The following guidelines have been adopted to prescribe the format of faculty dossiers for presentation to higher level University review committees including the Health Sciences Appointments Committee (HSAC) and the University’s Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (APT) Committee. These guidelines are intended to ensure that dossiers are transmitted in a consistent format to aid in efficient review and decision making. Questions regarding these guidelines should be addressed to Academic Personnel in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at 962-1091.
Order of dossier documents:
- Form AP2
- CV (most recent version—dated)
- Additional Information
- Dean’s letter
- Chair’s letter
- Internal committee report, if submitted
- Sample Request for an External Letter of Recommendation for a Tenure Track Position
- Outside letters of reference
- Teaching record, including teaching and peer evaluations for promotions and reappointments, and service record
- Any other necessary material, including teaching evaluations if appropriate
Final Word of Advice for Chairs to Give to Candidates
Sample Request for an External Letter of Recommendation for a Tenure Track position
Please review Standard Order Table for Tenure-Track for checklist of dossier documents. The Levels of Review Table will also provide guidance on the levels of review required for APO designated personnel actions and submission schedule of actions. Please review the APT_Process Submission Schedule for committee meeting and dossier submission dates.
Presenting an Effective Dossier to the Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee
The Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee (“APT Committee”) is the third level of faculty review of promotion and tenure decisions. The APT Committee reviews faculty promotion
and tenure decisions after reviews have been successfully completed at the Departmental and School- levels and in the case of Health Affairs units by the Health Sciences Appointments Committee (HSAC). The APT Committee, composed of 12 faculty members, makes recommendations to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, who makes the final decision, subject to confirmation by the Board of Trustees. These guidelines are provided to Department Chairs and Deans in an effort to ensure that dossiers are presented in as effective a manner as possible.
Order of dossier documents
CV (most recent version—dated)
Internal committee report, if submitted
Sample solicitation letter for outside letters of reference
Outside letters of reference
Teaching record, including teaching and peer evaluations for promotions and reappointments, and service record
Any other necessary material, including teaching evaluations if appropriate
Make sure the dates of all prior appointments are correct.
Preferred order – in every subhead, reverse chronological, most recent first
Bibliography – on all items, show author order
- Books and Chapters, including pages
- Refereed papers/articles, including pages
- Refereed unpublished oral presentations and/or abstracts
- Other unrefereed works, including book reviews
Grants (source, type of grant, role on project, starting and ending dates) Professional Service:
- To discipline
- Within UNC-Chapel Hill
- Research Statement
- Teaching Statement
- Focus and brevity are appreciated in both the research and teaching statement; these should generally not exceed five pages. Both should include a short statement of future plans.
Conflicts of Interest in University Reviews of candidates for appointments, promotions and tenure
We seek to avoid possible conflicts of interest in the conduct of university appointments, promotions and tenure decisions. This is a concern at all levels of decision-making from the school/departmental level, to the review by the APT committee, and on to the Board of Trustees.
School/departmental review committees may not include persons related to the candidate by blood or marriage. A committee member who has co-authored substantial or ongoing publications or grants with a candidate during the time period under review should recuse himself/herself from the committee to avoid raising concerns about a potential conflict of interest. Members of review committees (HSAC, ASAC, APT) who reviewed a candidate at the departmental level, should also recuse themselves from the discussion and vote at the review committee level.
Letters of recommendation, for Full Professorships, should not come solely from the individuals who reviewed the candidate for his/her Associate Professor promotion. No more than two of the requisite four letters may come from previous reviewers, and shall include an explanation as to why these reviewers were used again for the full Professorship review. When all four recommendations are from new reviewers, letters from previous reviewers may be included in addition to the requisite four letters of recommendation.
Whenever previous reviewer recommendations are included, the Chair’s letter or the Dean’s letter should disclose that these recommendations come from people who also reviewed the candidate for the Associate Professorship promotion.
The Chair’s letter or the Dean’s letter should also disclose and explain any collaborations, with the candidate, on research grants or other projects, by the reviewers, those writing letters of recommendation or by the Chair or Dean him/herself.
- Or signed endorsement on Chair’s letterhead
- Must show the vote of School’s Tenure and Promotion Committee.
- Attach any document produced by School’s Tenure and Promotion Committee. Should 1) require faculty members provide reasons for “no” votes and abstentions; and 2) present that information in their review letter. Should address any articulated concerns reflected in negative votes by School’s committee or full professors.
- Need not, and should not, reiterate the Chair’s letter.
- From Schools without departmental structure, the Dean’s letter should incorporate the Chair’s letter (information specified below).
Chair’s Letter – The Most Important Recommendation
The Chair’s letter should clearly show the considerations influencing the Chair’s decision to recommend the candidate for tenure and/or promotion. The Chair should also frankly discuss any of his or her misgivings, reflected in negative votes or abstentions by any member of the department, or noted in any of the letters of reference. Open discussion of misgivings gives the Chair’s ultimate decision much more credibility than an unalloyed letter of praise when the dossier indicates that some people have misgivings. If the Chair quotes from a departmental committee report, it should be attached.
The letter must show the vote of the full professors: yes, no, abstain. If departmental policy calls for taking votes of other ranks, they should be reported also. Should 1) require faculty members provide reasons for “no” votes and abstentions; and 2) present that information in their review letter. (Abstentions are perceived as mildly negative votes.) State whether voting is closed (secret ballot) or open.
Discuss the research/scholarship career thrust, strategy and emphases of the candidate.
- Is there a clear path?
- How has it changed over time?
- What is the most promising outcome you can foresee for the scholarly trajectory?
- How does that trajectory mesh with departmental strategy and needs?
- What is the current national and international visibility and standing of the candidate? Set the entries in context.
- Explain departmental standards and expectations for scholarship, teaching and service.
- Explain the importance, percentage of articles accepted, and relative standing of the journals in which the candidate has published.
- If the discipline is one of the rare ones in which certain conferences outrank the journals, explain that.
Discuss the research record in some detail.
- Explain relative roles in multi-author works, especially when multiple works have the same co-authors.
- Indicate the significance of author order, since disciplines differ radically in their customs in this matter.
- Indicate which items report work done as part of the candidate’s dissertation, and which work has been done since joining the UNC Chapel Hill faculty.
- Indicate the relative weight of any publications completed by the candidate before joining the UNC Chapel Hill faculty.
- Note any external evidences of excellence of particular works: best paper awards, favorable reviews, high citation counts, etc.
- Insist that the status of unpublished works be precisely stated. In press means the work has been accepted without further revision and has left the author’s hands; give the anticipated date of publication. Accepted and under revision, submitted, and in preparation all have precise meanings. Under contract does not; it must be supplemented with a clear indication of the state of completion.
- For books, indicate the standing of the press. Explain the relative importance of books versus articles in your discipline. Discuss the importance of textbooks and edited volumes in your discipline.
- If your field is one in which grant success is a common external measure of research quality, discuss the candidate’s success in obtaining extramural funding (other than UNC Chapel Hill grant awards).
Letters of Evaluation
- Outside Letters of Recommendation for Tenured Appointments – A minimum of four letters of evaluation are required: all four from outside the institution, all from individuals independent of the candidate, two from a list of names provided by the candidate and two from individuals selected by the Department Chair or Dean, as appropriate. Ideally, all of the letters should come from Research Institutions.
- Outside Letters of Recommendation for Initial Tenure-Track Appointments – A minimum of four letters of evaluation which may come from individuals with whom the candidate has worked are required, normally all four from outside the institution. Ideally, all of the letters should come from research universities (RU/VH) with very high research activity).
- The purpose of these letters is to provide an independent and unbiased assessment of the individual’s national and international reputation. Therefore, the request from the Department Chair or Dean to prospective writers of outside letters of evaluation should be phrased neutrally and should not solicit an affirmative response or recommendation. A copy of the letter requesting an evaluation of the candidate should be included in the dossier. The letters may not be from individuals who have been directly involved with a candidate, e.g., a collaborator, mentor, previous co-worker, former or current class co-teacher, former dissertation chair, etc., but may be from individuals who know the candidate through professional interactions, e.g., reviewed the candidate’s publications or served on review committees together.
- In addition to the minimum four required independent letters, any number of additional letters from any source may also be submitted. These may be from individuals within the institution with whom the candidate has collaborated or from former colleagues, collaborators, mentors or other individuals connected with the candidate.
- All letters of evaluation that are received must be made an official part of any appointment, promotion, and tenure package and must be part of the evaluation process of the candidate under consideration.
- In the appointment/promotion packet, each outside letter should have a designation in its upper right hand corner indicating whether the writer of the letter was suggested by the candidate or was chosen by the Department Chair or Dean.
- The letter to outside reviewers should include the following statement: “Under current policies of this institution, peer evaluations, such as that being requested from you, are regarded as confidential within limitations imposed by law. They are for limited use within the University. However, North Carolina state law provides that such written evaluations become part of the personnel file of the individual. As such, they become open by petition to the faculty member about whom they are written.”
- You are required, by rule and ethics, to include all the letters you received, not a selected subset.
- Explain which referees were solicited from the candidate’s list and which were selected by you without any suggestion from the candidate.
- Tell any personal connection between candidate and referee, e.g., dissertation advisor, post-doc mentor.
- Explain why each referee was selected and the standing of each referee in the field, especially those of rank other than professor or from institutions that might be considered as lower rank than Carolina.
- Please don’t quote extensively from the several letters; a few-sentence summary of each is in order.
- Quoting just favorable sentences out of context hurts your credibility – APT members read the letters as well as your summaries of them.
- A sample letter soliciting an external letter of recommendation is found at the end of this document.
Teaching and Service Record
• Discuss the teaching record, especially all assessments of teaching effectiveness.
- Include any quantitative data from student evaluations, and discuss trends over time.
- If you have a procedure for gathering non-quantitative student comment, report the results of that process.
- Do not, however, provide input from selected individuals, as opposed to broad categories of students.
• Discuss the service record. The importance of service varies from unit to unit. Explain its role within your school or department, and discuss the candidate’s service record.
A final word of advice for chairs to give to candidates
The dossier will be read by many people; tell them what you would want to know if you were reviewing it. Be straightforward in your recitation of achievements, but omit the puffery, such as talks at your department’s colloquium. Openness breeds respect; any perceived attempt to manipulate excites challenges.
Sample Request for an External Letter of Recommendation for a Tenure Track Position
The School of/Department of ______________ at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is reviewing the qualifications of ______________, for promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor with tenure (or Associate to full Professor with tenure, or Associate without tenure to Associate with tenure).The School/Department will base its recommendation concerning ________ on the value of his/her research, teaching, and service. I write to seek your opinion about ______ worthiness for this promotion. To aid in your review of his/her qualifications and contributions, his/her curriculum vitae and most recent and (according to him/her) most important publications are enclosed.
We are particularly interested in placing ____________ scholarly work in a national context. We would value, therefore, your evaluation of the importance of his/her area of study and of the significance of his/her contributions to it. We are also interested in your opinion of his/her stature relative to his/her peers nationally.
Please refer to the following criteria of the School/Department Tenure and Promotion policy in giving your assessment of ____________. [List criteria here]
Appointments or promotion to the rank of Associate Professor must demonstrate outstanding ability. The candidate must demonstrate outstanding scholarly contributions, show independence and leadership in research or practice, and have a growing national reputation in his/her area of expertise. Please understand that, here at UNC-CH, promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor is tightly linked to a decision regarding the granting of tenure. Thus, either ____________ will be promoted and granted permanent tenure or he/she will have no choice but to leave the university. In this letter, we are asking for your opinion as to ____________ suitability for promotion and/or tenure according to the APT criteria described above that are in place here at UNC-CH.
For promotion to the rank of Full Professor the candidate must continue to demonstrate high quality teaching, make outstanding scholarly contributions, and have a national reputation in his/her area of expertise. There must be strong evidence that his/her scholarly work has stimulated the work of other researchers or practitioners, has provided “breakthroughs” in the field, and that, in general, other scholars are paying close attention to the candidate’s work.
In addition to the above, we appreciate any assessment you are able to make about the quality of ____________teaching and professional service contributions. While we do recognize that these areas are often more difficult to assess than is scholarship, any evaluative comments that you can provide to us will be valued. In addition, we will benefit from having your thoughts regarding ____________ interpersonal skills, his/her organizational citizenship, as well as any other intangibles you might be able to share with us.
In preparing your response, we do ask that you provide us with the following information:
a. Your opinion as to whether or not you would recommend ____________ for this promotion
b. A brief summary of your reasons for this opinion
c. A description of your relationship (if any) with ____________
Under current policies of this institution, peer evaluations, such as that being requested from you, are regarded as confidential within limitations imposed by law. They are for limited use within the University. However, North Carolina state law provides that such written evaluations become part of the personnel file of the individual. As such, they become open by petition to the faculty member about whom they are written.
Thank you very much for your willingness to assist us with this important process. We do recognize the substantial amount of time and effort required to provide us with this assessment of ____________. Please understand that time is of the essence in this process. Therefore, we ask that you notify Dr. Chair’s Name as soon as possible if you will not be able to provide us with your review by date. His/her e-mail address is: email@example.com. You can send either an electronic copy on official letterhead or a hard copy in the mail.