More on the Tenure Clock

January 1, 2005 | News from the Chancellor

During the course of discussions over the past year about the need to lengthen the tenure clock, questions have been raised about the UniversityÃŒs policy regarding early tenure. I thought it would be helpful to address that issue publicly, especially in view of our determination to seek legislation permitting faculty a period greater than five years to establish a record of scholarship, teaching and service prior to consideration for tenure.

Section 6.2.d of the Bylaws of the University’s Board of Trustees provides:

A person appointed to the title of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor may be granted early tenure by the board in its discretion, under these bylaws, after not less than one nor more than five years of continuous satisfactory service on an annual salary basis, [1] when such service in interrupted by the period of a fellowship deemed by the college valuable to it, [2] when for a very substantial reason the college would be well served by such early grant of tenure or [3] when the person has had tenure in another accredited institution of higher learning.

Let me comment on each of the three categories addressed by this provision.

Under Section 6212(3) of the Education Law, tenure for certain instructional staff is automatic if, after serving on an annual salary for five years “continuously”, they are reappointed for a sixth full year. The requirement of continuous service creates a perverse incentive for faculty not to apply for or accept a prestigious fellowship because it would cause a break in service. Thus, the purpose of the first category is to counter that disincentive by providing for early tenure to faculty whose break in service is caused by a fellowship that enhances the reputation of the college. We should do everything possible to encourage faculty to seek such honors. Indeed, I believe each college should have a procedure to assure faculty in advance of accepting such fellowships that they will receive appropriate consideration for early tenure upon their return to service.

The second category is intended to cover a wide range of possible situations. One example of this would be the situation of faculty who have taught at another college and begun to establish a substantial record of scholarship before coming to one of our colleges. In the event we are successful in extending the current tenure clock from five to seven years, I expect that this ground for early tenure consideration may become increasingly applicable.

The third category is self-explanatory.

I hope this memorandum is helpful to you. If you have any questions concerning the application of this Bylaw provision to specific situations, do not hesitate to call Rick Schaffer.