Tenure Stream: Career Milestones

1 Relevant Policies & Guidelines

2 Normal Tenure Timelines

The initial appointment of a faculty member to the tenure stream is normally six years, which consists of two components: an initial four-year appointment and a subsequent two-year renewal contingent on the successful outcome of an Interim Review. Your original tenure timeline will be set out in your Letter of Offer.

Visual representation of interim review and tenure review dates set out by the PPAA, 2015.

3 Initial Four-Year Appointment: Leads to Interim Review

3.1 Timeline for Interim Review

Faculty members appointed to the tenure stream after July 1, 2015 or who opted to be covered by the PPAA, 2015 will undergo an Interim Review in the final year of their initial four-year contract.1

The policy sets out a number of dates in respect of Interim Reviews as follows:

  • “The performance of a member of the teaching staff holding such a contract should be reviewed no earlier than May 1 of the third year of the contract, by a committee appointed by the division head or, in the multi-departmental divisions, by the department chair.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)
  • “Normally no later than 30th June, the appointee should be asked to submit an account of research or creative professional activity which has been completed or undertaken since the time of initial appointment…” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)
  • “Notice that the contract will or will not be renewed on the following July l must be given in writing no later than November 30.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)

This information is also presented visually in the following diagram:

Visual representation of interim review and interim review dates set out by the PPAA, 2015.

1 Timelines to tenure changed in 2015, reflecting revisions to the Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments (PPAA 2021). All faculty appointed after July 1, 2015 are governed by the revised policy. The policy was revised significantly in 2015 and updated slightly in 2021.

3.2 Criteria for Interim Review

The Policies and Procedures on Academic Appointments (PPAA 2021) states:

“The review of such an initial appointment should be essentially different in purpose and procedures from a tenure review. The committee should consider two questions.

a) Has the appointee’s performance been sufficiently satisfactory for a second probationary appointment to be recommended?
b) If reappointment is recommended, what counselling should be given to the appointee to assist him or her to improve areas of weakness and maintain areas of strength?”

(PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)

3.3 Candidate Provides

In preparing for their Probationary Review, the candidate should provide the following:

• Normally a CV, a teaching dossier, and a research dossier including teaching and research statements.
• The policy says: “Normally no later than 30th June, the appointee should be asked to submit an account of research or creative professional activity which has been completed or undertaken since the time of initial appointment” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8, emphasis added)

3.4 Chair Collects

  • “Written comments from other department members, formally or informally acquainted with the appointee’s teaching or scholarship, should be solicited.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)
  • “Course evaluation should be considered” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)
  • “Signed opinions of individual students [should be considered] if these are available.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 8)
  • Also, see your Faculty’s Guidelines on the Evaluation of Teaching.

4 Renewal of Your Contract: An Additional Two Years

“If an Assistant Professor in the tenure stream is granted a renewal of his or her contract, that renewal should be for a period of up to two years, and he or she must be considered for tenure in the terminal year of this contract.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 9)

4.1 Term of Adjusted Workload

Successful candidates are eligible for a term of adjusted workload:

“Appointees who have been granted a renewal of their initial contract are entitled to request an adjustment to their workload assignment for one academic term in order to allow them to focus on preparing for their tenure consideration and to address any advice from the review of their initial appointment. Normally this term will not include assigned teaching, or service; but the term may include assigned teaching, with the candidate’s agreement, in order to address advice from their review.”
(PPAA, 2021, Part II, 9)

5 Tenure Review

“If an Assistant Professor in the tenure stream is granted a renewal of his or her contract, that renewal should be for a period of up to two years, and he or she must be considered for tenure in the terminal year of this contract.”
(PPAA, 2021, Part II, 9)

5.1 Timeline for Tenure Review

The policy sets out a number of dates in respect of Tenure Reviews as follows, which apply to all faculty appointed on or after July 1, 2015.2

  • The candidate should be informed of the review process and asked to prepare materials: “normally no later than June 30” [It is the responsibility of the unit head to notify the candidate] (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 14 ii, emphasis added)
  • “Candidates should normally be provided with a period of at least 6 weeks in which to assemble and prepare the documentation required” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 14 ii)
  • “Candidates will not normally be asked to submit research dossier prior to July 1” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 14 ii, emphasis added)
  • Candidate informed of membership of Tenure Committee – “This notification will normally happen in the fall.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 14 iii, emphasis added)
  • Summary of evidence provided to candidate “normally at least one week prior to the first meeting of the tenure committee.” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 14 iv, emphasis added)
  • Candidate informed of recommendation: “not later than April 15” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 10, emphasis added)

This information is also presented visually in the following diagram:

Visual representation of tenure review dates set out by the PPAA, 2015.

2 Timelines to tenure changed in 2015, reflecting revisions to the Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments. All faculty appointed after July 1, 2015 are governed by the revised policy most recently updated in 2021.

5.2 Criteria for Tenure Review

The PPAA, 2021 defines the criteria for tenure as follows:

“Tenured appointments should be granted on the basis of three essential criteria:

  • achievement in research and creative professional work,
  • effectiveness in teaching, and
  • clear promise of future intellectual and professional development.”

    (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 13)

“Clear promise of future intellectual and professional development must be affirmed for tenure to be awarded. Demonstrated excellence in one of research (including equivalent and creative or professional work) and teaching, and clearly established competence in the other, form the second essential requirement for a positive judgment by the tenure committee.” (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 13d)

The PPAA, 2021 provides more detail on each of these elements. See also, the Working Group on Creative Professional Activity (May 1984), commonly known as the “Hollenberg Report.”

5.3 Candidate Provides

  • A CV (see PPAA, 2021, Part III, 15, i)
  • A teaching and research dossier including a teaching and a research statement.
    • “It is a best practice for the CV to be supplemented by the candidate with a general description of the direction that her or his research has taken. The candidate should be expected to include in his/her research dossier a statement of research work in progress and plans for future work, which is particularly relevant to assessing future promise.” (PDAD&C #134, 2 b ii)
    • On the inclusion of unpublished work see (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 15, ii)
  • Collaborator statements
  • Suggestions for 2-3 external reviewers
    • Normally, written specialist assessments of the candidate’s work should also be obtained from outside the University; the candidate should be invited to nominate several external referees, and the division head or chair should solicit letters of reference from at least one of them and from one or more additional specialists chosen by himself or herself.” (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 15, ii)

5.4 Chair Collects3

  • Internal Reading Committee Report (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 15, iv)
  • Teaching Evaluation Committee Report (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 15, iii)
  • External Letters
    • These referees should be invited to assess the candidate’s work against the published criteria for the granting of tenure and advise whether or not the candidate’s work demonstrates the achievement of excellence in research (including equivalent and creative or professional work); or if not, whether or not it clearly establishes competence.” (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 15, ii)
  • Solicited Student letters
  • Collaborator Statements
    • “If the candidate has collaborators, information must be sought by the Chair from them and from the candidate about the nature of the collaboration and the nature and extent of the candidate’s contribution.” (PDAD&C #134, 3, a)

3 The chair of the Tenure Committee is expected “to notify formally the candidate as to the individuals whom he or she intends to ask to serve on the tenure committee. This notification will normally happen in the fall. If the staff member has reason to believe that any member of the committee, including the division head or chair, cannot make his or her decision solely on the basis of the evidence available at the time of the tenure committee meeting, he or she should indicate this to the division head or the appropriate Vice-Provost.” (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 14, iii)

6 Summary of Evidence

  • “The division [unit] head or chair shall prepare and provide a written summary of the content of the above appraisals and evaluation, without identifying their source, to the candidate at the time of submission of the dossier to the tenure committee normally at least one week prior to the first meeting of the tenure committee.” (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 14 iv)
  • “It is important that the summary be sufficiently detailed that the candidate knows the evidence before the committee and could, if desired, supplement the dossier with a written response, or by appearing before the committee to make a statement. The summary should include extracts of any significant information from all letters and reports while maintaining confidentiality.” (PPAA, 2021, Part III, 14 iv)

7 Adjustments to Tenure Timeline

Provisions in policy allow for tenure stream faculty to apply for early review or a delay in their review timeline. The Provost must approve all changes to a faculty member’s tenure timeline. Any potential adjustments to a candidate’s tenure timeline should first be discussed with the unit head (i.e., Chair, Director, or Dean in the case of a Single Department Faculty).

7.1 Early Review

“In exceptional circumstances, with the approval of the division head and the Vice-President and Provost, a candidate may be considered for tenure earlier…” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 10)

7.2 Tenure Delay

Your original tenure timeline will be set out in your Letter of Offer.

The PPAA, 2021 includes a provision for pre-tenure faculty to request a tenure delay. Faculty members who are experiencing a significant life event that might warrant a tenure delay should speak to their unit head as soon as possible.

“Candidates may make a written request for a delay in the interim review or consideration for tenure based on pregnancy and/or parental or adoption leave or serious personal circumstances beyond their control such as illness or injury or damage to their research facilities. Delays may be granted for one year but not more than 2 years with the approval in writing of the Vice-President and Provost.

Written requests by a candidate for further delays based on the provisions of Ontario Human Rights Code as amended from time to time (the “Code”) will be considered by the Vice-President and Provost on a case-by-case basis, it being understood and agreed that such requests must be made by the candidate in writing at the earliest opportunity in the interim review or consideration for tenure process (i.e., as soon as a candidate knows or reasonably ought to know that their interim year review or consideration for tenure may warrant a delay based on the provisions of the Code.)” (PPAA, 2021, Part II, 10)

7.2.1 Tenure Delay vs. Employment Leave

An application for a tenure delay is separate from any application for employment leave (e.g., parental leave). Faculty taking, for example, a parental leave who also wish to request a tenure delay must apply for a tenure delay separately.

You can find information about employment leaves for faculty and librarians by logging into your Human Resources Service Centre portal.

7.3 Clarifying Your New Timeline

If your request for tenure delay is approved, your unit head will communicate your adjusted timeline to you in writing.