Addition of Material to the File After it has been Submitted to the Department Committee

Can supplemental material or additional letters be added to the T&P file after it is formally submitted to the departmental committee?

When the file is submitted by the candidate to the departmental tenure and/or promotion committee for review, the file must be complete with respect to content specified in the Handbook. The departmental committee bases its discussion and report on this file.

When the candidate receives the departmental committee report, he/she is allowed to respond. On this topic, the handbook says: "The department head will provide the candidate with a copy of the report, and the candidate will have the right to include in the file a response to the report. The candidate may include in this response whatever materials he or she deems pertinent. The tenure committee will review this response for such reconsideration as it deems appropriate, before the report and the file are forwarded to the appropriate dean, who conveys it to the chair of the Advisory Committee."

Advisory wishes to clarify the meaning of "pertinent material". The consensus is that such material should be evidentiary with respect to the criteria for tenure and promotion. Examples of additional material allowed might include newly received reviews of a manuscript or grant application, commitment from a publisher, or notice of awards for teaching, scholarship and service. Examples of material that is not allowed include: newly acquired ad hoc letters or testimonials from colleagues or students (whether positive or negative) that have not been solicited by the committee chair by the formal process used for such letters; and scholarly products that the candidate might have rushed to finish after the departmental committee completed its deliberations.

Once the candidate's file is submitted from the departmental committee to the Dean, who checks for completeness and non-bias, no further material additions or changes may be made to the file unless an error or omission is discovered. In that case the chair of Advisory would make a binding determination as to whether the material can be added post hoc. The dean sends the file on to the Advisory Committee. Altering the substance of case files at these later stages would result in situations where successive levels of review would not be considering the identical file, and could introduce unfairness in the process for other candidates who did not choose to add material later.

The one exception to prohibiting added information at any stage after the file is submitted to the Dean is a situation where a decision has become known for a grant application listed as pending, or a paper listed as under review, at the time the file was submitted. In those instances a simple note (without qualification) can be placed in the file to say, e.g., that the grant was funded (or not) or that the paper was accepted (or not). Advisory Committee may in fact ask if the outcome of such pending materials is known when it undertakes review of the case file and has the leeway to ask other clarifying questions, but would not normally ask for new material. Throughout the entire process, the candidate must be notified of any additions or changes to the file that are allowed.

To restate another way: the candidate, with advice of the tenure and promotion committee chair, is responsible for making the best case from the beginning. Requested letters that came in late, or unsolicited letters offered later in the process, or materials the candidate "forgot" to include in the first place, or work that was not finished when the file was forwarded from the department to the dean, cannot be added later- there would be no end to what is allowed over time and the process for the T &P decision would lose consistency and rigor. Moreover, the same privilege would have to be available to every candidate if it is allowed for one. Another concern is that in contested cases, it would not be fair to allow additional supportive colleague letters without also allowing for those that were not supportive.