NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Document in PDF format
Statement of the Departmental Functions and Criteria of the
Department of Astronomy
Revision: February 2016
Each faculty member is responsible for Teaching, Scholarship
(Research), Service, and Outreach in the department as part of the
department's responsibilities to the institution. The functions of
the department in Teaching, Scholarship (Research), Service, and
Outreach shall be:
Teaching: Teaching is a primary department
responsibility. Our primary program is a graduate program,
offering M.S. and Ph.D degrees. Graduate teaching involves
both course-work and graduate advising. The Department does not
offer an undergraduate major, but undergraduate teaching,
to a large extent of general education courses, is also a
significant component of our teaching responsibility.
The teaching loads of department faculty members will be assigned
so that the necessary courses are offered each semester to meet the
academic needs of the students at the lower and upper divisions,
as well as graduate students. A faculty member budgeted exclusively
from instruction and general funds will normally be responsible for
the equivalent of teaching an annual minimum of 3 ``contact" courses
per academic year (9-12 credits), unless a reduced load is approved
by the Dean. Balance between graduate and undergraduate courses
can vary from faculty member to faculty member; both are equally
Scholarship: Scholarship (Research) is, in any of its equally
valued facets (Discovery, Integration, Application, Teaching), a
primary responsibility of the department and its individual faculty.
It also forms a core component of graduate education, so there
is considerable interplay between teaching and scholarship.
Service: Service plays a significant role in the
department's responsibilities to the institution and the broader
academic and professional communities. Service activities
include professional service (paper review, panel reviews, advisory
committees, project management, etc.) in the faculty's various areas of
expertise, as well as service to the University (Department, College, and
University committee assignments, advisory boards, etc.) and
community (activities where discipline provides appropriate expertise).
Outreach: The Department values outreach, particularly
given the broad interest of the general public in astronomy
and the recognition that much astronomical research is enabled
by public funding. Outreach involves interaction with the
public in the form of Observatory Open Houses, visits to/from local
school and civic groups, responding to information request from the
public and news organizations, etc.
Each member of the faculty is expected to engage in Teaching,
Scholarship (Research), Service, and Outreach activities within and
on behalf of the department. Basic evaluation criteria are as follows:
- Normal percentage-of-effort assignments for Teaching, Scholarship
(Research), Service, and Outreach will be 45%, 40%, 12.5%, and 2.5%,
respectively. Acceptable ranges will be 30% to 50% for each
of Teaching and Scholarship (Research), 10% to 20% for professional
service, and 2-5% for Outreach, depending on the strengths of
faculty members and Departmental needs. Exceptions to this range
will be allowed in cases of sabbatical leaves or other special
circumstances, in consultation with the Dean.
- Approved research buy-outs might be one reason for an adjustment
of annual assignments, and are totally acceptable in terms of
- Percentage-of-effort for each faculty member for each calendar
year will be agreed upon by the Faculty Member, Department Head,
and College Dean at the start of each calendar year. These effort
levels will account for sabbatical leaves, department needs, etc.
- The sum of a faculty member's assignments to Teaching,
Scholarship (Research), Service, and Outreach shall equal
one-hundred percent (100%).
The quality and quantity of faculty teaching and student advising
shall be taken into consideration when evaluating departmental
- Quality: Evaluation criteria include:
- teaching evaluation via student evaluation, peer
evaluation, self-assessment, demonstration of teaching effectiveness,
etc. Student course evaluations developed by the Department must
be administered for each offered course at the conclusion of each
academic term; mid-semester evaluations can also be appropriate and
- efforts towards improvement of teaching, including modification
of teaching materials and development of innovative instructional
approaches, participation in teaching workshops (e.g., Teaching
Academy events), etc.;
- progress of advised graduate students, student success in
subsequent activities, etc.
- Quantity: Criteria include:
- total number of ``contact'' courses taught, should match annually-agreed
upon course load and teaching percentage;
- total student credit hours taught, so that individually-directed
classes, e.g. independent research, dissertation research, etc., are
recognized as important components of teaching;
- number of graduate degree candidates supervised and their progress;
- to a lesser extent, student committee work load;
- advising of undergraduate students, including undergraduate
- Special Factors: Criteria include student participation in
faculty research activities, special courses and seminars offered
by the faculty member, development and implementation of new
courses, teaching of courses to a broader audience (i.e., outside
of NMSU), etc.
- Quality: Criteria will be those of peer evaluation and/or
review on the basis of current professional standards. Specific
areas to be considered, as defined by Boyer and all equally valued,
- Scholarship of Discovery: Those activities that
increase knowledge within the faculty member's discipline; this is
the traditional research in which all faculty members are expected
to be engaged
- Scholarship of Integration: activities that make
connections between discovery in the discipline and other disciplines,
including interdisciplinary efforts that couple astronomical work
with technology, computational science, engineering, etc.
- Scholarship of Application: activities that apply astronomical knowledge to
societal, industrial, national, and international issues.
- Scholarship of Teaching: efforts that quantitatively address student learning
and teaching methods within the discipline or in a broader science
Scholarship activities should result in high-quality achievement of and
dissemination of results (publications, meeting presentations,
review articles, etc.) according to national standards, and should
provide a basis for the highest quality education at the graduate
Interdisciplinary activities can be an integral component
In the present structure of doctoral programs, grant
support for scholarship (research) activities is an important part
of efforts to maintain or improve upon the quality of the doctoral
education and Scholarship productivity, and provides a community
assessment of the quality of the faculty member's work.
- Quantity and Communication:
- Scholarship of Discovery. Criteria include:
- the number and quality of publications (especially those in
refereed journals). Note that, in astronomy, first (and often
second or third) author papers generally represent a significantly
larger fundamental contribution than appearing in a long author
list, but that the latter can be relevant for a faculty member
whose research is related to experiments conducted by a large group.
Papers with a faculty member's student as first author should be considered equivalent
to those with the faculty as first author, since they generally
represent (at least) as large of an effort.
- number of citations of published papers, although note
that this can vary by sub-discipline, depending on the size of the
- meeting/conference presentations (especially
invited presentations and papers);
- pursuit of and receipt of external funding focused upon scientific advancement,
submission and success with other types of proposals (observing
proposals, for example),
- mission/project and scientific team involvement; selection for
full proposal submission from white papers, etc.;
- colloquia and special lectures presented at other
institutions/departments, especially invited lectures;
- efforts to establish and enhance University reputation
through large project endeavors;
- membership on conference organizing committees.
- Scholarship of Integration. Criteria include the number
of clearly identifiable interdisciplinary activities participated
in (investigations, proposal submissions, meetings attended, papers
published and presented, etc.) that would not have arisen from the
faculty member working in isolation within their own discipline.
If the result of the effort is not a peer-reviewed product (paper,
proposal, etc.), the faculty member will provide documentation
attesting to the evaluative process that results of the effort were
subjected to. Other criteria include membership and/or
chairing of interdisciplinary conferences or workshops.
- Scholarship of application. Criteria include the
number of activities (textbook development, expert testimony,
algorithm development, etc.) in which the faculty member is engaged;
if the activity engaged in does not lend itself to peer-review, the
faculty member will proved documentation that the Scholarship of
Application activity has received some form of external review by
appropriate `experts' in the area/field. Additional criteria
include the creation of public databases/websites, and/or related
data, for broad distribution to colleagues,
- Scholarship of Teaching.
Criteria will include peer-reviewed publications and submitted/funded
proposals specifically focused upon the study of teaching methods
and student learning methods in the discipline. Additional criteria
could include external solicitation of student-learning tools developed
by the faculty member.
- Professional Discipline Service. Activities for evaluation include
refereeing of papers for peer-reviewed journals, discipline-specific
journal editing, evaluation of proposals for funding agencies/entities,
professional organization/committee work (including meeting/conference
planning), offices held in professional organizations in the faculty
member's discipline, etc.
- University/College/Departmental Service.
Departmental committee work and university and college committee
work are included; other factors are duties and responsibilities
associated with management of university-connected research facilities
and instruments, mission-related managerial responsibilities, etc.
Fund raising activities on behalf of the Department, College,
University, etc. are also a service activity.
- Public Engagement. Criteria would include the quantity of
public lectures, observatory tours, public nights at the
observatories, web-based public dissemination, etc. Testimonials
of the quality of such activities from the inviting party are
- Public Relations. Public relations activities on behalf of
the department, college, and university are included. These include
articles by or about the faculty member that are published in popular
publications, newspapers, etc.
College faculty may not be required to perform in all ares of teaching,
scholarship, service, and outreach. When college faculty are hired, a
written document will be developed and agreed upon by the faculty member
and Department Head that outlines which areas, with relative percentages,
will be used to evaluate performance. Within any given area, the evaluation
criteria will be the same as for tenure-track faculty.
PROMOTION TO PROFESSOR
Promotion to the rank of Professor is not automatic and should not be
considered to be forthcoming merely because of years of service, or
because tenure and promotion to Associate Professor was awarded.
There is no specific number of years of service required to apply for
promotion to Professor.
Above and beyond the criteria for promotion to Associate Professor,
the qualities of a Professor would include:
- Has demonstrated, through consistent and continuously growing
accomplishments, that s/he has a mature intellectual command and
view of the discipline as it relates to the candidate’s primary
subfield within the discipline.
- Has established a record of engaging in various leadership roles
within the candidate’s profession and within the Department,
College, and/or University in the areas of teaching, scholarship and
creative activity, outreach, and/or service.
- Has demonstrated a commitment to mentorship of faculty at lower
ranks, empowering and enabling them to achieve their professional
- Since promotion to Associate Professor, has sustained and
demonstrated civility, collegiality and professional integrity in
all aspects of Department, College, and/or University Service.
When considering candidates for promotion to the rank of Professor,
primary evaluation is given to performances in scholarship and
creative activities, and leadership. There is no single definition of
“leadership”; it is generally interpreted to mean that the candidate
has engaged in some level of guiding, managing, directing, or
supervising people or an organization. Serious evaluation is also
given to teaching and advising/mentoring, service, and outreach.
Performance of a candidate for promotion to full professor is assessed
in terms of how the above qualities and performances are sustained and
on an assessment of the candidate's potential future contributions
based on the candidate's record.
All tenure-track, tenured, and college faculty will be evaluated
by the Department Head each year, based upon the information the
faculty member provides in their Annual Performance Report (APR)
submitted during the Fall semester using the document/tool provided
for that purpose. In all cases, the person being evaluated is
responsible for supplying materials necessary for the evaluations.
The Department Head will submit to the College each faculty member's
submitted APR and the completed Department Head Evaluation of each
faculty member, using the appropriate document/format. After
discussion with the Dean's office, the Department Head will discuss
with each individual faculty member the Department Head Evaluation
of that faculty. The faculty member may submit a written statement
in response to the Department Head's evaluation.
Each faculty member will meet with the Department Head annually to
discuss and decide upon `level of effort' percentages that the
faculty member will direct toward Teaching, Scholarship (Research),
Service, and Outreach during that calendar year. These percentage
effort levels will be incorporated in to the "Goals and Objectives"
statement that each faculty member will prepare at that same time,
in consultation with the Department Head, to indicate their
professional plans for the upcoming year.
All non-tenured tenure-track faculty will be annually evaluated by
the Department Head and by the tenured faculty to assess progress
toward promotion and tenure. The evaluation of non-tenured faculty
by the tenured faculty occurs during the Spring semester through the departmental
Promotion and Tenure committee. Membership of this committee is
discussed in section 3 below. Both the Department Head and
the Promotion and Tenure committee will prepare written evaluations
of each non-tenured tenure-track faculty member's overall progress
towards tenure and promotion and assessment of that non-tenured
tenure-track faculty member's written ''Goals and Objectives'' statement
for the year. These progress appraisals are separate from the
Department Head's annual performance review (which occurs during
the Fall semester). The Department Head will meet with the faculty
member to discuss the faculty member's progress toward tenure as
determined by the Department Head and the Promotion and Tenure
committee. The faculty member may submit a written statement in
response to the Promotion and Tenured Committee and/or Department
Heads evaluation. These written evaluations plus any faculty response
are thereafter delivered to the College Dean.
Faculty applying for promotion and/or tenure will be separately
evaluated by the Department Head and by the Promotion and Tenure
committee. Written reviews are prepared, based upon the candidate's
portfolio of application materials, early during the Fall semester
of the academic year during which the faculty member's application
is submitted. See Section III in this document for additional
- Annual Evaluation: evaluation of faculty teaching is based upon
the teaching criteria listed above (section 1.2).
- Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure: methods will include those
employed for Annual Evaluation, although the assessment will also
take in to account consideration of the multi-year progress of
graduate students advised by the faculty member, the history/trending
of student evaluations of course instruction, the breadth of courses
taught during the faulty member's time in the department, faculty
member involvement in securing financial support of graduate students,
- Annual Evaluation. Evaluation of faculty research is
based upon the criteria listed above (section 1.3).
- Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure. Same as for Annual
Evaluation, with the possible addition of demonstrated growth during the
time toward tenure.
- Annual Evaluation. Evaluation of faculty service is based
upon the criteria listed above (section 1.4).
- Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure: same as for Annual Evaluation,
with the possible addition of demonstrated growth during the time toward
- Annual Evaluation. Evaluation of faculty outreach is based
upon the criteria listed above (section 1.5).
- Evaluation for Promotion and Tenure: same as for Annual Evaluation,
with the possible addition of demonstrated growth in these activities during the time
PROMOTION AND TENURE APPLICATION PROCEDURES
- The department head will submit a written recommendation to
the dean in matters of promotion and/or tenure.
- A department committee, referred to as the Departmental Promotion
and Tenure Committee, will be constituted to make recommendations
of promotion and/or tenure. The committee will not include the
department head but will consist of:
- a minimum of four tenured department faculty, plus one appointed
(by the Dean) member from outside the department, when non-tenured
faculty are being evaluated with regard to their progress toward
- all departmental tenured faculty (who are not on leave), plus
one appointed member from outside of the department, if the committee
is to make a recommendation regarding tenure
- all department full and associate professors (who are not on
leave), plus one appointed member from outside of the department,
if the committee is to make a recommendation regarding promotion
to associate professor.
- all department full professors (who are not on leave), plus one
appointed member from outside of the department, if the committee
is to make a recommendation regarding promotion to full Professor.
Advice from other members of the faculty is encouraged.
Other issues pertaining to membership of the promotion and tenure committee:
The Dean, upon advice from the College Council, appoints at least
one external full professor to each departmental promotion and
tenure committee at all times. If the department faculty includes
fewer than 4 members eligible for service on the promotion and
tenure committee, the Dean will appoint more external members, to
bring total membership to at least five (5) individuals. Membership
of all tenured departmental faculty, as listed above,
is only required for promotion and tenure decisions. In
the regular annual appraisals of progress towards tenure and promotion
not all eligible faculty may need to serve, as long as the minimum
membership of 5 (with on external full professor) is met.
Members of the tenure and promotion committee have the right and
obligation to read candidate's files and take part in discussions
and votes about annual progress reviews and for discussions and
votes about tenure and/or promotion.
If requested, the Promotion and Tenure committee will meet with
the Department Head, Dean, and/or other comparable administrator
to discuss procedural matters.
- The applicant for promotion and/or tenure is responsible for
supplying relevant materials to the department head and to the
committee, following college guidelines.
- The NMSU Policy Manual provides guidelines for application
portfolio preparation in Section 188.8.131.52. The department can provide
samples of portfolios, and will seek the written permission of
previous portfolio preparers prior to making their samples available
to the applicant.
- The applicant may not add to, subtract from, or modify application
portfolio contents once the materials have been delivered to the
Promotion and Tenure Committee for its evaluation, at a date agreed
to by the Committee Chair and Department Head.
- The applicant's portfolio will be retained in the Astronomy
Department main office and made available to the department Promotion
and Tenure Committee membership.
- If the department Promotion and Tenure Committee would like to
receive additional information from the applicant, the Committee will
prepare a letter addressed to the Department Head indicating the additional
information desired and a justification for its request for the information.
The Department Head will consider the request, and, if in agreement, will
convey the request to the candidate, who will have one week to
provide the requested information or provide a response indicating
why the information cannot or will not be provided.
- The department head or the
promotion and tenure committee chair will request additional written
opinions by obtaining at least three (3) external letters of reference
from professional peers and colleagues of the applicant; all solicited
letters that are received by the deadline should be included in
the package. These
letters are not confidential. The letters should address the
candidate's research qualifications, and, if applicable, other
factors. Candidates may be requested to provide a list of potential
outside referees to the department head and committee chair, but
may not contact the external referees with regards to the tenure
and/or promotion process. The tenure and promotion committee, in
consultation with the department head, will select the external
referees. Selection of suitable referees will primarily be based
on the research area of the candidate in question, but may also
include other factors if appropriately documented and explained by
the promotion and tenure committee chair.
The selection process of external referees will
be documented in the recommendation on tenure and/or promotion to
be forwarded to the College. It is acceptable if external letters are
weighted more towards assessment of research performance than,
e.g., to teaching performance.
Potential referees will contacted by email or mail, and will be
- to provide a brief statement regarding the individual's qualifications
for serving as a reviewer;
- to provide a statement indicating the relationship between the candidate
- notification that the candidate may have an opportunity to
read the letter of assessment;
- notification that third parties may review the letter in
the event of an EEOC or other investigation into a promotion
or tenure decision.
- Unsolicited external letters, should they be received by the
department prior to or during the department Promotion and Tenure
Committee's evaluation, will not be provided to nor considered by
- The department head and the promotion and tenure committee will
each submit written recommendations on promotion and/or tenure
applications to the Dean with supporting materials. Any minority
reports will be included. All materials supplied by the applicant
of by the committee will be maintained in a file and will be available
for inspection in accordance with college guidelines.
- Additional Promotion and Tenure Application Procedures
- University policies regarding promotion and tenure supercede
College and Department policies should there be any difference among
the policies of the different units.
- The University's criteria for promotion and tenure are described
in Section 5.90.4 of the NMSU Policy Manual (December 2012).
- As stated in the NMSU Policy Manual, Section 184.108.40.206.2, extension
of the probationary period (number of years prior to applying for
tenure) is possible for specific situations as described in that
section. A request for an extension must be initiated by the faculty
- Per University policy, a faculty member may request a mid-probationary
review. This request should be made in writing to the Department Head.
- All materials submitted by a faculty member seeking promotion
and/or tenure are considered confidential, as are the deliberations
conducted by the department Promotion and Tenure Committee.
- The Department's Promotion and Tenure criteria and evaluation
methods as spelled out in this document are to be reviewed and, if
necessary, updated, every three academic years. This review will be
initiated and conducted by the Department Head, in consultation
with the rest of the faculty. If policies and or methods are changed,
then-current faculty who have not yet earned tenure or promotion
may select to retain the prior policies for the purpose of their
evaluation, or they may choose to accept the new policies. Faculty
members will indicate their choice in response to a letter of inquiry
provided to them by the Department Head.
- During the evaluation process of a faculty member's application
for promotion and/or tenure, the Department Head will meet with the
departmental Promotion and Tenure Committee to discuss procedural
policies the Committee will follow.
- The deliberations and votes of the departmental Promotion and
Tenure Committee will be conducted in closed session and will remain
- When departmental Promotional and Tenure Committee members
vote on applications for promotion or tenure, the member voting
MUST be present in the meeting room, and individual's votes will
be secret (written), and the numeric outcome of the vote (number
of YES, NO, or ABSTAIN) will be recorded and retained by the Committee
- The department Promotion and Tenure Committee Chair will prepare
a letter, intended for delivery to the department head, which
reflects the majority view of the Committee in regard to the
application being considered. The letter should contain a numeric
indication of the outcome of the vote. The letter should contain
specific commendations, concerns, and recommendations addressing
the department's criteria in each of the areas assessed in the
evaluation process. Dissenting opinions should be acknowledged in
the letter, with specific indications of which aspects of the
- The department head will meet with the applicant and present a
copy of the Committee's letter as well as the Department Head's own
letter indicating her/his decision with regard to the application.
- At any time during the application evaluation process, the
candidate may withdraw the application for further consideration,
as spelled out in the NMSU Policy Manual Section 220.127.116.11.
- The Department will implement a post-tenure review process in
conformity with the University's process as outlined in Section
5.87 of the NMSU Policy Manual (2008).
- If an applicant wishes to appeal one or more aspects of the
application review process, the policies outlined in Sections 4.05.40
of the NMSU Policy Manual will apply.
|Dean, Arts and Sciences
||Department Head, Astronomy