Remote Participation and Voting for FAS Hiring, Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure Cases at the Departmental Level (August 31, 2017)

Hiring, reappointment, promotion, and tenure decisions are among the most important decisions made within the FAS. These decisions shape the future not only of a particular department but also the university as a whole. Full faculty investment in these decisions is essential. As a fundamental practice, all faculty members participating in promotion and tenure decisions should thoroughly review all of the relevant materials in advance of the department meeting and vote on a case.

The FAS Steering Committee believes that hiring, reappointment, promotion, and tenure deliberations benefit from the fullest and most active participation of eligible voting faculty members in a department. Face-to-face exchanges, which reinforce a sense of community that is central to Yale and facilitate complex communication and exchange, are the standard procedure for departmental deliberations in these cases. However, the FAS Steering Committee recognizes that extenuating circumstances and priority professional obligations may prevent eligible voting members from opportunities to participate and vote in these centrally important meetings.

To respect departmental culture, tradition, and practice while ensuring hiring, reappointment, tenure, and promotions deliberations of the highest quality, the FAS Steering Committee has established the following policy:

Departments and programs may permit eligible voting members to participate electronically using computer-mediated programs for audio-visual communication (e.g., Skype) if:

  • The same department participation policies are applied for all hiring, reappointment, promotion, and tenure cases in a given academic year; and
  • Confidentiality is maintained among participants at all locations and in the transmission of communications electronically; and
  • As required of all faculty participating in hiring, reappointment, tenure, and promotions deliberations, a faculty member participating remotely must have reviewed all of the materials for the case and participated in all of the stages for a case leading up to the meeting in which a vote occurs; and
  • One or more of the following conditions are satisfied: (a) the department determines that a member who is participating remotely is unable to attend in person because of extenuating medical or religious circumstances, or (b) a person who is participating remotely provides documentation to the department of engagement in a formal professional activity (e.g., speaking at a conference or engaging in field research), which prevents attendance in person. Members of the department cannot participate remotely simply for reasons of personal convenience; and
  • When department members who are unable to attend in person are in proximity to one another (e.g., at the same conference), to enhance communication, they must be co-located for their computer-mediated participation; and
  • The department participation policy establishes the process for a secret vote to be recorded in a way that protects the anonymity of all members participating and voting (e.g., by electronic voting programs).

The FAS Steering Committee strongly recommends that because department members may vote only if they fully participate in the meeting until its conclusion, the department have in place back-up systems in the event of a technical malfunction of a system for electronic participation. Only if technical limitations prevent audio-visual communication may audio-only devices (e.g., phone) be used.

As previously noted, face-to-face meetings for hiring, reappointments, promotion, and tenure meetings are the standard policy. When adhering to this standard policy, as is currently possible, departments can still make requests to the FAS Steering Committee for an exception that allows remote participation for a faculty member for a particular case because of an unanticipated and extenuating circumstance.

Departments seeking to allow remote participation that satisfies conditions stated above may make a request to the FAS Steering Committee with an email to pamela.bosward@yale.edu with a cc to fas.dean@yale.edu and bethany.zemba@yale.edu. Requests should be submitted one month prior to when cases covered by this policy will be voted on by the department. Since consistency in voting procedures is essential, an approved request will establish the departmental policy for that year.

The request should clearly specify, within the FAS Steering Committee guidelines stated above, (a) the conditions under which the department will permit participation other than in-person, (b) the means of electronic communication the department will use (e.g., Skype), and (c) how the secret ballot will be conducted. Approval granted by the FAS Steering Committee to a department applies to all hiring, reappointment, promotion, and tenure deliberation meetings within that department during that one academic year. Departments can change their policy from year to year, with the approval of the FAS Steering Committee, but within a given year must apply its practice consistently. Departments wishing continue an approved remote participation policy into a new academic year should also indicate their request in writing one month prior to when cases covered by this policy will be voted on by the department.