ERIC Identifier: ED284529
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Licata, Christine M.
Source: Association for the
Study of Higher Education.| ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education
Post-Tenure Faculty Evaluation. ERIC Digest.
Evaluation of faculty performance and assessment of faculty vitality
are processes critical to institutional livelihood and renewal. As the higher
education community approaches the next decade, greater attention to faculty
evaluation can be expected, and there is reason to believe that this attention
will not only be directed to an examination of faculty evaluation practices
before tenure but will also encompass the evaluation of faculty performance and
vitality following tenure--that is, post-tenure evaluation.
The degree of interest and amount of resources applied to these processes
have ebbed and flowed over time, tempered by the environmental factors that
surround institutions of higher education. The National Commission on Higher
Education Issues (1982) recently identified post-tenure evaluation as one of the
most pressing issues facing higher education in the next decade. In its summary
report, the commission strongly urged that "campus academic administrators
working closely with appropriate faculty committees should develop a system of
post-tenure evaluation." It also suggested that "nothing will undermine the
tenure system more completely than its being regarded as a system to protect
faculty members from evaluation" and recommended that a system of post-tenure
evaluation be developed on campuses to strengthen institutional quality (p. 10).
Not all factions in the higher education community support this notion or see
the necessity for establishment of such a system, however. Participants at the
1983 Wingspread Conference, Committee A of the AAUP of Academic Freedom and
Tenure, and other scholars in the field, voice serious reservations about
institutions developing formalized procedures for review of tenured faculty.
They believe that sufficient evaluation already occurs and that additional
periodic institutional evaluation of tenured faculty would reap little benefit;
would be very costly, not only in money and time, but also in the diminution of
creativity and collegiality; and would ultimately threaten academic freedom.
Clearly, discourse on this topic engenders some very disparate views.
WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE CURRENT ATTENTION TO POST-TENURE EVALUATION?
Educational planners characterize the next decade in higher education as one
wrought with budgetary restraint, steady-state reallocations, declining
enrollments, and overall problems of retrenchment. Of equal concern are the
predictions that by the late 1980s, approximately 80 percent of faculty will be
tenured at institutions where a tenure system operates and that by 2000, the
modal age of tenured faculty will be between 55 and 65. These factors are
further compounded by the fact that the absence of job mobility and the
shortened span of the career ladder have conspired to produce a feeling among
faculty of being "stuck."
In the past, efforts to foster institutional flexibility focused on
alternatives or modifications to the traditional tenure system. No conclusive
evidence exists, however, to show that tenure adversely affects faculty
productivity or teaching effectiveness. Likewise, no substantial evidence
suggests that either the abrogation of tenure or the various modifications to
tenure schemes are superior to a tenure system (Chait and Ford, 1982). The
question then becomes, "Can institutions committed to a tenure system yet faced
with an uncertain fiscal future reconcile their need to establish some degree of
flexibility with the equally critical need to maintain the quality and vitality
of the institution and the faculty?" It is precisely in this context that
discussion about post-tenure evaluation emerges.
IS POST-TENURE EVALUATION COMPATIBLE WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF TENURE?
Post-tenure evaluation is not in opposition to the principle of tenure and to
AAUP policy statements about tenure, provided that the evaluation is not used as
grounds for dismissal and that any recommended dismissal is subject to normal
academic due process. The AAUP/AAC Commission on Academic Tenure in 1973
recommended that post-tenure evaluation could improve the operation of tenure.
Some commentators studying this question also suggest that post-tenure
evaluation can strengthen rather than diminish the value of tenure (Bennett and
Chater, 1984; Chait and Ford, 1982; Olswang and Fantel, 1980-81).
DO OBSERVERS AGREE ABOUT THE PURPOSE AND VALUE OF POST-TENURE EVALUATION?
The strongest support for post-tenure evaluation is voiced by those who view
it as a formative way to reinforce faculty growth and to improve instruction
(Bennett and Chater, 1984; Zuckert and Friedhoff, 1980). Some proponents also
suggest its usefulness in decisions about merit pay, promotion, and dismissal
Apprehension and skepticism about the development of a formal institutional
system for periodic review are expressed by those who fear that such systems are
unworkable, will undermine the tenure principle by allowing the termination of
tenured faculty, will devalue rigorous pretenure evaluation, and will erode
collegial relationships (AAUP, 1983).
WHAT CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS EMERGE FROM THIS STUDY?
Institutions interested in developing a process for post-tenure review should
carefully investigate the potential advantages and disadvantages that such a
system might eventuate. Institutional type, climate, and mission are intervening
variables that may affect the advisability and feasibility of establishing such
a process. For institutions wishing to pursue this notion further, the following
considerations should be thoroughly examined before design and implementation of
a process for post-tenure review:
1. The purpose of the evaluation should be clearly articulated, and all other
aspects of the evaluation plan should tie directly to the established purpose.
Institutions must decide whether the evaluation will be formative or summative
2. Faculty must be involved in the design of the plan, and commitment by the
administration must be evident.
3. Faculty and administrators should agree on the specifics of the plan.
Particular attention should be given to the need for multiple sources of input,
identified areas and criteria for assessment, and agreement on standards for
4. Flexibility and individualization should be emphasized in the plan and in
the criteria used for evaluation. Evaluation schemes must respond to the
transitional stages in an academic's life while at the same time recognizing
5. Strong evidence supports the link between faculty development and rewards
and post-tenure evaluation. Such a link is critical in a formative evaluation
6. Innovative approaches to planning and evaluation are needed. The concept
of growth contracts deserves renewed attention.
Basic to each of these considerations is the need for expanded research on
the status, the practices, and the effectiveness of current post-tenure
(This digest is a summary of POST-TENURE FACULTY EVALUATION: THREAT OR
OPPORTUNITY? by Christine M. Licata.)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
American Association of University Professors. "On Periodic Evaluation of
Tenured Faculty." ACADEME 69 (1983): 1a-14a.
Bennett, John B. "Periodic Evaluation of Tenured Faculty Performance." In
LEADERSHIP AND INSTITUTIONAL RENEWAL, ed. R.A. Davis. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR HIGHER
EDUCATION NO. 49. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1985.
Bennett, John B.; and S.S. Chater. "Evaluating the Performance of Tenured
Faculty Members." EDUCATIONAL RECORD 65 (1984): 38-41.
Chait, Richard; and A.T. Ford. BEYOND TRADITIONAL TENURE. San Francisco:
Faculty Affairs Committee, Earlham College. "Assessment and Development of
Tenured Faculty." Memo to the faculty, May 2 1975.
Licata, Christine M. POST-TENURE FACULTY EVALUATION: THREAT OR OPPORTUNITY?
ASHE-ERIC HIGHER EDUCATION REPORT NO. l. ED 270 009.
National Commission on Higher Education Issues. TO STRENGTHEN QUALITY IN
HIGHER EDUCATION. Washington, DC: American Council on Education, 1982. ED 226
Olswang, Steven G.; and J.I. Fantel. "Tenure and Periodic Performance Review:
Compatible Legal and Administrative Principles." JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND
UNIVERSITY LAW 7 (1980-81): 1-30.
Zuckert, Michael P.; and J. Friedhoff. "Reviewing Tenured Faculty." IMPROVING
COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY TEACHING 28 (1980): 50.