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How can PTS help me improve what I do?

During your pre-tenure years, PTS provides you with an opportunity to receive valuable formative feedback from a diverse group of tenured peers representing a broad spectrum of approaches to teaching, scholarship and service. PTS provides perceptions of how your academic background, ability in teaching and service to your students, your peers, your profession, and the greater community appear to an experienced group of your St. Ambrose University colleagues. PTS also provides suggestions as to performances that need to be improved prior to your applying for tenure.

Once you are tenured, PTS continues to provide formative evaluations that can lead to enhanced performance. During these formative five-year reviews, you have the opportunity to dialogue with colleagues regarding your personal approaches to teaching, scholarship, and service and to set goals that will allow you to continue your process of personal and professional growth. The purpose of PTS in these dialogues is not only to provide constructive criticism, but to provide sincere recognition from colleagues across the University for a job well done.

Central to each evaluation by PTS is your preparation of a self-evaluation in which you discuss your perceived performance relative to criteria for faculty listed in the Faculty Handbook. This process of critical self-assessment in itself, if done thoroughly and honestly, should help you become better at what you do.

When does one apply for tenure?

Your letter of appointment from the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs will indicate the year in which you will come up for tenure. In general, probationary faculty apply for tenure during their sixth year of teaching at St. Ambrose. However, new faculty with prior teaching experience are often given credit for one or more years towards tenure. If you have questions, please contact the office of the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.

What are the exact criteria for a positive tenure decision?

According to the Faculty Handbook, "Tenure is granted as the result of a favorable decision by the President of the University acting on the recommendation of the PTS Committee."

The specific performance criteria PTS uses in making a tenure decision are outlined below:

  • Possession of expertise needed by department or a related department (FH
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in teaching (FH
  • Service to students extending beyond classroom instruction to student advising and direction (FH
  • Willingness and capacity to participate effectively on University committees and in the institutional, cultural, and student affairs aspects of the University (FH
  • Ability to relate positively with peers and students (FH
  • Completion of a terminal degree from an accredited institution (FH
  • Evidence of at least three of the Following:
    • Membership and involvement in the activities of professional organizations (FH
    • Involvement in scholarly research and publication, which includes creative achievement in fine arts public events (FH
    • Participation in community service (FH
    • Participation in development of new courses and programs, in institutional support projects, and in preparation of grant proposals (FH

These criteria are described in detail together with examples of possible behavior and evidence to meet expectations for each in section 3.7 of the Faculty Handbook.

To obtain a positive tenure decision, a candidate must provide clear evidence that these criteria have been met. Typically, this involves submitting a detailed criteria-based self evaluation, letters of support from one's Chair and Dean, an updated curriculum vita, syllabi from all courses, and all materials from one course. Letters of support from peers, students, members of the community, and other documents may be submitted in evidence as well.

Is there a standard format for writing my self-assessment and for preparing my curriculum vitae?

Your accomplishments and strengths in teaching, research and service provide the criteria for PTS evaluation. While recognizing individual styles in self-assessment, the Committee requests that faculty follow the Performance Guidelines in 3.7 of the St. Ambrose University Faculty Handbook in composing the self-assessment. There is also a template that faculty are encouraged to use.

Are unsolicited materials allowed in my file?

At times faculty applying for contract renewal, tenure, promotion, or those submitting documentation for five-year review, have submitted materials not specifically solicited by PTS (copies of publications, testimonials from students, written comments from course evaluations). When such materials are used to support claims made in reference to the criteria for evaluation, they are deemed appropriate. If you do include unsolicited materials, you should explain their purpose, linking them to specific PTS criteria, in your self-evaluation statement.

Letters or materials of any kind submitted by someone other than the faculty member under consideration will not be considered by PTS unless such documentation is signed as seen by that faculty member.

How will my teaching be evaluated?

To evaluate teaching, PTS reviews a candidate's quantitative course evaluations. The self-evaluation document should include clear evidence that the criterion of "demonstrated effectiveness in teaching" has been met. PTS recommends that a candidate specifically request the Chair and the Dean to address this criterion in their letters to PTS. Other forms of evidence such as testimonies from students and verbal comments generated during course evaluations may be submitted to PTS as well.

I am experiencing some frustrations in the classroom. Now I am worried about how my teaching will affect my tenure case. Is there anywhere I can turn for help?

St. Ambrose University provides several avenues for growth and development in educational instruction. Foremost, the Center for Teaching Excellence supports faculty through organizing peer-led teaching circles, providing print materials on teaching, and in providing speakers and external opportunities for attendance at faculty seminars. Secondly, the Faculty Development Committee assigns faculty mentors who share their experience and expertise with first-year faculty. Finally, the Center for Instructional Design and Technology provides individual and group faculty consultation and support in the Blackboard Academic Suite and other instructional technology.

I do a lot of work within the department and at professional conferences. How important is this service and how is it evaluated?

PTS is interested in both departmental work and participation at professional conferences. Both should be detailed under Section 3.7 of the Faculty Handbook.

Are there separate or different evaluation guidelines for faculty in the creative arts?

The criterion "involvement in scholarly research and publication, which includes creative achievements in fine arts public events" is worded so as to be inclusive of the contributions of faculty involved in the creative arts. The other criteria do not distinguish between faculty in the creative arts and faculty engaged in other disciplines. For specific examples of possible behaviors and evidence regarding this criterion, refer to Section of the Faculty Handbook.

What is the relative importance of conference papers?

Conference papers validate a faculty member's participation in scholarly circles and demonstrate on-going research interest and activity. The level and nature of the conference is also of interest.

Do I need to attend SAU events to receive a positive PTS evaluation? Do I need to give to fund drives to receive a positive evaluation?

Of course, all faculty are encouraged to be involved in the life of the University. Attendance at sporting events, fine arts productions, and other events serves to enhance faculty, staff, and student relationships. An individual faculty member's role in the University determines the importance of such involvement.

However, pledges or donations to University fund drives in no way affect an evaluation or tenure decision.

What are PTS expectations regarding publication?

The expectations of St. Ambrose University with regard to publications are given in the examples of possible behaviors of the Faculty Handbook. If in doubt, consult with your department Chair or Director, Dean, or the chair of PTS.

Where should I send materials for PTS review? Where will they be kept?

All materials requested by PTS should be sent electronically to It is preferable that you send one email with all requested documents attached. You may also arrange to bring electronic materials on a usb drive or CD to the current PTS secretary. Materials are posted on the secure Blackboard Academic Suite accessible only to PTS Committee members.

How much documentation should accompany the filing of our statements for tenure or promotion?

PTS guidelines detail the kinds of documentation that are called for when applying for tenure or for promotion. You will receive a letter from the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs specifically referencing the Faculty Handbook section you should consult when deciding what you should submit to PTS.

At what points will I be called for an interview with the PTS Committee?

Early in the fall semester, PTS meets with all new faculty members to acquaint them with the processes and expectations of the committee. Next, PTS will interview a faculty member during the process of applying for tenure. PTS continues to meet with each faculty member every five years following tenure as part of the on-going formative review process.

Do I need to serve on University committees for a positive tenure decision?

Election to Faculty Assembly standing committees is only one avenue for involvement in the life of the University. Faculty may also volunteer to serve on other University committees, as well as on departmental, school, or college committees.

Under what circumstances may I have my tenure clock stopped?

It may be possible, in certain circumstances to have one's tenure clock temporarily stopped. These conditions are listed in Section of the Faculty Handbook. A faculty member who is interested in this accommodation must contact the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs to determine eligibility.

Is it possible to apply for tenure early? What if I come to St. Ambrose University with prior teaching experience?

How soon one may apply for tenure is determined at the time of one's initial hire. Guidelines for faculty coming to St. Ambrose University with prior teaching experience can be found in Section 3.4.3 of the Faculty Handbook.

What happens if I am not granted tenure?

If a faculty member is not granted tenure, the university will grant the faculty member an employment contract for the following academic year in order to assist in the transition to new employment. See Section 3.4.5 of the Faculty Handbook.

When should I submit my application for promotion?

Full-time faculty eligible for advancement in rank based on years of service will be notified by the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. The request for promotion and supporting material are due mid-September.