*This does not constitute an employment contract
Department of Chemistry
DEPARTMENTAL CRITERIA FOR ACTIONS INVOLVING REAPPOINTMENT, PROMOTION, AND TENURE
Approved by the Office of the Provost Oct. 30, 2023
The American University Department of Chemistry expects, supports, and requires effective teaching, creative scholarship, and service to the department, the college, the university, and professional scholarly communities from faculty members seeking to qualify for reappointment, promotion and/or tenure. Faculty members seeking to qualify for reappointment, promotion and/or tenure must document success in each of these areas. The department follows the general standards, timetable, and procedures for reappointments, promotion, and tenure laid down in the Faculty Manual and supplemented by instructions from the Dean of Faculty, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Committee on Faculty Actions.
This document seeks to make these criteria more focused and specific for faculty members in the Department of Chemistry applying for reappointment, promotion, or tenure, as well as for the department's Rank and Tenure Committee and the department chair in their roles in the reappointment, promotion, or tenure process. This document takes into account that the Department of Chemistry at AU is a predominantly undergraduate department with a higher teaching and service load than Tier I research institutions.
The Rank and Tenure Committee and the chair consider the entire career-long contributions of faculty, with particular emphasis on contributions since their arrival at American University. We expect, support, and require excellence in both teaching and scholarship. A professor who fails to make a significant contribution to scholarship during the pre-tenure years will not receive promotion to Associate Professor or tenure, whatever their teaching record. Similarly, an excellent scholar who fails to teach effectively will not receive promotion or tenure. Promotion to the rank of Professor is a matter of the faculty member's level of cumulative scholarly achievement, pedagogical contributions, and professional service.
Service to the department, the university community, and the wider professional scholarly community is expected to be an intrinsic part of a faculty member's basic obligations (see faculty manual, section 10. a. iv.) Exemplary service enriches our field and is expected for all faculty. The department appreciates that the balance among service, scholarship, and teaching often varies over the course of an academic career. It is expected that pre-tenure faculty will focus on building a productive and recognized scholarship program and a strong teaching record. The level of service is expected to increase with rank. While faculty service is a crucial component of all reviews for reappointment, tenure, and promotion, it is never the primary basis for tenure and promotion decisions. As a consequence, it cannot compensate for weak performance in scholarship or teaching at any stage of a faculty member’s academic career.
The department recognizes that pre-tenure faculty must build toward a record of teaching and scholarly excellence. They are encouraged to consult with more senior colleagues, the Rank and Tenure Committee, and the chair on matters regarding their development as a scholar and teacher. Expectations for tenure in the Department of Chemistry at American University are that pre-tenure faculty should establish a respected and independent program of scholarship, excel at teaching and mentoring students, and contribute meaningful service to the department, college, and university. Importantly, the department values efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion – at AU and in the discipline more broadly. The department also values efforts to promote a culture of responsible and ethical practice of chemistry, in accordance with the Hague Ethical Guidelines informed by the principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention (https://www.opcw.org/hague-ethical-guidelines). The Core Element of the Hague Ethical Guidelines, according to which “Achievements in the field of chemistry should be used to benefit humankind and protect the environment,” is fully consistent with the department vision.
The criteria that follow are not intended to be exhaustive or final. They provide general guidelines to assist faculty members under review, as well as senior colleagues conducting reviews. When a faculty member is convinced that the criteria below do not adequately capture their contributions, they are encouraged to express this in a narrative statement to be included in the file.
A.Guidelines for Promotion to Associate Professor
The development of a successful and productive program of scholarly work is required for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. When evaluating a faculty member, the emphasis should be on the quality, not necessarily the quantity, of the scholarly work accomplished. Evidence of quality scholarship will be measured by several major components:
Scholarly output and recognition
Receipt of external funding for scholarly activities
Candidates with exceptional scholarship achievements can be considered for tenure and promotion without receipt of external funding, provided they demonstrate vigorous solicitation of funding and excellent scores on grant applications.
Minor criteria can carry weight when assessing the candidate’s scholarship accomplishments holistically. These are accomplishments that will be viewed positively in the review process, but not as determining factors:
Receipt of an excellent score on one or more grants
Authorship of other scholarly publications, such as abstracts
Presentations at regional, national, and international society meetings or other educational institutions
Sponsorship of student research, such as I-CORP mentorship or publication in The Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research
In this section, the department outlines some potential methods to assess multiple types of individual works that our faculty have historically produced and guidelines for a holistic evaluation of an applicant’s complete scholarly program. The department will implement its evaluation procedure in a way that it does not put at a disadvantage faculty with historically-marginalized identities (including female faculty, faculty of color, and faculty with non-traditional gender or sexual identities, among others).
Our faculty engage in scholarship that expands across the entire chemical enterprise, including, but not limited to, bench chemistry, computational chemistry, chemical education, chemical communication, chemical policy, chemical security, business and product development, and other fields that result in public impact, which can be demonstrated through different professional and public outlets. Regardless of the specific field, prior to the tenure and promotion decision, the candidate should have established a significant record of recognized scholarly work.
It is recognized that nearly all scholarly work will require collaborations, and thus authorship outside the department or university. It is not uncommon to have half a dozen authors on a single publication in chemistry, so publications will not be diminished by the number of authors on a paper. However, the publications (especially toward the end of a faculty member’s pre-tenure service) should be representative of the faculty member’s AU research program and demonstrate a degree of independence and scope outside the pre-tenure faculty’s graduate or post-doctoral research. In addition, the pre-tenure faculty member should be the first, last, and/or corresponding author on at least one third of publications produced after the candidate joins AU. The date of submission of the file for action to the departmental Rank and Tenure Committee is the last relevant date for reporting scholarly publication or submission of manuscripts to a publisher, other than updates regarding publication acceptances of materials already referenced in the file (as provided in the CFA’s “Instructions for Submitting Files for Action”).
Publication within chemical research journals The department recognizes that the venue for traditional chemical research communication is publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The publisher, journal (with impact factor), and number of citations to the published article will be used by the department as metrics to evaluate quality. The department recognizes that these metrics are imperfect and must be applied thoughtfully. The department recognizes that impact factors for journals vary by discipline within the chemical enterprise and will evaluate accordingly. The department also recognizes that recently published journal articles will not have time to accrue the number of citations that are useful in evaluation. In this case, reviewer statements, page views, article downloads, article shares, and article saves to reference management software can assist in giving context to the quality of an article. Invited lectures, relevant external consultations and request for collaboration, and media coverage that are based on the published work are other useful evaluative metrics that are applicable.
Publication within chemical pedagogy and education research journals Development, study and communication of pedagogical or education research is valuable scholarship that advances the discipline of chemistry and is recognized as such by the department. Research and scholarly articles in peer-reviewed chemical education journals can be evaluated as those listed above.
Publication of other disciplinary research on issues affecting the chemical enterprise Within the scope of their scholarly activities, faculty members may do research work – alone or in collaboration with other subject-matter specialists – in fields that are relevant to the chemical enterprise but fall outside the realm of what might be thought of as traditional chemical research. These efforts, published in peer-reviewed journals appropriate for the non-chemistry discipline, can reflect well on the recognized expertise of the faculty member while also advancing the chemical profession. Articles like this may be evaluated as those listed above.
Public facing chemical scholarship Work that affects the manner in which chemistry is practiced or engaged with by the public sector is recognized as valuable to the chemical enterprise by the department. This work requires specialist understanding and expertise to complete and is a reflection of the value of the faculty member. Examples can include: translation of laboratory findings to market, chemical policy implementation, public communication of chemistry (major media placement, published books and articles, and public lectures), and efforts to impact diversity, equity and inclusion within the practice of chemistry. Important evaluative criteria can include venue, audience size, audience identity (congressional panels, for instance), and critical reviews.
Evidence of work in Chemical Enterprise and Entrepreneurship A major goal in scholarly research is to impart a timely positive impact in the lives of others. The department recognizes this and places value on the chemical enterprise, entrepreneurship, and strategic partnerships with companies to transfer intellectual property from the laboratory benchtop to the marketplace. This is of great importance to the university as evidenced through the AU Incubator, the AU Regional Innovation Corps (ICorps) Node site, and partnerships with the Kogod School of Business. The Department will recognize work done in the chemical enterprise including scholarly activities that cannot be immediately measured, published, or disseminated to a public audience due to the existence of proprietary information or non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with a business partner. The department will value strategic partnerships with local business partnerships and national laboratories, participation in local and national ICORPS programs, the application and receipt of small business (SBIR) and small business technology transfer (STTR) grants, participation in the AU Incubator and other business trainings, pre-patent and patent applications, and the ultimate commercialization and dissemination of technology or related products to the greater marketplace among similar related activities.
Publication of research in pre-print archives Among the scientific disciplines, chemistry has been a late adopter of depositing articles to pre-print servers. These servers are useful to the community for sharing and distributing novel research results. Posting manuscripts on a repository of electronic preprints, such as ChemRxiv, can be an effective way of disseminating the work. While these manuscripts have not gone through rigorous peer-review and cannot be counted as journal articles, there are valuable external assessments that can be gathered as evidence of scholarly quality. Among others, this evidence can include citations, opinions by grant reviewers, or public comments expressed by experts in the field in the preprint server or other public fora such as Pubpeer. To use these comments as the evidence of scholar quality, the identity of the commenters cannot be anonymous, except in the case of grant reviews, which are necessarily anonymous. Additionally, the department may consider other evidence-based criteria for the evaluation of the quality of preprints as they are developed by bibliographers.
As indicated in the preceding paragraphs, the department recognizes that different lines of work will lead to different scholarly products. The department also recognizes that the evaluation of scholarship that goes beyond research published in peer-reviewed chemistry journals demands explicit guidance to benefit the applicant, department, university administration, and external evaluators. To this end, the department strongly suggests that candidates meet with appropriate university library staff to discuss evaluative methodologies that are appropriate for their scholarship but not explicitly detailed within this document. It is the responsibility of the candidate to effectively communicate additional methods within their application.
Ethics for Research and Scholarly Activity American University as an institution of higher education, is dedicated to learning and research and the truthful presentation of scholarly information to its students and the academic community at-large.
Intellectual honesty is of paramount importance as faculty members conduct their scholarly activities. The faculty of the Department of Chemistry therefore have adopted the following statement of attitudes and preventive practices:
1. Faculty should be concerned with the quality of their work and the recognition of the contributions and accomplishments of other investigators, including student authors. Publications should list only those authors who have made significant contributions to the research project and are willing to stand behind the conclusions expressed in the publication or presentation of the material.
2. Faculty should endeavor to ensure validity and accuracy in the collection and reporting of data obtained in the scientific process. In that regard, it is appropriate to scrutinize faculty and scholarly activity for integrity, especially at times of hiring and professional advancement. The open review and critical evaluation of scholarly activities should be a normal part of the recognition of faculty scholarship.
3. The Department of Chemistry maintains the right to review records in circumstances involving accusations of misconduct.
Furthermore, in accordance with the Hague Ethical Guidelines (https://www.opcw.org/hague-ethical-guidelines), faculty members are expected to “promote the beneficial applications, uses, and development of science and technology while encouraging and maintaining a strong culture of safety, health, and security.”
Funding for scholarly work: The department recognizes the importance of securing external funding for building strong faculty research programs. As members of a smaller, teaching intensive, non-doctoral granting department, Chemistry faculty may face additional hurdles in acquiring funds from some sources. Nevertheless, successful acquisition of funding is important for the development of faculty careers. Pre-tenure faculty are expected to show evidence of vigorous solicitation of multi-year or renewable grants from competitive sources and to secure funding from external sources. The department recognizes and values funding awarded to support a range of activities. These activities can include but are not limited to the scholarly activities listed above. Specifically, these are: laboratory research, translation of laboratory results to applied technology, research on chemical policy and security, improving education and engagement in chemistry, fostering international exchanges of scholars and students, and promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the chemical enterprise. For tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, the university expects that a faculty member in the department should have been awarded external funding to sustain high quality and well-respected scholarship. In the case where a candidate's applications for highly competitive external grants go unfunded, the department will undertake a holistic evaluation of the candidate's research achievements, including (but not be limited to) receipt of an excellent score on one or more such grants and/or establishment of an exceptional record of published research. Funding from companies and other private sources require establishing good rapport and demonstrating the ability to solve their problems or concerns. Unless there is a conflict of interest, these sources are considered competitive. While PI status is preferable, significant grants on which the candidate is co-PI will carry weight in the context of a holistic analysis.
There are a number of important indicators of the respect afforded the faculty member by the field, which will be considered secondary criteria in the assessment of overall scholarly achievement. These factors may include appointments to grant review panels, invitations to speak at other universities, invitations to write a review article, requests to serve on PhD committees at other institutions, publications in conference proceedings or book chapters, and successful internal grants and awards.
The use of external evaluators within the candidate’s field of expertise and the trajectory of the candidate’s scholarship will serve as important gauges of scholarship quality. Comments pertaining to the candidate’s publication venues (quality), productivity, and overall contributions to the field will be given significant weight in judging scholarship. It is also expected that the candidate’s productivity or national recognition is on track to meet the scholarship criteria of the potential future promotion to Full Professor. This can take the form of, among other accomplishments, a consistent and notable increase in scholarship productivity or national recognition leading up to submission of a file to the department Rank and Tenure Committee.
A candidate’s full portfolio for tenure and promotion should detail the successes and advances of their early career while building a cohesive understanding of how this past work will carry the faculty member into the future. The manner in which the faculty member gives context to their pre-tenure work should enable the reviewer to extrapolate to a future in which they continue to be a valued and productive member of the chemistry community.
In a department that offers a MS as its highest degree, effective, evidence-based, and rigorous teaching is essential. The department believes that there are many measures of a faculty member’s teaching ability. As recommended by the Beyond SETs Task Force established by the Faculty Senate, the department requires “a defined [teaching evaluation] portfolio with constrained SET use”. Candidates seeking tenure and promotion to Associate Professor should submit a teaching portfolio containing at least one item from each of the five categories listed in the Task Force’s Final Report to the Faculty Senate. In addition, the department places emphasis on good rapport with students, efforts to support student learning outcomes, and involvement of students in faculty research. Evidence of such accomplishments includes, but is not limited to:
Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in and outside the classroom.
Participating and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classrooms and labs.
Providing timely, fair, and objective assessment of student performance.
Course embedded undergraduate research-based curriculum.
Engagement with students outside formal classes, such as in undergraduate independent research projects, government laboratory tours, or one-on-one instruction.
Inclusion of student work or student participation in conference presentations and peer- reviewed publications.
Promoting the ethical, safe, and secure practice of chemistry in the classroom and labs.
Annotated and redacted feedback on student work.
Significant course development, such as the preparation of a new course or new laboratory experiments.
Participation as a pre-medical advisor.
Teaching in continuing education programs.
Acquisition of internal funding to support teaching activities.
Serving as a master’s student’s committee advisor.
Faculty in the Department of Chemistry run a scholarly research program which fosters undergraduate education. In this Scholar – Teacher model, active involvement of students in faculty research is both scholarly activity, in the form of scholarship products, and a strong indicator of effective teaching, through the mentorship of students to become better in chemistry practice. As in scholarship practice, we expect faculty to uphold the highest ethical standards in their mentorship of students, including maintaining equitable workloads, including students as authors on published work, and empowering students to become great scientists.
Evidence of effective teaching should be included in the portfolio. Becoming an excellent teacher is an ongoing process and all faculty need to build a record of teaching excellence. Each faculty member is encouraged to consult the departmental Rank and Tenure Committee and department chair regarding his or her overall development as a teacher.
Any academic institution flourishes by blending a variety of abilities, interests and commitments. The Department of Chemistry regards service as an important aspect of professional development. A strong record of service will be considered in reappointment, promotion and tenure decisions. However, the department also recognizes that service obligations should be minimal for pre-tenure faculty and should grow in scope post-tenure. The department particularly values service activities that promote inclusive excellence, diversity, and anti-racism at the department, college, university, and field levels, and encourages faculty members to demonstrate in their portfolio how their work serves these purposes whenever applicable. The department is committed to ensuring that faculty members are not over-burdened with service commitments. Pre-tenure candidates should coordinate with the chair when evaluating new requests for university service. Through these consultations, a pre-tenure candidate will have the department's support for denying service requests.
B. Guidelines for Promotion to Full Professor
Promotion to the rank of Professor is a matter of the faculty member's level of cumulative scholarly achievement, pedagogical contributions, and professional service. As stated in the Faculty Manual, evidence of the potential to sustain excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service is required. There is a limited amount of time during the pre-tenure period, so faculty seeking tenure are discouraged from time consuming endeavors or activities with high risk of failure. Those faculty members seeking promotion to Professor are not constrained by this, and a broader range of activities are encouraged. When evaluating a faculty member, the emphasis should be on the quality, not necessarily the quantity, of the scholarly work accomplished. The candidate must give evidence of an arc of scholarly activity that demonstrates continued growth in both the breadth and impact of his or her work. Evidence of breadth includes peer-recognized distinct approaches or solutions to an existing line of research, a sustained publication record in a new area of scholarship, funding of a scholarship activity after the attainment of Associate Professor, and expansion of scholarship to include impact on policy and practice. Evidence of good visibility includes a strong record of publications in top-quality journals, active participation in national or international conferences, public facing chemical scholarship, and other methods discussed previously. Successful acquisition of patent disclosures or invited participation in highly regarded panels constitute other prominent examples of evidence of good visibility. As is the case for promotion to Associate Professor, those seeking promotion to Full Professor need to effectively communicate scholarly assessment methodologies outside of those listed above. In addition, the faculty member must continue to pursue grants from external sources. The faculty member should have secured additional funding since the promotion to Associate Professor. Candidates with exceptional scholarship achievements can be considered for promotion to full professor without receipt of external funding, provided they demonstrate vigorous solicitation of funding and excellent scores on grant applications. Significant grants on which the candidate is co-PI and pursuit of high risk, high reward grants will carry weight in the context of a holistic analysis, especially when the grant is an inter-departmental or inter-institutional collaboration.
An associate professor has already demonstrated the ability to be an effective teacher and the promotion to full professor is weighted more towards scholarly achievement and recognition in their field. As recommended by the Beyond SETs Task Force established by the Faculty Senate, the department requires “a defined [teaching evaluation] portfolio with constrained SET use”. Candidates seeking tenure and promotion to Full Professor should submit a teaching portfolio containing at least one item from each of the five categories listed in the Task Force’s Final Report to the Faculty Senate.
The department appreciates that the balance among service, scholarship, and teaching often varies over the course of an academic career. We look to tenured faculty to demonstrate a record of active contributions to faculty governance at all levels. A candidate for the rank of Professor should clearly demonstrate a willingness and ability to provide leadership through service at the levels of the department, college, university, and profession. This may include chairing Senate committees, college educational policy committees, and ad-hoc committees. It may also include serving as Department Chair or leading department reviews and assessments. As a small department, the service load required by the faculty in the department is significant. The service requirements for promotion to Professor will exceed those needed to achieve tenure or promotion to Associate Professor. The added service requirements, especially for leadership positions, must be considered when evaluating the candidate’s file. The department recognizes that at many institutions, female and minority faculty often perform more institutional service than their male and white counterparts. So, while excellence in service is required for promotion, faculty should consult the chair and their peer mentor when they believe they are overwhelmed with new requests for university service.
The department evaluates a faculty member’s consistent service to the profession through a range of indicators. These include: being elected to office in professional organizations; holding positions of responsibility (invited or elected) on professional committees; sitting on grant review panels; organizing or participating in professional conferences; serving on editorial boards of scholarly journals; refereeing works by other scholars submitted for publication; editing scholarly journals; and maintaining active membership in professional organizations.