Handbook of Operating Procedures

Faculty Tenure

Policy Number: 115





Date Reviewed:
October 2015
Responsible Office:
Academic and Research Affairs
Responsible Executive:
Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs


Tenure denotes a status of continued, full-time appointment to the faculty of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”). To be eligible for tenure, a faculty member must have demonstrated excellence in scholarship, as defined in the Statement on Scholarship and as outlined in the Guidelines for Tenure; must serve full-time in the designated academic ranks; and, as applicable, must have completed a probationary period of service. In addition, the faculty member must show the promise of continued excellence in scholarship in the areas of teaching, research, professional service, service to the community and institutional citizenship.

Tenure is awarded by The University of Texas System Board of Regents acting on the recommendation of the President and is awarded in accordance with UT System Board of Regents Rules and Regulations, Rule 31007, Tenure. This policy references guidelines to be used by the schools in the process for recommending faculty for tenure, explains the criteria applied to a faculty member being considered for tenure and describes the procedures needed to accomplish the task.

While in most cases tenure recommendations will be initiated by the department chair (or equivalent), faculty in all schools may initiate their own candidacy for tenure.  They must then receive an accurate and complete tenure evaluation.

The University of Texas System considers tenure and compensation to be separate matters. Compensation is based on performance of assigned duties and productivity.


A. Criteria for Judging Appropriateness for Tenure

The Guidelines for Tenure set forth the criteria for judging appropriateness for tenure.

Beyond the criteria listed in the Guidelines for Tenure, schools may have additional criteria faculty members must meet to be eligible for tenure. The schools must set forth such criteria and any other tenure guidelines in writing and must make them accessible to all faculty. Each school's tenure guidelines must at a minimum contain those items listed in the Guidelines for Tenure. Each school’s tenure guidelines must be reviewed and approved by the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs ("EVPARA") to ensure consistency and academic standards.

Ordinarily, tenure is considered on completion of a probationary period of service. An established scholar may, under exceptional circumstances, be granted tenure simultaneously with appointment to the faculty.

B. School Guidelines

Department chairs/equivalents will make school tenure guidelines accessible to faculty at the time of their initial appointment. Faculty must be notified of any revisions to tenure guidelines in a timely fashion.

Each school must establish and publish written guidelines regarding annual tenure review that must include the following:

  • provision for annual opportunity for tenure consideration;
  • standards used in evaluating candidates and criteria by which achievement in those areas will be measured;
  • definition of the role of the department chair (as advocate or neutral presenter) and the role of the candidate in initiating the nomination;
  • a description of the materials to be included in the tenure file (at a minimum, those materials should include a curriculum vitae; letters from the department chair/equivalent; three letters from faculty within the candidate's institution; summary statements and results of any vote from the applicant’s department, division, module, section; a summary or reference to school committee opinions and results of any vote; a minimum of three, preferably five, letters from outside the institution; a letter from the chair of the school's appointment, promotion and tenure committee, if appropriate; any other letters that are appropriate);
  • a description of the process for soliciting letters of reference and the role of the candidate, the dean, or the school's appointment, promotion and tenure committee in this process;
  • a schedule of the deadline for each step of the process.

Final tenure recommendations will be submitted to the University Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee (“UAPTC”) by March 1 of each year. (See Section H for further details.)

Consideration at the university level will take into account the guidelines and mission of the candidate's school as well as the university guidelines and policies.

C. Eligibility for Consideration

Only those faculty who hold a tenure-track position with the academic title of professor, associate professor or assistant professor and who are in continuous full-time service (100% appointment) to the university may be eligible for tenure consideration (refer to HOOP Policy 111 Faculty Review). Academic service in the position of instructor on the tenure track is applicable toward a faculty member's probationary period; however, tenure will not be granted to an individual while serving in this position.

D. Probationary Service

The period of probationary service in any non-tenured tenure-track academic position or combination of positions on the tenure track will normally not exceed nine years. (See Section E. Extension of Tenure-Track Probationary Period below.)

Prior service at other academic institutions, whether within or outside The University of Texas System, will not be counted toward fulfillment of the probationary period.

Probationary service is calculated as indicated in Regents’ Rule and Regulation, Rule 31007, Tenure, Part 2, Section 5.1.  For purposes of calculating the period of probationary service, an “academic year” shall be the period from September 1 through the following August 31.  If a faculty member’s appointment commences during an academic year (after September 1 and before August 31), the period of service from the date of initial appointment until the following August 31 shall not be counted as academic service toward fulfillment of any probationary service period.  Year 1 would commence on the following September 1. 

E. Extension of Tenure-Track Probationary Period

The following circumstances, when recommended by the appropriate dean and approved by the EVPARA, can produce extended time periods that will not apply toward completing the probationary period; however, probationary time accrued in a tenure-track position before and after a period of altered status will be cumulative:

  • leaves of absence without pay;
  • full-time assignment to administrative or other non-academic duties within the university;
  • relinquishment of a tenure-track appointment to assume either a part-time adjunct or part-time clinical appointment with pay;
  • transfer to a non-tenure track faculty position
  • faculty development leave;
  • reassignment of duties outside the university.

In addition, a faculty member who determines that certain personal circumstances may impede his or her progress toward demonstrating eligibility for recommendation for award of tenure may make a written request to extend the probationary period to the EVPARA through the department head or equivalent and the dean. This request must specify the reason(s) for the requested extension and must include appropriate documentation to demonstrate adequately why the request should be granted. Personal circumstances that may justify the extension are listed in Regents’ Rule and Regulation, Rule 31007, Tenure, Part 2, Section 5.1(b)(1). Extensions will be limited to the time periods specified in Regents’ Rule and Regulation, Rule 31007, Tenure, Part 2, Section 5.1(b)(2). The decision regarding the request will be made by the EVPARA, on recommendation of the department chair or equivalent and the dean, and will be communicated to the faculty member within 10 working days from the date the request was submitted to the EVPARA.

Normally, requests for extension must be made in advance of the academic year for which the extension is desired and may be made no later than three months prior to the deadline for initiation of the mandatory review process to determine recommended award of tenure or notice, as provided under Section F below, that the next year will be the faculty member's terminal year of appointment.

F. Notification of Completion of Probationary Service

Not later than August 1 of the eighth year of probationary service and following formal review, all non-tenured, tenure-track faculty will receive notice that:

  • tenure has been awarded effective September 1 of the following academic year; or
  • the subsequent (ninth) academic year will be the terminal year of employment.

If notice is not received by August 1 of the eighth year of probationary service, it is the responsibility of the faculty member concerned to pursue an inquiry with the dean (or delegate).  An application for tenure can be made during the ninth year even after a letter of non-reappointment has been received.  If tenure is awarded prior to August 31 of the ninth year, the non-reappointment letter will be rescinded. Consideration for tenure in the 9th year will be made only under extraordinary circumstances and must be recommended by the department chair and dean.

G. Advancing Candidacy

The specific procedures for making recommendations on granting tenure will vary in detail from one school to another. However, any tenure-track faculty member may initiate candidacy for tenure prior to his or her eighth probationary year.

An individual who aspires to tenure should follow the procedure within his or her school. (Refer to Section B. School Guidelines, above.) The candidate has the option to advance his or her candidacy through all levels of consideration, even if there is a negative outcome at a particular level. These levels of consideration include the following: (1) the department chair and department committee (when appropriate), (2) the school appointment, promotion and tenure committee, (3) the dean, and (4) the UAPTC.

H. Notification of Candidacy Status

Once the candidacy has advanced beyond the departmental level, the dean is responsible for informing the candidate of the status of his or her tenure considerations at the school and the UAPTC levels..

In the case of an approval of a recommendation for tenure, the findings and support material will be transmitted to the next level of consideration in accordance with established schedules. However, if the candidate is in the eighth year of probationary service, a recommendation for denial of tenure along with the support materials must be transmitted to the next level for consideration.

All candidates for tenure will be submitted to the President for his or her consideration. If the President endorses the recommendation for tenure, he or she will forward a recommendation for tenure to The University of Texas System Board of Regents for approval. If the President does not endorse the recommendation for tenure, he or she will notify the appropriate dean that he or she does not endorse the recommendation for tenure.  The decision of the President on the recommendation of tenure is final and a faculty member may not propose his or her tenure to the Board of Regents.

Tenure becomes effective as of September 1 of the next fiscal year and will be indicated on that annual appointment letter.

If the President recommends denial of tenure, the candidate may request a review only in accordance with Regents’ Rule and Regulation, Rule 31008, Termination of a Faculty Member, Part 2, Section 6. No faculty member will be penalized, disciplined or prejudiced for contesting decisions, lodging a complaint or aiding another faculty member in doing so. The President's decision will be transmitted to the appropriate dean, and through the dean to the candidate, and will be reflected in the next annual appointment letter.

If the department chair or dean makes a recommendation for denial of tenure, the candidate may advance his or her candidacy to the next level by written request within the deadline set by the school.  If the candidate believes that denial was based on incomplete or inaccurate information, the candidate may provide corrective materials at this time. The UAPTC will be provided all materials added at any stage. Any new materials added to the tenure package in such cases must be evaluated by the parties involved in any prior reviews.

If a review cannot be completed by August 15 of the penultimate (eighth) year, the candidate will be given a notice of non-reappointment, which may be rescinded if tenure is awarded.

I. Complaints

All individuals involved in the tenure process have the responsibility for assuring the integrity and fairness of the process, but the EVPARA has ultimate responsibility for this assurance. The candidate may at any time during the review process take complaints regarding procedural inadequacies or improprieties to the EVPARA, who has the authority to resolve such matters.

J. Transfer to a Non-tenure Track

In some situations in which there are appropriate positions available, a department chair may choose to offer a non-tenure track position to a faculty member who has not attained tenure. Such an offer may be made when an individual has skills needed to support the school and has made valuable contributions to the academic activities of the university, yet has not met all the criteria on which tenure consideration is based.

In such cases, the transfer will become effective in the subsequent academic year after notification regarding tenure. The process for altering tenure track status must be initiated by the individual faculty member. (Refer to HOOP Policy 192 Academic Titles.)

K. Transfer to Another University Unit

Refer to HOOP Policy 45 Transfer of Faculty.

L. Change in Status

A tenured faculty member may change from full-time to part-time status and thus from tenured to non-tenured status without termination of employment by arrangement with his or her department/unit head. However, if a tenured faculty member wishes to change from full-time to part-time status and retain tenure, this must be recommended by the dean and approved by the EVPARA.

Any tenured faculty member who resigns or retires from the university may be eligible to be re-hired but will not be re-hired with tenure. If the faculty member is subsequently offered another faculty position, his or her candidacy for tenure will be determined by the type of position offered (e.g., tenure track or non-tenure track).


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Office of Academic and Research Affairs 713-500-3082