Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

TJU Tenure Policy

Definition of Tenure

Tenure provides qualified faculty members a guarantee of academic freedom, faculty rank, and continued employment opportunity including a minimum salary guarantee and associated fringe benefits.  The formula for the minimum salary guarantee is set forth in Addendum A, hereto.  Tenure does not guarantee full salary. Rather, it provides the guaranteed right to earn a salary. The University provides the salary guarantee in recognition of ongoing institutional commitment, with the remainder of the faculty member’s salary generated by such faculty member through sponsored research, provision of structured educational instruction, clinical service, and/or through provision of administrative services (collectively, the “Services”). Thus, tenured faculty members are required to contribute to the goals, objectives and mission of their College and the University, as established from time to time, at the functional level of effectiveness of faculty members of their respective rank and status, through provision of some or all of the Services, as deemed appropriate by their supervisor. The supervisor[1] will review, at least on an annual basis, the effort of the faculty member with respect to the Services, and modify the roles and/or responsibilities in any or all of the areas of research, education, patient care and administrative services based on the faculty member’s areas of contribution, strength, productivity, or other applicable parameters considered in light of the then goals, objectives and mission of his/her College and the University. Faculty members may lose tenure based on a failure to contribute to the University, or pursuant to the provisions regarding resignation, retirement, dismissal for cause or corporate compliance of their respective College’s Bylaws.  Faculty members may also lose tenure due to extreme financial exigency of the University as determined by the Board of Trustees. As tenure is a privilege of full-time faculty only, tenured faculty who reduce their effort from full-time to part-time will lose their tenured status.


  1. This Tenure Policy is intended to supplement and amplify the tenure provisions of the College Bylaws of each of the respective Colleges of TJU. The College Bylaws should be consulted in tandem with this Policy, and in the event of any inconsistencies, the College Bylaws provisions will prevail.
  2. For purposes of this Policy, a faculty member’s “supervisor” will be the faculty member’s Department Chair, Division Director or Program Director, as applicable, or, in the event that the tenured faculty member is a Department Chair or other senior administrative staff member, that individual’s identified supervisor.

Preamble to Criteria for Tenure

As an institution dedicated to the advancement of health and the health sciences, it is imperative that the appointment, promotion and tenure systems at Thomas Jefferson University appropriately recognize the creative work of the faculty that leads directly or indirectly to the improvement of health and health education.  As such, the institution accepts a broad definition of scholarship that includes the advancement, transformation, translation, and dissemination of knowledge by the application of one’s intellect in an informed, disciplined, and creative manner.  Such scholarship should be subject to peer review and should be in the public domain.  With this in mind, faculty are encouraged to think and act creatively as they begin their scholarship journey.  An individual’s scholarship portfolio should ultimately be judged on the impact of the work on health, health education, and/or the health sciences. 

At Thomas Jefferson University, innovation is encouraged and rewarded, as is the importance of team science and its potential for greater impact on health, health education and the health sciences which are specifically recognized in the appointment, promotion and tenure systems of the university.  

Criteria for Tenure

As tenure represents a lifetime commitment of Thomas Jefferson University to a faculty member’s professional career, the award of tenure will be considered for individuals who have reached the eligible rank within a tenure track and, at a minimum, have sufficiently demonstrated:

  1. Sustained original scholarly contributions to medicine, the health professions,  the biomedical sciences, and/or to education in these fields that have had an outstanding and enduring impact on the field, thereby earning the candidate national and/or international recognition, as judged by peers
  2. Service to the profession as evidenced by national committee leadership, provision of expert peer review, membership on an advisory panel, or other equivalent service
  3. Meritorious contributions to the missions of the University through research, education, patient care, innovation, commercialization of intellectual property, or provision of administrative services
  4. Adherence to high ethical and moral standards in the performance of professional duties

Eligibility for Tenure

  1. The initial and continuous award of tenure is available only to faculty who are full time employees of Thomas Jefferson University and who have achieved the rank of Associate Professor or Professor in a tenure eligible track.
  2. Promotion to the Associate Professor level or higher in a tenure eligible track does not guarantee tenure.
  3. All recommendations regarding faculty rank within a tenure track and faculty promotion within a tenure track shall be made by the Appointment and Promotions Committee of the College and forwarded to the committees and persons set forth in the respective College’s Bylaws and ultimately to the Board of Trustees for final action.
  4. In accordance with the respective College’s Bylaws, recommendation for the appointment of a faculty member to a tenure track shall be made by the supervisor to the Dean of the College, who shall take final action in the matter.
  5. Faculty in a tenure track shall have eight (8) years from initial appointment at the Assistant Professor level in the tenure track to achieve successful promotion to Associate Professor, with extensions of up to two (2) additional years as set forth in paragraph 7, below.
  6. Faculty in a tenure eligible track, who have not been awarded tenure, shall have ten (10) years from initial appointment at the Associate Professor level in a tenure track to achieve successful promotion to Professor, with extensions of up to two (2) additional years, as set forth in paragraph 7, below.
  7. The time frames set forth in paragraphs 5 and 6 may each be extended for up to two (2) additional years for compelling reasons such as the birth or adoption of a child, personal illness, caring for ill family member, or heavy clinical or teaching loads.  The supervisor, shall review each such request and forward it, along with his or her recommendation, to the Appointments and Promotions Committee of the College.  The Committee shall review the request and make a recommendation, which shall be forwarded to the Dean of the College for final action.
  8. Failure to achieve promotion to the rank of Associate Professor or Professor (if the faculty member is non-tenured) within the allotted time frames #5, #6 and #7 above, shall result in non-renewal of the faculty member’s contract or reappointment to a non-tenure track, at the recommendation of the supervisor to the Dean of the College who shall take final action in the matter.
  9. Faculty may transfer into a tenure track from a non-tenure track upon the recommendation of the supervisor to the Dean of the College, who shall take final action in the matter.
  10. Faculty may transfer from a tenure track into a non-tenure track upon the recommendation of the supervisor to the Dean of the College, who shall take final action in the matter.
  11. Faculty who have transferred from a tenure track into a non-tenure track may not transfer back into a tenure track.

Applying for Tenure

Tenure application must include:

  1. The Applicant’s Up-to-Date Curriculum Vitae and Educational Portfolio.
  2. Letters of reference, which will be solicited by the tenure committee, from at least eight (8) tenured Professors in the applicant’s field who are external to the University, and will include at least one letter from a source outside of the United States.  The requirement for an international referee may be waived at the discretion of the committee. A minimum of six letters must be received for the application to be eligible for committee review.  Letters should evaluate the nominee’s qualifications for tenure using the TJU Criteria for Tenure and must be dated within one year of the Tenure Committee meeting during which the candidate’s application is considered.  The applicant is asked to provide a list of 5 possible referees to the committee, including name, title and contact information for each referee. The applicant is also asked to provide the names of individuals who should not be asked to serve as a referee for reasons of potential conflict of interest. The committee may solicit references from the candidate’s list, as well as letters of reference from individuals not suggested by the applicant. 
  3. A letter from the Chair supporting the request for tenure, outlining the applicant’s qualifications with reference to the minimum Criteria for Tenure (i.e., sustained original scholarship, service to the profession, contribution to University missions, and high ethical and moral standards).  In addition, the Chair’s letter should evaluate the applicant’s prospects for long-term continued contributions to the missions of the University, with specific reference to the dynamic and evolving nature of biomedical science and healthcare, where scientific advancements and reliance on external funding agencies preclude reliable predictions of future academic career success.
  4. Evidence of verification of credentials.
  5. Completed Tenure Application Questionnaire.

Completed Applications should be sent to:

Office of Faculty Records
1025 Walnut Street, Suite G-4

Tenure Application Questionnaire

Please provide complete answers to the following questions.*

  1. Summarize your scientific or scholarly contributions to the fields of medicine, the health professions, the biomedical sciences and/or to education in these fields.  Clearly state the impact of these contributions to the field.  Use language that may be understood by other faculty who are not expert in your field.
  2. Discuss ways that you have assumed a leadership role in the biomedical and/or health professional communities and the contributions you have made through these roles.
  3. Discuss how you have contributed to the welfare of the University (TJU or if you are a new faculty member, the university or institution from which you came) through its education and service missions and outline your plans for future contributions to these missions at TJU.
  4. Describe how you have demonstrated and modeled high ethical and moral standards in the performance of your professional responsibilities. Describe any incidents in which your professional ethics were called into question by any individual or committee, formally or informally, and as to each, briefly describe the issue and its resolution.
  5. Outline your plans for long-term continued contributions to the missions of the University, with specific reference to the dynamic and evolving nature of biomedical science and healthcare, where scientific advancements and reliance on external funding agencies preclude reliable predictions of future academic career success.

* In total, the applicant’s responses to the questions should not exceed 3 pages using 12 point font and single spacing.

Awarding of Tenure – University Tenure Committee

  1. The University Tenure Committee shall consider requests for tenure and make its recommendations to the President of the University, who shall present his/her recommendations to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
  2. The University Tenure Committee shall be composed of at least seven (7) tenured faculty members who hold the rank of Professor, the Dean of the Medical College, and at least two other Deans of Colleges of the University.
  3. The term of a faculty member’s appointment on the University Tenure Committee shall be three (3) years. A faculty member may be reappointed for one (1) additional successive term of three (3) years.
  4. A faculty member may be reappointed for a nonsuccessive term to the committee after an interval of at least three (3) years from a prior term.
  5. Members of the University Tenure Committee will be appointed by the President of the University, upon recommendation of the faculty in each College, with an equal number appointed from each College, and one additional member selected by the President. (If there are not sufficient numbers of tenured faculty from each College to fill committee positions, members will be chosen from available Colleges).
  6. The Provost shall be the Chair of the Tenure Committee.
  7. The University Tenure Committee shall meet at least quarterly to consider requests for tenure and other tenure-related issues.
  8. The committee may form working subcommittees, and will obtain consultation from experts when necessary, in its deliberations. However, recommendations regarding tenure shall be made only at meetings of the full committee, when a majority of committee members are present and voting.
  9. The University Tenure Committee’s recommendation for tenure shall be supported with a 2/3 majority affirmative vote of the members present and voting, and shall be documented in a written positive recommendation to the President.
  10. The President shall consider the written positive recommendation of the University Tenure Committee and, if the President agrees, shall make a written positive recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
  11. The Board of Trustees will consider the written positive recommendations of the University Tenure Committee and President, and make a final decision regarding the tenure application.
  12. The faculty member, his/her supervisor, and the Dean of the College will be notified of the Board of Trustees’ tenure decision in writing.  A tenure applicant who is not granted tenure will be advised of the reasons why tenure was not granted, and in the notice, will also be advised as to whether he/she is eligible to remain on the tenure track and re-apply for tenure as set forth below.      
  13. An otherwise eligible faculty member who has been denied tenure may re-apply after two (2) years have elapsed from the tenure denial, as follows: a faculty member may apply for tenure a total of two (2) times at the Associate Professor level and, if promoted to Full Professor, a total of three (3) times at the Full Professor level.  

Post-Tenure Review

Tenure is a guarantee of an opportunity for employment. However, that guarantee is accompanied by the responsibility to continue to contribute to the institution’s missions through some or all of the Services which the faculty member must carry out with competence and diligence as expected by virtue of one’s faculty status and rank.    All tenured faculty will continue to receive annual performance evaluations administered by their supervisor.  In addition, all faculty who are granted tenure on or after the effective date of this Policy will be subject to a periodic formal Post Tenure Review process that will occur at least every five (5) years from the date tenure was granted as outlined in the TJU Post-Tenure Review Policy. 

Approved by SAAC Committee of the Board of Trustees 9-18-06
Revisions approved by SAAC Committee of Board of Trustees 9-21-09
Further revisions approved by AAC Committee of Board of Trustees 9-10-15

Annual Performance Review

Consistent with applicable College policy, each tenured faculty member will receive an annual performance evaluation from the faculty member's supervisor. The faculty member will be provided with a written report of the evaluation, including a summary performance rating of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" for the review period. The evaluation report will be copied to the appropriate Office of the Dean if the performance rating is unsatisfactory.

Periodic Evaluation

Each tenured faculty member will also receive a periodic performance evaluation or "periodic evaluation." The general purposes of the periodic evaluation are to:

  • Provide guidance for continuing and meaningful faculty development
  • Assist faculty in enhancing their professional skills and goals
  • Refocus academic and professional efforts, when appropriate
  • Assure that faculty members are satisfying their responsibility to contribute to the goals, objectives and missions of their College and the University

The tenured faculty member's supervisor will have initial responsibility for conducting the periodic evaluation. The University Tenure Committee (the "Committee")*** will review the supervisor's evaluation and will provide an independent evaluation of the faculty member’s performance. If either the supervisor or the Committee determines that the faculty member's performance was unsatisfactory during the review period, the matter will be referred to the Dean of the College for further recommendations and/or actions.

*** Department Chairs, Deans and other senior administrative staff are exempt from the periodic evaluation process during the time they serve in such roles.The Dean of the College of the faculty member under review will not participate in the post-tenure review process except as described in this policy, so he/she will be available to provide an independent evaluation if the supervisor and Committee disagree on the summary performance rating.

Timeframe for Periodic Evaluation

Periodic evaluation of tenured faculty will be conducted at five-year intervals following the initial award of tenure. In addition to these mandatory five-year periodic evaluations, a supervisor may conduct a periodic evaluation of a tenured faculty member prior to the end of the five-year timeframe if the faculty member has received more than one unsatisfactory annual evaluation since the faculty member was awarded tenure or since the faculty member's last periodic evaluation, whichever was more recent. Any supervisor planning to perform an earlier periodic evaluation must notify the Committee, so that the process can be coordinated with the regular cycle of periodic evaluations.

The Committee will establish timeframes and procedures for:

  • Submission of supporting materials in connection with a periodic evaluation
  • The conduct of the periodic evaluation
  • The issuance of the written evaluation report, including a summary performance rating for the faculty member (each as described below)

For each faculty member undergoing periodic evaluation, the goal will be to complete the periodic evaluation and issue a final report and performance rating no later than the end of the academic year in which the periodic evaluation process began.

Initiation of Periodic Evaluations and Collection of Supporting Materials

At the beginning of each academic year, in conjunction with the Colleges, the Committee will identify:

  • All tenured faculty members entering the fifth year since their initial award of tenure
  • All tenured faculty members entering the fifth year since their most recent periodic evaluation 
  • Any tenured faculty members for whom earlier periodic evaluation will be conducted by the faculty member's supervisor

The Committee will notify each faculty member subject to periodic evaluation and his or her supervisor concerning the process and schedule for the evaluation.

The faculty member's supervisor will assemble and consider the following materials in connection with the periodic evaluation:

  • The annual performance evaluations since the award of tenure or the last periodic evaluation, whichever was more recent
  • Documentation of the performance goals established for the faculty member during the review period, the supervisor's assessment of the faculty member's success in achieving those goals and the supervisor's overall assessment of the faculty member's contribution to the goals, objectives and missions of the College and the University during the same period

The faculty member will be asked to provide:

  • A copy of the faculty member's updated curriculum vitae
  • A statement of the faculty member's accomplishments during the period since the award of tenure or since the last periodic evaluation, whichever was more recent

Issuance of the Supervisor's Periodic Evaluation Report

After having considered the supporting materials and having met with the faculty member, the supervisor will prepare a written report of the evaluation, including a summary performance rating of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" for the review period. In rating the faculty member's performance, the supervisor will consider:

  • Whether the faculty member has succeeded in achieving the goals established for him or her by the supervisor during the preceding review period
  • Whether the faculty member's performance during the review period reflects continued contribution to the institution's goals, objectives and missions, including by performing the faculty member's assigned research, educational, administrative and clinical responsibilities at the functional level expected by virtue of the faculty member's status and rank

The supervisor will deliver all supporting materials considered in the evaluation process, as well as the evaluation report, to the Committee. The faculty member will receive a copy of the supervisor's evaluation report.

Performance of Independent Periodic Evaluation by the Committee

The Committee will review all materials delivered to it by the supervisor and will provide an independent evaluation of the faculty member's performance, including issuing its own summary performance rating of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" with respect to the review period. The Committee may request additional materials either from the supervisor or the faculty member in order to complete its evaluation and may request to meet with the supervisor and/or the faculty member as part of its evaluation process. The Committee will prepare a written report of its evaluation, a copy of which will be delivered to the faculty member and supervisor.

Results of Periodic Evaluation

If both the supervisor and the Committee determine that the faculty member's periodic evaluation is satisfactory, the Chair of the Committee will send a notice of satisfactory periodic evaluation to the faculty member, with copies to the faculty member's supervisor and the appropriate Office of the Dean, and no further action will be required. In addition to providing a summary performance rating for the faculty member, the Committee may make recommendations for the faculty member's continued professional development to the supervisor with a copy to the appropriate Office of the Dean and the faculty member.

If either or both the supervisor or the Committee determines that the faculty member's periodic evaluation is unsatisfactory, the Chair of the Committee will send the evaluation reports of both the supervisor and the Committee, as well as all supporting materials considered in the evaluation process, to the appropriate Dean for further action. If the supervisor and the Committee disagree as to the summary performance rating for the faculty member, the Dean will make the final determination as to whether the rating is satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In the event that the performance rating is ultimately determined to be unsatisfactory (either by consensus opinion of both the supervisor and the Committee, or by the Dean's final decision in the event that the supervisor and the Committee disagree), the Dean will work with the supervisor to develop a written remedial plan, including goals and plans and dates for the accomplishment of the goals, to address the performance deficiencies identified in the periodic evaluation. A copy of this written remedial plan must be reviewed and signed by the supervisor and the faculty member and forwarded to the Dean and the Committee within 60 days after the issuance of the unsatisfactory performance rating.

Subsequent Review after an Unsatisfactory Performance Rating

For any faculty member whose periodic evaluation results in the issuance of an unsatisfactory performance rating, the next periodic evaluation of the faculty member ("interim periodic evaluation") will be conducted no more than two years after the issuance of the unsatisfactory performance rating. The interim periodic evaluation will be conducted using the same process described above for periodic evaluations, subject to adjustments required for the modified timeframe.

If the supervisor and the Committee conclude, as a result of an interim periodic evaluation, that the faculty member's performance is now satisfactory, the faculty member will be returned to the five-year schedule for periodic evaluations and will next be subject to periodic evaluation in the fifth academic year after the interim periodic evaluation, except that a supervisor may conduct a periodic evaluation of a tenured faculty member earlier than every five years as described above.

If the supervisor and/or the Committee conclude as a result of an interim periodic evaluation that the faculty member's performance remains unsatisfactory, the Committee will refer the matter to the appropriate Dean for further disposition. If the supervisor and the Committee disagree as to the summary performance rating for the faculty member, the Dean will make the final determination as to whether the rating is satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If the performance rating is ultimately determined to be unsatisfactory (either by consensus opinion of both the supervisor and the Committee, or by the Dean's final decision in the event that the supervisor and the Committee disagree), the Dean may either:

  • Recommend another interim performance evaluation to occur no more than two years after the most recent interim performance evaluation
  • Recommend to the supervisor that the faculty member be dismissed for cause in accordance with the relevant College's Bylaws

Any tenured faculty member charged with dismissal for cause on the basis of unsatisfactory post-tenure performance will be entitled to all applicable procedural rights afforded under the relevant College's Bylaws with respect to faculty members who are charged with dismissal for cause.

Addendum A

The minimum salary guarantee formula is: 50% of the median of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported salary for a PhD faculty member in a Basic Science Department by rank for the most recent year available.