One of the most significant events of fall 2010 was the promotion of three Department of Accounting faculty members—Michael Williamson and Volker Laux to associate professor with tenure, and Michael Clement to full professor. Have you ever wondered what’s involved in the process? Basically, a professor’s career is examined under a microscope of multiple exacting eyes, and the scrutiny culminates in a final decision by the UT president. It’s a long and intense odyssey, and as expectations for faculty members continue to rise each year, the promotion process becomes ever more arduous.
Submission of a faculty member for tenure and promotion to associate professor typically comes after six or more years as a faculty member, and promotion to full professor occurs after ten or more years. The candidate’s work over that period is evaluated on three dimensions—scholarship/research, teaching and service. For tenure, the evaluation committee must come to a conclusion that the candidate not only has made contributions of appropriate magnitude and distinction in teaching, research and service, but that there is evidence that he or she can sustain these types of contributions through an extended career with the University. Promotion to full professor also looks at teaching, research and service, but with the additional expectation that the candidate be recognized by leading scholars as a top researcher in his or her area of expertise.
The assessment process is extensive. It begins when the candidate and the department put together evidence of his or her contributions to research. This material is then sent to seven outside reviewers from around the country, who assess the candidate’s standing in his or her field of study. Then, the packet of these recommendations, combined with teaching and service information, makes its way through multiple levels of the University. First, it is reviewed by the executive committee of the department and a vote is taken on whether the candidate should be tenured and/or promoted. If the vote is favorable, the department chair makes his or her evaluation and recommendation, which is added to the file with the executive committee’s vote. The packet is then forwarded to a college promotion advisory committee, composed of five senior faculty members, one from each department. This committee also votes on whether the candidate should be promoted and/or tenured. The dean is the next person to evaluate the information and then make a recommendation to the University president. At the University level, the packets are reviewed by the president, the provost, the vice president for research, the vice provost and dean of graduate studies, and the dean of undergraduate studies. This group meets with the dean of the McCombs School to discuss each candidate and makes their decision. The president makes his or her final decision based on the discussions of this group.
The final verdict is more than three months coming, and more than twenty-four people review each candidate’s file! We’re proud and gratified that those twenty-four folks agree with us that Professors Clement, Laux and Williamson add value to the educational experience of our McCombs School students, as well as to the world of accounting research. Please join me in congratulating them on this formidable accomplishment.