Academic Personnel Policy Revision 2017: Frequently Asked Questions

Process for Revising the APP

Why are we revising the APP?

The APP was last revised in 2006. Although it serves as a functional document to guide our academic processes, it has gaps and is poorly organized (for example, policies and procedures for tenure are distributed over four sections of the current APP). Some important areas are not well defined (such as confidentiality and employment terms and conditions) and some procedures in the current APP are no longer followed in practice (for example, employed faculty are no longer reappointed annually).

It is also an opportunity to bring our academic policies up-to-date: to endorse broader definitions of scholarship and education, to reward the increasingly collaborative nature of scholarly activity, and to recognize the full scope of academic activities at UMMS.

The goal of the revision process is to generate a document that is clear and transparent, that maintains our existing academic standards for appointment, promotion and tenure, that meets the needs of UMMS now and in the future, that can be supported by both faculty and administration, and that is legally sound.

What is the process for revision?

  • The revision process began in June 2015 with a retreat of faculty and campus leaders to debate key topics such as maintaining tenure and the definition of scholarship (see link to retreat materials).
  • Provost Flotte then charged the Academic Advancement Work Group to make recommendations in four areas (see charge to AAWG).
  • The AAWG met between August 2015 and June 2016 (see minutes of AAWG meetings) and submitted a report to Provost Flotte on July 1, 2016 (see AAWG report, PDF). During this time regular reports were made to Faculty and Executive Councils and other bodies (see presentations).
  • Provost Flotte accepted the report and charged a writing group (Luanne Thorndyke, Robert Milner, John Congdon, James Healy) to generate a draft of the revised APP, which was completed in December 2016.
  • Following further meetings of the AAWG and presentations to Executive and Chairs Councils, a public draft of the revised APP was distributed to UMMS faculty in February 2017.
  • The revised APP was discussed at a Faculty Council Town Hall Meeting on March 9, 2017.
  • The  APP was revised in response to faculty questions and concerns; changes in the draft were presented to Faculty and Executive Councils and at department meetings, April–June, 2017.
  • The "final" draft was distributed to faculty for comment on July 19, 2017. The open comment period closes on August 23, 2017.
  • July–August, 2017: Administrative/Legal Review.
  • September, 2017: Votes by Faculty Council, Executive Council and Faculty-at-Large (September)
  • October, 2017: Final review by Provost and Chancellor.
  • October 2017: Submit for review by University of Massachusetts President’s Office, CASA and Board of Trustees.
  • December 2017 (expected): approval by Board of Trustees.
  • January 1, 2018 (expected): implementation of new APP.

 

Who served on the Academic Advancement Work Group (AAWG)?

The AAWG consisted of Department Chairs, the Tenure Committee Chairs, a representative from Faculty Council, faculty representing clinical and basic departments, and other leaders (see AAWG membership, PDF).

What is the process for approval of the revised APP?

The APP is a product of shared governance and requires approval by both faculty and administration in the following steps:

  • Vote by Faculty Council: requires 2/3 majority for approval.
  • Vote by Executive Council: requires 2/3 majority for approval.
  • Vote by Faculty-at-Large: requires simple majority for approval.
  • Review by Provost.
  • Review by Chancellor.
  • Submission to University President’s Office for review.
  • Review by University Committee on Academic and Student Affairs.
  • Vote by University Board of Trustees.

These approvals are planned for September–December 2017.

Why is there a faculty vote on the revised APP?

The current APP states that “amendments and modifications to these academic personnel policies may be recommended by the appropriate University of Massachusetts Medical School faculty governance bodies prior to submission to the Trustees”. This statement can be interpreted to mean that amendment of the APP requires discussion and approval by Faculty and Executive Councils. No faculty vote is required according to the current APP. But, because major campus documents like the APP and the campus Governance Document are a product of shared governance, and to be consistent between all such documents, it was decided that the approval process for the revised APP would follow the process defined for the campus Governance Document, which includes approval by a simple majority vote of the Faculty-at-Large. This process has been written into the revised APP.

Who may vote on the revised APP (and why)?

The vote is by the “Faculty-at-Large”, defined in the campus Governance Document as, "the employed (full and part-time) faculty of UMW”. This definition includes all faculty members employed by UMMS, UMMHC (or its related organizations), or an external foundation or agency (e.g., HHMI or VA). It does not include voluntary or visiting faculty.

Why do non-tenured faculty get to vote on issues affecting tenured faculty (and vice versa)?

The APP is a comprehensive document that defines the academic personnel policies for all UMMS faculty. The concept of shared governance means that major campus documents like the APP and the campus Governance Document should be accepted and approved by the administration and by the faculty as a whole. To achieve that goal, it is essential that the APP revision is fully discussed—and concerns answered—before a vote by the faculty. To break the APP into parts to be voted on by particular groups of faculty would be difficult, divisive and not in the best interests of shared governance.

Is there a “red-lined” version of the APP that shows changes?

There is a "red-lined" version of the public draft distributed on July 19, 2017 (here), showing changes from the previous public draft distributed on February 21, 2017.

However, there is not a red-lined version that shows changes between the revision and the current APP. Although many policies and procedures are not changed from the current APP, the revised APP was reorganized into a logical sequence with each area (such as tenure) described in one place. Throughout the revised APP, descriptions of policies and procedures have been revised to improve clarity. Because the entire document has been reorganized and rewritten, a ‘red-lined’ version would be entirely red-lined and impossible to read. 

The Faculty Council vote on the revised APP is scheduled for the September meeting—will faculty have enough time to read the document?

The first “public” version of the revised APP was distributed to faculty in February 2017. Faculty raised several concerns at the Town Hall meeting in March 2017, particularly the complexity of the promotion criteria, the procedure for reduction of salary of tenured faculty, and the definition of “Cause”. Changes to the APP in response to these concerns were presented for review and discussion at Faculty Council meetings in May and June. The current version of the revised APP that was distributed to faculty on July 21, 2017 contains all of the changes previously presented to Faculty Council. Apart from minor changes in language to improve clarity, there are no substantial changes in the current version that have not been presented at Faculty Council. Faculty have had adequate time to review the document, so that a vote can be taken at the September Faculty Council meeting.

General Questions

Are my rights as a faculty member changed in the revision?

No. The revised APP preserves all of the faculty rights defined in the current APP:

  • Academic Freedom (revised APP, Section 1.4)
  • Primary Responsibility of the Faculty (revised APP, Section 1.6)
  • Rights of Members of the Faculty in Personnel Decisions (revised APP, Section 1.8)
  • Tenure Guarantees (revised APP, Section 4.3)
  • Notice period for termination of employment for UMMS-Employed Faculty (revised APP, Section 5.2.d)

If I’m ready to be promoted now, should I wait until the revised APP is implemented?

If your promotion process has not started, you should wait until the revised APP is approved (we expect approval by the Board of Trustees In December 2017, so that the revised APP can be implemented on January 1, 2018). As the approval process proceeds, there will be announcements of workshops in Fall 2017 to provide guidance for those who plan to submit materials for review in 2018 under the revised APP.

A promotion can still be reviewed and approved under the current APP, but only if the review of the promotion materials is already in progress (i.e. letters of evaluation have been solicited and received, and your Basic File is scheduled for review by the DPAC in August/September 2017), so that your Basic File can be submitted to the Office of Faculty Affairs by October 15, 2017, for review at the November PAC meeting. This timing ensures that all required approvals can be completed before the new policy is approved.

Will there be training on the policies and procedures in the revised APP?

The Office of Faculty Affairs will provide training sessions on using the revised APP to faculty, chairs and administrators, and to members of faculty review committees (DPACs, PAC, and Tenure committees). 

The Clinical and Research pathways will be eliminated in the revised APP: what will happen to faculty with modified titles?

Faculty with modified titles (e.g., Research Assistant Professor, Clinical Associate Professor) will be assigned the corresponding unmodified titles (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor) by administrative action effective on the date of approval of the revised APP by the Board of Trustees. These faculty will not be re-reviewed.

The ranks of Lecturer, Affiliate and Senior Affiliate will be eliminated in the revised APP: what will happen to faculty with these ranks?

These faculty will be reappointed to an academic rank determined by their department chair or the GSN Dean. Reappointment to the ranks of Instructor or Assistant Professor will require recommendation by the chair or Dean to the Provost who approves the reappointment. Reappointment to the ranks of Associate Professor or Professor will require recommendation by the chair or Dean and approval through the standard procedures for appointment (i.e., review by DPAC and PAC).

I am a faculty member in the Graduate School of Nursing (GSN): how does the revised APP affect me?

The revised APP applies to all UMMS faculty, including faculty with primary appointments in GSN. The procedures for appointment, promotion and the award of tenure for GSN faculty are similar to the procedures for School of Medicine faculty but are described separately (revised APP, Sections 3.12 & 4.9). 

I am a member of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS): how does the revised APP affect me?

Membership in GSBS is a secondary appointment which is governed by the GSBS Bylaws, not by the APP. The APP governs only the primary appointment of faculty in either the School of Medicine or Graduate School of Nursing, and the employment of faculty by UMMS, UMMHC or an external foundation or agency.

Will the removal of the Clinical modifier and recognition of Health Care Delivery and Public Policy and Population Health as Areas of Distinction, in addition to Investigation and Education, diminish the value of an academic professorship at UMMS, and undermine the recruitment of the highest quality faculty and the reputation of UMMS as a leader in medical research?

The revision of the APP defines and recognizes faculty achievements and scholarship in ALL the mission areas, advancing UMMS as an institution that embraces and leads in excellence across the breadth of biomedicine beyond the traditional areas of research/ investigation to include the important areas of health care delivery, public policy, population health, and education.  The ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty is based on multiple factors, including the collaborative environment and collective excellence of the institution and its faculty.  Recruitment for research/ investigation is most affected by the high level of research being carried out by outstanding investigators in our institution and not by the APP.

Appointment and Promotion

What are Areas of Distinction?

Areas of Distinction provide a unifying theme for the academic activities and achievements of a candidate for appointment, promotion or tenure.  Candidates will be required to demonstrate achievements in at least one of four Areas of Distinction (revised APP, Section 2.2):

  • Health Care Delivery
  • Education
  • Investigation
  • Population Health & Public Policy.

What is the rationale for an Area of Distinction in Population Health & Public Policy?

Population health and public policy, as well as community engagement, health disparities, and implementation science are areas of strength at UMMS, reflected by the outstanding work of faculty, particularly in Commonwealth Medicine, and the Departments of Quantitative Health Sciences, Medicine, and Family & Community Medicine, and those working in the area of Global Health. Their academic work may not fit easily within the current areas of evaluation (Research and Scholarly Activity, Education, and Professional/Academic Service) and their efforts may result in non-traditional forms of scholarship, such as policy statements or white papers. This area of distinction enables these faculty to be recognized for their accomplishments.

How will faculty be evaluated for appointment or promotion?

A candidate for appointment or promotion will typically be evaluated in three categories depending on the scope of their academic activities (Revised APP, Section 3.5):

  • An Area of Distinction, one of the following:
    • Health Care Delivery
    • Education
    • Investigation
    • Population Health & Public Policy
  • Education (unless the Area of distinction is Education)
  • Academic Service

Candidates will be assessed at one of three levels of achievement in each category: “Entry”, “Established” or “Senior”. Tables in the revised APP list examples of achievements at each level for each category of evaluation (revised APP, pages 11–15).

What are the criteria for appointment or promotion?

The revised APP defines the criteria for appointment or promotion to each academic rank (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor) in terms of the levels of achievement required for each rank (revised APP, Sections 3.6–3.9).

Have the criteria for appointment or promotion changed?

Although the categories for evaluation are different in the revised APP, the levels of achievement required for each rank are the same: at least Entry level is required for Assistant Professor; at least Established level for Associate Professor; and Senior level for Professor.

I am a clinician: will it be harder for me to be promoted?

The Area of Distinction in Health Care Delivery provides the opportunity for clinical faculty to be recognized for their clinical achievements, which is a major change not present in the current APP.  For example, achievements at Established level (required for promotion to Associate Professor) might include activities such as establishing a clinical service, clinical consulting locally and regionally, development of innovative clinical approaches, and/or service and leadership related to clinical expertise.

Promotion to Associate Professor will also require achievements in Education and in Academic Service, both at Entry level. Candidates may also demonstrate achievements in other Areas of Distinction (Investigation or Population Health & Public Policy).

I am a clinician: do I need to be board certified to be appointed or promoted at UMMS?

For appointment or promotion to Instructor or Assistant Professor, individuals with a terminal degree in a clinical discipline must be board certified or have equivalent qualifications or have completed all necessary training to be eligible for board certification (revised APP, Sections 3.6.a.i & 3.7.a.i). This requirement is not different for appointment or promotion to Assistant Professor in the current APP. For appointment or promotion to Associate Professor or Professor, individuals with terminal degrees must be board certified or have equivalent qualifications as applicable to their professional and academic responsibilities (revised APP, Sections 3.8.a.i & 3.9.a.i). This requirement was added to the revised APP on recommendation of the AAWG.

I am a Research Assistant Professor: how can I get promoted to Associate Professor?

Promotion to Associate Professor in the Area of Distinction in Investigation will require an Established level of achievement in Investigation, assessed by measures such as the scope and quality of research, funding, development of technologies, leadership of research projects or core services, and service related to research expertise. For faculty who are not PIs or lab heads, the revised APP recognizes contributions to team science for those play an essential but not leading role in scientific projects, scholarly products and funding. In addition, promotion to Associate Professor will require achievements at Entry level in Education and Academic Service.

What’s different in the procedures for appointment or promotion?

There are no major differences. The materials required for review and the steps of the review process have not changed (revised APP, Sections 3.12 & 3.13). The procedures are described more precisely and some details have been added: for example, the revised APP includes a more detailed description of the formation and operation of Department Personnel Action Committees (DPACs), which are vaguely described in the current APP.

If clinicians can be promoted on the basis of the clinical work and education they do as part of their job, will that provide less incentive to do original research?

Scholarship is expected for promotion, providing the incentive for faculty to conduct scholarship. But the definition of scholarship is considerably broadened in the revised APP, enabling faculty to be recognized for scholarly activities other than “original research”. For example, a clinician may be recognized for educational scholarship or for scholarly activities on the quality and safety of health care delivery.

Why is promotion based on a minimum of six years at each rank and not on competency, such as number and impact of publications?

The minimum of six years at rank is a guide and represents the average time necessary for a faculty member to demonstrate the achievements required for promotion. Promotion is always based on the achievements of the candidate and is never awarded just on the basis of years at rank.

Tenure

Have the criteria for the award of tenure changed?

No. The only difference in the criteria for the award of tenure (revised APP, Section 4.2) is to replace the current requirement for “excellence in research, creative or scholarly activity” with “excellence in scholarly activity in one or more Areas of Distinction”. Otherwise the criteria are identical to the current APP.

Why broaden the criteria for the award of tenure?

The current criteria for Tenure require that an individual must demonstrate excellence in research, creative or scholarly activity. This definition constrains the award of tenure to faculty engaged in traditional research.  The criteria were broadened so that an individual who demonstrates academic excellence in areas of health care delivery, education or population health and public policy could be recognized with the award of Tenure, provided that a tenure or tenure track position has been approved by the Provost. 

Are conditions different for faculty in the tenure track?

No. The only difference in the policies and procedures for the tenure track (revised APP, Section 4.5) is to move the Mini-Tenure Review from the fifth to the fourth year in order to provide additional time for tenure track faculty to respond to the feedback received from the Mini-Tenure Review. In addition, the procedure for the Annual Performance Review (APR) includes the recommendation that the APR review of a faculty member in the Tenure Track may include an evaluation of their progress toward the award of Tenure (revised APP, Section 5.5.a.iii). These changes were made in response to requests from tenure track faculty for more and earlier feedback on their progress toward tenure.

What’s different in the procedure for the award of tenure?

There are no major differences. The materials required for review and the steps of the review process are not different (revised APP, Section 4.8). The procedures are described more precisely and some details have been added: for example, the revised APP includes a more detailed description of the formation and operation of Department Tenure Committees (revised APP, Section 4.6), which are vaguely described in the current APP.

Another difference is that the review process continues until a decision is made by the Chancellor. Currently, if a candidate receives negative recommendations from their chair and/or the department tenure committee, they have the right to request a review by the school tenure committee. In the revised APP, the review process continues, unless the faculty member withdraws from consideration for tenure.

What’s different in the policy for “up-or-out”?

Faculty will not be required to leave UMMS if they do not receive the award of Tenure. Currently, if a faculty member does not receive the award of tenure, they are given a one-year terminal contract and must then leave UMMS. The AAWG decided, after much debate, that this policy prevented UMMS from retaining talented individuals who, while not meeting the criteria for tenure, still had much to contribute as non-tenure track faculty. In the revised policy, faculty who are denied tenure or withdraw from the process are still given a one-year terminal contract for their position in the tenure track. But, during this period, they may request transfer to a position in the non-tenure track with approval by their chair (revised APP, Sections 4.8.k).

Have the guarantees for tenure changed?

No. The guarantees are identical to the current APP (revised APP, Section 4.3).

What’s “Term Tenure”?

An appointment with all the guarantees of Tenure but for a limited period, usually seven years (revised APP, Section 4.11).

What is different in the Periodic Multi-Year Review (PMYR)?

There are no major differences. The PMYR (revised APP, Section 4.14) has been revise to streamline the procedure but retains the purpose described in the current APP.

What is the policy for reducing the salary of tenured faculty?

As in the current APP, the Academic Salary of tenured faculty may be reduced for unsatisfactory performance (revised APP, Section 4.13), which includes a failure by a tenured faculty member to meet goals for providing part of their Academic Salary. If a Tenured Faculty Member receives ratings of unsatisfactory in their APR for any three consecutive years or for any three years in a consecutive four year period, their salary may be reduced in the following year to an amount that is 95% of their current Academic Salary. If the Faculty Member continues to receive ratings of unsatisfactory in their APR in subsequent consecutive years, their salary may be reduced further in two annual steps to amounts that are 85% and 75%, respectively, of their Academic Salary prior to any reductions. Salaries cannot be reduced below 75% of Academic Salary.

What is different in the procedure for terminating tenured faculty?

The procedure for terminating tenured faculty (revised APP, Section 4.15) has been modified to clarify the process, while retaining the principle that tenured faculty can only be dismissed after extensive review by both their faculty peers and by administrators. The following are differences or clarifications to the procedure described in the current APP:

  • The process is managed by the Provost, as the chief academic officer on the campus.
  • The definition of “Cause” for termination is expanded (revised APP, Section 1.9); this definition has been modified in the July 19 public drafdt in response to faculty concerns.
  • An inquiry step is added to provide objective evidence on the case.
  • The faculty Hearing Committee is drawn from the members of the school Tenure Committee.
  • The Chancellor can overturn a recommendation by the Hearing Committee to terminate a tenured faculty member but cannot overturn a Hearing Committee recommendation not to terminate.

Employed Faculty

Who are “Employed Faculty”?

Employed Faculty are individuals who are primarily employed by UMMS, UMMHC or an external foundation (such as HHMI) or agency (such as the VA) and who are appointed to the UMMS Faculty.

This category does not include individuals who are employed in a staff position by UMMS or UMMHC and who are also appointed to the UMMS faculty; these individuals are categorized as Professional Staff (revised APP, Section 6.2).

Why is there a section on Employed Faculty?

The terms and conditions for employed faculty are vaguely defined in the current APP and are not described in other UMMS policies. Therefore, it was necessary to describe the terms and conditions in detail, particularly for faculty employed by UMMS.

Who are UMMS-Employed Faculty?

UMMS-Employed Faculty are individuals employed by UMMS and includes most faculty in the basic science departments, as well as others throughout UMMS. These individuals are subject to the employment terms and conditions defined in the revised APP (revised APP, Section 5.2). Because the APP is a UMMS policy it can only define the employment terms and conditions for individuals employed by UMMS.

What is the difference between Academically-Salaried and Professionally-Salary Faculty?

All UMMS-Employed Faculty are either Academically-Salaried or Professionally-Salaried (revised APP, Section 5.2.a). The individuals in these categories differ in the scope of their responsibilities. Professionally-Salaried Faculty have the same rights and privileges as Academically- Salaried Faculty, except that they cannot be appointed in the tenure track or be awarded tenure and cannot take sabbatical leave. The notice period for termination also differs for Professionally-Salaried Faculty. These policies are not changed from the current APP.

Who are UMMHC-Employed Faculty?

UMMHC-Employed Faculty are individuals primarily employed by UMMHC (in the APP, UMMHC includes UMMMG and UMMMC) and who are appointed to the UMMS Faculty. This category includes “Dual Docs”. The employment terms and conditions of UMMHC-Employed Faculty are governed by their contract with UMMHC. Their appointment to the UMMS Faculty is governed by the APP.

What about “Dual Docs” in the APP revision?

“Dual Docs” is an informal term for physicians who are primarily employed by the health system (UMMHC, UMMMG or UMMMC) but who receive a portion of their compensation (and in some cases, retirement contributions) from UMMS. This term is not used in the current or revised APPs but will continue to be used informally. The financial arrangements for Dual Docs are not part of the APP and will not be affected by the APP revision.

Other Faculty Appointments

What are “Other Faculty Appointments”?

Other Faculty Appointments describe the individuals other than Employed Faculty who are appointed to the UMMS Faculty.  These individuals are described as "Voluntary Faculty" in the current APP.  This includes Affiliate Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Visiting Faculty, and a new category, Professional Staff. For these individuals, the APP defines their conditions of appointment but not their conditions of employment. All indivisduals with Other Faculty Appointments are reappointed annually.

Who are “Professional Staff Faculty”?

Professional Staff are individuals who are employed by UMMS or UMMHC in a staff position and who are appointed to the UMMS faculty based on their contributions to UMMS educational and research programs (revised APP, Section 6.2). This category includes, but is not limited to, professional staff and administrators, medical, nursing or other health professionals, clinical fellows participating in non-ACGME approved fellowship programs, chief residents who have completed residency training, and retired UMMS Faculty who been approved for post-retirement employment. Although these individuals are employed by UMMS or UMMHC and have a UMMS faculty appointment, they differ from Employed Faculty because their employment is not dependent on their faculty appointment. The employment terms and conditions of Professional Staff, including compensation, benefits and annual performance evaluations, are defined by UMMS Human Resources policies, not the APP. Because Professional Staff are not Employed Faculty they are not members of the Faculty-at-Large of UMMS and the Faculty-at-Large of a School for the purpose of voting and other rights.

Who are “Affiliate Faculty”?

Affiliate Faculty (revised APP, Section 6.3) are described as “Voluntary Faculty” in the current APP. They are individuals who are employed by an entity other than UMMS, UMMHC or an external foundation or agency and who are appointed to the UMMS Faculty based on their contributions to UMMS educational and research programs. This category includes, but is not limited to, Courtesy Staff appointed to UMMMC; individuals at UMMS regional campuses; members of the medical, nursing or other health professions at affiliated hospitals, other health care facilities or in private practice; individuals based at research institutions, and retired UMMS Faculty who are actively engaged in UMMS educational and research programs. Affiliate Faculty will have unmodified titles (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor).

I am currently a Voluntary faculty member: what will my title be under the revised APP?

If you have an unmodified title (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor) it will be the same under the revised APP. If you have a modified title (e.g., Clinical Assistant Professor) it will be changed to the corresponding unmodified title (i.e., Assistant Professor) by administrative action effective on the date of approval of the revised APP by the Board of Trustees. If you are currently a Lecturer, Affiliate or Senior Affiliate, your title will be changed to an academic rank (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor).