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Thursday, February 10, 2011

P&T Subcommittees for Untenured Faculty Members

This year, I've been chairing a committee at my law school that is reevaluating our current promotion and tenure standards and procedures.  One idea that we have been discussing is the creation of small subcommittees of two or three senior faculty members who would be assigned to each junior faculty member to provide regular feedback from the time the junior person starts until he or she is tenured.  

We currently provide formal, annual reviews for all untenured faculty members, but these reviews are done by the whole P&T Committee, which is comprised of all 30+ tenured faculty members.  This system may make it difficult for some juniors to figure out where to turn for informal feedback.  We do have subcommittees that handle classroom visits and provide teaching-related feedback, but an untenured faculty member will have a different subcommittee each year, which could lead to inconsistent guidance.  And we have no smaller groups performing scholarship review.

I know that at least a few other law schools do assign a subcommittee to work with each untenured faculty member.  I'd be very interested in learning more (in the comments or off-line) about the experience of others with such systems, and the details of how they work.  One concern that I have with small subcommittees is that they may be unrepresentative of the P&T committee as a whole, potentially causing junior faculty members to receive advice that ends up harming them when they come before the full P&T committee for a tenure vote.  Another question is whether subcommittees should perform more of a mentoring or an assessing role; I could imagine those two functions sometimes coming into conflict.

Posted by Michael O'Hear on February 10, 2011 at 11:24 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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