Guidelines for Research Faculty Promotion
Approved by the Provost’s Office May 26, 2022
Sent to the USF United Faculty on May 26, 2022
Goes into effect no later than May 26, 2023
This page presents University of South Florida guidelines for the promotion process of non-tenure track Research Faculty (defined here as Research Assistant Professor 9103 to Research Associate Professor 9102, Research Associate Professor 9102 to Research Professor 9101). The University recognizes the many contributions of research faculty and thus provides a promotional career path for individuals who hold full-time, non-tenure track research faculty positions at the University. Academic units are encouraged to provide promotional raises similar to those of instructional faculty as described in the UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement, but with the understanding that grant-funded positions may have limitations in this regard.
These guidelines are consistent with the Board of Trustees regulations USF10.105, USF10.106, USF policy 10.116, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the intent of furthering the mission of the University. Criteria for promotion, including the specification of documented and measurable performance outcomes, must be developed by individual colleges, schools, and departments commensurate with expectations articulated on this page.
At the discretion of the academic unit in which the applicant’s appointment resides, up to three years of full-time employment at USF or another four-year institution as a full-time tenured/tenure track faculty or as a full time assistant research professor or other comparable appointment may count toward the number of years required for promotion eligibility. Years employed as a Graduate Research Assistant or as technical staff do not count toward the number of years required for promotion eligibility, even if the research assignment was similar to the assignment of an assistant research professor. Individuals must have been awarded the appropriate terminal degree associated with the primary duties as defined by the academic unit in which the appointment resides.
I. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA CRITERIA
Promotion in these professorial ranks will be granted only to persons who demonstrate excellence in scholarly and academic achievement. The academic units of the University will define criteria for promotion according to the standards of their respective fields and disciplines, with specific expectations for types and levels of achievement and how they will be measured and documented. Promotion guidelines at all levels are expected to recognize and value contributions that support USF's prevailing strategic priorities. Academic units may specify more stringent standards than those articulated herein but may not specify less stringent standards.
1. Evaluation of Promotion
This section applies to ranked faculty in the non-tenured research track (Research Assistant Professor and Research Associate Professor). The decision to apply for promotion rests with the individual, and there is no penalty for one’s choice not to apply nor for failure to be granted promotion after applying. In general, five years of experience at rank is expected prior to application for promotion. Candidates may withdraw their application for promotion at any stage in the process prior to the dean’s review.
Performance is evaluated primarily in the area of research/creative/scholarly activity. Teaching and service will also be evaluated if included in the assignment. Nevertheless, in all cases, excellence in research/creative/scholarly activity (the primary purpose for which research faculty are hired) must be demonstrated.
General standards for consideration of appointment to the ranks of Research Assistant Professor, Research Associate Professor, and Research Professor are described in the sections below. In each category, a candidate’s achievements are evaluated in relation to criteria specified by the unit for the rank sought as well as the candidate’s assignment of duties and opportunities within the unit.
a. Research Assistant Professor
- Promise of independent and/or collaborative research/creative/scholarly work supported by publications or other appropriate evidence.
- If assigned, promise of continued growth in teaching, and other comparable activities appropriate for the unit.
- If assigned, promise of substantive contributions in the area of service and citizenship
to the University, profession, and/or public.
A doctorate or the highest degree appropriate to the field (or, where appropriate, the equivalent based on professional experience consistent with accreditation standards).
b. Research Associate Professor
- As the primary focus of the promotion evaluation, a record of excellence in independent and/or collaborative research/creative/scholarly work, supported by substantial, high impact and sustained publications or their equivalent. Categories, criteria, and types of evidence for research/creative/scholarly work may vary across colleges and departments. Thus, original or creative work of a professional nature may be considered as equivalent to publications. Evaluation of applied research should consider potential or actual impact on policies and practices. The record should be sufficient to predict, with a high degree of confidence, continuing productivity in research/creative/scholarly work throughout the individual's career, as defined in the individual’s field.
- If assigned, a record of excellence in teaching, or other comparable activities appropriate for the unit, including a record of such activities as participation on thesis and/or dissertation committees.
- If assigned, a record of substantive contribution of service to the University, profession, and/or public.
c. Research Professor
- As the primary focus of the promotion evaluation, a record of excellence in research/creative/scholarly work of at least national visibility, of demonstrated quality supported by a record of substantial publications or their equivalent. There should be compelling evidence of significant achievement in the individual’s discipline or professional field at the national and international level. Any recommendation for promotion to the rank of Research Professor must contain evidence of such distinction, as relevant to the unit. Categories, criteria, and types of evidence for research/creative/scholarly work may vary across colleges and departments. Thus, original or creative work may be considered as equivalent to publications. Evaluation of applied research should consider potential or actual impact on policies and practices. The record should predict continuing high productivity in research/creative/scholarly work throughout the individual's career, as defined in the individual’s field.
- If assigned, a record of excellence in teaching, or other comparable activity appropriate for the unit, including, where applicable, a record of participation on thesis and/or dissertation committees.
- If assigned, a record of substantial contribution of service to the University and to the field, profession or community as appropriate to the mission and goals of the department, the college and/or the University. Expectations about the level of meaningful service contributions for candidates for Research Professor are significantly higher than those that apply to candidates for Research Associate Professor.
2. Review of Progress Toward Promotion
The annual performance review for a research faculty member holding a rank of Assistant Research Professor or Associate Research Professor will normally include a department/school evaluation of progress toward promotion consistent with the collective bargaining agreement. This review is intended to be informative by encouraging faculty who are making solid progress toward promotion, and instructional to faculty who may need to improve in selected areas of performance.
A. Number and Types of Committees
At the unit level, full-time faculty will determine the role of the unit review committee in developing recommendations for promotion. Procedures will be specified in unit governance documents. The number and types of review and, as applicable, voting prior to submission to the senior academic officer will be similar throughout the University and should occur at the following levels or their equivalent: department review committee; department faculty; chair; school review committee (if any), college review committee; regional chancellor (if a branch campus faculty member), college dean. Research Faculty promotion review stops at the college dean although the Provost’s office must be notified of promotions.
B. Promotion Committee Membership
A unit may use their regular Tenure and Promotion committee or may establish a separate committee for Research Faculty promotion. The committee should adhere to the following criteria whenever possible and practical and should be consistent with the UFF Collecting Bargaining Agreement:
- Membership on committees is limited to faculty who have been appointed within the unit for at least two years;
- Committees considering candidates for promotion to Associate Research Professor will comprise individuals holding the rank of Associate Professor, Professor, Research Associate Professor, or Research Professor.
- Committees considering candidates for promotion to Research Professor will comprise individuals holding the rank of Professor or Research Professor. If the unit lacks a sufficient number, the unit head may appoint one or more qualified Professors or Research Professors from other units, in consideration of recommendation by the eligible full-time faculty at the full or associate level in the unit;
- Review of applications from faculty with joint appointments should reflect appropriate participation by the units to which faculty have been appointed. Thus, chairs/deans from secondary units should have proportional input on review and recommendations, and committees reviewing applications from faculty with joint appointments should have equitable representation from respective units based on the distribution of assignment;
- Chairs, directors and deans should neither vote nor participate on any promotion committee; this exclusion applies to assistant or associate chairs, directors, or deans when they participate in the promotion process in support of, or as delegated by chairs, directors or deans;
- Terms of committee members should be staggered and ordinarily should not exceed three years;
- Turnover of committee membership should be encouraged through restrictions on consecutive terms, if feasible;
- Individuals serving on more than one advisory committee (e.g., department, school, or college) will vote at only one level but may advise on another;
- In instances where units are geographically distributed, unit procedures should include methods to ensure equitable and appropriate participation by faculty throughout the recommendations for tenure and promotion.
- All members of promotion committees are expected to review the application files prior to discussion, or voting. Procedures to ensure participation by all committee members (or, as needed, alternates) in the process are established and followed at all levels of review. Following a vote by secret ballot, the ballots are counted immediately in the presence of committee members, and the tally is recorded. Written narrative from majority and dissenting minorities, if any, may be included with the record.
III. Review Process
Sequence of Review
Specific levels of review are determined by the College. The general sequence of review for relevant levels and unit heads is as follows: The department (or equivalent) promotion committee, followed by review by the head of that unit, the school committee (if any), then the college committee. If relevant to the instructional faculty member’s home campus (St. Petersburg or Sarasota-Manatee), the Regional Chancellor will provide a formal review prior to the review by the College Dean. Finally, the College Dean reviews all materials and provides a final decision.
Each Dean’s Office will publish a list of research faculty in the college who are eligible to apply for promotion within the typical timeframe. This list should be provided annually by mid-September to all Assistant and Associate Research Professors.
Applications for promotion shall be initiated by candidates in consultation with their immediate unit head (e.g., department chair) during the fall preceding the promotion process that occurs during the following spring semester. The unit head will inform candidates of the materials they will be expected to provide in support of their applications and provide guidance regarding additional supplementary documents to be submitted with the application.
Academic Unit Review Committees
Academic unit review committees within the research faculty member’s academic unit review the application. The committees consist of at least three faculty from the faculty member’s academic unit. If available, a higher ranking research professor should be included on each committee. At least one member of the committee should be a faculty member at the same campus as the candidate (i.e., Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee).
Associate Research Professors, Research Professors, as well as tenured Associate and Full Professors may review applications for promotion to Associate Professor of Instruction and Associate Instructor. Only Research Professors or tenured Professors may review applications for promotion to Research Professor.
The committees evaluate the application, vote, assign overall ratings for each relevant area of assigned duties, and provide a recommendation concerning promotion along with a narrative that justifies the assigned ratings. A written evaluation and the results of the vote will be recorded as a part of the packet and forwarded to the next reviewing entity. Where a split evaluation exists, a minority report may accompany the majority recommendation. The applicant shall have the right to review the file following the committee review and attach a brief response to any materials contained therein, including the evaluation section(s) prior to the next stage of review.
Regional Chancellor Review
Regional Chancellors may provide a formal review of their campus faculty member’s promotion materials prior to the review by the College Dean.
The College Dean reviews all materials and provides a final decision and supporting narrative. A narrative only needs to be provided in cases where promotion is not recommended. The narrative should specify the reasons for that decision and make suggestions for improvement that might result in a positive decision at a later date.
In the event that the applicant disagrees with the decision made by the College Dean, a grievance may be sought as detailed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but such grievances are restricted to violations of that Agreement.
At the college’s discretion, promotion reviews may be conducted as part of the regular
tenure and promotion cycle, or may be conducted at a separate time. However, final
decisions regarding promotion must be completed no later than April 15th of each academic
Research faculty should notify their chair of their desire to submit an application for promotion by September 30 and submit an application according to their unit’s timeline. All recommendations and reviews must be circulated to the College Dean for a response no later than April 1.
Decision and Notification
A list of research faculty promotion decisions are to be provided by each college to the Office of the Provost no later than April 15th each year. The Provost’s office will notify the applicant of the decision and any associated salary increase before the end of the contract year. The Chair/Director, College Dean and Human Resources are included in this communication.