Disclaimer

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) shall not be viewed to diverge from the terms of the UAB Faculty Handbook and Policies with the exception of the one-year extension to the length of the tenure-earning period as defined in Section 2.15.4. This FAQ is designed to be helpful in providing illustrative guidance, but the UAB Faculty Handbook and Policies and any other relevant official UAB policies supersede this FAQ in all cases.


UAB announced in March 2020 that, beginning October 1, 2020, the University is automatically extending by one year the tenure-earning period for faculty. UAB made this decision in recognition that the coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted academic and personal life. These disruptions include, but are not limited to: moving to on-line teaching of graduate and undergraduate courses, restricted access to research laboratories, restricted travel for professional activities, and increased demands at home for the care and education of children and caregiving responsibilities for vulnerable or sick relatives.

Below are answers to questions tenure-earning faculty may have about the one-year extension of the tenure time frame. Additionally, the FAQ addresses some common questions relevant to non-tenure earning faculty.

Who is eligible for a one-year extension of the tenure-earning period?

Faculty with tenure-earning appointments eligible during the Spring 2020 semester. See Section 2.15.2.

What do I have to do in order to take advantage of this extension?

Faculty do not have to do anything if they are eligible and wish to have their tenure-earning periods extended by one year.

Can I choose to stay on my current tenure clock?

Yes, faculty should notify their chairs that they wish to remain on their current tenure clock. Faculty currently on the tenure-track as of Spring 2020 do not have to opt for a one-year extension. The availability of a one-year extension simply offers faculty extra time in recognition that circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may have significantly disrupted professional activities important in the tenure review process. The form for faculty to give such notification to stay on their original tenure track can be found on the Promotion and Tenure page.

When must a faculty member make the decision to remain on their original tenure clock?

Eligible faculty who intend to apply for tenure during the 2020-2021 academic year must notify their chair and Faculty Affairs in the Office of the Provost of their intention NOT to extend the tenure clock by one year, by not later than September 1, 2020. Faculty not opting to select the one-year extension, which is the default status, must notify their chair and Faculty Affairs by September 1 of the academic year during which a tenure award will be applied for (e.g., September 1, 2021 for those seeking tenure during the 2021-2022 academic year cycle).

If a faculty member takes no action and has their tenure clock extended, may they later choose to seek tenure “early,” before the extended deadline date?

Yes, as long as all appropriate notification deadlines are adhered to.

The UAB Faculty Handbook provides that the maximum possible tenure-earning period is ten years. Does that cap stay in place?

No, for those schools that have established a 10-year tenure-earning period, the tenure-earning period could be 11 years for eligible faculty.

Does this tenure extension apply to eligible faculty with part-time appointments?

Yes, the period of this tenure extension will be increased to reflect their part-time status. Since the tenure review is on an annual cycle, a faculty member with a 50% or 75% part-time appointment would get a two-year extension.

Does this one-year extension affect the criteria used for granting tenure?

No. This action is designed only to lengthen the tenure clock, if desired by eligible faculty. See section 2.10 of the UAB Faculty Handbook and your unit and/or department handbooks regarding criteria.

Will faculty who applied but who are not awarded tenure during the 2019-2020 academic year cycle get an additional year to re-submit their applications?

No, if the 2019-2020 P&T cycle was the last year for submitting a tenure application, because the final dossier of such a candidate was completed before the pandemic. In the case of someone who applied but was turned down during the 2019-2020 P&T cycle and that was not the final cycle available to them for submitting an application, then the extra year would be available.

Does the extension affect other mechanisms for extending tenure-earning periods that might be available?

Section 2.15.5 of the UAB Faculty Handbook says that one-year extensions to tenure-earning periods can be approved on a discretionary basis for a cumulative two additional years, for the reasons stated in that section. This pandemic-related extension will not count against that limit.

Will recently-hired faculty be eligible for a longer tenure-earning period?

If the date of appointment for a tenure-earning faculty member is on or prior to October 1 2019, then their tenure earning period started October 1, 2019 and a one-year extension is applicable (see Section 2.15.4). If the date of appointment is after October 1, 2019, their tenure earning period starts October 1, 2020 and the one-year extension does not apply (see Section 2.15.4). However, this might change for faculty appointed after October 1, 2019 as the effects of the pandemic become known.

What about lateral hires who already have tenure, or tenure-earning service at another institution?

Tenure reviews for lateral (new) hires who have been awarded tenure at their prior institutions and who would join UAB with tenure (subject to usual processes) are not affected by this extension (see Section 2.12.1). Until further notice, tenure reviews should continue for these individuals on the normal schedule. Currently, there is a hiring suspension in place for new faculty.

Can faculty members take a leave of absence related to the pandemic as a result of this announcement of a tenure clock extension option?

This tenure clock extension option applies only to the extension of tenure periods. All leave policies for faculty remain the same.

Does this option affect non-tenure-earning faculty who have term-limited appointments?

No. Non-tenure-earning faculty who believe that they have been unable to perform as they well as they might like due to the pandemic should discuss their circumstances with their supervisors, and supervisors should take those circumstances into account when considering any renewal of an appointment period.

Does this option extend the one-year notice period for non-renewal of appointments of non-tenured faculty members under Section 2.13.3 of the UAB Faculty Handbook?

No. Non-tenure-earning faculty who believe that they have been unable to perform as they well as they might like due to the pandemic should discuss their circumstances with their supervisors, and supervisors should take those circumstances into account when considering any extension or non-renewal of an appointment period.

Section 2.13.3.

How does this option affect promotions?

Where promotion and tenure are considered together (for example, when an award of tenure is accompanied by a promotion to associate professor), then a tenure clock extension would also defer the timing of the promotion. This extension does not affect the timing of promotions made without a simultaneous award of tenure, inasmuch as there are not deadlines for promotions as there are for awards of tenure.

How should I be communicating with my chair?

Chairs should be discussing with all eligible tenure-earning faculty whether they wish to extend their tenure clocks. If faculty choose to take advantage of the extension, then adjustments should be made as necessary in the timing of pre-tenure reviews. Section 2.15.7 of the UAB Faculty Handbook requires that tenure-earning faculty be reviewed at least every two years for progress toward the award of tenure. Chairs should also be ensuring that all tenure-earning faculty are considering alternatives to their tenure earning-related activities, including laboratory research and scholarly publications, that might be reasonable substitutes for traditional activities.

In general, both tenure-earning faculty and their chairs should be keeping track of the tenure-earning periods for these faculty members. Section 2.15.7 of the UAB Faculty Handbook states that pre-tenure faculty members bear responsibility for understanding departmental expectations for promotion and tenure and for meeting those expectations.

When do I have to give an opt-out notice if I am planning on applying for tenure after the 20-21 P&T cycle?

Opt-out notices are required on the September 1 before the October start of a P&T cycle. The September 1, 2020 deadline is only for those eligible faculty who wish to be considered for tenure during the 20-21 P&T cycle.

What if I want to forego the one-year extension and apply for tenure in a P&T cycle before the last such cycle that I am eligible to apply? If I am turned down, can I then get the extra year?

Yes. As always, this decision to reapply for tenure should be the subject of careful discussion with each faculty member’s chair or other supervisor so as to help ensure that the faculty member’s chances of success are optimized

Will UAB be granting an additional year to the tenure clock extension, beyond the one year granted in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic?

No decision has yet been made as to whether to automatically add a second year to the tenure clock extension. As of now, eligible faculty should assume that their tenure clocks have only been extended by one year (unless they opt out of the extension).