Personal Circumstances Flag

Faculty Affairs has created a Personal Circumstances Flag that can be noted on a faculty member’s personnel record. This Personal Circumstances Flag offers tenured and professional/non-tenure track faculty the opportunity to designate a year within the scope of a multi-year review as having been impacted by personal circumstances as is available for tenure-track faculty. This notation, but not the reason for it, would be available to review committees providing context for that particular year being reviewed.

Background

Some of the university’s faculty evaluation processes are comprehensive and cover a faculty member’s contributions over a span of time rather than a single year.  This includes mid-probationary review, promotion and tenure review, and comprehensive periodic review.

Tenure-track faculty are required to undergo mid-probationary review and review for promotion and tenure within a specific period of time that is designated as the probationary period.  Per Handbook of Operating Procedures 2-2020, Extension of the Probationary Period, tenure-track faculty may apply for an extension to the probationary period allowing for additional time to pass before the reviews are conducted.  The basis for the extensions are personal circumstances which “include, but are not restricted to: disability or illness of the faculty member; status of the faculty member as the principal caregiver of a preschool child; or, status of the faculty member as a principal caregiver of a disabled, elderly, or ill member of the family of the faculty member.”

Tenured faculty are required to undergo a comprehensive periodic review every six years.  In accordance with Texas Education Code Section 51.942 and Regent’s Rule 31002, Evaluation of Tenured Faculty, the review may not be waived for any tenured faculty member but may be deferred for one year in some circumstances.

The timing for promotion reviews for tenured and professional/non-tenure track faculty is largely determined by the department/college/school and candidate.  There is not a mandatory year in which a review must take place.  Reviews conducted before the sixth year in rank are considered accelerated.

UT Austin does not have a process for tenured or professional/non-tenure track faculty to designate a year within the scope of a multi-year review as having been impacted by personal circumstances like we do for tenure-track faculty.  Faculty Affairs proposes the creation of a Personal Circumstances Flag that can be noted on a faculty member’s personnel record.  This notation, but not the reason for it, would be available to review committees providing context for that particular year being reviewed.

A Personal Circumstances Flag will never be automatically added to a faculty member’s record.  Personal Circumstances Flags can be rescinded at the faculty member’s request.

A Personal Circumstances Flag may be noted for reasons including but not limited to:

  • General examples aligning with probationary period extensions: disability or illness of the faculty member; status of the faculty member as the principal caregiver of a preschool child; or, status of the faculty member as a principal caregiver of a disabled, elderly, or ill member of the family of the faculty member
  • COVID-specific examples:
    • For a faculty member who is the principal caregiver for a dependent but COVID led to a lack of care availability (e.g., childcare, school, eldercare) for the dependent
    • Sickness of individual or of their a dependent for whom the faculty member is the principal caregiver would already count under more general health of self and dependents.

Impact on Faculty Evaluation

Comprehensive Periodic Review

The Personal Circumstances Flag does not in and of itself adjust the timing of comprehensive periodic review.  But it should prompt reviewers and peer review committees to reframe the review period for the faculty member.  For example, if a faculty member is going through comprehensive periodic review who has been approved for one Personal Circumstances Flag during the period of time under consideration, the peer review committee should consider the body of work as having been completed in five years rather than six.

Promotion Review

The timing for promotion reviews for tenured and professional/non-tenure track faculty is largely determined by the department/college/school and candidate.  There is not a mandatory year in which a review must take place.  Reviews are considered accelerated when the number of years in rank less the number of Personal Circumstances Flags is less than six.  For example, a tenured associate professor in their sixth year in rank who has one Personal Circumstances Flag would be considered accelerated where a tenured associate professor in their seventh year in rank with one Personal Circumstances Flag would not be considered accelerated.

Timing of Request and Limitations

A faculty member may request up to two Personal Circumstances Flags while in rank.  Faculty members may request a Personal Circumstances Flag for events starting with occurrences in the 2019-20 academic year. We are not planning to award retroactive Personal Circumstances flags for circumstances that occurred before 2019-20.  A faculty member should request a Personal Circumstances Flag as soon as it is apparent that personal circumstances have impacted the faculty member’s work and must be requested within one calendar year of the event(s).

Process

Tenured and professional/non-tenure track faculty should complete and submit a Personal Circumstances Flag Request Form to be routed via DocuSign to their department chair (if applicable), dean, and the Provost’s Office. Upon approval by the Provost’s office, a copy of the decision will be provided to the faculty member and other approvers on the request form. Approved Personal Circumstances Flags will be documented in the Provost’s Office Faculty Profile system and will be viewable at a date to be determined in the spring 2021 semester.
Presentation on Personal Circumstances Flag

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Faculty Personal Circumstances Flag

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