In 2016, all tenure-track faculty members became eligible for tenure after eight years — one year fewer than the previous tenure policy required.
Two years after the Faculty of Arts and Sciences endorsed the revisions, faculty interviewed by the News remain optimistic about the changes to what is called the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tenure and Appointments Policy.
In addition to the new tenure timeline, the policy changes, referred to as FASTAP 2016, also include new criteria for promotion to tenure. The University initiated its previous policies in 2007, which implemented a nine-year tenure clock, longer than at most peer institutions. Beginning in Spring 2017, the FASTAP 2016 timeline for tenure became available on an opt-in basis to faculty hired under FASTAP 2007, according to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler. Twenty-four faculty members elected to switch.
“The transition to the new system has been remarkably smooth,” Gendler said. “The FAS Dean’s Office created more than 50 updated documents, revised the relevant sections of the Faculty Handbook, and retrained department chairs and staff in the 50-plus FAS departments and programs” in preparation for the transition.
FASTAP 2016 was endorsed by a formal vote from the FAS in September 2016. In addition to the shortened tenure clock, the new system eliminates the rank of associate professor, a promotion up from assistant professor. The new system also offers three semesters of leave for tenure-track faculty as opposed to four and introduces an assistant professor reappointment review. The evaluation is conducted in the assistant professor’s fourth year at Yale and is designed to offer feedback on a faculty member’s work.
Christophe Schuwey, an assistant professor in the Department of French, said that the new system is “very clear and very thoughtfully built,” adding that she did not think that the shortened timeline would pressure tenure-track faculty to rush in order to meet tenure expectations.
“It seems really realistic in terms of what is expected in terms of us,” said Schuwey. “It doesn’t look for me as something that was asking us to rush anything. To produce and be a good scholar in a good way but nothing that would be pressuring us in a bad way.”
Marynel Vazquez, assistant professor of computer science, joined Yale under the new FASTAP system this academic year. Though she said she will have less time before she is evaluated for tenure, she is not concerned about the change.
She added that the new system was more similar to tenure appointment policies at peer institutions. Under the old system, Yale was the only Ivy League school to employ a nine-year tenure clock, according to a report from the FASTAP Review Committee released in 2016. The report expressed concerns regarding “the effectiveness of mentoring … recruiting, retaining and promoting a diverse faculty” under the old system.
According to Nilay Hazari, who received tenure in the Department of Chemistry in 2016, the new system makes it easier to compare the research of tenure-track faculty at Yale with those of other peer institutions, now that the tenure clocks are comparable. Hazari also said the change would have an impact on how prospective faculty members compare a position at Yale with its peer institutions. He added that this could possibly lead to fewer faculty members leaving Yale to receive tenure elsewhere.
While Hazari said he did not know of faculty who have left due to better offers before achieving tenure at Yale, he believes the University’s fear of losing exceptional faculty was a motivating factor for the change. Hazari contended that shortening the clock will reduce the stress of being a junior faculty member, as the process will not be as drawn out as it was under FASTAP 2007.
FASTAP 2007 shortened the tenure clock from 10 years to nine years.
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