Guidelines for Adding Letters from External Reviewers to Faculty Personnel Files

Candidates for tenure or promotion are not required to have their scholarly or creative work reviewed by external evaluators, but some faculty may wish to solicit reviews of their work from individuals external to the university who have professional knowledge of their academic field. This is permitted by the portion of the Faculty Handbook that guarantees each member of the faculty the “...option of forwarding to the Provost for inclusion in their official personnel files any additional material.” To standardize the use of this policy, the Faculty Personnel Committee has established these guidelines for adding letters from external reviewers to faculty personnel files.

Letters from external evaluators may be (1) faculty-solicited and non-confidential, (2) faculty-solicited and confidential, and/or (3) Provost-solicited, anonymous, and confidential. These types of letters are described below:

Option 1: Faculty-solicited and non-confidential letters are solicited by individual faculty from external reviewers. The faculty member receives the letters, reviews the letters, and forwards the letters to the Provost for inclusion in her or his personnel file. Letters should be submitted by the time the Self-Report is due in September.

Option 2: Faculty-solicited and confidential letters are solicited by individual faculty from external reviewers. Letters may be sent directly to the Provost, or the faculty member may forward the unopened letters to the Provost for inclusion in her or his personnel file. Letters should be submitted by the time the Self-Report is due in September.

Option 3: Provost-solicited, anonymous, and confidential letters are solicited from external reviewers by the Provost on behalf of the faculty member. Letters are sent directly to the Provost for inclusion in the faculty member’s personnel file without being reviewed by the faculty member. The identities of the reviewers submitting letters are not revealed to the candidate. If a member of the faculty wishes to add provost-solicited, anonymous, and confidential letters from external reviewers to her or his personnel file, the following procedure must be followed:

  1. In the academic year preceding evaluation for tenure or promotion, the faculty member shall produce a list of scholars who have already agreed to serve as external reviewers. The list shall consist of at least five (5) scholars who are qualified experts from the faculty member’s area of specialty with whom there is no close personal or professional relationship (e.g. friend, family member, mentor, etc.).
  2. The faculty member shall send the list of potential external reviewers to the Provost by December 1 using the External Review Request Form. Signing this form authorizes the Provost to add confidential letters from any of the five suggested external reviewers to her or his personnel file. 
  3. The faculty member shall send to the Provost three copies of the items she or he wishes to be sent to the external evaluators for review.
  4. Using the submitted list, the Provost will attempt to find at least two reviewers willing to submit a letter.
  5. The Provost will send to each reviewer the scholarly material provided by the faculty member, a copy of the faculty member’s CV, and a letter that clarifies precisely the scope of the desired information and makes very clear that Ohio Wesleyan University does not seek the reviewer’s input or opinion as to whether the candidate should receive tenure or promotion. In the letter, the reviewer will be asked to address:
    • if or how the reviewer knows the candidate;
    • the quality and importance of the candidate’s research/scholarship/creative activity (publications, performances, professional engagement, etc.);
    • the quality and appropriateness of the venues in which the work appeared; and
    • the significance of other contributions to the profession (leadership positions, editorships, etc.)
  6. Letters received as part of this process will be added to the faculty member’s personnel file, and the identity of those who submit letters will not be disclosed to the candidate.
  7. Around May 1 the Provost will inform the faculty member of how many external review letters were received and added to their personnel file.
  8. The faculty member continues to have the right to supplement her or his file using options 1 and/or 2 above. All letters should be submitted by the time the Self-Report is due in September.

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