9.23 – [Pre-AY 18/19] Faculty Promotion and Tenure – Guiding Principles

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 9 | HR - Performance Evaluation, Promotion and Tenure

Responsible Executive: Provost & Chief Academic Officer

Responsible Administrator:

Last Updated: 08/01/2008

(fka 5.90.3)

The following guiding principles are critical underpinnings to the promotion and tenure process at NMSU.


The selection and retention of faculty members are of utmost importance to the quality of the university, the achievement of university goals, and the future of the institution.  In order to ensure a fair process for recognition of excellent faculty, it shall be the policy of the university to allow faculty members to vote on the promotion or tenure of departmental colleagues, exercising collegial judgment based on an established set of criteria.



  1. Access to Promotion and Tenure Policies/University Posting: For faculty members to trust the promotion and tenure process, they need to have a clear idea of what is expected of them, how they will be evaluated, and the rules of the process.  To this end, the university website will include a specific link to the university-wide promotion and tenure rules and procedures, professional ethics related to promotion and tenure, the appeals process, and links to college, department, or division policy statements.
  2. Departmental and Principal Unit Postings
    1. To promote the transparency of the process, each principal unit shall post on its website its written policy document aligned with the Guiding Principles, Criteria, and Policies outlined in these rules and procedures.
    2. Websites will also contain links to the university’s promotion and tenure documents, as well as to each of the department websites.
    3. In addition, each department shall post on its website its current statement of goals, objectives, and expectations as these relate to promotion and tenure (sometimes called a functions and criteria statement). These shall be agreed upon by the faculty in each department and approved by the responsible dean or comparable administrator.
  3. Policies to be Provided to Eligible Faculty: A written copy of promotion and tenure policies will be given to all tenure-track, tenured, college and research faculty who are eligible for consideration for promotion or tenure. (See Combined P & T Rules Through 08/12/2018 or Combined P & T Rules After 8/12/2018)
  4. Conflict of Interest (fka (See RPM 3.00 Conflicts of Interest – Ethical Conduct and ARP 3.13 Conflicts of Interest Arising from Consensual Relationships)



The annual performance evaluation is a component of the promotion and tenure process.  This multi-layered evaluation system relies on consistency at each level of review.  The performance of each faculty member, including college faculty, will be reviewed at least once a year.  The performance evaluation provides documentation of expectations and a record of faculty performance relative to stated expectations.  The form of the evaluation is determined by the college or community college and shall align with promotion and tenure expectations.  (See ARP 9.25 Part 1 Performance Evaluations and ARP 9.36 – [Pre- AY 18/19] Post-Tenure Review)



  1. Service to Mission: The amount of effort that faculty members regardless of rank or position devote to the various aspects of their duties necessarily varies, and any fair promotion and tenure process will recognize these variations.  A successful process considers whether the faculty member is effectively serving the mission of the university, as defined by a department’s criteria and the individual’s agreed upon goals and objectives.  This means, for example, that the efforts of a faculty member made in response to administrators or committees are taken into account during promotion and tenure evaluation and are not discredited.
  2. Fairness Despite Variance in Duties: One faculty member may devote more time to teaching at one point than at another.  The efforts of two faculty members may vary at the same points in their careers according to their particular strengths and department needs.  Faculty assignments in different departments will also vary.  It is fundamentally unfair, for example, to expect the same amount of scholarship and creative activity, service, extension, or outreach from a faculty member teaching one class a semester as from another faculty member teaching three classes a semester or several large lecture classes.
  3. Equitable Treatment: In order to ensure equitable treatment, every faculty member will complete an allocation of effort statement as part of the annual evaluation process.  (See also ARP 6.61 Faculty Assignments – Teaching Load)  When determining the allocation of effort, decisions must be made without regard to race, national origin, gender, gender identity, age, disability, political beliefs, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, special friendships, or animus towards candidates.  Further, for the allocation of effort statement to be accurate and useful, administrators at all levels must understand and take an active role in avoiding institutional factors that could produce an undue burden on untenured faculty members and those from underrepresented groups in the allocation of effort process.
  4. Use of Allocation of Effort Statement: Each college shall develop and use an allocation of effort statement as specified in ARP 9.25 Part 1 Performance Evaluations.  These statements shall be a part of the faculty member’s tenure and/or promotion portfolio, and all aspects of the agreed upon efforts shall be factored into the recommendation made at each step of the process.



  1. Instructor
    1. Demonstrates expertise within their discipline through practical, applied, and/or related experience.
    2. Individuals new to this rank may not have demonstrated ability to conduct independent scholarship and creative activity, but there must be substantive evidence of likely success at university teaching or its equivalent.
    3. Instructors may be working toward a terminal degree.
    4. An instructor’s job description primarily relates to teaching or its equivalent and usually does not include scholarship and creative activity.
    5. An instructor is not eligible for tenure, except at the community colleges.
  2. College Faculty: A person holding a college faculty appointment is eligible for advancement in rank but not eligible for tenure.
  3. Assistant Professor
    1. Normally holds the highest terminal degree in their field of expertise.
    2. Outstanding experience and recognition in a professional field may be considered the equivalent of the terminal degree.
    3. An assistant professor is expected to have a thorough command of the subject matter of some segment of the discipline, in addition to a comprehension of the whole.
    4. Assistant professors are tenure-track faculty members hired on a yearly, renewable contract for a maximum of seven years.
    5. During the sixth year, assistant professors typically are evaluated for promotion and tenure simultaneously, having submitted their portfolio at the beginning of that year.
    6. However, an assistant professor may elect to apply for tenure or promotion at any time with the written approval of department head and dean or their equivalents.
    7. The application for tenure may occur only one time.
  4. Associate Professor
    1. An associate professor is often a mid-career faculty member who has been awarded tenure.
    2. If a faculty member is initially employed at the rank of associate professor without tenure, the probationary period may vary depending upon agreements stipulated in writing at the time of initial hire.
    3. Once tenured, associate professors may hold this rank indefinitely or apply for promotion.
    4. Promotion to professor should not be considered to be forthcoming merely because of years of service to the university, or because tenure has previously been awarded.
    5. In accordance with the principal unit’s timelines, a faculty member may present a promotion portfolio in any given year.
    6. An associate professor must demonstrate competence, continuous progress, and maturity over a large part of the academic field.
    7. It is expected that evidence showing high quality of teaching and scholarship and creative activity has been provided and is current.
  5. Professor
    1. A professor, sometimes referred to as a “full professor,” has established disciplinary, intellectual, and institutional leadership.
    2. The professor demonstrates command and a mature view of the disciplinary field as evidenced by teaching and advising (or its equivalent) or similar experience, scholarship and creative activity, service, extension, or outreach.
    3. Faculty members initially hired at the rank of professor are often given tenure on appointment.



Normally, before being considered for tenure, eligible faculty members serve six consecutive probationary years.  The probationary period begins with the first year of the contract.  Note that according to ARP 6.30 C. 3., “New tenure-track faculty reporting for duty after the last Friday in September (12-month employees) or the second Friday in October (9-month employees) will not receive a temporary contract.…”  The first contract will be issued at the beginning of the next contract period, which will constitute the first year of the probationary period toward tenure.  During the sixth year, a case for tenure and/or promotion is made by the faculty member and considered by the university.  Those achieving tenure are awarded a continuous contract at the end of their sixth year, while those not awarded tenure are given a one-year terminal contract for their seventh and final year of employment at NMSU.  There may be exceptions, however, to shorten or lengthen the normal six-year probationary period.

A. Credit for Prior Service (fka

  1. Faculty members with previous teaching and advising (or its equivalent), service, extension, outreach, scholarly, and/or administrative experience at another institution may have some or all of that experience taken into consideration on appointment at NMSU.
  2. With provost and chief academic officer approval, and particularly when tenure has been granted to a candidate at another institution, tenure may be accorded at the time of initial appointment to the university.
  3. Prior probationary service at another institution may count towards the six-year probationary period at NMSU, but usually only up to a maximum of three years.
  4. Any expedited schedule must be recommended by the department head and dean and agreed to by both the provost and chief academic officer and the faculty member at the time of appointment.
  5. The details of such credit for prior service, the resulting length of the probationary period, the timing of any third-year review, and the period for the tenure application process, shall all be stated unambiguously in the appointment letter.

B. Extension of the Probationary Period (fka

When requested in writing within one year of the qualifying event by the faculty member, leaves of absence can lead to postponement of the tenure decision date; however, modifications in that date require the recommendation of the department head and dean and the approval of the provost and chief academic officer.  Faculty responsibilities may be negotiated when the extension is requested.  An extension may be granted up to two times, so long as the total pre-tenure probationary period does not exceed eight years.  Exceptions to this limit can be made under extraordinary circumstances if approved by the provost and chief academic officer.  Candidates must be held to the same standards of performance when the probationary period has been extended as candidates whose probationary period was not extended.  The probationary period may be extended, upon written request, under the following circumstances:

  1. Leave of Absence without Pay: Probationary faculty members may request in writing a leave of absence without pay, usually not to exceed one academic or fiscal year.  Prior to initiating the leave, affected faculty may request in writing a probation extension of one year.
  2. Military Leave of Absence: Involuntary induction into the armed forces entitles the faculty member to a leave of absence to cover the term of military service.  Such leave constitutes valid grounds for requesting an extension of the tenure decision date.  Similarly, a faculty member’s voluntary participation in a military reserve program may lead to periodic or prolonged absence sufficient to affect the faculty member’s performance (e.g., annual active duty training, or active duty training or participation when a reserve unit is called to active duty) that constitutes valid grounds for extension of the tenure decision date.
  3. Medical Leave of Absence: Probationary faculty members with a serious personal illness or providing prolonged, substantive care for a chronically ill family member may request in writing an extension of the tenure decision date, usually for one year.
  4. Family Leave of Absence or Exceptional Family Responsibilities: Upon written request, probationary faculty members who become parents will receive a one-year automatic extension of the tenure decision date.  Such an extension does not require that the faculty member take a leave of absence.
  5. Catastrophic Events: Probationary faculty who have experienced a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood or who must aid family members in such situations may request in writing an extension of the tenure decision date.
  6. Jury Duty: Prolonged jury service, when significantly affecting a faculty member’s performance, constitutes a valid reason to petition for extension of the tenure decision date.
  7. Other, as Negotiated: Extensions for other reasons may be negotiated.

C. Reduction of the Probationary Period (fka

  1. Tenure Upon Initial NMSU Appointment: Faculty members who have worked in a teaching and advising (or its equivalent), service, extension, scholarly, and/or administrative role at another institution may have some or all of that work taken into consideration on appointment at NMSU.  With provost and chief academic officer approval, and particularly when tenure has been granted to a candidate at another institution, tenure may be accorded at the time of initial appointment to the university.
  2. Expedited Tenure Schedule: Prior probationary service at another institution may count towards the six-year probationary period at NMSU, but usually only up to a maximum of three years.  Any expedited schedule must be recommended by the department head and dean and agreed to by both the provost and chief academic officer and the faculty member at the time of appointment.  The details of such credit for prior service, the resulting length of the probationary period, the timing of any third-year review, and the period for the tenure application process, shall all be stated unambiguously in the appointment letter.  In such instances, no extension of the probationary period will be granted unless the request falls in one of the categories mentioned in in subsection B. above, Extension of the Probationary Period.
  3. Committee, Department Head and Dean Supported Appeal for Early Tenure Review: Current faculty may request the length of the probationary period be shortened.  Such an appeal requires the written request of the faculty member, positive recommendations of the department promotion and tenure committee as determined in the spring review, department head, and dean.  If this tenure application is not successful, the candidate’s contract is not renewed according to the provisions of Rule ARP 9.43.

D. Part-Time Faculty and Tenure (fka

  1. Retention of Tenure Upon Move from Full Time to Part Time: Tenured, full-time faculty members who move to part-time status may retain tenure.
    1. Retention of tenure in such a case requires the written request of the faculty member, positive recommendations of the department head and dean, and approval of the provost and chief academic officer.
    2. While this rule encourages departments to accommodate reasonable requests for part-time appointment, part-time appointments are not an entitlement, and requests may be turned down.
    3. Pending availability of funding and the approval of the department head, dean and provost and chief academic officer, the faculty member may return later to full-time tenured status. (See  subsection 4. below)
  2. Procedural Guidelines
    1. When a full-time, tenure-track position becomes part time, the time in rank is prorated based on full-time equivalent (FTE).
    2. As with full-time faculty, the maximum probationary period for part-time faculty members is the equivalent of six FTE years, with the tenure decision to be made before the end of the six full-time years of service. For example, a tenure-track candidate with a 0.50 FTE appointment must apply for tenure at the end of the 11th year.
    3. Part-time tenure-track faculty must be held to the same standards of performance relative to FTE as full-time faculty.
    4. If denied tenure, a faculty member on part-time appointment has only one year of continued part-time employment beyond the denial.
  3. Regular Part Time Appointment Defined: Faculty members whose regular appointments are less than 0.50 FTE do not accumulate probationary time toward tenure.
  4. Return from Part Time to Full Time: When recurring state funding is available, a tenure-track, part-time faculty member may apply for a full-time tenure track position and, if hired, apply earned tenure-track FTE from prior years toward tenure and promotion in the full-time position.

E. Joint Appointment (with Dual Primary Responsibilities (fka

In appropriate circumstances, a faculty member may be appointed in two departments or colleges.  The faculty member with a joint appointment has a memorandum of understanding from all involved units.  The memorandum of understanding stipulates the expected workload and allocation of effort distributed between the two departments; identifies the principal unit where tenure resides or will reside if applicable; defines the responsibilities of the faculty member in each unit; and indicates the term of appointment.  The memorandum must explain the process for performance and promotion and tenure reviews, renewal of the joint appointment, and salary increases.  Each unit must provide recommendations in annual, probationary, tenure, and promotion reviews.  In joint appointments with centers or institutes, the tenure home must reside in a principal unit.  In joint appointments with two or more academic units, one unit must be designated, by mutual agreement, as the tenure home.



Tenure-track faculty members may request a formal mid-probationary review by those principal units that make such an option available.  The mid-probationary review is an optional opportunity to obtain feedback on the tenure-track faculty member’s performance and is used to identify specific activities to enhance the candidate’s progress toward promotion and tenure.  The review is formative, intended to assist tenure-track faculty in achieving promotion and tenure and should take into account the allocation of work effort during the three years reviewed and be based upon the principal unit’s criteria.  The outcome must not be used as a determinant for setting merit pay or for contract continuation decisions.  Principal units should see ARP 9.25 Part 4 for additional information



The community colleges (other than Doña Ana Community College, whose division committees function as department committees), and the library faculty should begin their promotion and tenure deliberations with a committee that acts as a college-level committee.  Specific variations are described below.

  1.  Community Colleges (fka
    1. Mission and Corresponding Emphasis in Evaluation Process: The mission of NMSU’s community colleges is to provide open access to quality education and support economic and cultural life in prescribed service areas.  Community colleges provide traditional liberal arts education, vocational and technical training, contract training, community interest classes, and developmental education.  Every effort is made to keep programs and curricula flexible, in order to accommodate varied and expanding community educational needs.  Since the community college’s primary role is the dissemination of information, more emphasis is placed on teaching and advising (or its equivalent), in the evaluation process.
    2. Tenure Committees: Due to their size, the organizational structure for tenure review at the Alamogordo, Carlsbad, and Grants campuses consists of a tenure committee at each campus that evaluates and makes recommendations to the campus executive officer.
  2. The Library (fka The NMSU library faculty is expected to meet university requirements for academic appointment and promotion and tenure considerations.  For these purposes, the category of librarianship is equivalent to the teaching and advising category.  The NMSU Library places the highest value on the element of librarianship.  Librarianship includes, but is not limited to the organization of knowledge, the understanding and use of technology as it relates to the information field, teaching, library management, service delivery, and building collections.
  3. College Faculty (fka College faculty may hold ranks as described in Part 5, the Professorial Ranks, above and are eligible for promotion.  A college faculty position can be converted to a tenure-track position when sufficient recurring funds are available and a national search is conducted.  In relation to the promotion of college faculty, an understanding of the following guiding principles is necessary:
    1. Criteria for Promotion: College Faculty should be evaluated for promotion based on the allocation of their effort to the areas of teaching and advising, service, scholarship and creative activity, or extension and outreach, service, and the relative mix of these duties.
    2. Development of Promotion Procedures: Colleges must develop specific promotion procedures for their college faculty.  The protections for College Faculty are the same as those given tenure-track faculty and tenure faculty in ARP 9.25 Parts 1, 4, and 8.
    3. Representation on Committee: Committees for promotion of college faculty must include college faculty representation.
    4. Appropriate Standards for Promotion: The different role played by college faculty should be recognized in the promotion process, and the standard for promotion should be appropriate given the role of college faculty.