Deliberative Decision Making in Promotion & Tenure: Train-the-Trainer Opportunity

Sep 5, 2021

By Darrin Hicks, Professor, Department of Communication Studies

Tenure, promotion, and reappointment decisions are some of the most consequential choices faculty make. They are also some of the most difficult. Thus, it is imperative that the process is widely understood as fair, equitable, legitimate, and reasonable.

Research and experience tell us that when a T&P process is viewed as less than fair and reasonable, it can engender significant negative effects: it may have chilling effects on who goes up for T&P, with disproportionate effects on women and faculty of color; it can create long-lasting negative effects on unit and department climate; and it can have profound effects on how teaching, research, and service are valued and embodied.

This reflection, along with COACHE data indicating this is an area of growth for DU, led us to believe that the T&P process can be improved by introducing a few deliberative decision-making (DDM) best practices: pre-decision deliberation on criteria; interaction norms that disrupt the effects of formal and informal power differences between committee members; and clearly defined roles and responsibilities during the deliberation process.

Growing out of the 2019 summer Symposium and the deliberative decision making implementation committee, VPFA Kate Willink and past Senate President Darrin Hicks partnered with deans and unit tenure, promotion, and reappointment committees to conduct a pilot project focused on improving deliberations in unit-level promotion and tenure decisions.

Many thanks to the five units who participated in the pilot: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the Graduate School of Social Work; the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science; and the Morgridge College of Education.

Learn from Kimberly Bender, Philip D. and Eleanor G. Winn Endowed Professor for Children and Youth at Risk, and co-chair of the promotion and tenure committee at GSSW about how this benefited the GSSW T&P review process.

This year, we would like to make DDM training available to all faculty participating in promotion, reappointment, and tenure committees.

Please join us Thursday September 23 from 11:30-1:30 for a workshop on Improving Promotion and Tenure Reviews by Using a Deliberative Decision Making Model and learn about how to implement DDM to improve in your deliberations. As institutional members of Academic Impressions, this training is free for all DU faculty.

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