Useful Definitions

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APT Review Committee

Group of voting faculty members at or above the rank sought by the candidate who deliberate and vote on whether to award appointment, promotion, or tenure. There are three levels of APT Review Committees: Unit (First Level), College (Second Level), and Campus (Third Level). In the case of non-departmentalized colleges, there are two levels of APT Review Committees: College (First Level) and Campus (Second Level).

Advisory Subcommittee

Optional subgroup of voting-eligible faculty who gather information for the review, and who may author the APT Review Committee Evaluative Report, which they sign. This is sometimes referred to as a Records Preparation Committee.

Joint Appointment

When a faculty member holds simultaneous appointments (of any percentage) in more than one Department or other Unit (e.g., Center or Institute). Tenure is sought in the primary Unit, or tenure home of the candidate. Joint appointments can include appointments between tenure granting (i.e., two Departments) and non-tenure granting (i.e., a Department and an Institute) Units. All faculty must have a designated tenure home.


Number of eligible voting members needed to conduct a valid vote on whether to award appointment, promotion, or tenure based on codified Department methods of operation. Quorum is calculated based on the Department or College plan of organization, which should also include information on how absences affect the quorum. Quorum at the Campus level is set each year by the Campus APT Committee.

Votes possible for deciding to award appointment, promotion or tenure based on criteria:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Abstention (two types): these actions count toward quorum
    • Mandatory: a faculty member who has a conflict of interest (e.g., a family member or partner of the candidate), or who has already voted at a lower level
    • Voluntary: a faculty member who chooses not to vote (this should be explained in summaries and letters)
  • Absent: not present in person or via teleconference (if the latter is allowed by Department or College plan of organization)

The tenure or promotion case shall go forward to the next level of review if 50% of the faculty vote cast is favorable (or such higher percentage as may be established by procedures or guidelines of the Unit/level). (APT Policy Section IV.A.5). Abstentions are a non-positive vote.

Voting at the Department (First Level) Level

Mandatory abstentions often arise whenever a faculty member could vote twice, e.g., at the College and Department levels. In these cases, the faculty member is permitted to vote only at the lower level. If a faculty member is eligible to vote within two Departments (because both the candidate and the voter have similar joint appointments), the voting faculty member may only vote in his or her tenure home and must abstain from voting in the second Unit (APT Policy Section III.D.4; Section IV.B.1; Section IV.C.1). A mandatory abstention may arise for other reasons, such as when a faculty member is the candidate’s partner.

As a general matter, voluntary abstentions are to be discouraged. Higher-level APT review committees depend on the reasoning and expertise of the lower level committees; voluntary abstentions result in an absence of crucial input on a candidate’s dossier. Abstentions of 50% or more of the relevant faculty mean that the decision (negative or positive) does not represent a majority opinion, and could give rise to grounds for an appeal.

Only tenured faculty at or above the rank to which the candidate is to be promoted or appointed may vote on that candidate’s case (APT Policy Section IV.A.1).

Secondary Unit: If the candidate holds a temporary appointment in a secondary Unit, the Chair or Director of the secondary Unit provides a written recommendation to the Chair of the primary Unit.  If a candidate has a permanent joint appointment in a secondary Unit with eligible voters, the secondary Unit records the votes of the secondary Unit (if this is required by the secondary Unit’s plan of organization) and provides a written recommendation to the Chair of the primary Unit.

Voting by Faculty with Joint Appointments

To be eligible to vote within the Department the faculty member must:

  • Hold a tenured appointment in the University;
  • Be at or above the rank to which the candidate seeks appointment or promotion;
  • Hold a regular appointment in the Unit (with a given percentage of time attached);
  • May only vote in a single Unit providing the plan of organization permits it, and at only one level of review; and
  • Vote at the Department level of review and in the tenure home, when there is the opportunity to vote more than once.[1]  (APT Policy Section IV.A.1).

[1] Chairs and Deans cannot vote as faculty in their Departments. When there are fewer than three eligible voting faculty in a Unit, Deans may appoint faculty from related Units as voting faculty, to ensure the APT Committee contains at least three persons. These faculty may not vote on the candidate more than once.

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