Tenure and Promotion Report

Tenure and Promotion Report


Assistant Professors




Assistant Professors at UMass Amherst report that our campus has created a clear set of standards and a supportive process for achieving tenure and promotion, particularly with respect to research/creative activity and teaching expectations. Remarkably, 94% of assistant professors believe it is possible to achieve tenure at UMass Amherst. In addition, over 75% of assistant professors think tenure criteria are clear, believe that tenure decisions are performance-based, and agree that teaching expectations are clear. UMass Amherst performs better than peer institutions on all of these dimensions.






At the same time, we are less clear than our peer institutions with respect to service expectations: only 40% of junior faculty say campus citizen expectations are clear and less than half report that collegial expectations are clear. In addition, many assistant professors lack clarity about their own performance, with only 53% receiving consistent messages from tenured faculty about tenure requirements and 58% receiving formal feedback on their progress. 

Confidence about criteria and fairness of the evaluative process are high for UMass Amherst faculty, though women and underrepresented minority faculty are less confident compared to male faculty. While 85% of male faculty agree that tenure decisions are performance-based, agreement falls to 71% among women and 73% among URM faculty. Similarly, 85% of men are clear about tenure criteria, whereas 73% of both women and URM faculty are clear about criteria. 

A similar pattern by gender and race is found with respect to confidence of faculty in achieving tenure and in receiving consistent messages about their progress. 72% of men have clarity of whether they will achieve tenure, compared to 58% of women and 53% of URM faculty. Finally, while 54% of men agreed that they received consistent messages about tenure, only 44% of women agreed with this. 

Recommendations and Resources

Many of these issues can be addressed by careful and inclusive mentoring of assistant professors. In the past two years, our campus has devoted greater commitment to formalizing departmental mentoring plans to ensure mentoring of newly hired faculty. The Provost’s guidance for these plans can be found in the Departmental Mentoring Plan.

Based on research across dozens of institutions, COACHE has developed a set of best practices regarding tenure and promotion. To further support early-career tenure-line faculty, COACHE recommends: 

  • Department chairs/heads and DPC chairs should clarify how collegiality, outreach, and service count in the tenure process and how this is measured.  

  • Department chairs, heads, DPC chairs, and mentors should provide at least annual feedback on progress toward tenure, along with mentoring and priority setting  

  • Colleges should host Q&A sessions that allow pre-tenure faculty to safely ask difficult questions. OFD can partner with colleges to create and run these sessions. 

Associate Professors








Associate professors often face a larger and more complex workload after receiving tenure, and benefit from continued feedback and mentoring conversations about progress toward full professor. At UMass Amherst, 71% of associate professors agree that expectations are reasonable for promotion and 66% agree that their department culture encourages promotion. Compared to peers, these are our areas of strength.



However, there is significant room for improvement, according to our results. Only 21% of associate professors have received formal feedback on their progress toward full, 42% have clarity on their own likelihood of promotion, and this is despite the finding that 53% expect to submit their dossier within the next 5 years. UMass Amherst compares unfavorably to peers on the clarity of the process, criteria, standards, and body of evidence for promotion to full. 

The findings for promotion to full items show strong disparities by gender and race. Men and white faculty have greater clarity of the process for promotion to full: Whereas 76% of men are clear on the process, only 59% of women and 55% underrepresented minorities (URM) faculty report similar clarity. Similarly, while 69% of men report clarity about the standards for promotion, only 47% of women and 50% of URM faculty do. Finally, while 74% of men find their departmental culture supports promotion, much lower proportions of women (56%) and URM faculty (57%) find this in their departments.   

Intentional and inclusive mentoring from chairs/heads, DPC chairs, and senior faculty about promotion standards, process, and progress, could address many of these issues. We outline best practices next. 

Recommendations and Resources

To aid department chairs/heads and mentors in providing formative support to associate professors on their journeys toward promotion, OFD has created a Mentoring Plan for Promotion tool. This is a voluntary process and an upcoming OFD workshop will discuss how to deploy this tool and facilitate the mentoring associate professors need to succeed. This tool results from a set of in-depth studies on associate professors conducted by OFD: one based on administrative data, interview data, and a review of best practices at peer institutions, and a second study based on focus groups with associate professors. 

In addition, based on their research, COACHE offers the following best practices: 

  • Department chairs/heads should be cognizant of workload of associate professors and ensure they have time to continue their scholarly/creative trajectories toward promotion. 

  • Department chairs/heads provide mentors who can guide associate professors on the transition to tenured faculty roles and support progress toward promotion. 

  • Department chairs/heads and DPC chairs should provide feedback on at least an annual basis to associate professors on progress toward promotion, and readjust workload when necessary to facilitate this progress. 

Non-Tenure Track Faculty





Promotion of non-tenure track faculty members varies by payroll title. For Lecturers, there are two promotion steps, Senior Lecturer and Senior Lecturer II, with a clear timeline. Other NTT faculty include Clinical, Research, or Extension faculty. These three groups have assistant, associate and full professor promotion steps, with a promotion process similar to that of the tenure-track. The findings below are based on the responses of all NTT faculty who participated in the survey, independent of their rank. 

NTT faculty do not find the promotion process to be transparent. Only 53% of faculty know what to expect during the promotion process. Moreover, faculty have little clarity about what is evaluated during promotion (43% have clarity about criteria), what level of performance is sufficient for promotion (42% have clarity about standards), and the body of evidence required for their application (42% have clarity about the dossier). Given this level of uncertainty about the process, it is not surprising that only 54% of faculty have a clear sense of their likelihood of promotion. 

We cannot compare the satisfaction of NTT faculty at UMass to those at peer or cohort institutions because COACHE does not collect these data for all participating institutions. 

Rec and Resources



Given the significant lack of clarity about all aspects of promotion, some of the steps recommended for TT faculty may also apply to NTT faculty. Department chairs/heads or DPC chairs should consider: 

  • Providing mentors who can guide lecturers and senior lecturers on the transition to more seasoned faculty roles and support progress toward promotion; 

  • Clarifying which criteria are evaluated during promotion and what level of performance is sufficient to be promoted; 

  • Discussing what materials are required for the application package and review the application process in the department and beyond; and 

  • Providing feedback about progress toward promotion at least 2-3 years FTE before the faculty member becomes eligible for promotion.