Promotion and Tenure Resources

On many campuses, community-engaged writing projects and their deliverables are not easily assessed in promotion and tenure processes. To support faculty who do community-engaged work, CCW’s Faculty Peer Mentoring Committee has aggregated the advice and resources below. These materials are divided into two sections: 

  1. A list of advice about how to make the case in tenure and promotion for your community-engaged work  
  2. A primer on how to initiate efforts to modify governance documents at your institution, so that these documents more explicitly support community-engaged work 

These resources were first posted in August 2022. To suggest additions or to report broken links, please contact the chair of CCW’s Faculty Peer Mentoring Committee, Dr. Lisa Dush.

How to Make the Case for Your Community-Engaged Work

If you are a faculty member and plan to make your community-engaged teaching and scholarship part of your argument for promotion and tenure, we recommend the following:

  1. Design your community-writing projects in ways that align with best practices in community-based teaching and scholarship. Your department or university may have criteria in its governance documents that articulate these practices, though this is rare. 
    1. The CCCC Statement on Engaged Scholarship is a useful professional resource to guide project design. 
    2. Many higher-ed institutions have guidelines for evaluating community-engaged teaching and research that offer useful advice: see Michigan State University’s Matrix for Evaluating Quality Outreach and St. Joseph’s Guidelines for Evaluating Community-Engaged Scholarship in Candidate’s Dossiers.
  2. Attend the annual CCW P & T workshop for faculty, which is typically held in September or October (at the annual conference during conference years, online during non-conference years). This workshop is designed to help faculty to deploy and document community-writing projects in ways that will be valued by promotion and tenure committees.
  3. Collect and curate evidence of your community-engaged work, such as links to project websites, samples of community-writing deliverables, testimonials and letters of support from community partners, and photographs of community-engaged work and events. 
    1. See McCarthy, S., De Hertogh, L.B., Rouillon, V. (2020). “The Role of Curation in Tenure & Promotion Documentation.” Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics 4.2.
  4. Identify colleagues at your institution who do community-engaged work and have successfully navigated the promotion process. Ask them for their advice and for feedback on your promotion materials.
  5. Write about your community-engaged work! Theorized project descriptions are regularly published in field journals such as the Community Literacy Journal and Reflections. Even on those campuses where such publications may not ‘count’ in the same way as do research-based publications, publishing about your work still serves to document and share its rationale and outcomes. 
  6. If external reviewers will assess your promotion and tenure materials and you can nominate reviewer names to your P & T committee, look to identify reviewers that can argue persuasively for the value of your engaged scholarship.
    1. See the CCW Board members and committee members lists for possible reviewers.

If the governance documents at your home institution, including your department’s bylaws and your institution’s faculty handbook, do not address community-engaged teaching and research, consider initiating efforts to revise these documents. This is not a one-person job: the following section gives some tips for getting the process started.

How to Modify Campus Governance Documents to Address Community-Engaged Work

Ultimately, revising or expanding governance documents—such as unit bylaws, peer unit criteria, and faculty handbooks—so that these documents explicitly address community-engaged work, is the surest way to ensure that faculty who do this work well will see it positively assessed in their reviews. If you participate in governance, either in your home unit or through a college or university governance role, you have the power to initiate these changes!

To guide the work of revising governance documents on your campus, the resources below include the following: 1) background information on how engaged scholarship is addressed in US promotion and tenure processes; 2) reports and websites of faculty-led initiatives at CCW members’ campuses, representing various stages of efforts to revise governance documents; and 3) specific examples of governance documents and review resources from both English/Writing departments and universities.  

Background on P & T and Community-Engaged Work

Faculty-Led Efforts to Support and Reward Community-Engaged Work

  • George Washington (GW) University: This 2020 report, written by a group of associate and full professors convened by the Nashman Center at GW and submitted to the university’s High Impact Research Strategic Planning Committee, shows the deliverable produced by a faculty working group in the early stages of investigating community-engaged work on their campus. The report argues for 1) community-engaged scholarship to be considered as research, not service, and 2) a clear statement from institutional leadership that community-engaged scholarship is encouraged at GW. 
  • Colorado State University (CSU): The Provost’s Council for Engagement website demonstrates the work done on a campus that has moved from investigation to implementation. The site includes the committee charge and membership, a document representing the Continuum of Engaged Scholarship, and local success stories. Also of interest from CSU is a white paper from College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Office, which preceded the creation of the Provost’s Council and shows how the college’s leadership articulated priorities and a timeline for college-level action on this issue. 

Sample Unit- and University-Level Guidelines About Engaged Scholarship

Unit-level Guidelines in Departments of English or Writing

Colorado State University, English Department’s Code: see section “I.2.2 On the Value of Engaged Scholarship” and “I.2.5 Evidence for Evaluating Scholarship/Creative Activity”

University-level Guidelines and Review Resources

See also the “T & P Policy Exemplars” in Campus Compact’s “Tenure and Promotion for Engaged Scholarship – A Repository

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