Peers for Promotion

Promotion in rank is a marker of academic success that reflects a faculty member’s accomplishments, scholarship, and reputation. But many faculty who are eligible for promotion do not have the knowledge or time to compile the materials necessary to seek academic advancement. The goal of the Peers for Promotion program was to provide support for faculty to achieve promotion through facilitated peer mentoring. The program focused on promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor.

The Program

The Peers for Promotion program was designed, implemented and evaluated by Dr. Judith Ockene and Dr. Joanna Cain and consisted of four components:

  • a curriculum on topics relevant to the promotion process, such as, the required materials (curriculum vitae, narrative statement, teaching evaluations), letters of evaluation, scholarship, and establishing an academic reputation
  • group discussion and peer-to-peer mentoring facilitated by Drs. Ockene and Cain
  • an Individual Promotion Plan designed to identify gaps in a candidate’s record and to develop a plan to fill those gaps
  • two individual consultations with Dr. Ockene or Dr. Cain

The program was delivered in 6–8 monthly group sessions of 1.5–2 hours. Participants were expected to work on their promotion materials between sessions with a total time commitment of 4 hours per month. Eligible participants were Assistant Professors who had been in rank for 5–11 years and who were planning to seek promotion within the next two years. Participants were selected through an application process based on their readiness to achieve promotion.


The OFA sponsored four annual Peers for Promotion programs between 2013–17 with a total of 61 participants. A comprehensive evaluation was conducted for the first two years of the program (2013–15; 32 participants) using a Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model. The evaluation demonstrated the success of the program at all four levels of assessment:

  • Level 1 (Reaction). Participants were highly satisfied with the program as shown by surveys and session evaluations.
  • Level 2 (Learning). Participants reported significantly increased confidence in their skills and knowledge related to all aspects of the promotion process compared to their level of confidence before the start of the program.
  • Level 3 (Behavior). Skills and knowledge were translated into behavior/practice: as of March 2017, 22 of the 29 participants who remained at UMMS submitted their materials for promotion and 21/29 (72%) were approved for promotion to Associate Professor.
  • Level 4 (Results). The program has had a profound impact on academic advancement at UMMS. The rate of promotion to Associate Professor of program participants (72%, 21/29) is more than twice that of equivalent non-participants (32%, 61/188), a statistically significant difference. Promoted participants accounted for 29% (21/73) of all promotions of non-tenure track faculty members to Associate Professor since 2014, including 33% (12/36) of all women faculty members promoted.


Peers for Promotion: Achieving Academic Advancement through Facilitated Peer Mentoring.  Ockene JK, Milner RJ, Thorndyke LE, Congdon J, Cain JM. Journal of Faculty Development 31: 5-14 (2017).