Provost Discusses Tenure and Promotion

Posted: February 14, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

Provost Peter Stearns outlined his thoughts on tenure and promotion on Monday to a crowded room of faculty members who came to discuss the topics. According to Stearns, when professors come up for tenure or promotion, they are evaluated on two main topics: research and teaching. Other areas also factor in, although on a much lesser scale. These include service awards, peer reviews, randomly selected student reviews, on-site evaluations, and focus groups with students from present and past classes.

“The chief question in evaluating research is how to measure the quality of work done,” says Stearns. The answers include how the research affects the people within the department at George Mason (internal assessment), the quality of journals in which work is published, grants received in some fields, reviews of work where appropriate, and the nature of invitations to speak at conferences. Stearns emphasized that the evaluations are done on a case-by-case basis and vary widely depending on the subject taught.

In regards to measuring teaching excellence, Stearns’ list includes student course evaluations and the candidate’s own statement on his or her goals, plans, and interests. “We want to deal with highly competent teachers and we are willing to promote on excellence in teaching,” says Stearns.

Stearns held a question-and-answer session for the last half of the hour-long discussion. Topics included early tenure decisions, teaching and research experience prior to coming to George Mason, a Board of Visitors’ newly created task force, and the tenure process for large versus small departments.

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