborative programs can be a positive indicator of faculty success.

D.  Professional Development

Faculty are expected to participate in professional development activities that support their appointment, such as professional society meetings, faculty development leaves, workshops, etc.

E.  Service

Performance of service at the departmental, institutional, professional, local, national and/or international levels is expected. All faculty are expected to interact with colleagues, students, staff, and the public in a professional manner.

Student Recruitment: All members of the faculty are expected to contribute to departmental recruiting of undergraduate and/or graduate students.

F.  Mentoring

Faculty with tenure-track research, teaching, and extension appointments are expected to serve on graduate student committees and as committee chair / co-chair. All faculty, either formally or informally, will contribute to faculty and student mentoring.

Appendix 2. Bylaws of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents Section. 4.1

4.1 Academic Responsibility. Membership in the academic community imposes certain obligations. These obligations include the following duties of academic responsibility:

(a)   To respect: (1) the dignity of others; (2) the right of others to express differing opinions; (3) the right of others to be free from fear, from violence, and from personal abuse; and (4) the right of the University community to be free from actions that impede its normal functioning.

(b)   To enroll, teach, and evaluate the work of students without regard to considerations such as age, sex, race, color, national origin, or religious or political beliefs.

(c)   To establish and maintain a classroom or laboratory atmosphere that encourages free inquiry and the free expression of ideas by students.

(d)   To present the subject matter of courses as announced to the students and approved by authorities responsible for the curriculum.

(e)   To study current developments and maintain competence in the areas of assigned courses; to examine, continually and critically, the subject matter of such courses, as well as teaching techniques and proposals for improving higher education

(f)    To: (l) fulfill the assigned time schedule of all classes, including quizzes, laboratories, tests, and other meetings, unless absence is caused by an emergency or approved University business. Changes in the scheduled times shall be authorized by the Dean, director, or department chair, with the agreement of the enrolled students and in the interest of an academic objective; (2) be available at frequent, regular, and scheduled times for student consultation; and (3) inform students concerning the requirements, standards, objectives, and evaluation procedures at the beginning of each course.

(g)   To participate upon request in the activities of the University in the areas of student advising and public service, and as appropriate, in the activities of the department, the college, the campus, and the University.

(h)   To make every effort to indicate that members of the professional staff are not spokesmen for the University except when authorized so to act.

(i)   To create and protect an atmosphere of intellectual honesty in the academic community.