Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of the Association for Communication Administration 30 (2001), pp. 95–103.


Used by permission.


Whether to recommend the granting or denial of tenure to a faculty member is the most important decision a department makes. It not only has an effect on the professional life of a colleague, it has a major influence on the direction and long-term quality of the department. Therefore, it is essential that the decision be a good one. Although there is no way to absolutely ensure it, since some faculty members greatly improve with time and experience, while others fall apart, we believe the criteria and procedures we suggest can help to substantially increase the probability of a good decision.

Generally, the tenure decision is made in the sixth year of a tenure-track faculty appointment. If a faculty member has been on the tenure track at two institutions, the years of service at the first institution usually count toward those six years, unless the faculty member and his or her current institution agree in writing at the time of appointment that they will not or, in some cases, that only a certain number of them will.

If a faculty member is not making good progress toward meeting tenure requirements, though, it is unwise to delay until the sixth year. The sooner the person is terminated or helped to find another position, the better for him or her and for the department.