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Policy on Extending the Probationary Period for Tenure-Track Faculty

This policy was developed by the administration in 2013 following discussion with the Deans' Council, the Organization of Women Faculty and the General Faculty Council, and revised in collaboration with the Provost’s Advisory Council on Women Faculty in 2018.

Policy

Northwestern will permit faculty members to request extensions of their probationary period in cases where circumstances have arisen to interfere substantially with the research and/or other projects the faculty member intends to submit as part of his or her tenure review. Such circumstances may include parental responsibilities relating to the birth, adoption, or rearing of a child; personal or family emergencies, for example, chronic illness of the faculty member or a member of her/his immediate family; or problems beyond the faculty member's control relating to his/her research or scholarly activities.

Approval of extension of the probationary period will be made without regard to whether or not a faculty member takes a leave related to the same circumstances presented for the extension.

No additional productivity is expected when a faculty member extends the probationary period. For example, if a tenure decision would customarily take place in the 6th year, and it is extended to the 7th year, the standard of productivity would remain 6 years.

Faculty cannot be retaliated or discriminated against for having requested or using the rights granted pursuant to this policy.

In cases of birth or adoption, approval of requests for extension for the tenure clock for one year is automatic. Extensions for childbirth and/or adoption and/or childrearing are limited to a total of two years within a faculty member’s pretunure probationary period regardless of the number of children.

For extension of the pretenure probationary period related to the birth or adoption of a child, the faculty member must initiate the process to obtain an extension before the final year of the probationary appointment by providing a written notification to the faculty member’s school dean. The dean will in turn provide to the faculty member written confirmation that the probationary period has been extended.

Faculty requesting an extension for reasons related to childbirth or adoption have the right to request removal of the extension later.

Requests to extend the pretenure probationary period for circumstances related to childrearing for parents who are at least an equal partner in caring for a child will generally receive favorable consideration. Extensions for childbirth and/or adoption and/or childrearing are limited to a total of two years within a faculty member’s pretunure probationary period regardless of the number of children.

For extension of the pretenure probationary period related to childrearing, the faculty member must initiative the process to obtain an extension before the beginning of the final year of the probationary appointment, by providing a written request to the faculty member’s school dean. The dean will in turn provide to the faculty member written confirmation that the probationary period has been extended.

Faculty requesting an extension for reasons related to childrearing have the right to request removal of the extension later.

Requests to extend the probationary period for reasons other than childbirth, adoption, or childrearing, such as for medical necessity, will be granted if they are deemed to be both fair to the faculty member making the request and the University and consistent with personnel practices generally applicable to other candidates for tenure in the University. Requests for an extension of the probationary period for reasons other than childbearing, adoption, or childrearing must be made by the faculty member in writing and must be submitted prior to the beginning of the final year of the probationary appointment. The request must state clearly the circumstances in the faculty member's situation that might justify an extended probationary period. The letter must also state explicitly that the faculty member making the request understands that he or she will not enjoy an entitlement or stronger claim to tenure by virtue of continued membership on the faculty beyond the customary period. The request is to be forwarded (in most cases via the department chair) to the school dean. If the school dean supports the request, the request, along with the dean's formal endorsement, is then sent to the Provost for further review. If the school dean does not support the request, the faculty member will be notified and will be free to seek further review of the request by the Provost. In all cases, a decision to extend the probationary period will be made by the Provost. The faculty member will receive written notification when the request is approved.

Related Information

Faculty Handbook

Policy on Faculty Family Leave

Contacts

If you have questions about this Policy, contact: Alex Rot, Senior Director, Faculty Operations, phone: (847) 467-4127; email: facultyrecords@northwestern.edu.

Responsible Office: Office of the Provost

Who Needs to Know This Policy: All Northwestern faculty members

Dated: May, 2013; Revised 2018.

For the Faculty Family Leave Policy, please visit: http://www.northwestern.edu/provost/policies/faculty-leaves/fac-family-leave.html