Is the tenure process fair? What faculty think


A conceptual framework grounded on procedural justice theory was created to explain how judgments about the fairness of tenure decision-making evolved among faculty who had not yet undergone the review. The framework posits that faculty beliefs about fairness are influenced directly by their workplace experiences and both directly and indirectly by their socio-demographic characteristics. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to assess the proposed direct and indirect effects with data from 2,247 pre-tenure assistant professors at 21 research universities. The results substantiate the importance of perceived campus and department conditions in shaping faculty members’ views of tenure reviews and as mediators of faculty members’ socio-demographic characteristics. Equitable treatment of junior faculty at the department level and effectiveness of feedback have the strongest relationships with beliefs about the equity of tenure decision-making. Generally speaking, an individual’s sense of control during the process of constructing the tenure dossier predicts his or her judgments about the fairness of tenure reviews. Practical suggestions for campus leaders regarding the conditions that inform faculty beliefs about tenure reviews and implications for future research are discussed.

Full Paper 

Lawrence, J., Celis, S. & Ott, M. (2014). Is the tenure process fair? What faculty think. Journal of Higher Education, 85(2), 155-192.