How post-tenure review works

As part of their reporting on the hiring of Nikole Hannah-Jones at UNC-Chapel Hill, news organizations such as The Daily Tar Heel have written helpful explainers on the what, how and why of tenure. This post is about one more part of the process: post-tenure review, or PTR.

The UNC system requires tenured faculty to be formally reviewed at least every five years. PTR is in addition to annual evaluations from a dean or department head, and it’s handled by a committee.

I had my most recent PTR during the 2020-21 academic year. I submitted an updated CV and statements on my teaching, service and creative activity. I gathered and summarized course evaluations for the past five years. Unlike the initial tenure review, PTR does not require letters from outside reviewers.

The journalism school’s tenure/promotion committee examined my materials and wrote an eight-page report focused on the three areas of teaching, service and creative activity. Good news: I passed!

If I hadn’t passed, I would have had to write a development plan, in consultation with the committee and the dean, on how I would improve in whatever areas I was deficient. A faculty member who doesn’t meet the goals of their development plan could lose tenure and be dismissed from the university.

What about professors who are Knight Chairs at UNC? Do they have to do five-year reviews? Yes, they do. So if the Board of Trustees approves tenure for Hannah-Jones as part of her appointment, she will be reviewed periodically like everyone else.

So that’s how post-tenure review works. I’ll do it again in five years.