The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

An Innovative Approach to Managing Faculty Promotion and Tenure

light bulbs-300Promotion and tenure is often a laborious and exhausting task for both faculty and administrators. There has been little technical advancement over the years, and huge paper packets are the norm. Facing the administrative burden of promotion and tenure for roughly 240 candidates each year, and unable to find any commercial solutions, the University of Florida (UF) developed its own online promotion and tenure work process.

How It Works
When an academic department identifies a candidate for promotion or tenure, the individual is entered into the online system (which was created in UF’s existing HR management system). Much of the information required (education, teaching evaluations, graduate student information, publications, patent and copyright agreements, etc.) can be autopopulated by pulling data from other UF systems. The promotion or tenure candidate is able to access his or her profile via self-service, and packet preparation is done using Microsoft Word, allowing for ease of use and familiarity.

An OPT administrator is the first to review the packet and can return it to the candidate for revision if need be. When the packet is in its final form, it then follows the traditional review trajectory — it goes first to the candidate’s department, then to the college committee, then to the university committee, and finally to the president, who makes the final decision. As the review status changes as the packet progresses through the process, a summary page provides updates and e-mails are sent to the candidate and to whomever has the next task in the process, alerting them of the status change and actions needed.

“From e-mail reminders, to pop-ups when an individual is in the system alerting him or her that an action needs to be taken, to hover graphics showing where the candidate is in the process, to a detailed orientation to the steps in the current phase, the system is designed above all else to facilitate ease of use and time savings for the candidate, the administrators and the review committees,” says Janet Malphurs, assistant director of HR/academic personnel at the University of Florida.

After only a year and a half of full implementation, outcomes have included a 90 percent reduction in paper, a reduction in printing and administrative costs, a marked reduction in work time for faculty and staff, consistency and conformance within the tenure review process, easier accessibility to promotion and tenure packets for academic reviewers, improved transparency at all review levels, and the ability for tenure candidates to monitor their progress throughout the cycle. The cost savings for the first year alone was nearly $203,000.

“Moving the promotion and tenure process online just makes sense in so many ways,” says Malphurs. “ The streamlining, the time, resource and money savings, the ease of packet preparation, the ability for candidates to be in the know at all levels of the review — all of this adds tremendous value to the entire process.”

Want to learn more about the University of Florida’s online promotion and tenure process? View the free, on-demand webinar “Bringing Promotion and Tenure Into the 21st Century.”