As we continue in the early stages of the spring semester, we would like to provide an update on an important academic initiative. Initiated by conversations among faculty and academic leadership throughout the university, a faculty-led Working Group has begun thoroughly considering the university’s current policies, practices, and procedures for faculty promotion, tenure, and evaluation (PTE).

In the coming months, this Group will work with faculty across campus, departmental chairs and program directors, academic deans, and other stakeholders to provide to the University Senate and Provost options and recommendations for modifications to UND’s PTE policies, practices, and procedures.

UND’s success depends on its academic excellence – the exceptional work and outstanding achievements of its distinguished faculty. Promotion and tenure are among the most significant professional benchmarks of a faculty member’s career in teaching, research or creative scholarship, and service. Tenure is awarded for academic achievement, confidence in future performance, contributions to the university and its communities, and in recognition of the value of academic freedom. Promotion recognizes evidence of intellectual distinction, professional recognition, and academic integrity. Together, promotion and tenure encompass the scope of faculty roles and responsibilities, and impact the vitality and viability of UND’s academic mission. While all promotion should reflect a high level of performance and professional development, promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor should, in particular, be coupled with the attainment of tenure, as such a promotion requires evidence of truly outstanding national and international accomplishments and outstanding and assured future potential. PTE processes must be conducted rigorously, fairly, and in accordance with appropriate benchmarks and metrics that align with discipline-specific standards and national norms.

It has been several years since UND’s policies, practices, and procedures concerning PTE were reviewed comprehensively by a faculty-led team. That process resulted in the adoption of the “Essential Elements” for departmental PTE standards. Although the Essential Elements remain important guideposts for PTE processes, it is widely understood that there is variation among faculty and academic leadership across academic units in how the Essential Elements are understood and implemented.

During the past year, faculty and academic leadership throughout the university initiated discussions concerning various aspects of PTE processes and standards. Some involved committees of the University Senate, including the Senate Executive Committee and the ad hoc Committee on Shared Governance and Leadership. Others involved deans who, as members of the Provost’s Academic Cabinet, in 2013 adopted the “Guiding Principles for Promotion and Tenure” to encourage more uniform and fair implementation of PTE standards. Recently, departmental chairs and the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs engaged in conversation about the linkage between annual workload determination, tenure planning, and the path to success for tenure-eligible faculty.

President Kelley, who has also studied best and emerging practices in tenure policies and practices, saw the convergence of these conversations as the starting point for a faculty-driven process to examine UND’s own PTE policies, practices, and procedures and draw them into alignment with aspirations and expectations for an Exceptional UND – the university’s shared vision for a student-centered, research-intensive public university.

President Kelley therefore requested that Chair of the University Senate Melissa Gjellstad and Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas DiLorenzo establish a PTE Working Group. Faculty membership was selected via collaborative consultation among the Senate Executive Committee, deans, and the Provost’s Office. The Group is co-chaired by Ryan Zerr, Professor of Mathematics and past-Chair of the University Senate, and Steve Light, Professor of Political Science & Public Administration and the university’s Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“This is an outstanding example of collaborative governance in action,” said President Kelley. “Best practices in promotion and tenure begin and end with the faculty. Together, we must continue to build our faculty’s reputation as national and international experts in their fields—and enhance UND’s reputation as a world-class university.”

Said Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Geology Will Gosnold, “Meaningful promotion, tenure, and evaluation standards must reflect our university’s collective mission and aspirations. Accomplishing this requires ongoing collaboration. I’m very glad to be a part of this important effort, and to work with my colleagues across campus.”

Charge of the Working Group

UND’s policies, procedures, standards and expectations for PTE should be well-defined and articulated, clear and transparent, and fair and equitable. They should be overarching institutional expectations that transcend disciplines and that align with appropriate standards for a student-centered research-intensive public university of UND’s caliber.

Toward that end, and informed by best and emerging practices, as well as peer-generated data and standards, the PTE Working Group will:

  • Examine UND’s existing PTE policies, practices, and procedures
  • Consider a number of improvement issues involving standards, transparency and equity, described below, and any others the group considers necessary or relevant
  • Make recommendations to the University Senate and the Provost regarding any potential changes to UND’s PTE policy and procedures

The Working Group will consider the following major topics and any others it considers necessary or relevant:

  1. Institutional alignment, awareness, and understanding of policies, practices, procedures
  2. Documentation and organization of faculty dossiers
  3. Balance between, and elevation of, disciplinary and institutional standards and expectations
  4. Alignment of annual workload, expectations, annual evaluations with promotion and tenure, post-tenure review
  5. Consideration and valuation of “non-traditional” faculty roles and responsibilities
  6. Support, mentoring, and professional development for faculty

Ryan Zerr, Professor, Mathematics (co-chair)
Steve Light, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Professor, Political Science & Public Administration (co-chair)
Diane Darland, Associate Professor, Biology
Kim Fink, Professor, Art & Design
Will Gosnold, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Geology
Gwen Halaas, Senior Associate Dean & Professor, Medicine & Health Sciences
Birgit Hans, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, American Indian Studies
Margaret Healy, Professor, Educational Leadership
Darlene Hanson, Director, Clinical Resource and Simulation Center & Clinical Associate Professor, Nursing
Sima Noghanian, Chair & Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering
Mike Poellot, Chair & Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Atmospheric Sciences
Kathryn Rand, Dean & Floyd B. Sperry Professor, Law
Debbie Storrs, Dean & Professor, Arts & Sciences
Chih Ming Tan, Professor & Page Endowed Chair, Economics
Sean Valentine, Professor & UND Alumni Leadership & Ethics Professor, Management
Anne Walker, Professor, Teaching & Learning


The PTE Working Group first met in December 2014, at which time it received its charge from the President. The Group will continue its work over the course of the next 16 months, making rolling recommendations for consideration and implementation, with a final report anticipated in May 2016.

For more information, visit or feel free to contact co-chairs Steve Light, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (, or Ryan Zerr, Mathematics (