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Department of History Standards for Tenure

Effective 1 July 2017

Tenure-track faculty will be expected to be aware of the University criteria for promotion as published in the Faculty/Staff Handbook.  This document interprets how the general University criteria apply to faculty in the History Department.

The candidate must have a demonstrable record of success in three areas: scholarship, teaching, and service.  The following discussion of these three areas is meant to provide the outlines of a typical tenure dossier and therefore acts as a general guide for untenured faculty.  It should be understood, however, that each case for promotion contains distinctive elements; that alternative pathways to a successful case for promotion and tenure exist, though all must adhere to the criteria established in the Faculty/Staff Handbook; that it is the responsibility of the candidate, chair, and advocate to present the candidate’s particular set of intellectual choices and professional achievements to promotional committees; and that untenured faculty are advised to consult with the chair and other senior faculty with regard to the various opportunities and demands that arise in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.

(1) Scholarship

In evaluating tenure cases, the department and promotional committees require evidence of a sustained level of scholarly activity.  More importantly, qualitative factors (e.g., the reputation of a press, the prominence of a journal, the prestige of a fellowship) play a prominent role,

The primary criterion for promotion to tenure is the publication of original historical scholarship in the form of a monograph published by a scholarly press. Ordinarily, the monograph represents a revised version of the doctoral dissertation.  Academic or scholarly publishers, following a process of peer review and regarded as major presses in the discipline, sub-discipline, or relevant interdisciplinary field, are the most desirable venues for publication.  By the time of the departmental vote on tenure and promotion, the book must be either published or in production at a point where no substantive changes can be made.

For promotion to associate professor, there should be evidence of a national reputation.  In addition to the book, this is best expressed through articles in peer-reviewed journals, essays in peer-reviewed edited volumes, fellowships, article or book prizes, invited talks, conference papers, research grants, and other evidence of scholarly excellence.  Of these achievements, articles, fellowships, and prizes carry the most weight.

In addition, candidates are required to demonstrate progress toward a second major scholarly publication project.  Such progress might include one or more of the following: presentation of one or more papers on the new project at scholarly conferences; the publication of one or more articles or essays in appropriate peer-reviewed journals or volumes; the award of research grants or fellowships in connection with a new project.

Other scholarly activities, such as the publication of an essay not directly related to either the first or the second project, or the editing or co-editing of a collection of essays, also act as evidence of scholarly achievement but do not function as a substitute for the scholarly monograph and progress toward the second publishing project.

These other activities can include the publication of an essay not directly related to either the first or the second project, or the editing or co-editing of a collection of essays.  They can also include publishing book reviews, acting as a referee for journal articles and book manuscripts, or organizing a small-scale scholarly meeting.  Of these, the publication of reviews can be considered a usual though not a necessary component of the candidate’s dossier.

In light of the increasing visibility of digital history, the department agrees with the American Historical Association’s recommendation that “scholars who take a strong interest in digital media … should be evaluated in terms of their overall ability to use sustained, expressive, substantive, and institutional innovation to advance scholarship” (Guidelines for the Professional Evaluation of Digital Scholarship by Historians, June 2015).  In particular, the department supports the AHA’s recommendations that 1) digital scholarship be evaluated in its native medium and not printed out for promotion dossiers, and 2) for candidates with a significant digital history profile, at least one of the external evaluators should be a specialist in digital history.

(2) Teaching

The candidate should show a record of successful teaching, as documented by such evidence as student evaluations, course materials, testimonials from current and former students, and the supervision of master’s projects and participation in doctoral examination and dissertation committees insofar as the field permits it.  It is not expected that the candidate achieve a level of excellence immediately or that the candidate demonstrate equal excellence in all forms of teaching (undergraduate and graduate; large lecture classes, smaller lecture classes, seminars, and individual supervision), but weaker performance in a particular area of teaching should be followed by documented efforts to improve, through consultation with department mentors or colleagues and classroom experimentation, for example.  In addition, it is understood that in order to focus on scholarly publication, untenured faculty will offer independent study courses to undergraduate and graduate students only in exceptional cases.

(3) Service

Service to the department, in the form of regular, though not necessarily constant committee work, is an expected part of the untenured faculty member’s workload.  As part of the democratic culture of the department, untenured faculty regularly serve on search committees and on other major departmental committees such as the Graduate and Undergraduate committees.  Given the primary emphasis on scholarship and the importance attached to teaching, however, untenured faculty members should not be expected to carry heavy department committee loads, perform departmental tasks (e.g., judging essay contests, organizing department events) on a regular basis, or act as department officers (Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Graduate Studies).  They are expected to make only limited service contributions to the College and the University.  Professional service to the community is not usually a component of tenure dossiers in the History Department. Some community service, however, is viewed favorably by the APT and PRB.