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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

4.1.1 Overview

[This webpage is being edited. Until it becomes official, refer to what the current faculty handbook says on this topic.]


“Tenure” refers to academic appointment with no end-date, or “appointment with indefinite tenure.” At Cornell University, tenure applies only to the titles university professor, professor and associate professor, and only when such appointments are specifically designated as tenure-eligible.

The university standard for tenure requires that the candidate demonstrate excellence in carrying out the responsibilities of the position and unusual promise for continued achievement. This standard applies to all tenure decisions, but precise criteria and requirements vary by field and department. Every tenure decision is a separate action, and independent of any other current or previous decisions within or outside the department.

The tenure review process is rigorous and comprehensive. There are multiple, successive decision makers in the tenure process: the department faculty, the department head, the dean, and the provost. Others advise those decision makers, including external reviewers who evaluate scholarship, the ad hoc committee that advises the dean, and the Faculty Advisory Committee on Tenure Appointments (FACTA) that advises the provost.

The dean must grant permission to initiate a review for tenure, because tenure commits the college or school to long-term support of the position. Once the tenure file (dossier) has been assembled, the review process involves:

Department-level review

  • Department coordinates external reviews and student evaluations of candidate.
  • The department’s tenured faculty reviews materials, then discusses and votes on tenure.
  • The department head decides whether to recommend tenure. If the decision is positive, the dossier moves to the dean for review. A negative decision triggers an appeals process. See Faculty Handbook Section 4.3 Appeals for more information.

College-level review

  • The dean appoints an ad hoc committee to review the dossier and advise the dean on the merits of the case.
  • The dean evaluates all materials and decides whether to recommend tenure. If the decision is positive, the dossier moves to the provost for review. A negative decision triggers an appeals process. See Faculty Handbook Section 4.3 Appeals for more information.

University review

  • The Faculty Advisory Committee on Tenure Appointments (FACTA) reviews the dossier and advises the provost on the case.
  • The provost reviews all materials and decides whether to recommend tenure. If the decision is positive, the provost makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for confirmation. A negative decision by the provost is final; there is no appeal option at the university level of review.

Details about each level of review are provided later in this section.

Last Updated: October 11, 2017 at 6:38 am