Appendix 3: College of Arts & Letters Guidelines for Promotion of Fixed Term System Faculty from Instructor to Senior Instructor, Assistant to Associate Professor, or from Associate Professor to Full Professor

This document specifies the criteria and procedures used by the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) and its affiliated units in reviewing applications for fixed term system faculty promotion. It follows the university policy on the Promotion of Fixed Term Faculty, which can be found at: It also follows the College of Arts & Letters bylaws, which can be found here:  

The promotion of fixed-term faculty will be based solely on an evaluation of the duties and responsibilities specified in the candidate’s appointment and position description. A fixed-term faculty member must have received an MA or degree equivalent or a BFA with 3-5 years of professional experience to hold the rank of instructor fixed-term or a PhD or MFA to hold the rank of assistant professor fixed-term. 

It is recommended (but not required) that candidates for fixed-term faculty promotion consider attaining UNTF Designation B status before being considered for promotion, as this process will provide them with valuable experience in assembling a dossier and receiving feedback on that dossier.

The promotion criteria used by the College of Arts & Letters and its affiliated units may be in the areas of teaching, research/creative activity, and/or service/outreach corresponding to the relevant position workload percentages. The successful candidate for a fixed-term faculty promotion is expected to have demonstrated rank-appropriate excellence in intellectual leadership in the areas of their assignment.

In the absence of specifically adopted guidelines to the contrary, the promotion criteria used by the College of Arts & Letters are drawn from the University’s standards. 

A recommendation for promotion from instructor to senior instructor fixed-term must be based on at least six years of sustained, outstanding achievements in the areas of teaching, research/creative activity, administration, and/or service/outreach corresponding to the relevant position workload percentages and should provide a firm basis in actual performance for predicting long-term capacity for the achievement and maintenance of enduring high-quality professional achievement.

A recommendation for promotion from assistant professor to associate professor fixed-term must be based on at least six years of sustained, outstanding achievements in the areas of teaching, research/creative activity, administration, and/or service/outreach corresponding to the relevant position workload percentages and should provide a firm basis in actual performance for predicting long-term capacity for the achievement and maintenance of enduring high-quality professional achievement.

A recommendation for promotion from associate professor to professor fixed-term must be based on sustained, outstanding achievements in the areas of teaching, research/creative activity, administration, and/or service/outreach corresponding to the relevant position workload percentages. There must be a sufficiently long period in rank, typically the equivalent of six years, prior to the promotion, so as to provide a firm basis in actual performance to permit endorsement of the individual as an expert or artist of national stature and to predict continuous, long-term, high quality professional achievement.

The procedures that the College of Arts & Letters and its affiliated units will use for reviewing promotion are as follows. 

  1. Each year, during the required annual performance review, unit administrators should discuss with eligible fixed-term faculty the criteria for promotion in rank, the faculty member’s progress toward promotion, and discuss whether they wish to seek promotion in the coming academic year. The administrator shall provide a written copy of this review to the faculty member. Each fixed-term faculty member eligible for promotion will be informed by the unit administrator in January of the previous year of the university promotion schedule. If the faculty member elects to seek promotion, the applicant will submit a dossier of all pertinent information related to their record and achievements that support reappointment by the end of the spring semester for review the following academic year. 
  2. If the faculty member elects to seek promotion, the unit administrator must prepare a description of the candidate’s assignment including, for example, the percentage of the appointment devoted to research/creative activities, teaching, and/or service/outreach. This description will form part of the promotion review portfolio and will be distributed to all individuals of the unit’s review committee who evaluate the candidate’s materials.
  3. At least one fixed-term faculty member should be included in the review of the candidate at the unit level. The College suggests that the fixed-term faculty member on the unit review committee hold the rank of associate or full professor rank if such an individual is available; if not, the College suggests, an academic specialist with continuing status from the unit or from another unit and selected in consultation with the unit administrator. If the candidate is being reviewed for full professor fixed-term, then the College suggests that the unit review committee include at least one Full professor fixed-term or senior academic specialist. If the candidate has a joint appointment or assignment, the members of the review committee should represent various units in which the candidate has an assignment.
  4. A review committee chair shall be named from among the committee members by the unit chair/director. The unit chair/director is responsible for making sure that the committee members receive the candidate’s review dossier and for giving the committee its charge. The committee chair is responsible for scheduling any meetings subsequent to the charge meeting. In addition, the review committee chair drafts the committee recommendation letter to the unit chair/director. This is done in collaboration with the other committee members and all members sign the final draft. All review materials and committee discussions remain confidential during and after the review itself. 
  5. If teaching is an activity in the candidate’s assignment, the College suggests that the unit assemble a Teaching Review Committee or create a subcommittee of the Promotion Review Committee. Members of this committee are responsible for observing two classes taught by the instructor in the given review period, meeting with the candidate to discuss the observations after they have occurred, and providing written feedback on the course observations to the Promotion Review Committee. If the candidate has been observed in the past year as part of an annual review process, this may count as one of the observations. If the candidate teaches online or hybrid courses, then at least one member of the committee should have advanced experience in teaching online or hybrid courses as well in order to help with the evaluation of these courses. If the candidate has a joint appointment or assignment, the members of the teaching review committee or subcommittee should represent various units in which courses are taught. 
  6. In preparing materials for the review portfolio, the candidate is required to provide information or documents related to the activities that are part of their assignment, using the Form on Progress and Excellence (Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Form) as a guide. Please note that a dossier has a limited number of pages that can be forwarded to the Provost’s level. Any additional materials can be included in a clearly labeled appendix that will not be forwarded to the Provost’s Office. MSU guidelines specify that these materials must include:
    1. Form on Progress and Excellence (Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotions, and Tenure Form) 
    2. A current curriculum vitae. 
    3. A self-evaluation of 3-5 pages about accomplishments during the reporting period, detailing the leadership activities undertaken in the areas where they have duties (teaching, research/creative activity, administration, and/or service/outreach). If, for instance, teaching is an assigned duty, this would include a reflective teaching statement, showing ongoing development of effective instructional practices with examples. 
    4. Evidence of excellence in performing assigned duties, for example, significance, impact, and innovation of instructional activities, research/creative activities, a representative sample of scholarly or creative work, professional development, service, outreach, curriculum development, program coordination, or administrative activities. This should be a representative sample of the candidate’s best work, and the candidate should reference these in their above narrative to provide context. 
    5. The candidate must provide the unit with a Teaching Portfolio that mustinclude the following items:
      • Course syllabi and instructional materials for the period under review, such as heuristics, activities, multimedia learning materials, projects, assignments, etc., consistent with the unit’s pedagogical aims. 
      • Unit-approved Student Instructional Ratings Forms (or online equivalent) for all classes taught (every course, every section, every semester) in the past six years to the unit review committee for analysis. (The College advises that reviewers should not afford undue weight to these SIRS forms and similar student evaluations. They should not be used as the sole source of data, but rather as one indicator of many in the portfolio.) 
      • If applicable, evidence of undergraduate and/or graduate student mentoring, including service on exam and thesis/dissertation committees, advising, curriculum development, and professional development.
    6. External Letters for Review: The purpose of the external review is to be evaluative of the faculty member’s dossier for promotion to senior instructor, or associate to full professor fixed-term. External reviews are required to ensure that individuals recommended have an achievement and performance level that is comparable with high level performance in their functional area(s) and position.

      In all cases, four review letters must be included. For promotion from instructor to senior instructor, three letters must be external to the unit from the College or University following the established peer review process, and a fourth can be internal to the unit. For promotion to associate professor fixed-term, two letters must be external to the university following the established peer review process, a third can be external to the unit from the College or University and a fourth internal to the unit. For promotion to professor fixed-term, three letters must be external to the University following the established peer review process and the fourth must be external to the unit. Letters should follow the established peer review process and/or demonstrate recognition by peers and colleagues both within the University and/or regionally or (inter)nationally whenever possible.

      External letters of reviews should be from leading professionals/scholars in the relevant discipline external to the unit, college, or institution. As a general rule, an external reviewer should be a leader in their respective functional area(s). External referees must be professionally capable to evaluate the candidate’s dossier objectively and to comment on its significance. All of these individuals will be independent of the candidate (e.g. not be former graduate or postdoctoral advisors of the candidate) and have no personal interest in the outcome of the review. All letters must come from individuals who hold a rank above the candidate’s current rank or an experienced professional equivalent. Half of the external referee letters will be requested on a list developed by the candidate. The other half of the referee letters will be requested on a list developed by the unit administrator. Prior to the solicitation of letters from the referees who should not be contacted because of conflicts of interest that would preclude a fair and unbiased professional review of the dossier materials.

      The unit administrator does the initial outreach to the reviewers and should provide a description of the faculty member’s position/assignment that are being asked to evaluate (for example, the percentage of appointment devoted to the functional area(s) they are being asked to assess) for the referee to make an appropriate assessment of performance.

      The candidate is not informed of those individuals who provide letters of evaluation. (See also “Confidentiality of Letters of Reference for Reappointment, Promotions, and Tenure Recommendations” in the Faculty Handbook:

    7. Some other guidelines for unit administrators to help with the variety of workload types: If research/creative activity is an assigned duty, at least one or more letters (depending on percentage of workload) external to MSU should be obtained evaluating said activity. In other cases, if the faculty member has worked with other partners external to the unit, whether in teaching, service, or outreach, a letter should come from one of those MSU or community or equivalent partners. A letter might also come from an officer or member of a scholarly pedagogical organization or artistic/professional institution where the faculty member has been especially active. If the faculty member is engaged in creative scholarly activity or outreach, at least two letters should come from full-time referees at institutions of higher education.
    8. Units should review the promotion materials focusing onlyon their assigned duty categories. If a unit does not have an existing review system, then the supervisor must consult with the Associate Dean for Academic Personnel and Administration. 
    9. The faculty member must have the opportunity to confer with the faculty review committee before a recommendation is made. 
    10. The review committee will submit in writing to the unit administrator recommendations for personnel action and reasons for its decision. Minority opinion, if any, will be noted, and a minority report may be included. All members of the unit promotion review committee will sign the recommendations. Unit administrators should notify candidates of the recommendation and that their dossier has been forwarded to the College.
    11. Promotion recommendations for fixed-term faculty must be sent to the College Dean by January 15 of a given year, submitting the Form on Progress and Excellence (Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Form) and supporting materials relevant for the assigned duties as described above. The unit supervisor must include copies of the written annual reviews of the candidate during the reporting period. This recommendation should provide an analysis of the candidate’s performance in their assigned duties, as well as the leadership activities in which they have been involved.
    12. The College Dean will consult with the College Review committee and make a final recommendation to the Office of the Provost, according to the timetable for the academic year in question. 

College Deadlines for Promotion 

  • January the year prior to evaluation: Notification of eligibility. 
  • May 15 the year prior to evaluation: Dossier due to Chair/Unit Admin to send for external review.
  • October-December of evaluation year: Unit review committee charge (depending on due date of external letters). 
  • January 15 of evaluation year: Unit review due to the College Dean. 
  • March 15 of evaluation year: College-level committee review due to the Dean. 
  • May 1 of evaluation year: Dossiers with Dean’s recommendation due to Academic Human Resources. 

Teaching Review Committee General Practices 

The Teaching Review Committee (or Subcommittee) should use the following general process in assessing the candidate’s teaching performance:

  • Meet with the individual to discuss course syllabi, assignments, philosophy of teaching, and methodologies and strategies. Prior to this meeting, the individual will provide the Teaching Review Committee (or Subcommittee) with a teaching portfolio (as described in item 6e of this document). 
  • Set two agreed-upon dates during one (preferably the fall) semester for classroom visitations when at least two of the three committee members can be present; the candidate can request additional visitations if they so desire. For evaluation of virtual or asynchronous courses, instructors should give evaluators access to the asynchronous course site in D2L. 
  • Meet with the candidate after the classroom visitations or asynchronous module visits are completed for discussion, questions, clarifications, and feedback. 
  • Write a committee report focusing on:
    • organization and presentation of concepts, skills, and reading and discussion materials; 
    • interaction with students; and 
    • effective and productive use of class period in relation to instructional objectives. 
  • Submit a draft of the report to the candidate, who shall have the opportunity to respond to it in person or in writing, in order to make relevant comments regarding points of substance, emphasis, or neglect. 
  • Submit a revised and final report to the unit promotion review committee. 

Teaching review committees (or subcommittees) should restrict their reports to the substance of the teaching and instruction according to the areas identified above and to the course and instructional materials made available to them. Committee members should also recognize a diversity of instructional methodologies and strategies that can be used to reach common curricular goals. The Teaching Review Committee’s deliberations are to remain confidential within the Teaching Review Committee and the chair may consult the unit head as needed.

Teaching Portfolio Materials 

The Teaching Portfolio may also include select examples of the following that are representative of the candidate’s best work: 

  • Examples of student papers and projects. 
  • Evidence of effective formative and summative commentary on student papers and projects. 
  • Letters of commendation written by colleagues or peers. 
  • Reflective statements or learning narratives written by students. 
  • Honors or awards. 
  • Evidence of course and curriculum development. 
  • Evidence of participation in professional development workshops, seminars, and/or activities. 
  • Evidence of teacher-research. 
  • Evidence of work in the instruction and mentoring of other teachers as well as program and TA coordination. 
  • Evidence of outreach, including outreach instruction, which might include credit-bearing courses offered off-campus; noncredit-bearing seminars, workshops, conferences, exhibits, and performances related to teaching. 
  • Evidence of instructional materials and activities particular to online or distance education; such materials should be reviewed in the media for which they were intended. 

Research/Creative Activity (

The fixed-term faculty member appointed in this functional area facilitates scholarly research and creative activity of a national and international stature appropriate for a premier land-grant, AAU university. These individuals must perform a lead role on research and creative projects, including developing grant proposals and/or directing the research/creative project with the designation as (co-)principal investigator or investigator, and/or in performing position responsibilities. Individuals in this category typically: 

  • promote an appropriate climate for creativity/diversity in the research or creative activity setting; 
  • promote and adhere to intellectual and scholarly honesty; 
  • conduct independent research or creativity activity as a (co-)principal investigator or is involved in joint research/creative projects on a (co-principal) investigator basis; 
  • may participate in, manage, operate, and/or maintain instrumental facilities, laboratories, computer systems or bureaus conducting research and/or providing service to a wider audience of researchers or artists within the unit, the University, external agencies, or the general research community; 
  • contribute significantly to the design and execution of experiments and research/creative projects; 
  • analyze and interpret data; 
  • contribute directly and indirectly to the research and creative activity goals and efforts of the unit and/or other University units, external agencies or other external clients; 
  • may consult with, collaborate with, supervise, train and otherwise support faculty, students, and other clients in the pursuit of research and creative endeavors; 
  • attract and manage, both individually or in concert with others, resources, i.e., people, funding, materials, etc., necessary to the operation of the individual research or creative project or the research/creative support facility; 
  • author (or co-author) books, manuscripts, reports and other scholarly instruments reflecting the output of individual research/creative projects and/or research/creative service facilities; 
  • may serve on graduate student guidance committees; 
  • present seminars, lectures, papers, posters, etc.; 
  • present performances, productions, exhibits, events, and/or showings 
  • may serve as reviewer, editor for journals or other publications; 
  • may serve as a consultant in the professional field; 
  • play a key role in securing funding for research/creative activities and equipment; 
  • is well known and respected outside of Michigan State University and has established a sustained record of important contributions to research proposals, reports, papers, monographs, books or other publications, performances, productions, exhibits, events, and/or showings. 


The fixed-term faculty member appointed in this functional area facilitates service/outreach activities of state, regional, and national stature appropriate for a premier land-grant university. While the service/outreach mission of this University originated in the area of agriculture and the mechanic arts, this emphasis now has broadened to encompass fields such as health, human relations, business, communications, education and government, and extends to urban and international settings. The individual appointed in this category typically: 

  • effects and promotes the transfer of information, knowledge and expertise from the University to the general public; 
  • is committed to leadership and excellence in the delivery of technical and educational information and knowledge to off-campus clienteles; 
  • promotes an appropriate climate for diversity in the service/outreach settings; 
  • develops independent projects/programs or is involved in projects directed by others; 
  • consults with, collaborates with, supervises, trains and otherwise supports faculty, students and other clientele in the development of service/outreach programs; 
  • may manage, consult, direct, operate or maintain diagnostic facilities, laboratories, computer systems or bureaus conducting research, and/or providing services to external agencies and the general public; 
  • authors resource materials, technical fact sheets, reports, manuals, computer programs, manuscripts, books and other educational publications on technology and/or applied research for distribution to the public; 
  • presents non-credit seminars, lectures, workshops, training, etc. for off-campus client groups; 
  • writes grants, individually and cooperatively, and manages resources, i.e., people, funding, materials, etc. necessary to carry out service/outreach programs and projects; 
  • may serve as reviewer for grants and publications and/or editor for newsletters and other publications; 
  • disseminates to students/professionals/clientele groups relevant research findings and technical information for practical application; 
  • conduct needs assessment studies and applied research with the ability to work out appropriate solutions for the people and groups involved; 
  • may be a liaison with, respond to requests from, and/or develop cooperative programs with other universities, agencies and organizations as well as the general public; 
  • provides program leadership and coordination in the development, execution, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of service/outreach programs; 
  • assumes significant roles in peer group organizations and professional societies; 
  • obtains recognition within the University, college, professional groups. 


An individual appointed in the fixed-term system may also serve in administrative roles. This may involve significant responsibilities in promoting and contributing to the efficient and effective management of the applicable unit or program with the related responsibility of attracting and managing resources, funding, material and/or people to achieve unit/program goals and to maintain administrative accountability. The individual with an appropriate assignment as an academic specialist in one or more of the three previously designated functional areas may be assigned such administrative duties with a relevant title in addition to designation as an academic specialist or senior academic specialist. Examples of such titles could be Assistant to the Dean/Chairperson/Director, Coordinator, plus other relevant academic administrative titles. As is the case for other academic unit administrators, as relevant, such administrative assignments may involve an annual appointment basis and the assignment of an administrative salary increment.