Who to Ask to be on a Review Committee or Write a Letter

The following advice is offered by Sal Meyers, Director of Faculty Development, in an attempt to be helpful to faculty undergoing a summative review process.  The information in this document has not been approved by the Faculty Personnel Committee nor the dean and is not official College policy.  There is no guarantee that following this advice will lead to reappointment, tenure, or promotion.

Like with the formative reviews, faculty members undergoing mid-probationary review need to provide the review committee chair with the names of three tenured faculty members from outside the department.  Faculty members being considered for promotion need to have two colleagues from outside the department write a letter for their file.

Consider people who are in related departments.  For example, as a social psychologist, it would make sense for me to think about people in the sociology department.

If you have a particular pedagogical approach that is not used by most faculty members, consider people who teach with that same pedagogical approach.  For example, if you use service learning in your courses, you might want to consider someone else who uses service learning. fa

Consider having an outside evaluator participate in your mid-probationary review.  Most of us do not have other members of our departments who are experts in our subspecialties.

  • Find someone at a different college who shares your subspecialty and who can provide insight into whether you are teaching the best material in the best ways.  I recommend against inviting someone from a large university.  Invite someone who is at an institution similar to Simpson – and preferably not too far away.
  • Several people have indicated to me that they know of folks at area institutions, but they don’t know anything about how they teach.  If you use a lot of active learning, you probably don’t want to invite someone who thinks that all teaching should be in the form of lectures.  One way to find this out is to contact those faculty, tell them you are interested in learning more about how folks in the area teach a particular course, and that you’d like them to send you a copy of syllabi and a few comments about how they approach that course.
  • Comments from someone who tried e-mailing others for syllabi:  “I contacted several of my peers at several like institutions and I had a great meeting with a peer from Drake today.  A simple email requesting her syllabus resulted in her requesting a meeting and we spent 90 minutes talking about her capstone project.  I now likely have someone I can request as an outside evaluator, but I gained a lot of new ideas in the process.”