Constitution & Bylaws

Bylaws of Northern Illinois University


ARTICLE 5:
THE ACADEMIC PERSONNEL PROCESS

 

Northern Illinois University strives for excellence in all academic matters. The academic personnel process is designed to facilitate the evaluation of faculty, in the light of this quest for excellence, in a fair and professional manner. To do so requires the exercise of informed, professional judgment as well as respect for the rights and responsibilities of all persons involved in the process. The University is best served when personnel matters can be decided, and disagreements resolved, in an environment of informal cooperation and full discussion, based upon clearly stated criteria for evaluation.

5.1 Principles Regarding Personnel Matters

5.1.1 The faculty personnel process at Northern Illinois University is a dual track system with faculty and administrators comprising the two distinct tracks and each track composing distinct evaluations. This system originates at the department level and progresses through the college and university levels to final on-campus recommendation by the president. 

5.1.2 Each department and college must maintain written policies and procedures for carrying out their roles and responsibilities in the personnel process indicated in these Bylaws. Those documents are to be made available to the affected faculty. 

5.1.3 If departmental personnel policies and procedures do not contain provisions for their amendment, they may be amended in accordance with the principles of Article 21 of the Bylaws. In that case, those eligible to vote on the amendment are the regular, full-time faculty members of the department. If college personnel policies and procedures do not contain provisions for their amendment, they may be amended in accordance with the principles of Article 21 of these Bylaws. In that case, those eligible to vote on the amendment are the members of the college council, or in colleges without a council, the regular, full-time faculty as a whole. 

5.1.4 All departmental personnel policies and procedures must be approved by the appropriate college faculty personnel body, and the college personnel procedures by the University Council Personnel Committee prior to their implementation. 

5.1.5 The affected faculty member has the right to know of the disposition of a personnel recommendation in process within 30 working days after its receipt at the next higher level of decision making, unless an appeal is filed within those 30 days. 

5.1.6 A written report on a recommendation concerning promotion, tenure, or sabbatical leave will be sent to the faculty member affected by each of the following levels of decision-making after that level has acted on the recommendation: department, college, university. A written notice of merit ratings for pay increment purposes shall be sent to the affected faculty member from the department. All such notices shall contain pertinent information regarding the opportunities for and regulations governing requests for reconsideration or appeal. 

5.1.7 Non-tenured faculty in tenure-track positions shall be entitled to receive annually a written evaluation of their progress toward the achievement of tenure. A copy of each such annual report shall be forwarded to the appropriate college dean. 

5.1.8 Appeals of personnel recommendations and alleged violations of policy or procedure shall be restricted to the level above the level at which the appealed recommendation was made. All appeals shall be filed by 14 days from the date of notification of the affected faculty member. 

5.2 University Criteria for Arriving at Personnel Decisions

5.2.1 General Criteria for Arriving at Personnel Decisions 

5.2.1.1 Recommendations concerning promotion, tenure, retention, and salary should reflect careful evaluation of: (1) effectiveness in teaching or, for library faculty, in librarianship, (2) scholarly contribution, including research, artistry, and any external peer evaluation of research and artistry, and (3) service to the university community and profession. Recommendations should be based only upon the professional performance of the faculty member. Utmost care must be exercised by all individuals and bodies making personnel recommendations to exclude possible prejudice concerning such matters as sex, race, national origin, marital status, age, color, political views or affiliation, religious views or affiliation, sexual orientation, handicapped status, or other such factor unrelated to professional performance. 

5.2.1.2 The reason the university exists is to serve society by encouraging learning. In order to do this most effectively, it must focus its activities on all of learning-the discovery, transmission, and application of knowledge. 

5.2.1.3 Effectiveness in teaching is a significant aspect of a faculty member's professional performance. For library faculty, effective librarianship is the criterion equivalent to effective teaching for other faculty members. Where a library faculty member's assignment involves teaching regularly scheduled classes, that teaching shall be evaluated. 

5.2.1.4 Scholarly inquiry and research and artistic production are an integral component of the university and are indispensable in insuring the vitality of the entire instructional, research, and artistic programs of the university. To be an effective teacher, a faculty member needs to engage in related scholarly (research and artistic) activities designed to insure continued currency and familiarity with the academic discipline and field of specialization in which the teaching occurs. 

5.2.1.5 Professionally-oriented public service activities are an important part of the university's obligations, particularly as they relate to its central mission: the service of society through the promotion of learning. Such activities enable scholars to test new insights. They expand the experiences, knowledge, and professional competence of faculty. Public service* thus has a potential parallel to research in its capacity to enrich teaching or librarianship and as such should be given adequate recognition in the evaluation of faculty.

*The term, public services, does not exclude professionally-oriented activities in the private sector of society. It refers, rather, to scholarly activities other than those of an instructional or research nature in which the academics are invited to participate because of their scholarly expertise which involve, directly and explicitly, their professional competencies, which are not related to their personal membership in religious, civic or community organizations, and which do contribute directly to growth in their scholarly competencies. Colleges and departments should define public service activities which are appropriate for their particular scholarly competencies.

5.2.1.6 Criteria Upon Which Personnel Decisions Are Appropriately Based Include:

(A) Effectiveness in teaching or librarianship:  

1. Teaching

(a) Command of subject matter.
(b) Skill in presenting material.
(c) Respect for the student as a co-learner.
(d) Effectiveness in creating an atmosphere that will encourage and facilitate students' efforts to learn and strengthen their capacities for valid reasoning and independent thought.
(e) Openness in the examination of a variety of views and tolerance for the expression of different views.
(f) Fairness and skill in evaluating student performance.
(g) Acceptance of responsibility for assessing and improving effectiveness as a teacher.
(h) Acceptance of responsibility for continually updating and improving courses taught. 

2. Librarianship

(a) Command of subject matter.
(b) Skill in presenting material in the context of reference service, instruction, bibliographic control, or collection development.
(c) Respect for users of library resources.
(d) Effectiveness in creating an atmosphere that will encourage and facilitate the library clientele's efforts to learn and strengthen their capacities for valid reasoning and independent thought.
(e) Openness in the examination of a variety of views and tolerance for the expression of different views.
(f) Fairness and skill in evaluating the needs of library users.
(g) Acceptance of responsibility for assessing and improving effectiveness as a librarian.
(h) Acceptance of responsibility for continually updating and improving the library's collection, access to information, and the services extended to its clientele. 

(B) Scholarly Performance and Achievement:  

1. Success in keeping up-to-date in the field of scholarly competence.

2. Quality of scholarly or creative productivity.

(C) Service to the University Community and Profession:  

1. Service to the department, college, and university through the competent performance of committee and other assignments or activities, including academic advisement, mentoring, faculty advisement to student organizations, and other student-oriented service.

2. Performance in facilitating the work and advancing the mission of the department, college, and university.

3. Service to professional societies and groups.

4. Quality of professionally-oriented public service activities.

5. Service to department, college, and university is an integral and expected part of university membership. Hence, it should be accorded appropriate credit in annual merit evaluations, especially when it is of an extraordinary nature. However, for purposes of tenure, promotion, or sabbatical leave, it should be accorded significantly less importance than effectiveness in teaching and scholarly achievement.

5.3 University Criteria for Promotion

5.3.1 Beyond the Board of Trustees' minimum requirements for the various academic ranks, individuals being recommended for promotion should meet the following criteria: 

5.3.1.1 Teaching or Librarianship Effectiveness
Individuals teaching regularly scheduled classes being recommended for promotion must have demonstrated successful teaching and show continuing concern for critical assessment and improvement of their teaching. Library faculty being recommended for promotion must have demonstrated successful librarianship and show continuing concern for critical assessment and improvement of their librarianship. In considering individuals for promotion to associate professor, which recommendation normally will be accompanied by a recommendation for tenure, particular care should be given to assessing effectiveness of teaching or librarianship. Individuals being recommended for promotion to the rank of professor should present a continued record of successful teaching or librarianship. 

5.3.1.2 Department, College, and University Service
Individuals being recommended for promotion must have given evidence of an ability and willingness to work cooperatively with colleagues in efforts to support and improve the programs of the department, college, and university. 

5.3.1.3 Scholarly and Professional Achievement

(A) Promotion to rank of assistant professor: Promise, as demonstrated by an earned doctorate or similar educational or professional accomplishment, of an ability for leadership in the faculty member's scholarly or creative field.

(B) Promotion to rank of associate professor: Ordinarily, evidence that the faculty member is in the process of achieving professional recognition among leaders in the individual's discipline through scholarly publications, papers presented at professional meetings, artistic achievements, or other forms of scholarly activity. Professional public service may be judged as contributing to professional recognition, but it does not substitute for evidence of scholarly achievement in research or artistry.

(C) Promotion to rank of professor: Evidence that the faculty member has achieved significant professional recognition among other leaders in the individual's discipline through publications, papers presented at professional meetings, artistic achievements, public service related to the discipline, or other forms of scholarly activity. Professional public service* may be judged as contributing to professional recognition, but it does not substitute for evidence of scholarly achievement in research or artistry. 

5.3.2 Realistically, it is not expected that, to be eligible for promotion, a faculty member will have demonstrated outstanding achievement in all of these areas. In all cases, however, a recommendation for promotion will require a demonstrated ability in teaching or, for library faculty, librarianship plus clear evidence of continued professional growth and activity in scholarship and service. Those making recommendations for promotions in rank should bear in mind that maintenance of the integrity of the academic ranks at Northern Illinois University requires that the standards for promotion be comparable to those institutions to which Northern Illinois University wishes to be compared. 

5.3.3 A faculty member on joint appointment will have the teaching and/or librarianship, scholarship, and service expectations specified in the Memorandum of Understanding provided at the time of the initial appointment. These expectations must not exceed the overall requirements for faculty members not on joint appointment. 

5.3.4 Time in Rank for Promotion to the Ranks of Associate Professor and Professor
Promotion from assistant to associate professor will not be recommended until an individual has served at the lower rank, at this and other institutions of higher education, for a total of six years, except in the instance of extraordinary circumstances or an extraordinary record of achievement. Likewise, promotion from associate professor to professor will not be recommended until the individual has served at the rank of associate professor, at this and other institutions of higher education, for a total of six years, except in the instance of extraordinary circumstances or an extraordinary record of achievement. Each college shall establish criteria to be used in identifying those circumstances and records of achievement deemed "extraordinary." 

5.4 University Criteria for Tenure

The decision to recommend a faculty member for a tenure appointment is the most critical decision made by an academic department, a college, and the university. Each department has the responsibility of building the most capable faculty possible within its means. The process of building a strong faculty involves not only the recruitment of the most promising candidates available, but also the critical evaluation of their teaching or librarianship, scholarship and service to the university community and to their profession during their probationary period.

Decisions on tenure substantially determine the quality of teaching, librarianship, scholarship, academic counseling, and creative planning available to the department, college, and university. Accordingly, a recommendation for tenure is justified only for those faculty members who have demonstrated to the satisfaction of appropriate faculty bodies and administrative officers that they are fully qualified to discharge their responsibilities in advancing the mission of the department, college, and university on a long-term basis as a teacher-scholar.

Ordinarily, the criteria for tenure are similar to those for promotion to the rank of associate professor. Only in unusual circumstances should tenure be recommended for assistant professors without the concurrent recommendation for promotion to associate professor.

A faculty member on joint appointment will have the tenure criteria and procedures specified in the Memorandum of Understanding provided at the time of the initial appointment. These expectations must not exceed the overall requirements for faculty members not on joint appointment. The procedures must specify how recommendations at the unit and college levels will be made and how "agreement at the department and college level" (in the sense of Article 6.3.4.1) is to be defined.

Faculty members on non-tenure appointment must recognize that their appointments are probationary. During this probationary period, it is their obligation to establish that they are qualified for a tenure appointment.

Each faculty personnel committee and chair shall have procedures for the annual evaluation of the cumulative progress toward tenure of all probationary faculty members and for communicating the results of such evaluations to them. The criteria to be used for the evaluation shall be those guidelines for tenure most recently published by the academic unit in which the applicant holds a tenure-track appointment. The results of the annual evaluation shall be shared with the faculty member in writing as well as in personal consultation with the academic unit's chief administrative officer. The written evaluation may be composed by either the personnel committee or the chief administrative officer or both working together. If the personnel committee and the chief administrative officer agree on the report, both shall sign it. If they disagree, two written reports shall be shared with the faculty member and placed in the faculty member's file. This procedure shall be followed in all required evaluation reports: ordinary annual reviews done at the time of recruitment of faculty for whom tenure may be awarded in fewer than five years, and the formal and particularly thorough evaluation done once for each faculty member on a five-, six-, or seven-year tenure track.

In the case of a faculty member on a seven-year tenure track, the evaluation in the third year shall be a formal and particularly thorough cumulative review which shall be conducted in the spring of that year by the personnel committee and chief academic officer of the academic unit in which the person being evaluated holds an academic appointment. A statement shall be appended to this evaluation which specifies the academic unit's anticipated long-term need for the position held by the probationary faculty member. This evaluation shall be shared with the concerned probationary faculty member and, where the academic unit involved is an academic department, with the appropriate college dean.

For faculty members on a four-year tenure track, it is expected that, at the time of recruitment, their previous professional performance shall be subject to an evaluation by the faculty personnel committee and the chair using the same criteria and expected level of performance as applied to those in the third year of a seven-year tenure track.

For faculty members on a five- or six-year tenure track, it is expected that at least one year before their evaluation for tenure, at a time agreed upon at the time of recruitment, a particularly thorough and formal cumulative evaluation of the progress toward tenure shall be conducted. It is further expected that, at the time of recruitment, their previous professional performance shall be subject to an evaluation by the faculty personnel committee and the chair using the same criteria and expected level of performance as applied to those in the third year of a seven-year tenure track.

A probationary faculty member who feels that an annual evaluation is unfair, inadequate, or otherwise inconsistent with the relevant published guidelines for achieving tenure may place a written response to the evaluation in the personnel files maintained on that faculty member by appropriate university offices. However, the annual evaluation of progress toward tenure of a probationary faculty member shall not itself be subject to the personnel appeal process.

5.5 Non-reappointment of University Probationary Faculty

A decision not to renew an appointment of a probationary faculty member may be made at any time during the probationary period. Adequate notice, as required by the Board of Trustees Governance Documents, must be given in the case of a decision not to reappoint. If requested, reasons, in writing, for non-reappointment should be given; however, it is clearly understood that this is a courtesy to the faculty member and that the department is not obligated to prefer charges nor to provide evidence of a juridical nature except when the reason(s) for non-reappointment entails allegations of unprofessional or unethical behavior.

5.6 Faculty and University Discretion

Nothing in this article or in these bylaws, including the results of periodic reviews of tenure status as reported to probationary faculty in accordance with the provisions of this article, should be construed to create any contractual entitlement to tenure.

Article 5.4 revisions approved by University Council 05/01/2013.