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Faculty Personnel Policies

B4 Tenure

  1. General Principles

    1. Hope College accepts the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure as established by the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors.  This statement includes the following provision:

      After the expiration of a probationary period, teachers should have permanent or continuous tenure, and their service should be terminated only for adequate cause, except in the case of retirement for age, or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies.
      Adequate cause is defined by Hope College to be moral turpitude, incompetence, or academic irresponsibility.  Because of pending changes in federal law regarding mandatory retirement, the exception in the case of retirement for age may be discontinued after December 1992.

    2. The precise terms and conditions of every appointment should be stated in writing and be in the possession of the College and faculty member before appointment is consummated.

    3. The probationary period, which will not exceed seven years, includes all full-time service at Hope College at the rank of Instructor or above.  Leaves of absence, including any year in which a faculty member is absent for a full semester or more, and service under part-time employment, are not included in "years of service" in determining eligibility for tenure, unless a specific agreement is made before this part-time service or period of leave begins.

      In the case of a faculty member who has had prior teaching or professional experience, an agreement regarding the length of the probationary period will be incorporated into the initial contract.  As a general policy, the College will grant credit for all full-time teaching service up to three years, if such service is at a four-year institution and at the rank of Assistant Professor or above, and follows completion of the terminal degree.  Credit for all other teaching or professional experience will be negotiated.

      During the probationary period a faculty member has the academic freedom that all other members of the faculty have.

    4. Under no condition will any person be considered to have attained tenure automatically. The faculty committee designated for the consideration of all matters relating to tenure and for recommendations to the administration for the granting, withholding, or revoking of tenure, shall be the Status Committee.  Once a candidate has been approved by the Board of Trustees for tenure upon recommendation of the College President, s/he is notified of this action in writing.

    5. Tenure is granted only to persons holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor, and expires when the faculty member retires.

    6. A person not granted tenure during the probationary period will be given a terminal one-year appointment following that decision, in conformity with the standards for nonreappointment.  (See B5.b.)

  2. Overall Tenure Guidelines Set by the Board of Trustees

    In order to maintain flexibility and the opportunity of adding new faculty from time to time, the Board of Trustees has established the guideline that normally no more than two-thirds of the faculty should be tenured, although they may from time to time permit exceeding that limit.  The Provost presents a report annually on the tenure status of the faculty to assist the Board in its decisions on tenure recommendations and to enable it to take any other actions that it may deem necessary to maintain the viability and flexibility of the College's programs.
    Recommendations for the granting of tenure for individual faculty members are normally presented to the Board of Trustees at its January meeting.  These recommendations for tenure normally are accompanied by written statements from the Provost, the Divisional Dean and the Departmental Chairperson.

  3. Evaluation Criteria

    The principal criteria to be applied in the evaluation of a candidate for tenure are as follows:
    1. Teaching competence, as witnessed by student evaluations (see B3.b2), colleague evaluations, and letters of support from students, colleagues, and other persons who are sufficiently knowledgeable to make a professional judgment;

    2. The predicted ability of the candidate to remain successful as a teacher and scholar or artist in the years ahead based on previous performance;

    3. Effectiveness in serving students outside of the classroom;

    4. Demonstrated leadership abilities in the department and on the campus;

    5. Contribution to the overall goals and objectives of the College.

    In addition, the evaluators must consider the impact of the tenure decisions on the viability and flexibility of the department's program in the years ahead.

  4. Evaluation Process

    During the first semester of the academic year, new faculty will be briefed by the chairperson of the Status Committee on the process outlined below.  A guiding concept for the evaluation process is the integrated record of performance, i.e. the sum of the impact a faculty member has on, and beyond, the Hope community with respect to teaching, advising, scholarship, and service.
    Departmental chairpersons and the divisional deans have primary responsibility for helping faculty under regular appointment meet the criteria for tenure.  One of the first steps is to help faculty members to establish concrete goals for professional growth and development in the next year(s).
    Every effort will be made during the probationary period to keep the faculty member informed of the prospects for appointment with tenure.
    Evaluations of the performance of faculty members during the probationary period are made annually in accordance with procedures described above (see Section B3.b) and in light of the concrete goals established and the general criteria for faculty members (see Section B2.b).  A thorough evaluation takes place at the conclusion of a three-year appointment period so that probationary faculty are informed of prospects for receiving tenure.  At the conclusion of this evaluation, the divisional dean provides the candidate with a written statement containing an assessment of progress towards tenure and outlining minimal objectives to be realized if the candidate is to be considered for tenure.  A statement of procedures for the handling of Third-year Evaluations of probationary faculty is available on the Provost's Office website.

    In the sixth year, an in-depth evaluation is made so that decision on tenure can be reached and acted upon at the January meeting of the Board of Trustees.  A statement of the procedures to be followed is available from the Office of the Provost; it contains a listing of all materials which must be supplied to the Status Committee in support of the recommendation of the departmental chairperson and divisional dean.
    The decision regarding tenure will involve the results of the evaluation as well as an assessment of the overall staffing situation in the department and the College.  Should the decision be reached not to grant tenure, the faculty member will then have a terminal one-year appointment.

    A decision regarding non-reappointment can be made at any time during the probationary period, subject to fulfilling the requirements for advance notice of nonreappointment (see B5).

  5. Evaluation of Tenured Faculty

    Tenured faculty are expected to demonstrate continuing development in teaching effectiveness and in scholarly contributions.  The sabbatical leave program and the summer grant program are instruments toward this end.  The same rigor that is used in evaluating nontenured faculty members is applied to tenured faculty members as they are being considered for merit raises and promotions.