Policy 77 – Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members


5 June 2000

Last Updated:

5 April 2011


28 February 2020. Amended, official titles only.




Universities exist to develop society's intellectual resources and to preserve its intellectual traditions. Their primary functions are to preserve, evaluate, develop and transmit knowledge, intellectual skills and culture. The modern university is expected to provide intellectual leadership to society, to contribute in a major way to the coordination of knowledge and the development of artistic, philosophical, scientific and technological ideas, and to provide a fertile intellectual environment in which new knowledge and ideas can evolve. To achieve these goals, faculty members must be effective and committed teachers and scholars, constantly striving to expand and communicate their knowledge, ideas and understanding for the benefit of society.


Tenure is meant to provide institutional support for academic freedom (see the Article on Academic Freedom in the Memorandum of Agreement between the University and the Faculty Association). The pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and the attainment of understanding through scholarship and teaching, which are essential functions of a university, occur best in an atmosphere in which free inquiry and discussion are fostered. Free inquiry may at times bring a faculty member into conflict with society, governments or the University itself. Tenure provides security of employment against pressures that might arise from such conflicts, in the belief that the University and society at large benefit from honest judgments and independent criticisms rendered by scholars who are free from fear of possible consequences that might arise from giving offense to powerful individuals or groups.

Tenure provides stability for both individual faculty members and the University. Tenure provides a faculty member with an environment conducive to long-term scholarly work. The University, for its part, is assured of a continuing group of teachers and scholars committed to the University, around which it can plan and from whom it can draw its academic leadership.

Professional Conduct

All faculty members are expected to conduct themselves in relations with colleagues, staff and students across the University in such a way as to promote the academic well-being of all concerned. Faculty members should avoid denigrating the character and professional competence of others, and should pass judgment on the work of colleagues only in the proper academic forums. Further, they should refrain from actions that prevent others from pursuing their legitimate activities and should strive to be helpful, readily contributing their time and expertise for the overall benefit of the academic community.


The standards outlined here guide all decisions made at each stage of a regular faculty appointment, beginning with the original decision to hire. Because these standards are intended to apply university-wide to faculty members engaged in complex intellectual endeavours, they cannot be expressed in absolute quantitative terms. Nonetheless, they do provide a framework around which qualitative judgments can be made by academic administrators and by those serving on tenure and promotion committees.

The University expects all faculty members to maintain high standards in all aspects of their university work. To this end, the University exercises judgments on performance in the basic areas of a faculty member's academic responsibilities: teaching, scholarship and service. Such judgments must be made with the greatest possible care and fairness as they are reflected in decisions regarding salary, reappointment, tenure and promotion.

It is the responsibility of department Chairs to assess the performance of each regular faculty member annually, to provide a written performance review and to be available to discuss it upon request. Performance reviews are especially important in helping new faculty members gauge their progress towards meeting the standards for reappointment and tenure. Annual performance reviews form part of the evidence in tenure and promotion considerations, together with reports from external referees and more extensive career reviews carried out by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee (DTPC).


The purpose of teaching is to facilitate learning. Thus, effective teaching draws the strands of a field together in a way that provides coherence and meaning, places what is known in context, lays the groundwork for future learning, and opens the way for connections between the known and the unknown. High-quality teaching is an important goal of the University. All regular faculty members are expected to contribute to undergraduate teaching and, where possible, to contribute to graduate teaching and to participate in project/thesis supervision.

University teaching encompasses a wide range of activities. It takes many different forms (e.g., undergraduate and graduate courses, graduate seminars, distance education, project and thesis supervision), has many different components (e.g., lectures, tutorials, setting and grading of assignments and examinations, interaction with students outside the classroom, curriculum development), and can occur in many different environments (e.g., large lecture theatres, small seminar rooms, off-campus short courses and workshops, clinics, laboratories, one-on-one supervision).

In all of their teaching activities, faculty members are expected to be fair in the evaluation of student work and constructive in their comments. They are expected to be available to students for interviews and consultations outside the classroom at reasonable times. They must always respect the integrity of their students and carefully avoid any exploitation of them for private advantage. They must maintain strict confidentiality with regard to students' personal lives and political and religious views. They must comment on academic progress and provide judgments on character only to appropriate persons and in appropriate circumstances, and must always be as fair and as objective as possible when making assessments and providing letters of reference.


University teaching is informed and enriched by the research and scholarship of the professoriate. The University expects its regular faculty members to be active participants in the evolution of their disciplines and professions, to keep academic programs and courses current with developments in their fields, and to communicate both their discoveries and their commitment to scholarship and research. Where feasible, faculty members are expected to seek external funding to support their scholarly work.

Scholarship may take several equally valuable forms. One is the discovery of new knowledge, which may differ from discipline to discipline, and includes the generation of new concepts, ideas, principles and theories. A second form involves the innovative coordination, synthesis or integration of knowledge. This type of scholarship seeks and promotes understanding in a broader context by organizing knowledge in a new and useful way, by illustrating new relationships between the parts and the whole, by relating the past in a new way to the present and future, or by demonstrating new and significant patterns of meaning. Scholarship may also be observed in new and useful applications. Indeed, significant new applications of knowledge to the problems of society represent important scholarly contributions. Novel applications may take many forms, such as creative writing, design, fine and performing arts, innovative clinical or professional practice, and the discovery, development and transfer of technology for societal benefit. Peer-reviewed research with respect to pedagogy and peer-reviewed research with respect to innovative teaching also constitute scholarly activity.

Although any of these scholarly activities may be carried out on a confidential basis, the expectation of the University is for communicated scholarship. In general, only work that is accessible for peer review or professional adjudication can be considered in assessing scholarship for performance reviews, tenure or promotion. Regardless of the discipline and type of scholarship, the key ingredients are the originality, quality and impact of the scholarly work.

Faculty members are expected to meet the ethical standards for scholarship in their particular fields of endeavour; to observe the University's guidelines and policies with respect to ethical conduct in research; and more generally, to act with integrity, truthfulness and honesty in the conduct and communication of their scholarly work.


In addition to their primary duties of teaching and scholarship, regular faculty members have a responsibility to participate in the effective functioning of the University through service on committees, student advising, coordination of activities and in administrative positions. It is important that all faculty members be willing to assist with administrative duties when their help is needed. Many faculty members also provide valuable service to groups outside the University, such as disciplinary or professional organizations, conferences, journals and granting councils. Community service related to a faculty member's scholarly activities is normally considered as service to the University.


Peer assessment of teaching, scholarship and service forms the basis for determining the suitability of a faculty member for the granting of tenure or for promotion to Professor. Insofar as possible, tenure and promotion committees shall base their assessments on evidence that is first-hand and direct.

Assessment of Teaching

Teaching quality should be assessed broadly using evidence gathered from as many sources as practicable. Responsibility for providing documentary evidence on teaching rests with the candidate and, to a lesser degree, with the department Chair. A teaching dossier developed by the candidate may be the most effective way of assembling this information.

Classroom performance may be judged in terms of preparation, organization of subject matter, currency of course material, presentation skills, ability to stimulate student interest and scholarship, suitability of assignments and examinations, and willingness to provide individual feedback and help outside the classroom. Student course evaluations are an important source of information, but they should be supplemented with peer evaluation of teaching skills, course content and course materials.

University teaching involves much more than classroom performance and, hence, it is important to develop a fair assessment of competence and effectiveness across the candidate's full spectrum of teaching activities. Contributions to project and thesis supervision, clinical supervision and instruction, graduate seminars, oral and thesis examinations, and curriculum development are all relevant in assessing overall teaching activity. The opinions of current and former students can be of value if solicited on a systematic basis.

Assessment of Scholarship

The University relies primarily on external referees and members of the DTPC to judge a candidate's scholarly record. Although the University looks for evidence of active continuing scholarship, the volume of scholarly output is less important than its quality, originality and impact.

A candidate for tenure or promotion must provide examples of her/his scholarly work for examination by referees and the DTPC. The candidate is responsible for documenting contributions made to team research and jointly authored work. Joint work with students supervised by the candidate should be identified. The candidate must also provide an overview of her/his scholarly work to date, information about work in progress and a general indication of future plans.

High quality contributions to the synthesis of knowledge (e.g., books, monographs, review articles) and to non-traditional forms of scholarship (e.g., artistic exhibitions and performances, innovative design) can provide direct evidence of effective scholarship. Consulting reports and planning documents that are accessible for peer review and evidence of having produced improvements in clinical or professional practice may also be submitted as evidence of a candidate's scholarly contributions.

Other evidence of activity and standing as a scholar includes supervision of student research, invitations to present "keynote" addresses, election to and awards received from professional and disciplinary societies, service as a referee for journals and granting councils, and membership on government or professional committees.

The primary assessment of quality, originality and impact is made by referees and DTPC members on the basis of examining examples of the candidate's work. Other less direct indicators include the rigor of the review processes for journals and conferences in which the candidate has published, the standards of publishing houses for books, and the extent to which other scholars have made reference to the work. In areas such as the fine and performing arts, similar information may be derived from the prestige of exhibitions and performances to which the candidate has contributed, professional reviews and the receipt of awards or prizes.

Assessment of service

Candidates for tenure or promotion shall provide information on their service activities in sufficient detail to allow the DTPC to assess its quantity and quality. Where necessary, the DTPC should obtain statements from those who have personally observed the candidate's service contributions both internal and external to the University. Some service activities, such as chairing a curriculum committee or editing a professional society journal, may also provide indirect evidence for scholarship and teaching.


Candidates for tenure and promotion must apply to the department Chair not later than June 1st in order that their applications can be considered by the DTPC and FTPC during the fall term.

Consideration for tenure

A faculty member holding a second probationary-term appointment is entitled to formal consideration for tenure, which normally occurs during the second year of the second probationary term. However, the candidate may choose to postpone consideration until the third year. Service beyond the second probationary term is possible only if tenure has been granted.

In exceptional circumstances, for instance where extensive experience was acquired prior to the probationary appointment at UW, an individual may be considered for tenure earlier than the second year of the second probationary appointment. Such early consideration requires the agreement in advance of the candidate and the DTPC plus the written agreement of the Dean. If either the DTPC or the FTPC recommends against tenure, early tenure consideration shall cease and the candidate must wait for tenure consideration until the final year of the second probationary-term appointment.

As of January 1, 2002 the granting of tenure to a probationary-term Assistant Professor carries with it appointment at the rank of Associate Professor. Assistant Professors tenured prior to January 1, 2002 may apply for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor. The relevant criteria and procedures are those for the granting of tenure at the rank of Associate Professor, as described below.

The expectations for the granting of tenure are: a record as a good teacher committed to academic and pedagogical excellence; a record of high-quality and peer-assessed scholarly or creative work (normally demonstrated by publication or presentation in suitable academic or artistic forums); and a record of professional, university or community service. See sections II. and III. The granting of tenure normally will require a record of strong performance in both scholarship and teaching, with satisfactory performance in service. However, a candidate may also qualify for appointment as a tenured Associate Professor by virtue of very strong performance in scholarship or teaching with at least satisfactory performance in the other two areas.

Tenure is not a right: it must be earned by a record of good performance. By the time candidates are considered for tenure they will have had ample opportunity to develop their teaching skills and to make original contributions to their fields of endeavour. These original contributions must be of sufficient magnitude to give witness to a candidate's depth of understanding and scholarly and professional competence. Committees and external referees will be concerned not so much with the volume of scholarly output as with the depth of understanding and degree of scholarly competence it demonstrates. Particular attention will be paid to assessing the likelihood that candidates will continue their scholarly activities once tenure has been awarded.

Candidates for tenure should have demonstrated their willingness to participate in service activities as described in Section II. However, service expectations are lower for probationary faculty than for tenured faculty, and service is not weighted as heavily as scholarship or teaching in tenure considerations.

Consideration for promotion to Professor

In principle, a tenured Associate Professor may apply in any year for promotion; however, it is unusual for such a promotion to occur prior to five years of full-time service in the rank of Associate Professor. If an application for promotion is unsuccessful, the candidate becomes eligible to reapply two years thereafter.

Promotion to the rank of Professor recognizes a high order of achievement in both scholarship and teaching by tenured Associate Professors, together with satisfactory performance in service. Although evidence of strong teaching performance is required, normally the greatest emphasis is placed on scholarship and achievement within an individual's discipline. However, in exceptional cases, a tenured Associate Professor may be promoted on the basis of an outstanding teaching record accompanied by a continuing and long-standing record of satisfactory or better scholarship and service.

A continuous program of scholarship with positive peer review by nationally and internationally recognized scholars is essential for promotion to Professor. For clinical faculty, the relevant scholars will often be nationally and internationally recognized practitioners in the relevant fields, and may not have academic appointments. The candidate's record is to be judged in comparison with the records of faculty members recently promoted at UW and other universities of comparable standing. Promotion to Professor is not an assured step in the career of a faculty member, and some will not attain this rank.


Department Tenure and Promotion Committee (DTPC)

The DTPC shall be chaired by the department Chair and shall include four to six tenured faculty members elected by the tenured and probationary faculty of the department. The Chair and elected members shall be voting members of the DTPC. Normally, a majority of the DTPC's voting members should be full professors; it is desirable that each DTPC include both men and women. In addition, the Dean may appoint a non-voting advisor to the DTPC.

In small departments or where there are too few full professors to constitute a majority on the committee, the Dean, after consultation with the department and with the written approval of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, may make other arrangements respecting the size and composition of the DTPC.

In departments that include clinical faculty, when such faculty are likely to be evaluated for tenure or promotion the DTPC should include members with the requisite expertise to evaluate the scholarly contributions of the clinical faculty.

By May 1 each year the Chair shall report the DTPC membership to the Dean and to the department's tenured and probationary faculty, and shall invite those who wish to be considered for tenure or promotion to apply by June 1.

Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee (FTPC)

The FTPC shall be chaired by the Faculty Dean and shall include at least five tenured faculty members broadly representative of Faculty program areas and elected by the tenured and probationary members of the Faculty. FTPC members may not serve simultaneously on a DTPC in the same Faculty. A majority of the FTPC's elected members shall be full professors; it is desirable that each FTPC include both men and women. The Dean and elected members shall be voting members of the FTPC, and the Vice-President, Academic & Provost shall appoint an additional voting member who shall be a tenured faculty member from outside the Faculty. The University Tenure and Promotion Advisory Committee (UTPAC) shall appoint a non-voting advisor from amongst its members. The Dean shall report the membership of the FTPC to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and to the Faculty's tenured and probationary faculty.

University Tenure and Promotion Committee (UTPC)

The UTPC shall be chaired by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and shall include the Faculty Deans, the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs and the Vice-President, University Research and International. In addition, the UTPC shall include two non-voting student members, one undergraduate and one graduate, appointed by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost in consultation with the President of the Federation of Students and the President of the Graduate Student Association. The UTPC shall be advisory to the President on individual tenure and promotion cases, and on the comparability of standards across the University.

University Tenure and Promotion Advisory Committee (UTPAC)

The UTPAC shall consist of the Chair plus six additional tenured faculty members jointly appointed by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and the FAUW President for three-year terms; at least five shall be full professors. The Committee shall include both men and women. The UTPAC Chair shall appoint a member of UTPAC to each FTPC, with no member serving on the FTPC in her/his own Faculty. Otherwise, members of UTPAC may not serve on any DTPC or FTPC.

The UTPAC is advisory to Senate through the Vice-President, Academic & Provost concerning tenure and promotion standards, policies and procedures, and may recommend changes to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost. UTPAC shall report to Senate annually on its activities.


Application for tenure or promotion to Professor

The candidate shall inform the department Chair in writing by June 1, and shall meet with the Chair to discuss the procedures to be followed.

Candidate's brief

By July 1, the candidate shall submit a brief supporting the application for tenure or promotion. This brief must include a curriculum vitae, copies of relevant scholarly work, a summary of the candidate's contributions in scholarship, teaching and service, and any other relevant information the candidate feels may be useful to the DTPC and FTPC. The candidate must also submit, by July 1, the names of at least three arms-length external referees who can assess her/his published work.

Annual Performance Reviews

The Chair shall provide the DTPC with copies of all written assessments made of the candidate within the department.

External referees

External opinions of a candidate's scholarly contributions are sought in all tenure and promotion cases; normally at least three external reviews are obtained. External referees shall be both external to UW and at arms-length from the candidate.

The DTPC shall consider the candidate's list of referees and normally will suggest additional names. After consulting with the Dean, the Chair shall inform the candidate of the pool of potential referees. The candidate may challenge, in writing to the DTPC, a potential referee for bias, apprehension of bias, perceived conflict of interest or unsuitability. If the DTPC and the candidate do not agree on the pool of potential referees, at least half of the referees contacted must be from those approved by the candidate.

Letters soliciting comments from referees shall be sent by the Dean. Referees shall be sent copies of this policy, and shall be asked to assess the candidate's scholarly work and, if possible, to compare it with the scholarly achievements of others recently tenured at their own institutions or others of similar standing. Informal contacts with potential external referees by the department Chair, DTPC or FTPC members, or the candidate are inappropriate.

Tenure or promotion file

The tenure or promotion file for a candidate consists of: all evidence considered by the DTPC, the FTPC or the President; the DTPC assessment of the candidate's performance in teaching, scholarship and service; the outcome of deliberations by the DTPC, the FTPC and the President. The file shall also include the numerical record of votes taken, plus any written statements, including reasons, by DTPC or FTPC members who do not agree with the majority recommendation. If the file is provided to the candidate, it shall include all internal or external letters of assessment with the names of the authors and other identifying references deleted, unless the authors have expressly consented to being identified.

Conflict of interest

A member of a tenure and promotion committee who has a conflict of interest in a particular case shall declare the conflict and shall be absent from the portion of committee meetings dealing with that case. In particular, no DTPC or FTPC member may attend those portions of meetings at which her/his own case is being considered (except when appearing as a candidate). If the Committee Chair has a conflict of interest, the committee shall elect another of its members to serve as Chair pro tem during the absence of the Chair.


Prior to consideration of a case, a candidate may challenge in writing any member or members of a DTPC or FTPC for bias, apprehension of bias or perceived conflict of interest. The committee, excluding the member challenged, shall decide whether the challenge is well-founded. If so, the challenged member shall not attend those portions of committee meetings dealing with the specific case. If the committee decides that a challenge is not well-founded, the challenged member shall participate, but the challenge becomes part of the record for any subsequent consideration or appeal.

Procedures at the Department Level

The DTPC shall meet to consider all applications from the department for tenure or promotion, shall prepare an assessment of each candidate's performance in teaching, scholarship and service, and shall decide whether to recommend tenure or promotion. The assessment should state clearly, and in detail, the evidence considered, the criteria applied to the evidence, the evaluation of the candidate in each of the three areas and the emphasis placed on each area.

If a candidate's work intersects significantly with work in another academic unit, the Chair will normally ask an appropriate member or members of that unit for comment. The Chair shall forward to the DTPC any written submissions assessing the candidate's qualifications for tenure or promotion.

If members of the DTPC express significant reservations that could result in a negative recommendation, the Chair shall provide the candidate with a complete copy of the tenure or promotion file, together with a written explanation of the nature of the reservations in sufficient detail to allow the candidate to respond. Within ten working days the candidate shall provide her/his written response (including any relevant new evidence) to the Chair for distribution to the DTPC. The candidate may also choose to appear before the DTPC and may choose to be accompanied by a UW academic colleague. The DTPC shall not finalize its recommendation until the candidate has been given the opportunity to respond, as described above.

When the DTPC has completed its deliberations, the Chair shall inform the candidate in writing of the outcome (including the basis for it, if negative), and shall forward the tenure or promotion file to the Dean for consideration by the FTPC. When a negative recommendation has gone forward, the Chair shall inform the candidate that the FTPC will review the case unless the candidate chooses to withdraw it.

Procedures at the Faculty Level

The FTPC shall consider all positive tenure and promotion recommendations from a DTPC to ensure that the DTPC has acted carefully and appropriately in its deliberations, that its recommendations are sound and that comparable standards are being applied from department to department. Negative DTPC recommendations will also be reviewed unless the candidate has chosen to withdraw her/his case.

The FTPC shall base its deliberations primarily on the report forwarded by the DTPC. The DTPC Chair (or delegate) normally will present the DTPC recommendations to the FTPC and will be available to answer questions, but shall not otherwise participate in the proceedings. In exceptional circumstances, the FTPC may decide to contact additional arms-length, external referees; if such additional referees were not in the original pool of potential referees developed by the DTPC, the candidate's right to challenge must be respected, as specified above.

If members of the FTPC express significant reservations that could result in a negative recommendation, the Dean shall provide the candidate with a complete copy of the tenure or promotion file, together with a written explanation of the nature of the reservations in sufficient detail to allow the candidate to respond. Within ten working days the candidate shall provide her/his written response (including any relevant new evidence) to the Dean for distribution to the FTPC. The candidate may also choose to appear before the FTPC and may choose to be accompanied by a UW academic colleague. The FTPC shall not finalize its recommendation until the candidate has been given the opportunity to respond, as described above.

When the FTPC has completed its deliberations, the Dean shall inform the candidate in writing of the outcome (including the basis for it, if negative). For positive recommendations, the Dean shall forward the tenure or promotion file to the President. Negative promotion recommendations by both the DTPC and FTPC shall result in the promotion file being closed for that particular year. Otherwise, negative FTPC recommendations will be forwarded to the President unless the candidate chooses to withdraw the case.

The President

The President shall consider all tenure or promotion recommendations forwarded by the FTPC, together with the advice of the UTPC.

If the President decides in favour of promotion, he/she shall inform the candidate and report the promotion to Senate and the Board of Governors for information. If the President supports the granting of tenure, he/she shall inform the candidate, recommend approval to the Board of Governors, and subsequently report the granting of tenure to Senate for information.

If the President decides against tenure or promotion, he/she shall inform the candidate in writing with reasons. In the event of a negative tenure decision, the candidate's appointment shall be extended as necessary to provide 12 months' notice from the date the candidate is informed.


A negative tenure or promotion decision by the President may be appealed. Within ten working days of being informed of the negative decision, the candidate must submit written notice of intent to appeal to the UTPAC Chair, who shall establish a three-person Tribunal to hear the appeal.

Members of the Tribunal normally shall be or shall have been tenured Associate Professors or Professors at the University of Waterloo in the candidate's discipline or a related discipline. They shall not have had any prior connection with the particular tenure or promotion consideration nor have had a close professional or personal relationship with the candidate.

The candidate and the President shall each propose at least three possible Tribunal members in accordance with the above criteria, and shall be given the opportunity to challenge in writing the names proposed by the other party with respect to the criteria or for bias, apprehension of bias or perceived conflict of interest. The UTPAC Chair normally shall appoint the three Tribunal members from the names proposed, including at least one member proposed by each of the parties, and shall name one of the members as the Tribunal Chair.

If the UTPAC Chair judges that it is not possible to establish an internal Tribunal meeting the above requirements, one or more of the three Tribunal members may be external to the University of Waterloo. External members shall be or shall have been tenured Associate Professors or Professors at another Canadian university in the candidate's discipline or a closely related discipline. They shall not have had any prior connection with the particular tenure or promotion consideration nor have had a close professional or personal relationship with the candidate. The candidate and the President shall be given the opportunity to propose external Tribunal members and to challenge in writing external members proposed by the other party or by the UTPAC Chair.

The Tribunal shall conduct its proceedings in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The Tribunal shall be provided with the complete tenure or promotion file, and shall schedule a hearing at which the parties may present arguments and submissions, and may call, examine and question witnesses. The candidate is entitled to be accompanied by a UW colleague. The burden of proof shall be on the candidate to demonstrate that the criteria for tenure or promotion have been met.

The Tribunal shall decide by majority vote on the basis of the evidence submitted to it whether the criteria for tenure or promotion have been met. The Tribunal Chair shall forward a written decision, with reasons, to the candidate and the President, with copies to the UTPAC Chair and the FAUW President. The decision of the Tribunal is final and binding on the candidate and the University, except that an alleged failure of the Tribunal to comply with the above procedures may be grieved under the grievance and arbitration provisions of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University.