BSD Appointive Process Guidelines

Appointments, Reappointments, Promotions, and Tenure PROCESS Guidelines

[View this page as a downloadable PDF.]

This document is designed to aid in outlining processes that will avoid unnecessary complications with faculty appointments in the BSD. Our intention is to provide guidelines, meaning that significant room is left for reasonable expert judgment. Departures from these guidelines should be communicated in advance to the Office of Academic Affairs, which will arrange for their review.

The Office of Academic Affairs will act as a clearinghouse to route communications to their proper recipient.; 773 702-6504; OAA website

1. In the BSD, the definitive statement of criteria is "Pathways for successful faculty development and promotion" (May 2011), (PDF version)

2. Each department should distribute to its faculty its policy regarding which BSD faculty tracks and ranks may attend faculty meetings and vote on departmental recommendations in addition to any departmental processes to be followed, e.g., whether a research seminar or an ad hoc committee is required in particular cases.  This policy should be distributed annually to all faculty and individually to faculty candidates for reappointment, promotion, or tenure. Departments have reasonable discretion in setting these policies, excepting that in tenure recommendations the votes of the tenured faculty must be reported separately from those of other eligible voters. If a department needs to make an exception to its policies and/or these guidelines, it should first notify the Office of Academic Affairs*, which will seek advice as to whether the intended exception poses any issues. Additionally, appointive actions should be guided by the following resolution endorsed by the department chairs of the BSD:


3. The primary responsibility for applying the criteria and evaluating a candidate's performance in relation to them lies with the departmental faculty eligible to vote.

4. Existing faculty who are candidates for tenure must present a research seminar open to the BSD faculty.  The announcement of this seminar must be shared with the Office of Academic Affairs, preferably well in advance of the seminar.  It is suggested that the seminar be recorded and the recording be made available online for viewing by those participating in the tenure review process.

5. Positive recommendations for associate professor, professor, and tenure must include assessments by external consultants. Distinguished faculty who have no collaborative, collegial, or training relationship with the candidate and who are in peer programs at peer institutions will normally require no justification as credible external consultants, and some should normally be represented in any set of letters obtained. External consultants other than these are welcome, but their inclusion should be explained in the Chair's Letter.

6. In soliciting letters as in #5, the faculty eligible to vote (or their delegates) should consider carefully the most appropriate external consultants, and aim for no more than the 7 who can best evaluate the candidate. Exceptions to the numerical limit should be justified in the Chair's Letter. Those selected should be provided with the same data (except when confidential) used by the department to arrive at its own assessment. These data are the definitive version and must subsequently be provided to OAA without changes.  Addenda or version reflecting changes to these materials may also be submitted. Candidates' suggestions of potential assessors to be consulted or avoided should be considered (but need not be adopted), and the former should be no more than 30% of the total number.

7. Especially in matters invisible to the outside, e.g., teaching, many clinical procedures such as anesthesia, diagnostic radiology, primary care, and administration, dispassionate assessments of clinical and educational acumen from BSD faculty in the same or other departments may be solicited and will be given considerable weight. These may be shared with external consultants, redacted as necessary.

8. Dates and terms

New assistant professors: The Contingent Letter of Offer (CLO) should propose a start on the first day of a calendar month.  A separate appointment case for the Provost is due the earlier of: (a) 5 weeks before the start date or (b) 3 months after the CLO is signed.  In the BSD track, the assistant professorship lapses on the last day of the 84th calendar month unless the promotion clock stops. 

New senior faculty: The Contingent Letter of Offer (CLO) should anticipate 4 weeks between the start date and review by the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (For information on requesting a COAP date, contact the academic affairs professional within your department.  Additional resources are available on our internal site

To request exceptions to these deadlines, contact the Office of Academic Affairs before the CLO is released. 


In the BSD track, the Committee on Assistant Professors will review assistant professors early in the fifth year.

In the SOM track, the Committee on Assistant Professors will normally review assistant professors who are clinician-scholars early in the fifth year.

9. Once a candidate submits materials for appointment, reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure, nothing may be disclosed to the candidate until the Provost's decision is announced. Any need for earlier disclosure should be discussed in advance with the Office of Academic Affairs, which will seek approval for the proposed disclosure. Proposed new appointees, who may not understand our system, should be explicitly counseled to avoid premature disclosures based on a Contingent Letter of Offer.

The one exception: Recommendations to promote to associate professor without tenure in the BSD track requires departments to request special materials from the candidate, and the reason for the request should be disclosed.

10. For untenured faculty members (SOM track, BSD and CS tracks on term appointments), consideration for another term, whether at the same rank or a higher rank, or for tenure should begin with the department informing the candidate in writing (cc: to the Office of Academic Affairs) of the materials that must be submitted and their due date in the department.  Standard language for notifying BSD track candidates for promotion to associate professor and/or tenure is located here. Departmental due dates should allow sufficient time for case preparation, faculty deliberation, and votes before a departmental recommendation to reappoint/promote/tenure is due in the Office of Academic Affairs.

At the departmental level, non-reappointment/non-promotion/denial of tenure, resulting in the end of employment as a faculty member, can proceed in three ways:

(a) After assessing materials provided by the candidate and any external assessments, the departmental faculty may vote not to recommend another appointment. [A departmental faculty may so act when the candidate fails to provide the requested materials, and may vote not to obtain external assessments in weak cases.]

(b) The candidate may decide that he/she wishes to avoid the normal assessment, and provide a commitment in writing to disaffiliate from the faculty at the end of the appointment (Appendix). In this case no assessment should be undertaken.

(c) Before the candidate’s materials are due, the department may also decide to suggest that an untenured faculty member commit to disaffiliate from the faculty as described in (b).  The faculty member must be informed that the suggestion may be declined, in which case the normal assessment must ensue. 

In each of these three circumstances, the department must immediately inform in writing the Office of Academic Affairs, which will have the process of decision-making reviewed and seek authorization to disclose the decision to the candidate.  The notification should briefly explain the rationale for the decision, the process of decision-making, and who was consulted in making it. [There is no necessity for the Chair to consult all departmental faculty in sensitive cases.]  The materials used in decision-making (e.g., candidate's cv, letters if solicited, etc.) should also be provided.  The Office of Academic Affairs will also remind the department (as it also will if the Provost denies a positive departmental recommendation):

    (i) To disclose the decision to the candidate as soon as permission to do so is received.

    (ii) To assist the candidate in transitioning to another position, to communicate counseling/career resources, and offer appropriate counsel.

    (iii) To discuss transition plans for funding, mentorship of trainees, educational and committee obligations, etc.

    (iv) To review end-of-appointment expectations (see #11).

11. Disaffiliation from the University is normal when a faculty appointment lapses without additional appointment.

12. If the judgment of the faculty eligible to vote, Divisional review committees, deans, and provosts is appealed to the provost, the provost will limit review to the integrity of the process and will not interfere with the academic judgment made by the department regarding the merits of the case.

13. All departmental recommendations for appointive actions will undergo review by the Dean for onward transmission to the Provost with the Dean’s positive or negative endorsement.  When a BSD review committee tables a departmental recommendation, unless a revised recommendation is first received the committee’s advice will automatically become negative after 3 months or at the Provost’s deadline, whichever comes first.

14. Approved appointments, reappointments, and promotions are subject to review under University Statute 11.4 (“Provisions for Removal or Termination”), and thus may be modified or withdrawn before their effective date.



1. When a faculty member is appointed in more than one department, normally one is primary and the others are secondary.  The primary department assesses overall academic performance and recommends an action to the Dean and Provost*.  Secondary BSD departments assess the contribution to the secondary departments and vote on this basis to concur with the recommendation of the primary department; if this does not occur, there is no secondary appointment.  Concurrence is also required when the secondary appointment is in a non-BSD department, School, Institute for Molecular Engineering, or in an interdivisional institute.  Be advised that the processes, practices, and timelines outside the BSD may be different from those within the BSD, and the implications of such diversity should be understood fully in advance.

*As part of its assessment, the primary department may obtain input from and/or involve UChicago faculty members from other departments, who must not vote unless eligible according to the department process.  The confidentiality associated with letters of assessment extends to this input.

2. The Cancer Center and any secondary unit providing resources essential to the proposed appointment should also concur.  Degree-granting Committees need not concur in cases involving an existing member, although they may do so.  New appointments to degree-granting Committees require a faculty vote.

3. Actions involving basic science departments almost always require the concurrence of The College, as do any clinical department actions involving a College appointment:

(a) New faculty searches: department chair or chair’s designate must consult with the BSCD Master’s Office after a faculty vote to recommend an offer, and in advance of a second visit if there is one.  This allows the BSCD Master to discuss College teaching obligations with the chair, the candidate, or both before a CLO is drafted.

(b) Contingent Letters of Offer (CLOs): provide the text of the draft ‘Education/Teaching’ section to the BSCD Master’s Office.

(c) Recommendations to the BSD Dean and Provost for appointment, reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure: 

i. Notify the BSCD Master’s Office one month in advance of the faculty discussion/vote on reappointment, promotion, and/or tenure to allow the Master’s assessment to be prepared and considered by the voting faculty

ii. Transmit the BSCD Routing form and accompanying documentation as described at its bottom to the BSCD Master's Office.

Communications should be transmitted c/o Ms. Kila Roberts, BSCD Administrator,, (773) 702-7962, BSLC 328

4. Cases for new appointments of Instructors and Assistant Professors require 3 letters of assessment. Cases for promotion to Assistant Professor also require 3 letters of assessment unless those solicited for the initial appointment speak to suitability for the rank of Assistant Professor. These letters may be from current or former supervisors. 

5. The following normally apply. Exceptions should be discussed with the Office of Academic Affairs as soon as the need for an exception is known or anticipated.

 (a) Complete (except for the occasional late-arriving letter) COAP cases must be submitted electronically to the Office of Academic Affairs by noon three weeks before the scheduled COAP meeting.  

(b) Current instructions and templates for preparation of cases may be downloaded:  See our Compendium

(c) A department that contemplates an early recommendation for promotion to associate professor in the BSD track, promotion to associate professor BSD without tenure, or promotion from assistant professor directly to full professor should immediately contact the Office of Academic Affairs, which will arrange for appropriate discussion.

(d) Anticipate 4-5 weeks after the COAP date for a final decision, which may come sooner or later.

(e) Proposals for promotion to Professor in the BSD track should have an effective date of 1 July, although they may be submitted and approved at any time of year.



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2018-08-28: When a department votes not to reappoint an untenured faculty member, the notification to OAA must include the materials used in decision-making.