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Appendix E

Guidelines for Tenure Considerations

(formally Appendix R)

The President's Advisory Committee on Appointments, Tenure, and Promotion (ATP Committee) is responsible for reviewing the dossiers of Barnard officers of instruction nominated for promotion, or appointment, to tenure. The tenure dossier is normally prepared by the Chair of the Department (or a tenured member designated by the Chair) in consultation with all tenured members.  Where a faculty member is appointed to support another program or department, a tenured representative of that program or department becomes part of the review committee. Administrative support is provided by the department assistant or administrator, working closely with the Manager, Academic Programs and Faculty Support in the Provost’s Office.

This memorandum, originally written in 1991 by Dean of the Faculty Robert McCaughey, is a guide for those involved in preparing and presenting tenure dossiers; it has been updated at several intervals by Provost and Dean of the Faculty Emerita Elizabeth S. Boylan to reflect changes in policy and procedure. Its purpose is to provide basic information about the standards and expectations of the ATP Committee in reviewing dossiers, as well as practical information about the normal calendar and procedures followed in tenure presentations and the contents of a tenure dossier.

These guidelines are consistent with the provisions of the Code of Academic Freedom and Tenure (Code), the 1982 Amended Agreement between Barnard and Columbia (Agreement), the University's current edition of "Principles and Customs Governing University-Wide Tenure Review for Nominations from Barnard College" ("Principles and Customs"), a formal agreement between the Barnard Dean of the Faculty and the Columbia Vice President for Arts and Sciences on inter-institutional consultation (Consultation Memorandum), the Barnard Faculty legislation that created the Faculty Planning Committee (now the Faculty Budget and Planning Committee), and the experience the ATP Committee and the administration have had over the years in considering tenure dossiers. Chairs and faculty are urged to read thoroughly relevant parts of the “Academic Code” and the most recent edition of “Principles and Customs.”

Questions and situations will inevitably arise that are not covered in this memorandum and its attachments. These should be directed to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty (hereafter Provost), who is responsible for interpreting rules and guidelines and making judgments about procedures where the rules and guidelines may be silent, as well as for assisting Department Chairs and the ATP Committee in presenting and assessing tenure candidacies. It should also be remembered that procedures evolve over time. The University updates "Principles and Customs" annually, and the Barnard ATP Committee modifies its procedures and practices as circumstances require. It is important when beginning to prepare a tenure dossier to obtain the most recent information and to consult with the Provost throughout the process.

The Faculty Budget and Planning Committee revises the Faculty Planning Profile annually, based upon its own review of College needs and petitions from individual departments. Determination of College need in a particular area may be made upon authorization of the search, at the time of hire, or at any time thereafter prior to the time limits on appointments specified in the Code. Chairs and untenured faculty should make sure that they are clear as to the tenure eligibility of potential nominees. Assistant professors who have had a tenure line assigned may be considered by their Department for tenure without further action by the FBPC. A faculty member whose appointment was designated as tenure-eligible may not be nominated into the tenure process until the Department has petitioned the FBPC successfully, and the President has approved, the assignment of a tenure line signifying that the element of institutional need for a member of the faculty in the nominee's area of scholarship has been established.

Standards and Expectations

In reviewing the dossiers of nominees proposed for promotion or appointment to tenure, the ATP Committee makes value judgments about the qualities and qualifications of the individual. It seeks to identify outstanding teacher-scholars whose qualities of mind and intellectual accomplishment have been positively acknowledged by students, by colleagues, and by scholars outside Barnard. It also seeks in such teacher-scholars promise of continuing growth; thus the probable trajectory of a candidate's scholarly career becomes an important element in the discussion and decision regarding the awarding of tenure.

Evidence of Scholarship

The Committee looks for evidence that the nominee's scholarship includes work beyond the Ph.D. dissertation. An extensively revised dissertation prepared for publication may constitute such evidence, though this is not always the case; work initiated after graduate school obviously is. The Committee tries to estimate whether the nominee is making - and is likely to continue to make - significant contributions to the body of scholarship in the field.

In considering published works, the ATP Committee weighs carefully the views expressed in letters from scholars in the field, as well as the views of the tenured members of the Barnard Department and the consultative advice of the Columbia Department. It recognizes that not all good scholarship is necessarily published, though publishing is the normal way to share the results of research. Completed manuscripts may be considered, but published research (or work accepted for publication) tends to have a higher standing. Still higher is published scholarship that has been subject to peer scrutiny (in refereed journals or by book-reviewers, for example). While there is a threshold expected to be met in terms of the frequency and volume of published scholarly work (which varies according to the discipline), the Committee is less interested in the quantity of scholarly outcomes than in the quality, as measured by such considerations as the stature of a journal or press, the views of referees or reviewers, and, above all, the quality and importance of the ideas themselves.

Evidence of Teaching

Analysis of teaching is of special importance to the ATP Committee: distinguished selective liberal arts colleges are characterized by faculties that combine excellent teaching with significant scholarly accomplishment. The most important testing ground for teaching effectiveness is within the nominee's own discipline, but the committee is also interested in evidence attesting to the nominee's teaching versatility. The Committee looks for evidence of the nominee's ability to work effectively in a variety of teaching settings, including (as applicable) the lecture hall, the seminar, the laboratory, and individual consultation. The Committee looks for evidence of the connection between the nominee's teaching and scholarship (recognizing that in some cases advanced research in not within reach of the typical undergraduate), as well as for evidence of coherence in classroom presentation and ability to impart knowledge and encourage creative and effective learning in students.

Evidence as to the candidate's teaching effectiveness must go beyond the anecdotal. That derived from course-evaluation questionnaires is an expected part of any dossier. In addition, the submission of evidence derived from the observation of colleagues (in the course of collaborative teaching or from invited direct observation, for example) is expected, as is that from a random solicitation of the views of recent graduates who have been students of the candidate. This list is not intended to be inclusive; it is intended to indicate that tenure dossiers lacking the means by which the ATP can, with some degree of objectivity, assess a candidate's teaching effectiveness will necessarily work to the candidate's disadvantage. Additional information about the ATP's expectations concerning documentation of teaching effectiveness can be found in Appendix F.

The ATP Committee also considers the contributions made by the nominee to the Department's curriculum in developing or modifying courses, laboratories, or related activities, as well as to the Columbia graduate department and other Barnard departments or programs, if applicable.   Finally, the Committee places emphasis on the nominee's extra-classroom teaching activity, particularly work with students in formal and informal advising and counseling.

Evidence of Service

The service rendered to the academic community by a non-tenured Assistant Professor varies greatly. It is not limited to membership on committees. Available evidence should indicate that the nominee participates responsibly in the academic community as a significant part of professional commitment. The ATP Committee considers service to the Department, to the College, and to the University as an important part of the nominee's qualifications for tenure, recognizing that not every nominee can or should work in all possible areas. The Committee recognizes also that non-tenured members of the faculty are under extraordinary pressure to develop their teaching and scholarship, and it prefers to see limited but focused participation on committees or other projects.

The Committee looks for balanced excellence in the nominee's scholarly accomplishments, teaching record, and service to the College and University community, as well as for demonstrated achievement in each area.

Calendar and Procedure

The Code provides that Assistant Professors on lines with the possibility of tenure (i.e. tenure-eligible or tenure line-assigned) may be appointed and reappointed for no more than seven years before tenure consideration. Such tenure eligibility of the position occupied by the Assistant Professor is determined by a recommendation of the FBPC to the President. In practical terms, the Department must decide before the mid-point of the individual's sixth year of counted service (i.e. January 15) whether or not it intends to nominate.

This decision on whether to nominate is normally made by the executive committee of the Department, consisting of all its tenured members, and, if applicable, a tenured representative from the program or department in which the candidate is also appointed. The decision should be made in a formal meeting, by ballot. When there are fewer than two tenured members, the Code provides that responsibility for the dossier falls to the ATP Committee in consultation with any tenured member of the Department, or to a special sub-committee appointed by the ATP Committee, including any tenured member (see Code). If the decision on a possible nomination is in the negative at the departmental level, the individual is notified by June 30 of the sixth year of counted service that the following (seventh) year will be the final year of reappointment. The Provost should be notified of the Department's decision as soon as it is made.

The Department is not required to make a nomination, and a favorable decision at this level should not be a routine expectation. On the contrary, a nomination should only be made if the tenured faculty of the Department have substantial confidence in the quality of the candidate's record to date, and believe that evaluation by external referees in the candidate's area of scholarship is warranted. As applicable to the individual candidate, the Department should consult with faculty in other Barnard or Columbia departments or programs who have the relevant expertise and experience to judge the candidate’s performance in teaching, scholarship and/or service.  Should the Department decline to make a nomination, the candidate has an appeal recourse to the ATP as provided for in the Code.

The Department's preliminary decision in favor of a nomination is made when the planning presumptions in the FBPC profile are favorable (i.e. a tenure line has been assigned) and the candidate's credentials and accomplishments appear to be substantial. This requires careful review of the candidate's professional progress, especially since the Third-Year Review. If the preliminary decision is affirmative, the Chair should immediately advise the nominee to prepare a complete curriculum vitae. This document may be amended or supplemented at a later time, but throughout the process a complete, accurate, and up-to-date vita is essential. Preparation of the vita often requires more time than the nominee anticipates, and it is advisable for the Chair to review drafts before the finished document is submitted. A preferred format for the vita has been developed by the ATP (see Appendix G).

As the nominee begins to work on the vita, the Chair should simultaneously begin to develop:
            (i) the Department Context Statement
            (ii) a comparison list (see "Principles and Customs"), and
            (iii) a referee list (see "Principles and Customs").

The Department Context Statement provides a summary of the essential characteristics of the current position and its relation to the Department's staffing.  It is generally less than a page in length, and samples are available from the Provost’s Office.  It is not an advocacy document, and Chairs should refrain from adding evaluative statements.  It accompanies and complements the information contained in long version of the College’s Mission Statement which is also sent to referees.  Where a faculty member has been appointed in support of another program or department, a tenured representative from the program or department should contribute to and co-sign this document.

The comparison and referee lists should be prepared in consultation with the Chair of the counterpart Columbia Department or his/her designee. The outcomes of these discussions should be confirmed in writing, with a copy sent to the Provost.

Chairs frequently are unsure about how many names should appear on each list. There are no set rules, but this much can be said: the comparison list usually includes six to eight names, at least two of whom could be considered the nominee's contemporaries and at least two of whom are clearly senior, well-known figures in the field (against whom the nominee could be compared only in terms of potential).  The referee list typically has between fifteen and twenty names, with the upper limit being used in cases where the nominee has more than one central focus in research and where consultation of experts in more than one area is desirable.  The object is to collect twelve to fifteen letters for the dossier, and one has to figure that some of those who are asked to write will decline. 

A more limited number of effective and focused letters is usually preferable to a large number written by reluctant or unknowledgeable referees. It is best to choose as referees those who are prominent in the field and to avoid those who are unlikely to provide thoughtful statements (or who are not likely to respond at all). At least two of those on the referee list should also be on the comparison list.

It is the nature of things that many good potential referees will know the nominee personally, often as a result of prior professional associations. While such referees are often helpful, care should be taken to include some who are not personally acquainted, to assure objectivity. Letters from dissertation advisors are acceptable, and can be valuable in ascertaining progress since receipt of the Ph.D. The candidate's relationship to such referees should be clearly noted. The ATP Committee strongly recommends that departments give careful consideration to the development of referee and comparison lists. The referee letters play a very important role in the dossier at all levels. Effective consultation - with tenured colleagues at both Barnard and Columbia, with the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, and/or with colleagues in related departments - is advisable. The quality of the letters received can have significant influence on the way a nomination is judged.  

Note:  the candidate for tenure is not to be consulted in developing either the referee list or the comparison list.

Additions to the referee list may be made later in the process by the Barnard Provost/Dean, the ATP Committee, a University ad hoc committee, or the University Provost (see "Principles and Customs"). Requests for additions do not necessarily reflect negatively on the nominee or on the original list prepared by the Chair, though they sometimes add new dimensions to a dossier. When the original list is effective, objective, and strong, the chance of subsequent additions is minimized. Sometimes the Department itself will want to supplement a list before submitting a dossier to the ATP Committee for review. When additions are made (by any party), the Department Chair is informed and given copies of the letters.

As soon as a department has decided to support a nomination into the tenure process, the Chair should send a copy of the candidate’s vita and draft lists of referees and comparees to the Columbia Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration, along with a few recommendations of scholars with whom he can consult about the choice of the outside member of the ad hoc committee.  For more details, see “Principles and Customs.”

The Department Context Statement, the final referee and comparison lists and a written plan for the solicitation of letters from former students should be submitted to the Provost by March 1 of the nominee's sixth year of counted service, along with the rest of the nominee's materials to be sent to referees. Letters soliciting references are sent to all referees using a standard form letter over the Provost/Dean's signature. No one other than the Provost/Dean (or her staff designee) should at any time communicate with any referee. A copy of the Assistant Professor's vita, his/her teaching and research statement, a selected group of recent publications and representative course syllabi are sent to the referees, along with the comparison list (the referee's own name is deleted from the list if he or she is on it). In choosing examples of the nominee's work to send to referees, it is best to select a few key pieces, especially items that have been recently published and that represent the nominee's most important contribution(s) to the field. Sufficient copies of these materials should be given to the Provost when the Context Statement and two lists are delivered.

As soon as there is a sufficient response from referees for consideration (letters and declinations to write), the Department has another opportunity to decide whether to support a nomination or not. If the letters raise significant questions about the candidacy, the Department may decide against proceeding further and withdraw, permitting notification of the individual that the following year will be terminal (again, such a decision should be made in a formal meeting, by ballot); or it may decide to go forward with the case.

The tenure dossier must be complete by the end of the summer. By September (date to be specified) of the nominee's seventh year of counted service, one copy of the complete dossier should be delivered to the Provost for review before seven copies are made for distribution to members of the Barnard ATP. Material not available when the referees were asked for their evaluation may be added at this time.

The Chair should also submit a copy of the dossier to the Columbia Department Chair no later than early September, requesting a consultative opinion. Following this submission, the two departments should arrange for the Barnard Chair to present the candidate to the Columbia Department. At the conclusion of the presentation and discussion, the tenured faculty of the Columbia Department vote on the qualifications of the nominee. The vote and a written summary of the evaluation must be communicated to the Barnard Department Chair, with copies to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Barnard and the Vice President of Arts and Sciences at Columbia. Once the Columbia Department letter is received, the Barnard Department has a final opportunity to decide whether to press forward with the nomination to the ATP.

The Provost and Dean of the Faculty is responsible for convening the ATP Committee (and for arranging for the substitution of alternate members when regular members have conflicts of interest). The first meeting of the Committee is usually given over to a discussion of the dossier-as-received, with its intended outcome the compiling of a set of questions to which the Department Chair is expected to respond at a subsequent appearance before the Committee. These questions are communicated to the Chair by the Provost as promptly as possible, so as to give the Chair time to formulate considered responses. The Chair's appearance, normally at the beginning of the Committee's second meeting, also provides the occasion for a brief formal statement. The discussions between the Chair and the Committee normally last about an hour.

Following the presentation of the candidacy, the ATP Committee discusses the dossier (if necessary, over several meetings). The outcome of the Columbia consultation (described above) is received and considered before any final vote. The ATP Committee may request additional material in order to inform its evaluation, including additional testimony, clarification from the Department Chair, external consultation, or additional referee letters (see above). Any additional letters must be included in the dossier if the individual is subsequently nominated for University ad hoc review, but other materials do not necessarily have to be included. Whenever such supplementary materials or counsel are sought, the Department Chair is informed.

The tenure consideration concludes with a vote (by written ballot) of the five elected faculty members of the ATP Committee (the Provost and the President do not vote). This vote constitutes the Committee's non-binding recommendation to the President who has the right to accept or reject the advice provided by the Committee.

All proceedings of the ATP Committee are confidential. It is highly inappropriate for any person not a member of the ATP Committee to seek information about any aspect of a tenure candidacy, just as it is for any member to give such information. No exceptions to the rule of confidentiality should be made. Any questions about this matter should be discussed immediately with the Provost.

When the recommendation of the ATP Committee is negative and the President accepts that recommendation, the case is closed. The Provost informs the Chair, and the Chair informs the Assistant Professor of the outcome. The Provost subsequently writes formally to the candidate that the following year will be the final year of reappointment.

When the recommendation of the ATP Committee is affirmative, the President begins her independent deliberation. She may request additional discussion of some issues before making her decision.  In the case of an affirmative recommendation which is accepted by the President, the Committee may suggest modifications or improvements in the dossier which have emerged from its analysis and evaluation of the documentation. These suggestions are communicated by the Provost to the Department Chair, who may choose to accept or reject the suggestions.  If rejecting them, the Chair should inform the ATP of his or her rationale.

The review and recommendation of the ATP Committee should normally be complete by December 31st of the Assistant Professor's seventh year of counted service in order to meet the deadline for submission of dossiers to the Provost of the University for ad hoc review. The Provost of Barnard sends eight copies of the dossier to the Provost of Columbia. Prior to transmission of the dossiers, the Provost of Barnard sends a list of four names of tenured Barnard officers of instruction from which the Columbia Provost will pick two to serve on the ad hoc committee; they may not be from the nominating department (or committee) or from those serving on the ATP Committee.

The members of the ad hoc committee are named by the Provost after consultation with a special Columbia committee responsible for reviewing ad hoc committee membership (TRAC, the Tenure Review Advisory Committee). For Barnard tenure nominations, the ad hoc committee consists of five members - two from the Barnard faculty (chosen from the list of four submitted by the Barnard Provost), two from faculties of Columbia University other than Barnard outside the nominee's counterpart department, and an external scholar who has no affiliation with either Barnard or Columbia, and who is in the nominee's field. The external member is named by the Columbia Provost; the Chairs of the Barnard and Columbia Departments recommend names for consideration, and the Barnard Provost is asked to comment upon the qualifications, and any potential conflicts of interest, of potential external members.

The work of the ad hoc committee is expected to be complete by June 30 of the nominee's seventh year of counted service. Its vote is a recommendation to the Provost of Columbia, who in turn, submits his recommendation to the President of Columbia, copying the President of Barnard.  See “Principles and Customs” for details about the decision-making process and the consultations.  If the recommendation is not affirmative, the nominee is notified by June 30 of the seventh year that the next (eighth) year will be terminal. If it is affirmative, the individual is promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure on July 1 of the eighth year of counted service.

In the case of initial appointment to a tenured position, the same procedures are followed. Dates for submission of materials are worked out between the Department Chair and the Provost.

The Tenure Dossier

The tenure dossier is assembled for four different audiences at four different points in the process: first for the external referees, next for the counterpart Columbia department, then for final departmental vote and for the ATP at Barnard, and finally for the ad hoc committee at Columbia. Listed below are the elements needed at each stage; explanations of the various elements follow.

Dossier for External Referees

  1.   Nominee's curriculum vitae.
  2.   Nominee's teaching and research statement.
  3.   Department context statement, Barnard Mission Statement, and reference toBarnard policy on the counting of years of service before a mandatory tenure decision, i.e. clock-stopping provisions in the Academic Code, accompanied by a statement that the candidate is currently in the sixth year of counted service.
  4.   Publications and other evidence of scholarly activity.
  5.   Representative syllabi and selected course material. 

Dossier for the Columbia Department


  1.   All documents and materials listed above.
  2.   Referee letters; annotated referee and comparison lists; sample referee letter.
  3.   Chair's letter.
  4.   New or revised material since previous submission.

Dossier for Barnard Department and the Barnard ATP

  1.   All documents and material listed above.
  2.   Report of Columbia department's reading committee.
  3.   Letter from Chair of Columbia department indicating vote and rationale.
  4.   Nominee's third year review.
  5.   Additional material attesting to teaching quality. See Appendix E.
  6.   New or revised material since previous submission.

Dossier for Columbia Ad Hoc Committee

  1.   All documents and material listed above, except third year review.
  2.   New or revised material since previous submission.
Statement from the Department Chair

This is a critically important element of the dossier and should be written with special care. The Provost is available for consultation or to review drafts. It is difficult to prescribe either the exact contents or length of such an essay, for they will vary with the differing circumstances of particular nominees. At a minimum, it should accomplish the following:

  • explain the basis for the nomination, referring to the Department's personnel profile, including the appropriate tenure structure for the Department and the nominee's relationship to it, as recommended by the FBPC, as well as the executive committee's evaluation of the candidate's qualifications for tenure and the means it used to reach its conclusions on this subject;
  • report the Department's ballot vote on the candidacy;
  • explain the structure of the nominee's scholarship - the larger questions that bind it together, the implications of past work for the future;
  • evaluate the significance of the research program (does it ask important questions? does it involve work that is of interest to other scholars? does it reveal any special qualities of mind? has it been well-received? are there any special problems or shortcomings? if some of it is co-authored, what has been the nominee's role in joint research? is related scholarship being conducted at Barnard or Columbia, or is the nominee essentially working alone?;
  • provide a guide to the referee letters and comparison scholars, indicating how and why the names were chosen, which are particularly important, and suggesting means of interpreting, distinguishing, and understanding commentary or criticism in the letters;
  • explain and discuss the nominee's teaching strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the Department's curriculum, as well as with respect to extra-departmental teaching responsibilities, and indicate the specific evidence the Department used to evaluate teaching competence;
  • outline and comment on the main elements of the nominee's service contributions to the College and the University.

Some Department Chairs say nearly everything they have to say about the candidacy in this introductory essay; others make general statements here and then place more detailed statements in each of the subsequent sections of the dossier that document teaching, scholarship and service. The ATP Committee has no fixed advice on this, and suggests only that Chairs make certain their commentary is complete and detailed, wherever it appears.  See “Principles and Customs” for additional advice about writing the Chair’s Statement.

Where a faculty member has been appointed in support of another program or department, a tenured representative from the program or department should contribute to and co-sign this document.


Copies of all publications authored or co-authored by the nominee should be provided. The Chair should explain (either in the general statement - see above - or in a special statement in this section) the nature of the nominee's participation in co-authored works, and should provide information about the journals or series in which publications appear.

Although all publications should be included, particularly for junior faculty who are being considered for promotion to tenure, it is often helpful for the Chair to direct the reader's special attention to the most important of them. Manuscripts submitted for publication should be included in typescript (if subsequently published, the printed versions may be substituted). Reviews of published works should also be included (with some information about the review journal or the reviewer).

Referee Letters

Copies of all referee letters received, plus the sample of the letter of solicitation, plus the original referee and comparison lists and any subsequent list(s) should be supplied. In addition, a fully annotated comparison and referee list should be provided. Those who evaluate the letters rely heavily on the advice of referees, and it is important to know something about them in order to test the reliability of the testimony. All responses to referee solicitations, including those that refuse to comment, must be included.  All of this material is collected by the Director of Academic Services.


Copies of the instruments and means used to evaluate teaching should be included, as well as statements of conclusions that may be drawn from them. Consult Appendix E for guidance on the types and quantity of evidence to be supplied. Analytical and evaluative conclusions drawn from data are frequently very useful. It is also important to know what the nominee brings to courses in terms of attitudes toward students, the learning process, and the like; these matters may be effectively demonstrated by inclusion in the dossier of course syllabi, examination questions, paper assignments, or other similar material.


Optional.  Should there be any supporting or interpretative material concerning the candidate’s record of service which is not already covered in the candidate’s own statement or curriculum vitae, or in the department chair’s statement, a separate “Service” folder may be included.

The nominee must participate in assembling many of the materials in the dossier. Under no circumstances, however, should he or she be allowed to review referee letters, nor should they be discussed with the nominee. Even the names of persons solicited for references and those on the comparison list should be considered confidential.


Preparation of a tenure dossier is, under any circumstances, a time-consuming and difficult task. The most important aid to the development of an effective tenure dossier is advanced planning. For Assistant Professors for whom tenure consideration is possible, both the potential nominee and the leadership of the Department should begin to think about what will be needed for a strong dossier, should one eventually be prepared, as early as the Third-Year Review. Keeping copies of relevant documentation can begin as early as the date of hire. The work done to assemble the principal elements of the dossier early in the sixth year is, of course, essential. Delays can be very costly, and it is important for everyone involved to work rapidly and effectively, and to make contingency plans in the event of unforeseen problems. In all cases, the Department Chair should maintain close and regular communication with the Provost, who is responsible for advising and assisting in all matters related to tenure candidacies.

Revised April 2009