The Office of Academic Personnel is a service organization whose mission is to facilitate the recruitment, appointment, advancement, and development of outstanding and diverse faculty and academic appointees.

The Office of Academic Personnel interacts with the Office of the President, the Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor, Associate Vice Chancellor, Colleges, Departments, and academic employees to develop, analyze, interpret, and implement academic personnel policies and procedures.

APM & Red Binder Summary

There are two central documents that are used for Academic Personnel policies and procedures; the Academic Personnel Manual (APM), for the University of California systemwide faculty, and the Red Binder for academic employees at UCSB. The Red Binder contains local policies and procedures and can be more restrictive than the APM but cannot be less restrictive. The information in this section is a simplified summary of materials from these two sources. For specific sections and policies, consult the APM and the Red Binder, which can be found on the Academic Personnel website.


Review Process Overview


There are three ranks with various steps in each rank:

  • Assistant Professor/LPSOE, Steps II-V
  • Associate Professor/LSOE, Steps I-IV
  • Professor/SLSOE, Steps I-IX and Above Scale
Ranks: Asst Prof/LPSOE Assoc Prof/LSOE Professor/Sr. LSOE
Steps: II - V I - IV I - IX, Above
Review Cycle Every 2 years Every 2 years Every 3 years at Steps I-VIII
  Appraisal during year 4   Every 4 years at Step IX or Above
Normative service 6 years 6 years  
Maximum service 8 years indefinite indefinite
  Promotion to tenure before year 8    

University of California faculty, at all ranks and steps, undergo merit or promotion reviews on a regular schedule. The review period at each step varies. Assistant Professors/Lecturers with Potential of Security of Employment (LPSOE) are on a two-year cycle as are Associate Professors/LSOEs. Full Professors/SLSOEs are eligible for a review every three years, and four years when at Step IX or Above Scale. Faculty at the rank of Associate and Full Professor, including Above Scale, may defer review but must undergo review at least every five years.

Assistant Professors and Lecturers with Potential Security of Employment (LPSOE) also undergo a mid-career assessment, called a formal appraisal, during year four and are eligible for promotion to tenure during year six. Assistant Professors/LPSOEs can put forward an earlier review for promotion to tenure if record warrants it. Time on the tenure/LSOE clock may vary based on certain circumstances described in Red Binder VI-1.

Tenured faculty also undergo full career reviews when they seek promotion to Professor/Senior LSOE (SLSOE), advancement to Professor/SLSOE Step VI, and/or Professor/SLSOE Above Scale.

The bio-bibliography form is the document of record for all personnel reviews and should contain all accomplishments.

It is important that all aspects of the record for the review period are listed on the bio-bibliography; if accomplishments do not appear on the bio-bibliography, they are not considered in the review.

Many faculty keep an easily accessible personal file or folder in which they accumulate documents they will need to include in their next review packet, and notes to themselves for activities which do not generate documents. The folder may contain a copy of every article or book published, syllabi for every course taught, programs of every conference attended as presenters, lists of committees served on, and communications from graduate students. Your department cannot prepare a personnel case for you which truly reflects the magnitude of your scholarship and your standing amongst colleagues nationwide without an effort on your part.

Academic Personnel cases at the University of California are only reviewed by faculty, deans, and administrators, all of whom hold faculty appointments. Although staff members facilitate the process by helping prepare cases and monitoring the progress of files through the system, all assessments and evaluation, as well as outcomes of cases are only done by faculty. The approval authority for each case varies depending on the recommended action. In some cases, the Deans have final approval, whereas in other cases, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel or the Chancellor has the final approval.

In dean's authority reviews the personnel files pass from the department to the dean of the relevant college or division for a final decision. 

The following review types comprise Dean’s Authority cases:
•    One-step advancement to the next salary step
•    One-step advancement to the next salary step with up to an additional half-step in off-scale at the Assistant/LPSOE and Associate/LSOE levels

 In Expanded Reviews, the files pass from the department to the dean of the college or division, and then on to the Academic Senate Committee on Academic Personnel (CAP). In some cases, a small ad hoc committee will also review the case before CAP makes its recommendation. The case is then reviewed by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel and in some cases, by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chancellor. Each reviewing agency makes its recommendation and provides its rationale in writing before sending the file to the next step, which is dependent upon the approval authority. Only materials presented in the file are considered in the recommendations.

The following review types comprise Expanded Review cases:
•    Advancement to a new rank (promotion)
•    Career review
•    Larger accelerated advancements

More detailed information about who has the final authority can be viewed in Red Binder I-14-VII, I-30, and I-33.

All material within the personnel review file is held in strict confidence and service on the Senate Committee on Academic Personnel and personnel ad hoc review committees requires confidentiality from participants. The candidate under review has access to the complete file in full or redacted form, including the department's recommendation before it leaves the department. Letters from external referees are available to the candidate in redacted form upon request to the department. At UC, "redaction" is applied to headers and footers; the writer's name, title, institutional or organizational affiliation, and related information contained below the signature block is removed from the document. The text body itself is left unchanged. Once the review process is complete, the candidate may receive a copy of on-campus reviewing agency reports from the Office of Academic Personnel.

Your department chair will inform you when it is time to start submitting materials for your personnel review file.

Departments vary in how they prepare personnel cases. In some departments, the chair coordinates the effort; in others, an individual senior faculty is assigned to assist each Assistant Professor/LPSOE undergoing tenure reviews; or a committee works with all the candidates. No matter how the department chooses to compile it, the file must leave your department before the established campus deadline (see Red Binder I-2) to be considered in that academic year's review cycle. Your department has established internal deadlines by which you must provide all the materials you are responsible for (e.g., copies of all publications, items in your own "next review" file, and updates to your bio-bibliography). Departments may have deadlines that are earlier than the campus deadline of September 15. It is important to know and meet this deadline. If deadlines are not met, a late decision on the cases is a possibility.

When external letters of evaluation are required, as is the case for a tenure review and career reviews, you will be asked for suggestions regarding external referee to comment on your scholarship (both experts who know your work well, and if desired, those who should not be asked because they might evaluate your work unfairly), but you will not know the names of the persons actually contacted.

The first formal step in the merit and promotion process is that faculty members in your department will vote on whether they agree with the recommended action. Departments vary as to whether the entire department's faculty votes, or whether select faculty, e.g., those senior to you, are allowed to vote. You will be informed of the outcome of the vote. In case of a split vote, the chair provides their interpretation of the reason for the split. You will have an opportunity to respond in writing, if you wish, both to the vote and to the chair's presentation of your case; your response goes with the file to all reviewing agencies.

The departmental vote carries a lot of weight, even though subsequent reviewing agencies may not always agree with it. It is to your advantage to be sure that all members of your department are at least familiar with the general area of your research, and have some sense of your abilities as a teacher. Attend faculty meetings. Discuss your research with other faculty whose interests are similar to yours. Read their work. Present your research in department colloquia. Attend presentations by other faculty. Do an appropriate share of work on departmental committees. Discuss teaching philosophy with the department's best teachers. Ask to observe them in action. If appropriate, invite them to participate in one of your courses or to observe you in a classroom setting and offer feedback on your teaching skill. The more your faculty colleagues know about what you are doing, the more informed their vote will be on merits, promotion, and tenure.

Assistant Professors/LPSOEs are reviewed every two years. The first review after appointment consists of work completed only in your first year (since your appointment CV); the formal appraisal in year four is based on your work from the first three years.

The tenure/promotion clock starts from the date of your appointment. You need to be able to show that the groundwork is being laid for major research and scholarly endeavors for faculty in the Professor series and superior achievements in teaching for faculty in the Teaching Professor series, as well as mentoring graduate students, educating undergraduates, and consulting with colleagues.

As a way of staying on course and on time, candidates are recommended to talk with the department chair early in their first quarter about the department's expectations for achievement of tenure. It is recommended that you ask the last faculty who achieved tenure how they paced themselves. Then, lay out a career plan for the first five years, discuss the plan with your department chair or personnel committee, and start immediately to implement it.

There is an eight-year time limit on service within the rank of Assistant Professor or Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment. Candidates should be aware that fall quarter of Year 7 is the final year to undergo a tenure review. Candidates may face a terminal Year 8 or progress to tenure. If ahead of schedule, faculty may undergo an accelerated tenure review. Under certain circumstances including childbearing, childrearing, serious health condition, or significant circumstance or event that disrupts a faculty member’s ability to pursue his or her duties, among others, a candidate may be eligible to request an extension of the tenure clock; approval is not automatic. Under normal circumstances, no person will be employed more than eight years as an assistant professor.

The fourth-year mid-career assessment of Assistant Professors/LPSOEs, called the "formal appraisal," is designed to provide feedback on a candidate’s prospects for eventual promotion to tenure as well as to identify when records of performance and achievement are below the level of excellence desired for continued membership in the faculty. Recommendations in formal appraisal cases included Continued Candidacy (i.e., candidate likely to eventually qualify for promotion to tenure rank), Continued Candidacy with Reservations (i.e., there is a potential weakness in the record that appears to require correction), and Termination. Persons who have less than promotable records at the fourth-year review are often able to use the feedback from that review to change the direction of their research or teaching activities and go on to achieve tenure and careers of distinction. Talk candidly with your chair, senior faculty, and others who can direct you to sources of help to address the concern.

What are your department colleagues and all the faculty administrators and committees looking for when they make decisions about promotion to a tenured position?

  • In the Professorial series, four criteria are considered: teaching, research or other creative achievement, professional activity, and service.
  • The Lecturer SOE series has three criteria: teaching excellence, professional and/or scholarly achievement and activity, and University and public service.

Section 210-1d of the APM states, "Superior intellectual attainment, as evidenced both in teaching and in research or other creative achievement, is an indispensable qualification for appointment or promotion to tenure positions." Red Binder I-40 elaborates: "The other criteria for review, namely professional activity and University service, must be given due consideration, but they can never be considered sufficient in and of themselves to justify promotion to tenure."

Prudent junior faculty will therefore plan their time and activities to include some involvement in professional activities and campus governance, but should devote the bulk of their energies to teaching and research or creative activity.

  • Teaching
    A summary of student evaluations of your courses must be included in both merit and tenure review files. If evaluations do not meet expectations, make efforts to improve your teaching. Contact Instructional Development to make arrangements for consultation and to improve various methods of teaching. Discuss teaching styles with your colleagues and experienced professors in similar departments. Observe how they motivate students to learn, or how they present difficult material to make it easier to remember.
  • Research & Creative Activity
    The University calendar and much of its activities are organized around the teaching function. While you must meet your teaching obligations, it is equally important for faculty in the Professor series to focus on research and scholarly activities.

    If you are in a discipline in which collaborative research is the norm, it may be beneficial to publish a few articles under your own name, in order to establish your independence. To determine what the expectations are for research productivity in your field, discuss the issue with your department chair, senior faculty, and the colleague who most recently achieved tenure in your department.
  • Publishing
    The merit review file includes all your publications since the last review. Items that are "in-press" are counted when they are accepted, not submitted. Submitted items and works in progress are evidence of continuing productivity, but will not "count" until accepted for publication.

    If your field is one in which scholarship is usually disseminated through publication of books, pace yourself so that the book is out or in-press by the time of the tenure review, and have a second or third project well under way as an indication that your research career will continue unabated, even after you achieve tenure.

    If your field is one in which scholarship is traditionally disseminated through journal articles, be aware that publication in a refereed journal usually carries more weight in the tenure review than does publication of an article or book chapter by invitation of an editor. Book reviews, "state of the discipline" essays, and editing a volume of other scholars' writings are less influential than research articles, unless it can be shown that the piece changed the course of scholarship in the field.

    "Popular" publications (i.e., those explaining your field to a general audience but not contributing to new knowledge in the field) and textbooks are usually not evaluated in the research category at all. The former may be seen as public service and the latter as a contribution to teaching.

    In general, the more prestigious the publisher and the panel of external readers who approved your work for publication, the more value your publication will have in the tenure review. Discuss potential publishers for your work with senior faculty. Submit your work in a format appropriate to the journal or publishing house you identify. Ask for comments if your submission is rejected. Revise and resubmit to the same or another publisher based on the feedback you receive.

    For faculty in the creative arts, performances and exhibitions are part of the proof of your creative contributions to your field. Performances or exhibits in prestigious national and international venues which were reviewed by recognized critics will strengthen the tenure case.

If reviewing agencies are not in favor of granting tenure, the review process allows an opportunity for you and the department to respond with updates to the record prior to the final decision. If you are not granted tenure during your sixth-year review, the department will likely be instructed to resubmit a new case during your seventh year. If you are not granted tenure during the seventh-year review, a one-year terminal appointment will be enacted.

If you hold a non-zero appointment in more than one department, you will be considered to have a joint appointment. You will be expected to contribute to each department and will be reviewed by each department as part of the merit and promotion process; normally, one department will serve as the lead so that there are not two full sets of review materials. Discuss with other faculty holding joint appointments their strategies for balancing the demands of more than one department.