Tenure-Clock Guidelines for Contract Extension and Renewal
Iowa State University recognizes the challenges that untenured faculty face as they strive to earn tenure through achievement in teaching, research, extension, and outreach. While the standard probationary period normally provides enough time for the faculty member to demonstrate qualifications for tenure, special circumstances may arise that interfere with the faculty member's trajectory.
The extension of the tenure clock policy (ISU Faculty Handbook section 188.8.131.52) allows a faculty member to request an extension of the probationary period in a range of special circumstances.
A faculty member may seek an extension of the tenure clock for reasons pertaining to personal matters and/or other exceptional considerations that affect the faculty member's ability to meet their position responsibilities. Common examples include:
Personal matters, including but not limited to, the arrival, adoption, or foster placement of a child/children; a personal health issue; significant responsibilities with respect to elder, spouse/partner, or dependent care obligations.
Exceptional considerations that affect the faculty member's ability to meet their position responsibilities and significantly impede the faculty member's progress toward being promoted and achieving tenure, including but not limited to, major shift in position responsibilities, confusion about tenure dates, reconfiguration of department/school, significant delays in setting up laboratory/research space, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more details, see Faculty Handbook 184.108.40.206. The aforementioned examples reflect common reasons faculty seek tenure-clock extensions. Faculty are welcome to document other reasons to justify their application for a tenure-clock extension.
A faculty member seeking an extension of the probationary period should submit a completed extension request in Workday. Requests for extension due to the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or the foster placement of a child are automatically approved. Requests based on other circumstances may need additional explanation and documentation. The request is routed by the department chair to the dean and provost for approval. In the case that an extension is approved, a new Letter of Intent (LOI) must be generated by the HR Delivery Team to indicate the new dates for the preliminary review and/or the end of the probationary appointment.
A faculty member must submit their request for an extension of the probationary period before contract renewal review. In the case of a first probationary contract, the request for an extension must occur before the faculty member has submitted materials for the preliminary review to the department review committee. In the case of a second probationary contract, the extension request must be made by April 1 of the calendar year in which the department-level tenure review is scheduled to be conducted.
A faculty member may be granted no more than two years of extension during the probationary period.
Departments and colleges must remember that scholarship accomplished by a tenure-track faculty member during an extension period shall be counted as part of a candidate's record. Standards regarding what constitutes a record deserving of tenure shall not be raised to adjust for any granted extension.
The following scenarios illustrate a range of circumstances in which an extension of the probationary period may be requested and how the extension impacts the faculty member's Letter of Intent (LOI):
Professor A has a baby in year 1. They request and are granted a one-year extension. Their LOI is revised to extend their first probationary contract by one year. Their preliminary review (and contract renewal) is now scheduled to occur in year 4. The new LOI also includes an extended date for the end of the probationary appointment.
Professor B loses their father in year 3. They need to take some time off to attend the funeral and assist their mother, as well as to cope with their personal grief. They request a one-year extension of the tenure clock. There are two possible scenarios:
- If the preliminary review materials have not yet been turned in, a one-year extension may be granted and added to the first probationary contract. A new LOI is prepared to indicate that the preliminary review will now take place in year 4. It also includes an extended date for the end of the probationary appointment.
- If the preliminary review materials have already been turned in, the chair will consult with the dean and provost to determine whether or not an extension may be considered or whether the review proceeds as originally scheduled.
Professor C becomes seriously ill in year 4 and needs to take some time off. They request a one-year extension of the tenure clock. Their LOI is revised to extend their second probationary contract by one year. Their mandatory promotion and tenure review is now scheduled to occur in year 7.
Professor D has a baby in year 1. They request and are granted a one-year extension on their first probationary contract. Their LOI is revised to extend their first probationary contract by one year. They successfully pass their preliminary review in year 4. They have a second child in year 5. They request and are granted a second one-year extension of the tenure clock. This second extension adds one year to their second probationary contract so that they will undergo mandatory promotion and tenure review in year 8. Their LOI is revised to include the extended date for the second probationary contract.
- First probationary contract: This refers to a tenure-eligible faculty member's initial contract, typically covering a four-year period. Renewal of this contract is determined by the result of a mandatory preliminary review.
- Second probationary contract: If a tenure-eligible faculty member receives a positive preliminary review, they are given a second probationary contract, typically covering a three-year period.
- Preliminary review: This is a mandatory review of a tenure-eligible faculty member's work in order to determine contract renewal. This review (formerly known as third year review) typically occurs in the third year on the tenure track.
- Promotion and tenure review: This is a mandatory review of a tenure-eligible faculty member's work in order to determine whether or not tenure will be granted. This review typically occurs in the sixth year on the tenure track.
Updated May 2023