Resources

Assistant Professors

SOM Track

Here you will find a summary of resources and guidance for those interested in a new faculty appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor within the School of Medicine (SOM) track as well as assistance for current Assistant Professors who are interested in the process for reappointment, promotion, and tenure.  Please reference the full set of guidance available through our official guidelines and seek assistance from our office or your department for additional information. Additional information specific to physician scholars is also available.

Faculty on the School of Medicine (SOM) track are judged on the entirety of their contributions to the BSD and University in the three primary missions.   Unlike in the BSD track, there are multiple pathways to advancement (including those culminating in a tenured appointment on the BSD track). With rare exceptions, contributions to the patient care and educational missions are required on these pathways.  Some faculty on the SOM pathways will lead programs devoted to traditional scholarship i.e. the creation of knowledge.  Others will enhance the intellectual life of the BSD by contributing to its scholarly and educational missions. These academic activities may appropriately take a broad range of forms depending on clinical obligations and the ability to obtain funds to support these activities. Learn more about our different academic appointments here.

Appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor on the SOM Track is normally made for a 4-year term. The effort devoted to each of the primary missions is jointly decided at the time of initial appointment by the faculty member, the Department Chair and, where appropriate, the Section Chief.  The effort assignment may be adjusted on a regular basis, e.g. at the time of annual reviews, by mutual agreement of the parties.  Learn more about the benefits and resources available to new faculty:

Information for beginning assistant professors SOM track

Within the first 3 – 6 months, you should be settled in and the following information should help inform your career planning at the University of Chicago:

  • First things
    • First checkpoint:  You will have a formal performance review in about 12 months; expect it and ask for it if it doesn’t happen.
    • Reappointment:  You are appointed for a term, normally 4 years, but possibly less.  9-12 months before the end of that term you will prepare materials for reappointment.
    • Maintain a log: These and other reviews are based on your contributions to the BSD in patient care, education, scholarship, and citizenship.  Keep track of what you do and when you do it.  If you would like, use the model reappointment CV format .
  • Your appointment is in the “SOM” faculty track.  This is a track that permits substantial flexibility in how you distribute your effort among the three missions of the institution: education, patient care, and scholarship (in alphabetical order).  Your initial distribution is described in your “Contingent Letter of Offer”, CLO for short, which you signed to accept your position here.  [If your CLO has gone missing, you should ask your departmental administration for a copy.]  How this distribution – and the specific activities within each component, the corresponding expectations, and how you will parlay these activities into promotion – is a matter for ongoing discussion between you and your departmental leadership. 
  • The pertinent leadership with respect to reappointment and promotion will vary by department, and may include the departmental chair, vice-chair, section chief, and/or a delegated mentor or mentorship committee.  You should inquire about who the ‘go-to people’ are for you and meet with them, for they can save you both time and anxiety about how ‘the system’ really works.  Opinions are diverse about the ideal timing for this first meeting, and range between 3 and 9 months after your arrival.  You should take the initiative to arrange this meeting if it does not occur through other means

But, in a nutshell, in your faculty track, there is no “promotion clock”.  That is, you may be reappointed as assistant professor for an unlimited number of terms.  “May be” is not the same as “must be”, however.  In recent years, the median time for promotion is between 6 and 6.5 years, and expectation is that promotion will ensue by the 8th year in rank.  If you are an outstanding faculty member but are not ready for promotion due to circumstances beyond your control – no worries!  Note that these are median times to promotion, meaning that 50% of your cohort will qualify earlier than this time.  Indeed, we’d be delighted to promote you early and as soon as you qualify.  But if your contributions to the BSD do not meet expectations for reappointment, you may not be reappointed.

In a nutshell, here is the typical timeline for an assistant professor just beginning a four year term between 1 July and 31 December:

Reappointment materials typically due in your department

November-December of your 3rd “year”*

If department proposes you for reappointment, review by the Committee on Reappointment of Assistant Professors (COROAP)

Spring Quarter of your 3rd “year”*

Announcement of reappointment decision

Just before end of 3rd “year”*

Typical last day of term

June 30 of the 4th “year”*

*”Year” is usually reckoned from 1 July, regardless of actual start date.

If you begin early in this six-month window (July-December), you will have more time before the reappointment decision than if you begin later.  Departments will compensate for any time differences in arriving at their reappointment decisions.  Similar timing applies to those beginning January-June.

Promotion materials typically due in your department

When you and your department chair, vice-chair, and/or Section Chief (as appropriate) decide.  Typically during or at end of second term as assistant professor.

Review of promotions materials by the department, Committee on Appointments and Promotions (COAP), Dean, and Provost

1-6 months

Announcement of promotion decision

When approved by Provost

 

Each term of appointment as Assistant Professor is ordinarily ~4 years and ends 30 June.  For those beginning July-December, the first term is shortened accordingly and for those beginning January-June the first term is lengthened accordingly. Often in the Department of Pediatrics and sometimes in other departments, the first term may be shorter.  If so, this will have been specified in the letter you signed to accept your position.

You may be reappointed as Assistant Professor without a change in rank.  If so, your reappointment materials will ordinarily be due in your departmental or section office midway through your third year, and we aspire to notify you regarding reappointment by the end of your third year; i.e., a full year before the end of your term.

You may be reappointed indefinitely without being promoted; there is no upper limit to the number of terms as Assistant Professor.  However, it is anticipated that in the majority of cases promotion to Associate Professor will occur 6-7 years after appointment as Assistant Professor, and expected that the Department/Section will provide career guidance to facilitate promotion in a timely fashion.  In other words, if you cannot or will not advance in rank, your department may decide not to reappoint you. Check with your departmental office to see when they need the materials to meet the BSD deadline.

Summary of Criteria for Reappointment

  • Sufficient quality and productivity in the performance of your clinical duties, meeting the expectations of your 'job description.'  
  • Sufficient quality and productivity in contributions to our educational mission and institutional citizenship, meeting the expectations of your 'job description'
  • Other contributions that establish you as 'on track' for timely promotion.  These typically include scholarly activity that is commensurate with your job description.
  • A thorough and explicit career development plan that will suffice for promotion in due course.
  • Please see the official guidelines for more information; Additional information specific to physician scholars is also available.

Obviously the above are mainly judgments made by your departmental faculty colleagues, for whom your chair or chief is the spokesperson.  For that reason, you should meet regularly with your chair, chief, departmental go-to person, and/or mentor(s) for insight into your progress and career advice.

There is no obligation to reappoint Assistant Professors even if they meet the above requirements.

In addition to reappointment, SOM Track Assistant Professors, who have significant time protected for scholarship (ordinarily >50%), receive an advisory review by the Advisory Committee on Assistant Professors (ACAP) in their fifth year. The review provides advice on your prospects for promotion and corresponding actions you might take.  Point to HERE for details. 

Reappointment Proposal

The department will prepare and submit a recommendation for the appointment that is reviewed by OAA for completeness, endorsed by the Dean and submitted to the Provost’s office for approval. An original recommendation should be submitted to OAA.
A complete recommendation will include:

  • Chair’s letter to Dean
  • Section Chief's letter to Chair (if customary in the department)
  • Updated CV & personal statements
  • Teaching evaluations (from the last term of appointment)

Reappointment Proposal for Clinician-Scholars

This section applies to SOM Track Assistant Professors, who have significant time protected for scholarship (ordinarily >50%)

Reappointment proposal

The department will prepare and submit a recommendation for the appointment that is reviewed by OAA for completeness, reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Assistant Professors (ACAP), and endorsed by the Dean and submitted to the Provost’s office for approval.  An original recommendation should be submitted to OAA

Assistant Professor's dossier:

  • Updated CV:  Be certain this contains complete and correct information on all scholarly works and past/current/pending/future funding.  (If your CV changes while it is being reviewed, you may provide your departmental office with either addenda/updates.)
  • Statements of past/proposed scholarly, educational, citizenship, and patient care activity
  • Statement on past and expected progress to promotion
  • Up to 5 exemplary scholarly works or manuscripts (pdf format)

Departmental recommendation

  • Chair's letter to the Dean reporting the assessment of the faculty eligible to vote, their vote on the recommendation to reappoint, and additional comments of the chair. 
  • A draft letter to the Assistant Professor communicating the department's assessment of the assistant professor's strengths, weaknesses -- and offers of assistance, if any.
  • An estimated time to promotion, yearly deliverables that should result in promotion by this time, and a "Plan B" (if any) in case the assistant professor is not on track for promotion as a clinician-scholar.
  • Learner evaluations submitted at the end of academic courses taught by the assistant professor.
  • If there has been an appointment in The College (which is normal), a letter from the Master of Biological Sciences Collegiate Division)
  • Other concurrences, and documents as customary for a department.  These might include Section Chiefs' letters and reports of internal promotions committees.

Once the reappointment is approved, the department is responsible for providing the reappointed assistant professor with the letter conveying the department's assessment and offers of assistance.  Assistant professors who have not received this letter within a month of the announcement should ask for it from their chair, chief, or departmental office.

Reverse timeline:

Target dates

Contract end date:     30 June (or in first half of the calendar year)      
Results of reappointment review are announced     15 December, 6.5 months in advance of end date      
ACAP, Deans', and Provosts' review of recommendation     In between above and below      
Departmental recommendation due in Office of Academic Affairs     1 September, 10 months in advance of end date      
Assistant professor's materials due in departmental office     Ask departmental office.  May range from 1 April to 1 August depending on faculty absences.  

Note that most of these are target dates, not firm deadlines, and can be adjusted from year to year.  The departmental office can obtain exact information from the Office of Academic Affairs.

 

SOM Track Assistant Professors, who have significant time protected for scholarship (ordinarily >50%), receive an advisory review by the Advisory Committee on Assistant Professors (ACAP) in their fifth year.  The purpose of the review is to provide helpful advice before you enter the promotion process.  This review requires you to submit a CV, research narrative and brief teaching and clinical narratives, and to make a brief research presentation to the ACAP committee highlighting the significance of your research, the scientific challenge or opportunity you are pursuing, and your projected research timeline.

This fifth-year review for Assistant Professors was added because the reappointment review, at three years before the promotion decision, can be too soon for assessment of prospects for promotion. The ACAP review is timed to be later but still early enough for advice to be useful.
Click here for more information.

You may be recommended for promotion to Associate Professor on the SOM track as soon as you qualify. Departments vary in how they decide whether you are ready to be promoted. Promotion to Associate Professor is not required, and some Assistant Professors never achieve it. Trends in the BSD show that promotions are rare before 3 years as an associate professor, peak at 5 years post promotion, and are rare after 10 years post promotion.

Criteria for Promotion:

  • Please see the official guidelines for more information; Additional information specific to physician scholars is also available.
  • Expectations for those with clinical responsibilities who will advance mainly through peer-reviewed publications [These do not apply to all SOM track Assistant Professors.]
  • Sufficient quality and productivity in the performance of your clinical duties, meeting the expectations of your 'job description'
  • Sufficient quality and productivity in contributions to our educational mission and institutional citizenship, meeting the expectations of your 'job description'
  • An outstanding body of contributions to our missions, comparable to those of recently-promoted associate professors SOM here and at leading programs elsewhere in the country.   These typically include scholarly activity that is commensurate with your job description.  These contributions typically:
    • Enhance our distinction as a leading academic health center
    • Are coherent or have a recognizable theme (vs. a hodgepodge of unrelated contributions)
    • Are special in some way (creative, innovative, of unusual size, audacious, non-routine, masterful, etc.)
    • Have gone beyond what is required without a change in rank
    • Represent (a) achievement of a goal articulated in advance OR satisfaction of a significant institutional need OR (c) becoming the institutional expert or 'go-to person' on a topic of institutional significance

There is no obligation to promote Assistant Professors even if they meet the above requirements.

Note that this description of the expected body of contributions is silent with respect to mission domains (education, patient care, scholarship).   Candidates and their departments/sections have the freedom to choose a prospective body of contributions to one/some all mission domains that makes sense for the institution and leverages the candidate's interests and abilities.  Furthermore, if your 'job description' intentionally excludes such activity, which is rare, you may be promoted on the basis of performing your job description outstandingly well.

You may view a sample of the checklist we use in promotion deliberations HERE.

Obviously the above are mainly judgments made by your departmental faculty colleagues, for whom your chair or chief is the spokesperson.  For that reason you should meet regularly with your chair, chief, departmental go-to person, and/or mentor(s) for insight into your progress and career advice.

Promotion Package Includes:

  • Updated CV & personal statements
  • Up to 5 exemplary peer-reviewed works, either published or accepted for publication, if available and/or publication is part of the job description
  • Chair’s letter to Dean  
  • Grid of external assessors, their contact information, and rationale for their selection (if not in Chair's letter)
  • Letter used to solicit external assessments
  • External assessments
  • Internal assessments of clinical and educational acumen, if needed
  • Letter of assessment from BSCD Master or documentation that one has been requested (for Basic Science Departments and/or if candidate teaches in The College) 
  • Teaching evaluations
  • Other concurrences,* and documents as customary for a department.  These might include Section Chiefs' letters and reports of internal promotions committees.

Your department will collaborate with you to prepare these materials. 

The Office of Faculty Affairs offers regular programming on the promotion process and other career development opportunities.

Faculty on the SOM track are considered tenure-eligible. You may be recommended for tenure as soon as you qualify and do so as either an associate or a full professor; the latter is more common.  Although there is no regular time of year for considering tenure, the Provost's Office prefers that its tenure reviews occur in November-December, which necessitates a departmental recommendation by late August. Tenure is not required, and some associate professors never achieve it.

Criteria for tenure:

  • An outstanding body of scholarship is required.
  • Scholarship of such caliber may take the same form as that typical of faculty on the BSD track.  However, it may also create impactful knowledge that brings high distinction to the BSD in the clinical or educational arenas. This might include intellectual leadership in clinical trials that establish the standard of care, important scholarly contributions in education or curriculum development that have national/international impact, technical innovation (new procedures, treatments, or devices), or other paradigm-shifting advances. The quality and impact of these contributions will also be judged by the quality of the peer-reviewed publications that describe them.  Evidence of consistency (a track record of ongoing scholarship that is not episodic, one-time, or occasional) and sustainability, such as success in obtaining research funding, is necessary.  Comparisons of the body of work are made to the very best tenured clinician-scholars within peer programs in the specific specialty/discipline.  Scholarly productivity (as opposed to quality) should be commensurate with clinical and other responsibilities.
  • Note that the Provost will consider only one tenure recommendation for an individual; if it is not approved, the underlying appointment remains.  If tenure is approved, the appointment moves to the BSD track.
  • Please see the official guidelines for more information; Additional information specific to physician scholars is also available.

Obviously the above are mainly judgments made by your departmental faculty colleagues, for whom your chair or chief is the spokesperson.  For that reason you should meet regularly with your chair, chief, departmental go-to person, and/or mentor(s) for insight into your progress and career advice.

There is no obligation to tenure faculty even if they meet the above requirements.

View our standard notification of record for candidates seeking promotion to Associate Professor and/or tenure in the BSD Track here.

Faculty Resources

Content of this page is presented for information purposes only, is not intended to create any contract or agreement, and is subject to addition, deletion, and change without prior notice. For definitive information regarding processes, procedures, and policies, contact the BSD Office of Academic Affairs.