Requests for Reauthorization of Faculty Positions and Proposals for New Positions

The Faculty has established a procedure for review of the allocation of tenure-line positions when they become vacant or are soon to become vacant or when a department or program requests a new or redefined position. All such requests are reviewed by the Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee (CEP), whose role is to advise the President and the Dean for Academic Affairs. In the case of existing positions, CEP advises on whether the position should be reauthorized and reallocated in the same department or program or allocated elsewhere and on whether it should potentially be redefined. In the case of requests for new positions, CEP utilizes the same procedure, considering the request from an institutional standpoint, and makes a recommendation to the President and the Dean. Requests for new positions are not common, as the College is not in a position to increase faculty lines without endowed funding and highly compelling reasons. As such, this memo uses the term “reauthorization” throughout, although the same criteria, rationale and process pertain to all such requests. Departments and programs are advised to consult with the Dean about their particular circumstances.

Procedure

Departments and Programs are encouraged to begin the reauthorization request process as early as possible upon receiving notice of a vacancy; in the case of a planned retirement, the process can begin as soon as the colleague formalizes plans for retirement with a signed agreement. Reauthorization and preparation can often take a full academic year or more. During the period of the reauthorization process (and subsequent search), the Dean’s office will work with departments and programs to meet short-term curricular needs.

A department or program in which a vacancy occurs in a tenure-line position, and which desires authorization to recruit a replacement, has two options: the department may request reauthorization of the same position or it may request authorization of the position in another field of specialization.

The reauthorization process begins with a meeting that includes the Dean and Associate Dean, a member of CEP, a member of the Committee for Faculty Diversity, and all tenure-line members of the department and/or program. This meeting ensures a first conversation for all members of the department and/or program and representatives of the Faculty Diversity Committee and CEP about policies, procedures, priorities, and best practices. The Faculty Diversity Committee does not review or recommend the reauthorization request, but its involvement at this initial stage establishes a commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty that is embedded in discussion of broad college and departmental priorities regarding the curriculum.

Following this meeting, the department and/or program creates a request for reauthorization in the form of a memorandum to the Dean, which will be shared with and reviewed by CEP. It is expected that this memo will reflect the issues discussed at the first meeting and it is anticipated that departments/programs will consult with the Dean’s office and members of the Faculty Diversity Committee as the memo is drafted. The memo should include any statistical information or other supporting documents that might help CEP understand and evaluate the request. Please be sure that the following questions are addressed in the memorandum:

  • What is the rationale for reauthorizing the position? Please elaborate on the following points:
  • Note how the specialization might be determined so as to attract applicants who would contribute to a more diverse faculty. This should explicitly reflect and address the conversations to date among the members of the department/program and the Faculty Diversity Committee.
  • In which field or subfield would the appointment be made? What is the process by which you came to this choice of field or subfield? Please include a prototype job description and give examples of courses that an individual appointed to the position might contribute to the curriculum.
  • With respect to subject matter, indicate how the field is related to other fields in your discipline and what educational values would be served by including the field in the department’s or program’s curriculum. How would this appointment contribute intellectually to the long-term direction of the department/program and Bowdoin’s position with relation to national discourses on changes and developments in the discipline?
  • Describe how this position would contribute to satisfying College-wide curricular needs beyond your department or program. If appropriate, comment on the potential contributions to distribution requirements; if appropriate, comment on the potential contributions to the interdisciplinary or other departmental curricula that would be impacted or benefitted by the proposed appointment. (Where such a contributions are possible, it would be advantageous to discuss the position with the pertinent program directors or department chairs and to obtain their endorsement of the request.)
  • With respect to enrollment and workload pressures, share and explain any trends in departmental or program course enrollments and in the numbers of majors and minors.
  • Please provide relevant background data, including an overview of staffing, anticipated leaves and curricular offerings (including those anticipated for the new position) for the next three years.
  • Would the position entail any additional non-salary costs (e.g. lab space, instructional support, etc.) in your department or program or the College budget generally? How much and for what purposes? Does the requested position necessitate the appointment of additional staff support (e.g., for a laboratory instructor or technical support)?
  • Describe what you know about the anticipated candidate pool and your method for investigating it, and include: 1. a draft outreach and recruiting plan in keeping with the Faculty Recruiting Memo (http://www.bowdoin.edu/academic-affairs/department-chairs/pdf/faculty-recruiting-memo.pdf) as well as 2. a proposed timeline for the search process. The proposed search plan should outline the anticipated pool of candidates, the planned outreach to ensure a diverse pool, conferences to which Bowdoin faculty should be sent as part of informational, interviewing or recruiting measures, and appropriate venues for dissemination of position information. It is expected that, after reauthorization, the department will finalize a search plan in consultation with Academic Affairs and the member of the Faculty Diversity Committee appointed as an outside member of the search committee.

Criteria

CEP and the Dean will review requests for reauthorization of faculty positions based on the following criteria (please note: the list of criteria below is not a rank-ordered list of priorities, but rather an inclusive list of areas the Dean and CEP will take into account):

  • The likelihood that the faculty’s diversity goals (http://www.bowdoin.edu/academic-affairs/forms-policies/faculty-diversity.shtml) could be advanced through recruitment to fill the position;
  • The relevance of the particular subject matter to the broader nature and trajectory of the discipline and emerging disciplines and subfields and to the current and future curriculum of the individual department or program;
  • The importance of the particular subject matter in the College’s curriculum as a whole, including the potential contribution to distribution requirements and/or to existing interdisciplinary programs as well as the relationship to course offerings in other departments;
  • The role that the position would play in satisfying and generating student interest in the subject matter, either by maintaining existing offerings in which there is substantial student interest or by providing improved access to over-enrolled subjects; and
  • The capacity of the position to reduce chronically heavy teaching loads and/or to reduce course size in the department or program.

In reviewing requests, CEP's main responsibility will be to reach recommendations that look principally to the long-term curricular interests of the College. Materials that CEP may consult in the process of reviewing the request include: departmental annual reports, self-studies, and reviews; enrollment patterns and course data; profiles of related departments/programs at peer institutions; and data on PhD's awarded in particular fields and subfields; and evidence relating to the College's long-term goals for diversity.

In order to ensure that CEP fully understands the intended role of a faculty position in a department or program, the committee may consult with the chair/director and other representatives of the department for more detailed discussion. If it appears that CEP is considering the possibility of reallocating that position to another department/program, it may also consult with the chairs/directors of other departments/programs.

Schedule

Requests for reauthorization should be initiated as soon as possible after a vacancy is known. Requests received when CEP is not in session may, in rare cases, be approved without consultation with CEP at the discretion of the Dean and President; however, requests received after March will normally be deferred to the fall semester. The CEP decision constitutes a recommendation for action; the President and Dean have final authority regarding the reauthorization and allocation of faculty lines.

I encourage chairs and program directors to be in touch with the Dean to discuss anticipated requests and related questions. On behalf of all the members of CEP, let me thank you and your colleagues for the time devoted to the preparation of these requests. The articulation of departmental and program priorities in these proposals is essential to our ability to think institutionally and to plan for the future.