Michigan Education Association

The perils of probationary status

Your first year

Your first year will be hectic as you try to assimilate into your new position. It's crucial that you develop contacts within your department—don't get caught by withdrawing into your discipline and cutting yourself off from important people and information. Make a written note of any significant departure from the terms of your appointment or understanding of your duties. And try to address them with your chairperson as soon as you can. Don't assume that a problem will correct itself.

According to the "Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure" published by the American Association for University Professors (AAUP), "Any subsequent extensions or modifications of an appointment, any special understandings, or any notices incumbent upon either party to provide, will be stated or confirmed in writing and a copy will be given to the faculty member."

Reappointment and tenure

The average probationary period at four-year institutions is five years; three, at community colleges. You must be informed of the standards and procedures employed in making decisions about your reappointment or tenure. Provisions should be made for periodic, usually annual, review or evaluation of your work and progress toward promotion or tenure. The reviews should be placed in your personnel file and you should receive a copy. You should be given adequate notice about when and where you will be reviewed or evaluated. You should also have the opportunity to bring anything you think is pertinent to the attention of the review committee.

For further reading, we suggest the publication Entering the Profession: Advice for the Untenured by the National Education Association.


Updated: October 29, 2009 10:32 AM