Promotion and Tenure

The tenure standards, as currently articulated in the College Faculty Handbook, state that candidates for tenure “are expected to have achieved a stature of teaching, scholarship and service reflective of the foremost leaders in their fields within the community of liberal arts colleges throughout the world.” At this stage of the College’s development, with a number of junior faculty coming up for tenure review, the College is seeking to articulate more clearly its expectations for promotion and tenure. Specifically, the College aims to provide greater clarity on the following:

1. What is the relative importance of teaching and research in tenure and promotion decisions?

2. How will teaching and research performance be evaluated?

3. What is the role of service in tenure and promotion considerations? The current document gives general answers to these questions.

It should be noted, however, that no general guideline or checklist can provide a definitive guide to what is required in order to earn tenure. Most of the measurable outcomes (publications, teaching evaluations, etc.) are indicators of progress in the faculty member’s development rather than goals in themselves. Individual faculty members will achieve a better sense of their own progress by consulting with their divisional directors and the Dean of Faculty or by reading the comments on their annual and third-year reviews, rather than by comparing their own case to any particular benchmark.

Tenure will be based primarily on performance in teaching and research. Yale-NUS College aims for excellence in both the creation and transmission of knowledge and expects faculty to be active, accomplished researchers as well as committed and effective teachers. Those liberal arts colleges with the highest aspirations and strongest students universally agree that effective teaching requires that the faculty be active researchers who are conducting significant work in their disciplines and interdisciplinary domains. To qualify for tenure, faculty should demonstrate excellence in both teaching and research and should also demonstrate engaged service to the College. Although the balance between teaching and research in any individual faculty member’s portfolio may vary, when it comes to tenured or tenure-track faculty, all candidates must meet high standards in both areas of endeavour. Here we articulate more precisely our expectations for teaching, research and service.

Standards for Tenure

Teaching Standards

The standard for teaching excellence at Yale-NUS is higher than it would be at most research universities. Teaching, in the context of promotion and other evaluations, is not limited to what goes on in the classroom, and might more accurately be termed “contributions to th educational mission of the College.” Such contributions can involve not only classroom performance, but also pedagogical innovation, capstone supervision and other academic interactions with students, and all aspects of curriculum development. Holistic evaluations will be based on a teaching portfolio that will include student reviews and outcomes, peer review of various kinds (not necessarily limited to classroom visits), evidence of leadership and involvement in curriculum development and design, pedagogical innovations and general impact on educational efforts in the College. The Teaching, Learning and Advising Committee and the Teaching and Learning Centre are currently working on format, procedures and advice to help faculty members create appropriate teaching portfolios.

Research Standards

There are two key criteria for research. First is a solid record of accomplishment. This must take the form of peer-reviewed publications that have had impact on the field and are well-regarded by peers. Candidates for tenure must present significant published research and scholarship representing early demonstration of disciplinary or interdisciplinary leadership.

Evaluation of research accomplishment will be based on the following evidence:

  • Productivity – presentation of a coherent body of work that makes a statement
    about the faculty member’s contributions to the field;
  • Quality – indicated by reading of the work by our senior faculty and sometimes colleagues at our parent institutions; the judgement of outside assessors; and publication venues, reviews, prizes, etc.
  • Impact – evidence that the work is valued by others and has some influence in the field, as evidenced by citations and other indicators, such as invitations to make keynote addresses and editorial membership of important journals.
  • Peer standing – comparison with faculty members who have been promoted to a similar rank in leading liberal arts colleges.
  • Independence – while much research is accomplished in teams, candidates for tenure should be able to demonstrate some form of leadership role in their teams, as well as independence from their graduate and post-doctoral supervisors.

One particular source for understanding the standard of research of a faculty member undergoing tenure review is the external review letters. This is one of the differences between the 3rd year review and the tenure review – letters are not solicited for the 3rd year review. Since the letters are of considerable importance for tenure, candidates need to consider carefully how their work will appear to leaders in the field. The standard letter to outside referees is attached to these guidelines.

The second key criterion for research goes beyond demonstrated performance. In addition to strong accomplishments to date, a strong tenure case will be one in which there is a trajectory that clearly implies that continuing research meeting the same high standard can reasonably be expected. Here, evidence that the candidate’s research and scholarship have advanced beyond graduate and postdoctoral work will be necessary for tenure.

The appropriate standard in research is easy to describe in general, but its manifestations differ sharply from one discipline to another. Different disciplines have different benchmarks and use different indicators, or place different emphasis on various indicators. The best guideline for the individual faculty member is the feedback received on annual reviews and especially the third-year review.

Service Standards

Strong service contributions help to make a case for promotion but promotions are not made on the basis of service excellence alone and excellence in service cannot offset deficiencies in teaching or research. While assistant professors should not have to shoulder heavy administrative responsibilities, they should participate in the life of the college and gain experience in managing it. Therefore junior faculty are expected to provide some service to the College. Service beyond the standard expectation cannot, however, compensate for a failure to meet the standards in teaching and research.

Standards for Promotion to Full Professor

The Faculty Handbook states that full professors at Yale-NUS “are expected to have achieved a stature of teaching, scholarship and service reflective of the foremost leaders in their fields within the community of liberal arts colleges throughout the world.”

Yale-NUS College aims for excellence in both the creation and transmission of knowledge.

The College expects candidates for full professor to meet the following criteria:

  • sustained scholarly achievement demonstrating continuing leadership and stature in their disciplinary or interdisciplinary field;
  • excellent teaching and contributions to education at the College;
  • engaged service (preferably in leadership positions) to the College and, as appropriate, the broader academic community.

In terms of scholarship, candidates for full professor must present significant published research and scholarship beyond the work that formed the basis for promotion to a tenured associate professorship. Such research and scholarship should represent a sustained demonstration of disciplinary or interdisciplinary leadership at the international level, demonstrating appropriate impact and recognition in the field. Faculty being considered for promotion to full professor will stand in comparison with leading faculty at the rank of full professor at the world’s best liberal arts colleges.

To be eligible for promotion to full professor, candidates must have made sustained contributions to education at an ongoing level of excellence. Such contributions may involve classroom performance, pedagogical innovation, capstone supervision and other academic interactions with students, curriculum development, or contributions to the broader educational community.

Given the relatively small size of the College, tenured faculty are expected to contribute as engaged citizens of the college community. Faculty who have not fulfilled the expectations of service (in such roles as head of studies, course facilitator, advisor for student activities, or committee chair) will not be considered for promotion to full professor.