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Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for pulling together during this unprecedented situation. We recognize that the needed changes in how we conduct our teaching, research and service to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have raised concerns among many of our junior and mid-career faculty members, particularly on its potential impact on promotion and tenure. It is our goal to minimize the effects of these ensuing changes at the university on their careers.

Tenure Code Rollbacks

For probationary faculty, the University already has a robust tenure rollback policy (Provost Communication #16). During this crisis, we intend to interpret this policy generously and compassionately. Therefore, rollbacks will be available to probationary faculty members (tenure codes 1-5) who believe COVID-19 creates a significant disruption to their progress towards tenure and promotion, whether it is because, among other things, research is interrupted due to inaccessible facilities and space, the faculty member has to care for family members affected by the COVID-19 situation or the faculty member becomes ill.

The process for applying for a rollback due to COVID-19 is streamlined: 

  1. The faculty member will need to fill out the cover sheet requesting a rollback and submit it to the Unit Executive Officer. Additional documentation (e.g., CV, letter justifying the request, etc.) is not necessary. 
  2. The request must be approved by Department Head and Dean. Letters of support are not necessary. That is, approval requires only a signature on the cover sheet.
  3. The cover sheet should be routed to the Office of the Provost for final approval and processing.

Probationary faculty in tenure code 5 (i.e., those who are scheduled to be reviewed in AY 2020-21) and Q appointments scheduled to be reviewed in AY 2020-21 must apply for a rollback by April 24, 2020.

Faculty in tenure code 4 may apply for a rollback based on COVID-19 consideration until April 15, 2021. Faculty in tenure codes 1-3 may apply for a rollback based on COVID-19 considerations until August 15, 2021. After that date, requests will follow regular procedures and will be evaluated according to the criteria stated in Communication #16.

Rollback requests for COVID-19 will not count against any limit on the overall number of rollbacks.

Consistent with existing policy, faculty who take a rollback for COVID-19-related reasons may later choose to apply for tenure “early” (i.e., on a timeline consistent with their original tenure clock) if they choose to do so. 

ICES Scores

At this point, we plan to provide students with the opportunity to provide feedback on all courses through online ICES at the end of Spring 2020 semester. Many faculty members use student comments and suggestions to improve course delivery. For purposes of evaluation of tenure and promotion, faculty may choose to exclude Spring 2020 ICES scores from the P&T dossier. Specialized faculty will also have the option to exclude Spring 2020 ICES scores from their promotion dossier.

Timeline for P&T Process for AY 2020-21

We are aware that circumstances may cause delays and difficulties in processing dossiers. We currently intend to operate on the usual timeline for the promotion and tenure process for AY 2020-21 as much as possible. We may re-evaluate the timeline over the summer as we better understand the evolving impact of the situation.

Questions about rollbacks and promotion processes should be directed to Bill Bernhard, Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs, bernhard@illinois.edu

This is a dynamic and changing situation that touches every aspect of how we conduct business at the university. In the coming weeks and months and with faculty input, we will continue to revisit our policies and procedures to make sure that all faculty members have an opportunity to succeed.

Through these trying times, we appreciate that each of you is giving your best effort to provide quality course instruction and to continue your research and service activities, even as we must prioritize the health and safety of ourselves, our families and our community.

Sincerely,

Andreas C. Cangellaris
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost