Appendix 4: College of Arts & Letters Criteria and Procedures for Reappointment, Awarding of Continuing Appointment Status, and Promotion Review of Academic Specialists in the Continuing System
This document specifies the criteria and procedures used by the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) and its affiliated units in reviewing applications for Academic Specialist Reappointment and Promotion. It follows the university policy on the Reappointment and Promotion of Academic Specialists, which can be found here: https://hr.msu.edu/policies-procedures/faculty-academic-staff/academic-specialist-handbook/index.html. It also follows the College bylaws.
According to the Academic Specialist Handbook, each unit must establish appropriate procedures whereby academic specialists in the continuing system are approved for Reappointment, including the awarding of Continuing Appointment Status in the Academic Specialist Continuing System and/or promotion to Senior Academic Specialist. The candidate must have been approved for appointment in the Academic Specialist Continuing System. This document specifies the criteria and procedures used by the College of Arts & Letters and its affiliated units in reviewing applications for reappointment and/or promotion. Details on the University minimum requirements for this procedure are outlined here and in Appendix A of the Academic Specialist Handbook: https://www.hr.msu.edu/policies-procedures/faculty-academic-staff/academic-specialist-handbook/reapp_cont-app_promotion.html
I. College criteria:
In the absence of specifically adopted guidelines to the contrary, the College criteria for academic specialist continuing system personnel actions are drawn from the University’s standards.
Advancement is based on an individual’s responsibilities in a functional area(s) based on assigned duties and depends on an appropriately weighted assessment of that individual in each area of responsibility. No one individual is required to perform or excel in all areas. The initial or subsequent appointment description (the academic specialist position description form) defines the basic area(s) in which the individual should devote energy and attention in career progression.
Detailed descriptions of these areas are provided in the Academic Specialist Handbook – Appendix A and below. The unit administrator should consult with the candidate at the start of the appointment, in subsequent annual review meetings, and when the candidate is up for a major review to review the candidate’s specific job description.
Reappointment in Continuing System: A recommendation for reappointment in the continuing system is based on a review in the second year of the initial probation period that demonstrates achievements in the appointment area(s). The initial appointment is for a probationary period of three years and the candidate may be reappointed for an additional probationary period of three years. For reappointment, the candidate must provide satisfactory performance and consistent professional improvement and effectiveness at Michigan State University and in the College of Arts & Letters sufficient to demonstrate the promise of continued professional achievement and growth for the remainder of the individual’s career as an academic specialist.
Reappointment with Continuing Status: A recommendation for awarding continuing appointment status must be based on five years of sustained, outstanding achievements in the appointment areas. For reappointment, the candidate must provide solid evidence of consistent and persistent professional improvement and effectiveness at Michigan State University and in the College of Arts & Letters sufficient to demonstrate the promise of continued professional achievement and growth for the remainder of the individual’s career as an academic specialist.
Promotion to Senior Specialist: A recommendation for promotion to Senior Specialist must be based on several years of sustained, outstanding achievements beyond the awarding of continuing system status in the assigned functional duties. There must be a sufficiently long period in rank, typically the equivalent of five years prior to the promotion, for a review in the sixth year, so as to provide a firm basis in actual performance to permit endorsement of the individual through demonstration of intellectual leadership with major contributions made to unit and field within the University and/or as an expert or artist of national stature and to predict continuous, long-term, high quality professional achievement.
II. Procedures for review:
The procedures that the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) and its affiliated units will use for reviewing the reappointment of academic specialists, the awarding of continuing appointment status and promotion to senior academic specialist are as follows:
- Each year, during the required annual performance review, unit administrators should discuss with eligible academic specialists the criteria for review and the academic specialist’s progress in the context of the review timeline. The administrator shall provide a written copy of the annual review to the academic specialist. The administrator should also involve the individual in the drafting of any relevant memoranda of understanding (MoU) between units in the case of a joint appointment or joint assignment and provide a copy with the signature of all parties to the resulting MoU to the College and the individual, so that it may be included in their review materials. The reappointment review takes place in the second year of appointment in the continuing system and the review for continuing status takes place in the fifth year.
- For each review, the unit administrator will prepare a description of the candidate’s assignment including the percentage of duties in assigned functional areas (i.e. any Academic Specialist Position forms associated with this position for the review period). This description will form part of the review portfolio and will be distributed to all individuals who evaluate the portfolio.
- Candidates should assemble a dossier of scholarly achievements in all of their assigned function areas. Candidates submit their documentation to support consideration for reappointment, the awarding of continuing status, or promotion to their unit administrator. Candidates with joint appointments or assignments compile and submit only one dossier to the primary unit administrator.
- The dossier must include Form C, a CV, and a self-evaluation of 3-5 pages addressing accomplishments during the reporting period , detailing leadership activities as reflected in their duty areas (Teaching, Research/Creative Activity, Advising, Curriculum Development, Service/Outreach and Administration). If, for instance, teaching is an assigned duty, this would include a reflective teaching statement, showing ongoing development of effective instructional practices with examples.
- Individuals may submit evidence to substantiate excellence in their relevant activities; 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 the above narrative to provide context.
- If the candidate has a percentage of duties assigned to teaching, the candidate must include a Teaching Portfolio in the dossier, which must include the following items:
Syllabi and instructional materials, such as heuristics, activities, multimedia learning materials, projects, assignments, etc., consistent with the unit’s pedagogical aims.
i. Unit-approved Student Instructional Ratings Forms (or online equivalent) for all classes taught (every course, every section, every semester) 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.)
ii. If applicable, evidence of undergraduate and/or graduate student mentoring, including service on exam and thesis/dissertation committees, advising, curriculum development, and professional development.
- Only in the case of a review to award continuing appointment status and/or promotion, does the unit need to seek four review letters. The candidate may suggest no more than half of the potential referee names to the unit administrator. The unit administrator should consult with any additional related unit administrator should the academic specialist hold a joint appointment or assignment. Three letters must be external to the unit or university. The letters should represent the relevant functional area(s) as outlined on the candidate’s academic specialist position description form. If the position is a joint appointment, the letters should be representative of the work done in both units.
In the case of promotion review to senior academic specialist, the recognition is based on external peer review.
In the case of review for awarding continuing appointment status and senior status, letters should follow the established peer review process and/or demonstrate recognition by peers and colleagues both within the University and regionally, nationally and internationally, whenever possible. 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 or students of the candidate, not have co-published) and have no personal interest in the outcome of the review.
Whenever possible, letters should come from individuals who hold a rank above the candidate’s current rank or the professional equivalent. Two names may be suggested by the candidate and the candidate may request that 1-2 individuals not be asked. The candidate is not informed of those individuals who provide letters of evaluation. (See also Confidentiality of Letters of Reference for Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Recommendations” in the Faculty Handbook.)
- Review Committee: A review committee shall be established to advise the primary unit administrator about the reappointment, awarding of continuing appointment status, or promotion to senior academic specialist.
- The review committee shall be composed of a minimum of three individuals knowledgeable about the position under review and the Academic Specialist Appointment System, and may include academic specialists or faculty members of other academic personnel systems (ie: tenure system or professors of practice above the equivalent rank). If the academic specialist is jointly appointed or assigned, the review committee should include at least one member from each additional unit. At least one academic specialist above the review rank must be on the committee.
- 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.
- The committee will review the promotion materials focusing only on assigned duty categories (appropriately weighted).
- The unit administrator shall provide the review committee with unit guidelines consistent with the Academic Specialist Handbook criteria and procedures; and direct the review committee to determine objectively the level of accomplishment and excellence in the relevant academic specialist function area(s) and duty assignments specified in the Specialist Position Description form.
- A current teaching observation is required for any candidate with teaching as a designated functional area. If the candidate teaches online or hybrid courses, then at least one member of the committee should have more extensive experience in teaching online or hybrid courses as well in order to help with the evaluation of these courses. (see below for teaching observation details)
- The individual under review must be provided an opportunity to confer with the review committee before it provides advice to the primary unit administrator.
- 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 reappointment and promotion committee will sign the recommendations. Unit administrators should notify candidates of the recommendation and that their dossier has been forwarded to the College.
- All recommendations must be sent to the College Dean by the announced deadline of a given year, submitting Form C and supporting materials relevant for the assigned duties as described above, and 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.
- 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.
Suggested Timeline: Some units may choose to align the academic specialist review process with their other review promotion review processes, which would entail a materials submission deadline the previous spring. If the unit does not do this, then please follow the timeline below. All units must clearly communicate a materials submission deadline in advance, so as to allow the candidate enough time to gather materials and put the dossier together.
- 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.
- September 1 of evaluation year: Dossier due to Chair/Unit Admin if the review is for reappointment only (first probationary review).
- October-December of evaluation year: Unit review committee charge (depending on due date of external letters).
- February 1 of evaluation year: Unit review due to 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 Observation: if the candidate has a percentage of duties assigned to teaching, the College suggests conducting teaching observations. If regular teaching observations are well-documented and completed annually, the committee can review these in lieu of a separate observation.
- The review committee will meet with the specialist in the fall to discuss course syllabi, assignments, philosophy of teaching, and methodologies and strategies. Prior to this meeting, the individual will provide the review committee with a teaching portfolio (as described in item Part II, 3:c of this document). The committee and the candidate will:
- 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.
- Meet with the candidate after the teaching observations are completed for discussion, questions, clarifications, and feedback.
- Write a report focusing on:
i. organization and presentation of concepts, skills, and reading and discussion materials;
ii. interaction with students; and
iii. 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 primary unit administrator and the chair of the reappointment, continuing status, and promotion review committee. If there is a revision to the letter, the candidate shall be provided with a final copy of the report and shall sign and date a copy to be returned to the Department Chair. The candidate may request a conference with the Chair to discuss the report and may file a response to the report that will become part of the permanent record.
Characteristics and Responsibilities of the Academic Specialist (taken from Academic Specialist Handbook Appendix A)
The academic advising category includes individuals who provide advisement on course options and other academically related matters. These academic specialists have responsibilities in an academic department, school or college or in a unit that serves University-wide populations (e.g., Supportive Services, Undergraduate University Division, Honors College). These persons typically:
- provide advice on course and curriculum selection;
- monitor students’ programs;
- recommend certification for graduation;
- maintain contact with advisors in other units;
- provide incidental information on the relationship between course selection and career options;
- refer students, when necessary, to other units in the University for assistance with educational, career and personal concerns;
- participate in activities devoted to the retention of students within University programs;
- provide assistance and guidance to students reentering programs;
- may be involved in instructional activities associated with classes, labs and seminars;
- participate, as required by the unit, in professional development activities, both on and off campus, including conferences, workshops and seminars to enhance the ability and knowledge to perform as an advisor;
- participate in department/school, college and University level committees;
- make a significant professional contribution by making scholarly presentations: present papers, lectures or workshops on campus or beyond related to academic advising or training;
- assume leadership roles involving the coordination, supervision and training of new academic advisors.
Examples of materials that might be submitted as part of a dossier in support of the advising portion of a dossier include: workshop, conference, or any other presentation materials or publications (of all kinds related to advising), awards, materials developed in support of advising activities, materials developed in connection with any committee work, evidence of leadership in area, any other materials that are related to advising that would help the committee to understand the quality, scope, and breadth and depth of contributions in this area, evidence of collaborative work with other areas of the College or campus, evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-related work in this area, evidence of other leadership activities in this area.
The academic specialist in this category is involved significantly in providing instruction for credit in classes, labs, seminars, practica and clinical settings. In general, the goals of any teacher should include the following:
- to promote the intellectual maturation and honesty of the student;
- to promote the mastery of the material by the student;
- to provide appropriate testing and evaluation to allow the student to measure his or her mastery of the material;
- to promote the understanding by the student of how the material relates to the discipline, the profession, society, the world and the universe;
- to promote an appropriate climate for diversity in the classroom and other instructional settings;
- to increase the teacher’s mastery of the subject material and the level, breadth and depth of topics taught.
Specifically, the academic specialist or teacher may perform one or more of the following duties:
- teach/assist in teaching credit courses involving classes, labs, seminars, lectures, demonstrations, etc.;
- supervise/train/evaluate students in a practicum or clinical setting;
- supervise/train/evaluate teaching assistants and other instructional staff;
- provide continuity over time and assist in the resolution of inquiries and problems, especially in courses involving a large number of faculty and staff;
- participate actively and effectively in the development of curriculum and course content;
- consult with others within the University on matters such as advising and curricular development;
- provide cognitive area outreach to K-12 educational system;
- demonstrate leadership abilities, i.e.,
has influence on teaching programs and curriculum of the department, school or college;
may be the lead teacher in team teaching;
may supervise, train and evaluate other teachers.
- represent the academic unit in curriculum, instructional or governance issues;
- make scholarly contributions in relevant cognitive areas and/or in pedagogy;
- make significant contribution to the advancement of the profession and is so recognized by professional peers.
Examples of materials that might be submitted as part of a dossier in addition to the above specified portions of a Teaching Portfolio include: evidence of participation in high-impact, co-curricular activities, materials in support of Honors Options and other similar additional teaching responsibilities, teaching awards, materials in support of teaching related research or creative scholarship, workshop, or conference presentations whether on-campus or for professional organizations, materials related to committee service, materials developed in support of teaching or assessment, other similar teaching-related activities, evidence of collaborative work with other areas of the College or campus, evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-related work in this area, evidence of student mentoring whether online or in person, evidence of other leadership in area.
The curriculum development category includes individuals who plan courses or curricula. Usually such responsibilities are undertaken by individuals appointed in colleges, departments, and schools. These persons typically:
- participate and, as relevant, provide leadership in the planning and development of curricula, academic programs, and individual courses;
- participate in the development of instructional materials;
- evaluate research relating to impact of various curricula and instructional techniques on student learning;
- undertake literature reviews, compilation of bibliographies, and assist in gathering up-to-date information and analysis for inclusion in courses and academic programs;
- gather and evaluate curricula and course materials from other institutions to assist in curricula planning and development efforts;
- participate in the development and evaluation of student testing and the evaluation techniques and procedures;
- participate, as required by the unit, in professional development activities, both on and off campus, including conferences, workshops, and seminars to enhance abilities and knowledge in the area of curriculum development;
- make a professional contribution by making scholarly presentations: present papers, lectures, or workshops on campus or beyond related to curriculum development and planning;
- assume, as relevant, leadership roles involving the coordination, supervision, and training of curriculum development specialists;
- represent the unit and college in curriculum planning/development deliberation;
- participate in departmental/school, college and university-level committees.
Examples of materials that may be submitted as part of a dossier in the area of curriculum development may include: instructional or assessment materials that have been developed, evidence of participation in high-impact, co-curricular activities, awards, materials in support of teaching and learning related research or creative scholarship, workshop, or conference presentations whether on-campus or for professional organizations, materials related to committee service, other similar curriculum-related activities, evidence of collaborative work with other areas of the College or campus, evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-related work in this area, other evidence of leadership in area.
The academic specialist appointed in this functional area facilitates scholarly research activity of a national and international stature appropriate for a premier land-grant, AAU university. These individuals perform as an independent investigator or in a lead role on research projects, including developing grant proposals and directing the research project with the designation as principal investigator, co-principal investigator or investigator, and/or in performing position responsibilities which require a terminal degree. 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.
Examples of materials that may be submitted as part of a dossier in the area of curriculum development include: evidence of conducting and overseeing research /creative projects, of applying for internal or external funding/grant proposals, of publications, performances, productions, exhibits, events, and/or showings, and other related scholarly/creative activities from the evaluation period; evidence of participation in, organization of, or leading of research/creative activities (e.g., conferences, performances, exhibits) on or off campus, or in professional organizations and the general research community, evidence of student or faculty/academic staff support or mentoring, of laboratory supervision, of undergraduate or graduate committee service, of honors or awards. Additional materials that might be included are: evidence of outreach, including dissemination of research findings such as conference presentations, guest lectures, workshops, other, and pertinent creative or research-related outreach, evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-related work in this area, evidence of collaborative scholarly work with other areas of the College or campus, or other leadership in this area.
The academic specialist 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.
Examples of materials that may be submitted as part of a dossier in the area of service/outreach may include: materials in support of service/outreach activities on-campus, in the local or regional areas or beyond, evidence of collaborative work with other areas of the College or campus that work in service/outreach, materials in support of service/outreach related research or creative scholarship, workshop, or conference presentations whether on-campus, in the community, or for professional organizations, materials related to committee service, evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-related work in this area, evidence of collaborative scholarly work with other areas of the College or campus, or other leadership in this area.
An individual appointed in the Academic Specialist Appointment System, in accordance with the Guidelines for Specialist Placements, may also serve in administrative roles related to their functional assignments as an academic specialist. 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.
Examples of materials that may be submitted as part of a dossier in the area of administrative responsibility may include: evidence of supportive work on or leadership of new administrative initiatives, materials in support of related scholarship, workshop, or conference presentations whether on-campus, in the community, or for professional organizations, materials related to committee service, evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-related work in this area, evidence of collaborative administrative work with other areas of the College or campus, or other leadership in this area.