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Administrative Policy Memo 5

Revised October 2019

Tenure and Promotion Guidelines

The following guidelines and expectations for tenure and promotion in the UW School of Drama have been compiled here to help promote a clear process for career advancement for all faculty members. A career is conceived as a trajectory, but this trajectory is measured at certain critical moments, such as hiring, promotion, and tenure. As the College of Arts & Sciences’ “Promotion Considerations” (https://admin.artsci.washington.edu/promotion-considerations) explains, “When promoting, we are making a decision that combines an assessment of the individual’s records to date as well as a projection of a career into the future.” To ensure success, transparency, and fairness, the standards of measurements should be clear to all parties involved in the process. Chapter 24 of the University of Washington Faculty Code contains university-wide guidelines for tenure and promotion (https://www.washington.edu/admin/rules/policies/FCG/FCCH24.html).

Given some confusion that previously existed in the School of Drama, we wish to underscore at the start two elements of university promotion policy: work done prior to an appointment at UW does count as part of the candidate’s portfolio – what matters is the candidate’s cumulative record, regardless of whether that work was done at UW or elsewhere; and, once appointed, years at rank are immaterial to promotion provided that the candidate meets all stated criteria for successful advancement. That said, the Faculty Code (Section 24-41) stipulates that for assistant professors, their second three-year appointment “must include a tenure decision.” This means that the sixth year of an assistant professor’s appointment – excluding any excused pauses in their tenure clock – is a mandatory year for promotion consideration. For information on initiating non-mandatory promotions (i.e. “early” promotions from assistant to associate professor and all promotions from associate to full professor), please see section E below.

Also, at the start, we affirm the School of Drama’s commitment to the work of fostering diversity and equity. In accordance with the 2012 and 2018 revisions to the Faculty Code (Section 24-32), we value “any contributions in scholarship and research, teaching, and service that address diversity and equal opportunity,” and will include and consider them among “professional and scholarly qualifications” at all stages in the tenure and promotion process.

Please note that these guidelines are a living document. Approximately every five years, School of Drama tenure-stream faculty will review this document and either vote to affirm its content, or revise its content and vote on the revision. For any questions in the application of this document, please also refer to the College’s “Promotion Considerations” and the University Faculty Code, mentioned above.

A. For Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure

Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure is a university commitment to a lifetime career. It is predicated on three standard metrics used across the university: research/creative work, teaching, and service.

1)  Research/Creative work

At a premier research university like UW, the most critical factor in awarding promotion and tenure is whether the candidate has amassed a substantial independent record of research/creative work. As the College’s “Promotion Considerations” explains, “quality is more important than quantity, although there must be sufficient quantity to provide evidence of a significant level of scholarly productivity.” The metrics used for faculty in the School of Drama are similar to those employed across the university. They should include, but are not limited to, a body of original research/creative work that has been vetted, and published, produced, or performed in high-quality, peer-reviewed venues. The work should offer new contributions to the candidate’s field or fields. With both research and creative work, it is essential to document some measure of impact.

For scholars of theatre history and theory, an academic monograph usually stands as the centerpiece of their research portfolios. The centerpiece, however, may also be comprised of a series of articles, edited volume chapters, and other publications that are equivalent in both quality and quantity to an academic monograph. Ideally, a candidate’s book should be published by the time the file goes to vote in the department. If not published, the book should be under contract and in production or about to go into production. The press should be a high-profile and reputable publisher of scholarly titles in theatre and performance and/or titles in the area of the candidate’s specialization.

Additionally, conference and symposia papers, and other forms of public presentation and sharing of research findings are an expected component of the research portfolio for scholars of theatre history and theory. The receipt of outside funding and foundation grants and awards are also viewed as contributions to a candidate’s research portfolio. Public scholarship may be an element of the portfolio of work, but cannot stand in for more traditional forms of publication. Moreover, we concur with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education-American Society for Theatre Research Joint Subcommittee on Non-Print Publication’s recommendation that “criteria for tenure and promotion . . . be expanded to include peer-reviewed electronic publications of substantial research projects on a par with print publications.” Taken all in all, the research portfolio should reflect the range and significance of the author’s contributions to their field or fields.

The College encourages scholars, artists, and practitioners to engage in collaborative work such as edited volumes or anthologies, multi-partner grant projects, or creative projects. When including collaborations in promotion portfolios, it is essential to document the individual’s singular contribution to the collective work with a clear assessment of the magnitude of involvement. Moreover, the College’s “Promotion Considerations” stipulates that “a significant portion of the overall research record should include articles and works to which the candidate has made the primary contributions.” They also note “although many junior scholars continue to do some collaborative work with a former Ph.D. or postdoc advisor, it is important to establish a record of growing independence from former advisors.”

For artists and practitioners, a set of documented and vetted productions usually stands as the centerpiece of their creative work portfolios. For promotion consideration, these productions should occur outside of the UW School of Drama. For the purposes of this document, we define “production” broadly to include dramatic productions such as dance, opera, film, television, and theatre as well as less traditional forms including experimental events or performances that might be described by terms such as “performance art” or “installations.” It is our intention to acknowledge the diversity of our field and to be inclusive in considering a wide range of events with design, storytelling, and/or performative elements.

While we recognize that the arts can stretch traditional definitions of scholarship, the university has developed a broad menu of assessments for work within the Division of the Arts. These standards can be summarized in general terms as the creation of a body of work, documentation and vetting of that body, and some assessment of its impact.  The College’s “Promotion Considerations” states, “In the creative and performing arts, tenure portfolios will reflect the faculty member’s creative work – including exhibitions, performances, and reviews thereof. As with all faculty members, the significance of the work and career trajectory are of paramount importance.”

The School of Drama welcomes and recognizes faculty artists who take traditional and non-traditional career paths and approaches to their work. A candidate’s achievements as a practicing artist might include multiple engagements as a union or guild-affiliated creative artist (director, performer, designer, etc.) at professional theatres/venues with significant regional, national, or international profiles. The reputation of the institution indicates that vetting of the artist has happened prior to the engagement, as does membership in a union or guild. In less traditional career paths which might include devised, community-based, avant-garde, or other forms of work, such institutional reputation might not be evident and the vetting of the artists, company, or production would require a more involved process.

Whether practicing artist candidates take a traditional approach or not, they must provide documentation that speaks to the work’s quality and impact. “Impact” may include the level of engagement with local, regional, or national communities; the work’s influence on other artists or the originality of the work; the receipt of grants or awards; or becoming the subject of reviews and scholarly articles.

In the case of productions that are central to the candidate’s portfolio but are not readily documented and archived through photographs, video, or other forms of recording, the practicing artist, at least one month in advance, should instruct the Executive Director to arrange for a confidential description and review of the work by a professional practitioner or scholar (see Appendix for a sample letter soliciting such a review). These reviews should entail the same level of rigorous assessment that we expect from outside reviews of promotion files and will become part of those files. Such reviews will not replace the requirement of regional, national, or international recognition of the candidate’s body of work but will provide useful context and a fuller assessment of their work in light of what is often incomplete or inadequate coverage by popular and scholarly publications. In short, the promotion files of all practicing artists should include rigorous assessments of their key works in order to document their regional, national, or international impact, reputation, or reception. 

To provide practicing artists with a clearer sense of the work usually included in successful assistant to associate professor promotion cases, we offer the following: their portfolio should exemplify a growing body of work featuring an ongoing trajectory of continued production and deepening relations with significant artists and institutions. We agree with the College that “quality is more important than quantity.” Moreover, the scale and scope of productions, and the centrality of the artists’ contributions to them are carefully considered in evaluating creative work portfolios. We value substantial and sustained contributions to the artist’s field or fields.

2) Teaching

All candidates should have developed a strong and documented teaching portfolio with positive student and peer evaluations, comparable to their colleagues in the School of Drama and across the Division of the Arts. As effective teaching is essential to advancement, candidates should include in their promotion file a clear narrative about their teaching so that readers of the file can understand and distinguish between various arenas of pedagogical practice including of labs, studios, seminars, or lectures.

The College’s “Promotion Considerations” explains that candidates should have student evaluations of “a large percentage, if not all, of the courses taught at the UW” and the Faculty Code (Section 24-57A) stipulates that all faculty must have at least one course evaluated by students in any year in which they teach. The Faculty Code (Section 24-57A) requires that assistant professors should have a peer review of their teaching done each year. Mentoring, according to the College’s “Promotion Considerations,” is also vital to teaching: “a very important part of our teaching responsibilities takes place outside of any specific course. The advising of students, both undergraduate and graduate, is a significant contribution to the teaching mission of the University.”

While research and teaching are typically viewed as separate categories, if a candidate believes there is a compelling narrative around the relationship of these areas, such as the influence of the research on the teaching, then the candidate should make that case in their personal statement. Nonetheless, strong teaching alone is not sufficient for tenure and promotion.

3)  Service

Service takes many forms, but an investment in the School and the Division should be clear by the time of tenure. The forms can range from committee service, such as search committees, or area service like advising, public outreach, recruitment, or university-wide service, like task forces or divisional standing committees, but it should demonstrate an ongoing commitment to citizenship in the department and should be comparable to that of peers of equal rank in the School. National and international service, within professional organizations or unions, or editorial service with presses or journals, is recognized as citizenship to the broader profession, though not required at this level of promotion.

B. For Promotion to Full Professor

For promotion to Full Professor, the same three standard metrics are used across the university: research/creative work, teaching, and service.

The body of research/creative work – and again it is a body of work – should have grown since the last promotion, though the time to promotion from associate to full professor is not fixed. As the College’s “Promotion to Full Professor Guidelines” puts it, “the faculty member should have established him/herself as a major researcher, scholar, or creative artist at the national and often international level. At this stage of career, the scholarly record will normally be larger and also reflect a more mature formulation of questions and a richer exploration of them. A faculty member’s entire scholarly career is evaluated, with emphasis placed on work developed since the time of promotion to associate professor.” Such scholarship will involve a degree of visibility and documentable impact on the candidate’s field or fields. It should advance the candidate substantially forward on the career trajectory or represent a substantial new body of work. Strong teaching and fulsome service are not sufficient for advancement. As with promotion to associate professor, “impact” may include the level of engagement with local, regional, or national communities; the work’s influence on other artists or the originality of the work; the receipt of grants or awards; or becoming the subject of reviews and scholarly articles.

For scholars of theatre history and theory, a second academic monograph often stands as the centerpiece of their research portfolios for promotion to full professor. The centerpiece, however, may also be comprised of a series of articles, edited volume chapters, and other publications that are equivalent in both quality and quantity to a second monograph.

For artists and practitioners, a new set of documented and vetted productions and performances usually stands as the centerpiece of their creative work portfolios. The pace and volume of that work might be similar to that usually found in successful assistant to associate professor promotion cases but the work should be more mature in terms of the scale and scope of the productions, the significance of the venues, and/or the centrality and noteworthiness of the roles and responsibilities within the productions. An alternative trajectory for creative artists’ promotion from associate to full professor might entail fewer productions, but with an even more marked increase in the scale and scope of the productions, the significance of the venues, and/or the centrality and noteworthiness of the roles and responsibilities within the productions.

The same guidelines and procedures, discussed above for promotion to associate professor,  related to documenting a candidate’s contributions to collaborative works, and providing rigorous assessment of all significant research/creative work, also hold true for promotion to full professor.

For promotion to full professor, a candidate’s teaching record should be consistently strong and documented by both student and peer evaluations. The College’s “Promotion Considerations” explains that candidates should have student evaluations of “a large percentage, if not all, of the courses taught at the UW” and the Faculty Code (Section 24-57A) stipulates that all faculty must have at least one course evaluated by students in any year in which they teach. The Faculty Code (Section 24-57A) requires that associate and full professors have a peer review of their teaching done at least once every three years. Regarding mentoring, the College guidelines note that “at the time of promotion to Professor, a faculty member will have a significant record of working with and mentoring students, including, where appropriate, chairing graduate student committees.”

The service expectation is greater for promotion to full professor and should involve a component of leadership in the School and continued investment in the Division. Such leadership might include serving as an area head or committee chair within the School, or participating in division- or university-wide standing committees or responsibilities. National and international service, within professional organizations or unions, or editorial service with presses or journals, is recognized as citizenship to the broader profession, and is desirable at this level of promotion.

C. Regular Conferences with Faculty

The Faculty Code (Section 24-57C) requires that the Executive Director hold regular conferences with faculty members to discuss their scholarly, teaching, and service responsibilities and requirements; their shared goals for the coming year(s); and strategies for achieving those goals. These discussions should be documented with the agreed upon documentation then placed in the faculty member’s file. For assistant professors, such conferences should take place each year; for associates, every other year; and for full professors, once every three years.

D. External Evaluations and Assessing Creative Artists’ Collaborative Skills

As part of promotion and/or tenure cases, the University requires three to five evaluations of the candidate's scholarly or creative work by external experts in the discipline. External evaluators are solicited by the unit chair. College of Arts & Sciences guidelines stipulate that “at least three of the reviews should be from persons who have no substantial personal connection or professional collaboration with the candidate.” In the case of creative artists whose work depends upon collaboration, the College specifically recognizes that at least one of the external evaluators should, in fact, have experience working with the candidate so that the file can contain some assessment of the candidate’s collaborative skills.

E. Initiating Non-Mandatory Promotion Cases

Requests to initiate non-mandatory promotion cases may come from an individual interested in becoming a candidate for promotion, the Executive Director, or the review committees for assistant and associate professors. Individuals interested in becoming a candidate for non-mandatory promotion should meet with the Executive Director to discuss the possibility and process. Similarly, if the Executive Director or a review committee believes that an individual is ready for non-mandatory promotion, the Executive Director should invite the individual to meet to discuss the possibility and process. If, after that meeting, the request still stands, the Executive Director should bring the matter to faculty of senior rank (associate and full professors in the case of assistant to associate promotions, and full professors in the case of promotions from associate to full). A majority of those faculty must express support for the request before the Executive Director can initiate the case and begin recruiting external reviewers. To assist in determining whether a candidate is ready for non-mandatory promotion, the Executive Director or review committees may require the potential candidate to provide documentation of creative and research accomplishments, and teaching effectiveness.

Senior faculty’s decision to initiate a non-mandatory promotion case should be made no later than the middle of winter quarter in the academic year prior to the autumn when the case will be voted on in the School of Drama and forwarded to the College Council. This timing will enable the Executive Director, in instances of affirmative decisions, to begin recruiting external reviewers in early March. Promotion files containing documentation of creative and research accomplishment as well as candidates’ personal narratives should be complete and ready to send to external reviewers by June 15th.

Guidelines first established 2019
Tenure-stream faculty vote approval: January 16, 2019; revised and approved October 9, 2019
Divisional Dean approval:
College Council approval:

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