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Tenure – Promotion – Renewal – Transfer

Normally, the Faculty Association offers workshops related to the tenure, renewal of tenure track, promotion or transfer between the streams for academic staff members who are considering applying through these processes. Given the current situation, we are unable to provide the same sort of workshop as we have in the past; however, we remain available to help members with any questions they have regarding these processes. What follows are some of the suggestions we have for members who may be applying for tenure, promotion, renewal, or transfer between the streams this year. In all of the comments below the term “Head” is defined as being the person who prepares the initial recommendation regarding your application, in non-departmentalized faculties, this could be an Associate Dean or some other person designated by the Dean. It cannot be a shared role; there can only be one “Head” for each applicant.

Special Deferral due to COVID-19 Pandemic

All members who are on the tenure track have automatically received a one-year deferral of consideration, whether you are applying this year or in a future year. The reason is that everyone’s work has been disrupted and therefore everyone deserves additional time before being reviewed for tenure or renewal. However, if you want to apply for tenure this year, you are free to do so.

Promotion is linked with tenure if you are at the introductory rank and are on the tenure-track

For people who are applying for tenure at the assistant level (i.e. assistant professor, assistant archivist, assistant librarian) or instructor, receiving tenure will automatically move you up to the associate level or senior instructor. If you have those ranks on the tenure track you cannot apply for promotion without tenure. For anyone else (those at other ranks, or those who are not tenure track), there is not the same link between tenure and promotion.

Where to find the rules

The rules regarding the process for tenure, renewal of tenure track, promotion, and transfer between the streams are established in Article 28 of the Collective Agreement. You can find the Collective Agreement on the Faculty Association’s webpage (www.tucfa.com).

While the Collective Agreement defines the process to be used, the criteria for consideration are found in the GFC Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook (aka the “GFC Handbook”). You can find it here: https://ucalgary.ca/hr/sites/default/files/teams/239/gfc-academic-staff-criteria-and-processes-handbook_final.pdf. Those criteria will be in effect for the current applications; however there is a working group actively reviewing the GFC Handbook, so if you are looking to apply in future years, check back to see what changes are put in place.

The Collective Agreement and the GFC Handbook permit Faculty Councils to interpret the criteria in the GFC Handbook to explain how they apply in the various disciplines. Although the Faculty Councils may refine and interpret GFC’s criteria, they may not add, contradict, or create new criteria unless specifically authorized to do so by the GFC Handbook. The problem is that the Faculties have not been permitted to update their Guidelines for several years. (Although the Faculty Association has filed a grievance against the Provost arguing that Faculties should be allowed to update their Guidelines, she has refused to release the Faculties to start such work. Presumably, she is waiting for the GFC Handbook Working Group to make a recommendation to GFC on changes.) So, when you look at your Faculty’s Guidelines, you have to read them recognizing that none of the processes apply anymore (they are in the Collective Agreement now) and that the criteria need to be interpreted consistent with the GFC Handbook. That being said, the Faculty Guidelines are very important in determining how your Faculty will look at your application.

You can find the Faculty Guidelines here: https://www.ucalgary.ca/hr/work-compensation/labour-relations/academic-labour-relations/academic-staff-tucfa/guidelines. As with the GFC Handbook, the Faculty Councils will likely start redrafting their Faculty Guidelines in the next academic year, so if you are applying for these processes in future years, pay attention (and participate!) in the discussion of any proposals for changes to these Guidelines that are considered by your Faculty Council. For those applying in the current year, any changes to Guidelines would not be applied retroactively, so even if changes are made to the Guidelines this year it will likely be the case that the existing version is what will be used in considering your case.

Tenure/Renewal Timeline

The “normal” progression towards tenure for those hired at the entry-level rank within a stream is that there is a four-year tenure-track appointment. At the beginning of the penultimate year (i.e. year 3) you would apply for a two-year renewal. At the beginning of year 5 (penultimate year of renewal) you would apply for tenure.

For anyone hired on the tenure-track at a rank higher than the lowest rank, you are not eligible for a renewal of tenure-track and would be expected to apply for tenure at the beginning of the penultimate year (year 3).

There are many ways to change this timeline.

At any time that you think you are ready to go for tenure, you can go for tenure “early”. However this should be used carefully as you can only apply for tenure twice, and going early may have the effect of shortening the amount of time available to you. We would advise consulting with your Head (or equivalent) and/or the Faculty Association before applying early.

You can also change the timeline through deferrals. For all current tenure-track members, there has been a one-year deferral put in place in recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as noted earlier.

There are four kinds of deferrals listed in the Collective Agreement. They can be used at the point of renewal or at the point of tenure consideration (see Collective Agreement Article 28.6.3 for tenure or 28.8.3 for renewal):

  1. Personal – at any time on or before November 25, you can defer consideration for one year by notifying the Dean. You can only use this once, either at the point of renewal or tenure. This is an entitlement — it cannot be denied.
  2. Dean’s deferral – this is generally used for anything outside of your control. Dean’s deferrals are very common when there is sickness, or a personal crisis, or when academic duties restrict you from working on your research, or other such reasons. These are granted at the discretion of the Dean. They can be approved more than once, but after the first, the Dean has to go to the Provost for confirmation.
  3. Parental deferrals – if you take a parental leave, you automatically get a parental deferral.
  4. Provost and VP Academic Deferrals – The Provost can approve deferrals; usually, these are for more serious cases or situations.

Application Process

For all the processes – renewal, tenure, promotion, and transfer – you give the Dean notice of your intention to apply by June 15th. In the case of all processes except renewal, you will provide names of possible referees at the same time. In the case of those in the professoriate, or professional streams, the referees will be from outside the university; in the case of those in the instructor stream, they may be from within the university, outside of your department. You can also provide a list of individuals you feel should be consulted as part of your application either from within or outside the University.

By September 1, you provide a copy of your CV and teaching dossier with a cover letter and the rest of the material listed in Appendix 28A of the Collective Agreement. The onus is on you to make your case.

You can update your application at any time when you believe there is new information that has a significant impact on your application. You can do this by sending the update to the Dean up until they make a recommendation, after that to the Provost’s office.

Remember, your whole career counts, not just work at the U of C.

Head’s Review

By November 3, the Head will prepare an assessment of your application, based on the advice received and his/her own views, and supply a copy to you. Between November 3 and 10th, the Head should be available to discuss this with you.

Following this discussion, the Head has until November 18th to revise the recommendation and provide a final copy to you and the Dean.

In the case of renewal of tenure track, the Dean can simply forward a positive recommendation to the Provost if they choose, or they can send it to the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee. In the case of all other processes, the recommendations go to the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee.

You can reply to the Head’s recommendation in writing to the Dean by November 25.

FTPC Review

The Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee (FTPC) is a Dean’s advisory committee. The composition is listed in Article 28.11.1 of the Collective Agreement. You are to be informed of the members of the FTPC by November 10th. If you have concerns about any member, you can ask for a replacement.

The Committee meets between December 1 and January 15th for their preliminary meeting. You don’t go to that meeting. If they are considering giving you anything other than what you applied for, they will pause in their proceedings and invite you to reply to the committee’s concerns in writing and invite you and the Head to appear before them. That second meeting happens by February 1. You have to be given at least one week’s notice between receiving the letter and the date of the meeting.

If you are invited to appear, you have the right to take an Advisor with you. This can be any academic staff member. We encourage you to take someone with you who knows your work or who knows the system, to help you at the FTPC meeting. In the case of career-threatening situations, the Faculty Association is happy to provide an Advisor to work with you.

At the end of the process, the committee will make a recommendation to the Dean. For those considered for renewal, promotion, or transfer, the question is yes/no. For those applying for tenure for the first time, there is a third option, which is that the committee can recommend that you be given the opportunity to apply again in two years; your contract date would be adjusted accordingly.

The recommendation of the FTPC goes to the Dean who may change the recommendation before sending it forward. However, if the Dean changes the recommendation, you will be informed of both the Dean’s recommendation and the committee’s recommendation. The Dean must send this to the Provost, copied to you, by February 8. If the recommendation from the Dean is negative, you can appeal.

Central Process

From this point on, the process splits between those cases where tenure or renewal is a consideration and those cases where promotion or transfer is the only issue.

In the case of tenure or renewal, the Provost reviews all of the cases. She can approve/deny the recommendations, send them back to the FTPC to reconsider, or send them to an appeal committee. She can also ask to meet with you and the Dean (separately or together). You can also appeal the decision of the Provost to an appeal committee. The appeal committee is made up of three academic staff appointed by the Faculty Association and the VP Research, plus a non-voting Faculty Association rep.

In the case of promotion and transfer, if the recommendation is for promotion to a rank other than Professor or Teaching Professor, the Dean’s recommendation is the end of the process (unless there is an appeal). If the promotion/transfer is to the full Professor or Teaching Professor rank, it will go to the Promotion Review Committee (PRC). The PRC also deals with any appeals from other ranks.

In the case of positive recommendations for promotion to the full Professor or Teaching Professor ranks, the PRC will consider every case. If they are considering overturning any case, they will invite the applicant and the Dean to appear before them. Again, you can bring an advisor. Similarly, in the case of appeals heard by the PRC, you will be invited to appear before them.

Support from the Faculty Association

In any of these processes, the Faculty Association will endeavour to provide you with advice and support and answer any questions you might have. Note that all Faculties proceed through these processes simultaneously, so the workload in the Faculty Association office peaks at the various deadlines. Please give us as much notice as possible regarding your questions/concerns so that we provide you with the best advice possible. We take a triage approach at these times, so we try to prioritize those whose careers are being threatened (e.g. denial of tenure) first. If you contact the Faculty Association regarding these processes, please provide as much information as possible, including any documentation received, and note if you are facing a deadline. This helps us get back to you as quickly as possible.

The Faculty Association has non-voting representatives on all of the various committees. It should be noted that in this role, the Faculty Association’s reps are there for the good of all members; they are not advocates for individual applicants/appellants. If you are looking for a Faculty Association advocate to accompany you to a meeting or provide advice, that would be a different person.

For more information, please contact Faculty Association by phone, (403) 220-5722 or by email, Faculty.Association@tucfa.com.

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