Extensions in the Pre-Tenure Probationary Period

Description

Occasionally during the probationary period, personal circumstances may prevent a faculty member in a tenure-leading position (Specific Term appointment) from performing at the level that is necessary to attain the stature expected of University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty for tenure within the time frame of the probationary period. In some cases, there is need for fewer hours of employment, and a reduction in appointment below 100% may be appropriate.

In other cases, an individual may be able to meet fully and competently the usual demands of their jobs, but may not have the concentration or creativity required to achieve tenure while experiencing high demands in other aspects of life. Therefore, under these circumstances, faculty on tenure-leading lines may, during the first five years of the probationary period, request either a Specific Term appointment be written for service below 100%, or that they be given a Special appointment rather than a Specific Term appointment.

The effect of each of these options is to provide the faculty member with a period of time that is not included in the pre-tenure probationary period. The purpose of such an extension is to ensure that these events do not disadvantage the pre-tenure faculty member or unduly hinder their long-term success. In particular, a faculty member who has received a tenure-clock extension and is considered for tenure at their new mandatory review date should be held to the same standard as any faculty member who is undergoing an "on-time" tenure review. Likewise, a faculty member who has received a tenure-clock extension and is considered for tenure before their new mandatory review date should be held to the same standard as any faculty member who is undergoing an "early" tenure review.

Extension of the probationary period may be requested for personal reasons (e.g., new child in the family, severe illness), but generally not for circumstances under the control of the University (e.g., undertaking administrative assignments, lack of adequate facilities).

Approval of such extensions is not automatic, but may be granted in the best interest of the University and its faculty to promote and tenure faculty of the highest quality who experience unusual personal demands during the probationary period.

Procedures

Requests for extension of the probationary period must be initiated in writing by the faculty member and recommended for approval by the unit administrator (chairperson/head/director). Approvals by the Dean and the appropriate Vice Chancellor are required. Requests must be made as soon as is reasonable under the circumstances taking into account the nature of the reason for requesting an extension and the reason for the delay, if any, in making such request. Ordinarily a faculty member will develop the request in consultation with the unit's administrator.

Requests should include the following information:

  • The type of extension requested.
    • Specific Term appointment for service below 100%. If this request is made, the specific duties that will be performed must be included.
    • Special appointment for a specified period with specific duties that will be performed.
  • The starting and ending dates of the period of extension.
  • The reasons for the requested extension, and an explanation of the reasons the specified time period is exceptional.

If a faculty member's request is denied at the unit level, the faculty member may appeal that decision to the next level administrator. If the request is still denied, the administrator will forward the decision and supporting documentation to the appropriate Vice Chancellor for review of the procedures used in making the decision. The purpose of this consultation is to ensure that uniform procedures and expectations exist across all units. A copy of all cases will be filed in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, and notation of approval will be made in the personnel file used for evaluation of the faculty member.

Unusual Circumstances – COVID-19

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter declared the COVID-19 global pandemic to be an "unusual circumstance" for the purpose of a tenure-clock extension (Executive Memorandum #18). A Tenure Clock Extension Request – Coronavirus Pandemic form has been created to expedite these requests. Faculty who are interested in requesting an extension should complete this form and submit it to their department chair/head/director and to their dean for signatures. This form is intended to streamline the university’s established process for requesting a tenure-clock extension: when this form is used, no additional justification or documentation is needed.

Once the form is received in the appropriate vice chancellor’s office and approved, a tenure-clock extension contract will be prepared and routed for signatures (via DocuSign if needed).

Eligibility

Any tenure-track faculty member who was employed by the university as such and who has not been given notification of non-reappointment is eligible to request a one-year extension of their tenure clock. The option to request a tenure-clock extension applies equally to faculty members who may have received previous extensions for other reasons, such as family formation or medical leave, as well as to those who have not previously received such an extension.

Deadlines

For faculty members scheduled to be considered for tenure during the 2020-2021 review cycle, requests for a tenure-clock extension due to COVID-19 must be received in the appropriate vice chancellor’s office no later than June 1, 2020. Colleges/departments may set earlier deadlines, depending on their own established timelines for the tenure review process. Pre-tenure faculty members whose tenure review date is in 2021-2022 or beyond may submit the request form now or wait to better understand the impact that the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on their work before deciding whether to submit it.