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Promotion and Tenure Standards for Design Educators

While the promotion and tenure (P&T) process plays a significant role in the professional life of many design educators, the topic is often ignored in our typical discourse, possibly due to its sensitive nature. We may occasionally hear from colleagues concerning their particular experiences with P&T processes, but little formal discussion has occurred concerning the need for more consistent P&T standards across US institutions of higher learning.

Current P&T processes for design educators appear to vary widely from institution to institution. This situation is appropriate to a certain extent, as there are many kinds of schools with contrasting goals and mandates. State universities typically have different missions compared to private art and design schools, or community colleges. Some schools emphasize productivity in research, scholarship and/or creative work, while others stress teaching effectiveness as the main criteria for evaluating faculty.

In almost all cases some combination of a design educator’s contributions in teaching, research, and professional and/or institutional service are assessed in a P&T process. Yet the details of exactly how a faculty member will be evaluated by their institution are often vague, or in some cases, clearly inappropriate.

The AIGA educators e-mail forum often includes messages from colleagues seeking clarification on issues arising from P&T processes. In some instances requests for basic P&T standards appropriate to design educators are made, as none exist in their schools. This situation clearly calls for recommendations on how institutions of higher learning might more effectively evaluate design faculty.

The AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC) Steering Committee has undertaken a Promotion and Tenure initiative to address issues and problems typically experienced by design educators. A series of statements addressing best-practices for common P&T processes has been drafted, and will soon appear on-line. A number of other helpful resources related to promotion and tenure issues will also be provided.

All members of the Design Educators Community are invited to participate in this initiative by submitting the following items:

1) Samples of institutional and program-level promotion and tenure guidelines:
We are looking for good examples of policies concerning promotion and tenure processes used institution-wide, as well as policies and processes specific to promotion and tenure of communication design faculty at the program-level.

2) Samples of faculty promotion and tenure dossiers:
We also wish to supply design educators with good examples of past communication design faculty promotion and tenure dossiers used for review by peers internally and/or externally. Dossiers coming from institutions that have also provided the items would be especially helpful, but all are welcome.

3) Web-articles:
Finally, any links to articles concerning current promotion and tenure issues, emerging models of faculty evaluation, etc. are requested. Any other helpful resources concerning these general subjects are also welcomed.

Please email PDFs and MSWord files pertaining to items one and two, as well as any web-links for item three, to Paul Nini . Thank you for your involvement in this important initiative.

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