The First Level APT Review Committee has the key responsibility of preparing and soliciting review materials that form the foundation of the candidate’s dossier. Specific responsibilities include::
- Choosing external evaluators, and requesting and securing their evaluations;
- Evaluating the candidate’s publications (e.g., quantity, quality, impact, placement) and preparing a report on the reputation of publication outlets in which the candidate has published;
- Gathering reports of peer evaluation of the candidate’s teaching and summarizing them;
- Creating the Summary Statement of Professional Achievements; and
- Evaluating the candidate according to the Department Promotion Criteria.
Some Units employ subcommittees (often referred to as a Records Preparation Committee) to develop some of the above materials. If multiple subcommittees are employed to work on concurrent promotion and/or tenure cases, the subcommittees should standardize their processes to ensure uniform and equitable treatment of candidate reviews.
The Review Committee shall solicit letters of evaluation using the University’s letter solicitation template (see Appendix) from at least six widely recognized authorities in the field, chosen from a list that shall include individuals nominated by the candidate. The expectation is that the external evaluators will be full professors or equivalent, are able to provide an independent review of the candidate’s accomplishments, are able to identify the impact of the candidate’s research, scholarship, and/or creative activities (this is especially important for candidates who engage in extensive collaborative work), and are located at peer and/or highly regarded institutions/Units (e.g., Big 10 University, top ranked academic Unit, respected research institute such as CERN). Among the letters requested, at least three and at most one-half must be from persons nominated by the candidate (APT Policy Section IV.A.2). The Chair of the Unit (First Level) APT Review Committee should receive suggestions of potential external evaluators from the candidate. It is the responsibility of the candidate to disclose any connection (i.e., collaboration) that may influence the objectivity of the suggested evaluators. The Committee should select evaluators from the candidate’s list and must also choose evaluators from their own list. If the candidate has a joint appointment with a tenure granting secondary Unit, the secondary Unit must be consulted on the choice of external evaluators, which is also recommended for faculty who have agreements for modified Unit criteria. Also see the section on Information about Joint Appointments.
At a minimum, six letters must be requested from evaluators who are not the candidate’s mentors and collaborators. Examples of collaborators include co-authorship  on any published or unpublished peer-reviewed work or work in progress; co-PIs/senior personnel on funded activities; the candidate’s advisor or advisee; or the candidate’s mentor. The following would not be considered collaborators: an editor of a volume in which the candidate has a chapter, or vice versa; persons who have served on the same committee, taskforce, or council for professional or other organizations; co-organizer of a workshop; member of a former Unit of the candidate with whom there were no co-authored projects or committee memberships.
Up to two additional letters (for a total of at least eight) may be from a mentor or collaborator as long as sufficient explanation is provided by the Chair of the APT Review Committee and/or Department Chair. An allowable exception is the case where an appropriately small number of the six letter writers have had a one-time or temporally distant (i.e., four or more years ago) collaboration.
In some fields, it is increasingly common to have large-scale initiatives that yield extensive collaborations (e.g., co-authorship in the tens to hundreds, multiple teams funded by the same grant/sponsor). With appropriate disclosure, justification, and adherence to the principle of independence, it is permissible to select individuals from such collaborations as external evaluators.
It is recommended that the list of external evaluators and their credentials, as well as justification for including a greater proportion of collaborators be vetted by the Dean’s office prior to solicitation of letters. The Committee should solicit letters well in advance of their deadline. Initial contact shall be made via email to establish whether the evaluator is available to provide a letter within the required time frame. The email should include an explicit deadline for reply in order to determine the need for contacting additional evaluators. The goal is to establish a consistent protocol for initiating contact and to minimize the receipt of uninformed comments prior to an external evaluator’s assessment of the candidate’s complete portfolio. Once the evaluator has agreed, a formal packet of materials should be distributed. A reminder email shall be sent within one week of the deadline if the letter is still outstanding at that time. Example text of such emails is provided in the appendix; all such correspondence shall be recorded in the letter log. Note: per University APT policy, the candidate should be provided a copy of the external evaluator letter template (generic, without any specific external evaluator information) for review. Candidates should receive a copy to review at least two weeks prior to request letters being sent to the selected external evaluators.
The Committee must include a list of all the evaluators to whom a formal request was sent, even if the evaluators do not reply or formally decline to write. Copies of the review declines must be included in the dossier. Verbal communications will not be accepted, and Committees should avoid any prejudicial discussion regarding declines or non-answers. In the log, the initial date that the evaluator was contacted should be included, when candidate materials were sent (if different from initial) and the date of response (either when the evaluation was received or the reviewer declined to review). A template for the letter log is available on the Faculty Affairs website (copied in the Appendix) providing the appropriate format. Because all APT review committees should have access to the same external letters, late arriving letters should not be included in the dossier, nor be used for evaluative purposes during deliberations. Unsolicited letters are not included in the dossier and cannot be used for evaluative purposes during deliberations.
The expectation is that each dossier will contain at least six external letters, of which no more than half should be from the candidate’s list. Though rare, there are times when all six requested letters are not received. Dossiers with no fewer than five letters may come forward, however, Units should detail their efforts to secure the sixth letter in the letter log. In addition, the Unit APT Committee Chair should discuss the matter with the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs prior to the Unit’s APT Committee scheduled meeting and vote. If it appears that fewer than five external letters may be received, the Unit APT Committee Chair and the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs should discuss the matter with the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs prior to any further action on the case.
The letter log should clearly indicate which evaluators are collaborators with, or mentors of, the candidate. Once the list of external evaluators is finalized, their credentials should be summarized with a paragraph for each evaluator. In the event that an evaluator is a collaborator or mentor of the candidate, an explanation and justification for the choice should be included along with the credentials of that evaluator. CVs of the evaluators should not be included. The order of the credentials paragraphs should mirror the order of letters in the dossier. The credentials of the evaluators should be evaluative in nature, rather than a “cut and paste” bio from an evaluator’s website, for example.
The contents of the letters must be shared with eligible voters at each level of review, however, these letters are highly confidential and must not be shared with the candidate or others who will not be voting on or evaluating the candidate for promotion. Candidates may not contact evaluators to determine their willingness to provide information, or to enquire about the contents of the evaluation. Eligible voters may not discuss the selection of external evaluators, or letters received from external evaluators, with candidates.
The following guidelines should be followed in presenting letters:
- All letters received in response to solicitation must be included in their entirety if the letters arrive in time for consideration by the Unit APT Review Committee. Letters that arrive after the APT Review Committee has met and voted on the case cannot be considered, nor should they be included in the dossier.
- Letters in a foreign language must be accompanied by an English translation. The translation should note the method (e.g., individual, automated tool such as Google Translate) and date of the translation. If translated by an individual, the individual should sign the translation.
- The dossier should indicate clearly whether the evaluator was nominated by the candidate, or by the committee.
 Units should consult with the Office of Faculty Affairs regarding co-authored works that involve large-scale collaborative work with numerous co-authors.