P & T Guidelines: English Department

September 8th, 2008 by Bridget

English Department

Tenure and Promotion Guidelines

The main purpose of this document is to put an English department spin on what’s already in the faculty handbook — that is, to clarify and articulate as best we can what the University-wide tenure and promotion criteria look like when viewed through the lens of our English Department. We hope to give lots of examples, which should help candidates prepare. This loose rubric will help us be consistent and fair when it comes to promotion and tenure; it will also support our core values as a department.

As you read about the three areas (teaching, scholarship and service), we encourage you to recognize some potentially useful blurring/overlap. We also commit to recognizing that there will be different balances among different areas and within different areas; each candidate will have individual areas of strength which may vary.

We encourage new faculty to review this information with the department chair and with any senior faculty to ask questions, get clarification, solicit feedback, etc. The P&T Committee will use these guidelines to help quantify and justify their decisions regarding promotion and tenure.


Assistant to Associate

We’re looking for someone who is an excellent teacher, who is intellectually alive and pursuing scholarly/artistic interests and who has shown a collegial willingness and disposition to become involved with and contribute to the department and wider institutional communities. (local and regional)

Associate to Full

In addition to continuing to meet the criteria for Associate Professor, a candidate for Full Professor should additionally demonstrate some accomplishment in his or her field at a regional and/or national level.



While we do not subscribe to one pedagogical approach above all others, the English Department values great teaching. By great teaching, we mean teaching which is learner-centered, where learners are active participants in the creation of knowledge. This is a stated institutional value as well, and our department (via our courses) should reflect and support that value. Faculty in English can demonstrate their commitment to this value in a number of related and overlapping ways:

Demonstrated expertise and interest in the subject area being taught

Currency and/or innovation in content and/or methodology; curricular revision and development (changing what you do to meet students’ and curriculum’s evolving needs)

Willingness and ability to enhance and tailor instruction to students at a variety of levels; willingness to provide individualized feedback on student work

Classes and assignments should be clearly organized; criteria for assessment of student performance should be clear and consistent. Course materials should clearly reflect the goals of the course in a curricular context — assignments should help students achieve the stated goals of the course

Faculty are available to students not only during class, but outside of class. In the same way that we ask our students to not merely “occupy space” in our classrooms and have that count as good class participation, we demand of ourselves a high level of engagement with our teaching work

Advising and mentoring, in official and unofficial capacities, are also a way of “teaching.” A good advisor/mentor is engaged in student learning, encourages students to publish work, pursue internships, etc. Advising student organizations, which might also fall under “service,” has pedagogical faces as well.

Faculty should strive to be reflective about teaching and seek out opportunities for professional development that are oriented towards teaching. Faculty should participate in fostering a climate where talk about teaching is common, productive, lively, etc.

Supporting Evidence to Provide Tenure/Promotion Committees

Course Evaluations


Course Observations (by vp, chair, colleagues, etc)

Syllabi, Descriptions


Samples of Student Work

Samples of commentary on student work

Samples of reflection on teaching (teaching journals, etc.)

Documented participation in professional development activities related to teaching (conference programs, letter from reflective practice colleague, etc.)

Samples of revised course materials; innovation



PSU is a university where teaching excellence is central; therefore, the English Department values the presence and contributions of active intellectuals who constantly seek out new information in their field so that their classrooms are stimulating, and relevant. As scholars, we strive to be active practitioners of what we teach; we also strive to be learners while pursuing our own intellectual agendas, therefore serving as models for our students of what it might mean to be “intellectually alive.” We encourage faculty to connect research and scholarship to teaching; systematic teacher inquiry into classroom practice which aims for improved pedagogy in English is valued. We also recognize that there are a variety of faces to scholarship, and there are many different ways (traditional and otherwise) to enact and model what is gathered under the broad umbrella of scholarship:

Ongoing research related to one’s field of study or to teaching in one’s field of study

Ongoing artistic work (creative writing)

Publication in peer-reviewed scholarly or artistic journals

Presentations at local, regional and/or national conferences

Active membership, participation, and/or leadership in professional organizations (paying dues alone does not provide sufficient evidence of active participation)

Writing grant proposals, competing for awards, etc. The act of putting together a grant proposal demonstrates a degree of in-depth scholarly engagement with the field, regardless of the final outcome.

Editing and reviewing activities relevant to areas of study/research/teaching

Presentation of work at Society for Scholarly Dialogue or other PSU workshops, events, etc.

Professional consultancies (judging writing contests, for instance)

Consulting based on professional reputation

Commissioned artwork; invited readings; book group discussions in the area of expertise outside of the institution

Preparation of professional articles for conferences and publication (regardless of outcome)

Supporting Evidence to Provide Tenure/Promotion Committees

CV listing various publications, presentations, etc. (with dates)

Photocopies of publications, papers, conference programs, etc.

Letters (acceptance of papers at conferences, from journal editors, etc,)

Programs from gallery shows, featured readings, book signings, etc.

Videotapes of presentations at conferences

Grant Proposals (accepted and/or rejected)

Evidence (even rejection notes) of submitting work for review/publication

Copies of promotional materials from Society for Scholarly Dialogue talks

Thank you letters

Copies of works-in-progress — new work that has yet to be published or presented


Collegial service has many dimensions — departmental, institutional, community-wide, and national. While we are interested in supporting faculty service of all different kinds, when it comes to tenure and promotion, we are especially interested in seeing service to the department and school, and service somehow connected to teaching and scholarship. Involvement matters to us; we value faculty who are actively involved in supporting our students and our community by contributing time and thought and creativity to build a better curriculum, department and insitution. Service, too, can take a variety of forms and be demonstrated in a variety of ways:

Active participation on committees, task forces, councils, etc.

Attending and participating in faculty meetings/faculty governance

Attending and participating in department meetings

Mentoring/advising student clubs, groups, organizations; attending and supporting student activities (especially as they connect to teaching and scholarship)

Supporting English Department student activities and events (MESA Fall Social, Biedermans readings, Poets & Writers Events, Clock Events, English Department Award Ceremony, etc.)

Informally sharing ideas and meeting with colleagues (in and beyond the English Department) to improve courses and programs; informally meeting to discuss curricula, etc.

Participation in formal sharing of ideas to improve curricula (Work on new General Education program implementation, work on WAC, attendance at Frost Faculty Center workshops, etc.)

Attending such functions as commencement, convocation, etc.

Community outreach (off-campus workshops, public library programs, etc.)

Service on community boards, (Domestic Violence, PETA, etc.), as it promotes the University. (A majority of your service, but not every bit of it, should be connected to your field, PSU, the department, etc.)

Supporting Evidence to Provide Tenure/Promotion Committees

CV — list of committees served on at PSU

Letters/emails from student groups you have advised or mentored

Letters/emails from colleagues with whom you have served on committees, etc.

Letters/emails from individuals, organizations, etc., which document service

Promotional materials for workshops you’ve organized

Featured in Plymouth Magazine

Example Image

Congratulations to the Class of 2016

PSU President Donald L. Birx at the 145th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 14, 2016, his first as president, and the first to be held in ALLWell North. Nearly 1,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees were awarded before a crowd of 4,500 guests. Photo highlights>> Watch the video>>

Example Image

Mary Lyon: Stunning at a Century

Mary Lyon Hall, the beloved grande dame of the Plymouth State campus, is celebrating her centennial this year. Over the past century, she’s been renovated, remodeled, updated, and made energy efficient, all while retaining her stately elegance. More than a campus icon, Mary Lyon has been home to generations of students, many of whom have […]

Example Image

Interim Director Named for Museum of the White Mountains

PSU Professor of History Marcia Schmidt Blaine is now interim director of the MWM, following founding director Catherine Amidon’s stepping down …