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Provost's Update - March 2018

Strong partnerships are essential to fulfilling Virginia Tech’s strategies for growth and service to our constituents. One needs to look no further than our vision for Beyond Boundaries to see that working together through a shared commitment to teaching, research, and service is at the core of who we are and how we synthesize our strengths to create opportunities to improve the world around us. This collective effort starts with empowering and elevating faculty who have distinguished themselves as teachers, mentors, thought leaders, and scholars. Identifying and advancing these individuals is a shared responsibility of faculty and administrators, and forms the foundation of our promotion and tenure (P&T) process.

Promotion and tenure is a vitally important process that recognizes the productivity and value of faculty accomplishment and secures it for the future. Through a collective decision-making partnership involving faculty and administrators at the department, college, and university levels, candidates for P&T are reviewed and evaluated in the context of each individual’s work assignment and disciplinary interest. A wide range of types of scholarship are recognized and valued, including refereed publications in journals and conference proceedings, monographs and books, venues and invitations for artistic performances, selection of works and designs for exhibitions etc. The value placed on the type of scholarship produced depends largely on standards set at the department and college levels.

The process employed at Virginia Tech has earned a well-deserved record of success over many years and is an excellent example of shared governance between faculty and university leaders. Review of P&T dossiers this year was certainly no exception. Faculty at all levels of the university committed an inordinate amount of time reviewing dossiers, as did department heads and deans. Their recommendations were thoughtful and fair, and demonstrated the importance of balancing freedom of faculty to pursue individual interests and the necessity of fulfilling the mission imperatives of a land-grant university. I very much appreciate their commitment of time and effort.

Our record of success and accomplishment in P&T is allowing us to compete for and retain world-class talent. I have the utmost confidence in our process and believe that it is well adapted to our university’s needs. Nevertheless, moving forward we should continue to seek ways to improve. In this regard, I look forward to reviewing revisions to P&T policies being drafted by the Commission on Faculty Affairs. I believe the mirror we hold up to ourselves in this process reflects the essence of shared governance, a commitment to excellence, and fairness in evaluation of faculty accomplishments. As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions on the continuous evaluation and evolution of all our university processes.