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Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Promotion and Tenure

Solicitation of External Reviews

External Review Letter Template

The purpose of using external reviews as a part of the promotion and tenure process is to advise the university as to the broader impact and value of a faculty member’s research/scholarly/ creative productivity to the discipline. At UTSA, external reviews are used to confirm the significance of results arising from the scholarly efforts of a faculty member, but are not intended to be conclusive elements of a promotion and tenure review.

Guidelines for Selecting External Reviewers

  • There should be at least three (3), but no more than six (6) external reviewers chosen to evaluate each faculty candidate.
  • External reviewers should themselves be experts in the faculty candidate’s sub-field, but should not be a past mentor, or a frequent or current collaborator. Each reviewer should be asked to outline in the report any past association that she or he may have with the faculty candidate.
  • Reviewers should ideally hold full professor rank or equivalent. The only exceptions to this should be reviewers who are acknowledged emerging leaders in the field though not yet at the rank of full professor. Reviewers that are not affiliated with an academic institution (for example, a researcher at a national laboratory) should have rank and experience commensurate with that of a full professor.
  • Reviewers should be affiliated with a department or institution that is an aspirant for the department of the faculty candidate. One of the chief purposes of promotion and tenure is to ensure that the university is making progress towards its strategic goals and aspirations. This cannot occur unless we continually solicit advice from those who represent aspirant institutions.
  • Responsibility for choosing external reviewers rests with the Department Chair, but should involve consultation with others, including the faculty candidate.
  • Each department should develop written guidelines for soliciting suggestions for reviewers and work to ensure the integrity of the process. That process should include:
    • consideration of names suggested by the faculty candidate;
    • elimination of up to two names identified by the faculty candidate as unsuitable due to a real or perceived conflict of interest;
    • consideration of names proposed by senior faculty in the same general area as the faculty candidate; and,
    • construction of a final list of reviewers that includes both names suggested by the faculty candidate, as well as some that are not suggested by the candidate.

Process of Soliciting External Reviews

  • During the spring prior to the promotion and tenure review, the Department Chair should solicit suggestions of potential reviewers from the faculty candidate and senior faculty in the same general sub-field as the candidate, then contact prospective reviewers to ascertain their availability to provide a review.
  • If the list of potential reviewers solicited by the Department Chair is exhausted without yielding at least three reviewers, the Chair should request additional names from both the faculty candidate and the senior faculty in the same general sub-field as the candidate.
  • Once the list of reviewers is finalized, the Department Chair shall forward the application packet, including relevant work products, to the external reviewers for their evaluation. This should take place early enough to allow the department time to review the case.
  • In the cover letter sent by the Department Chair soliciting the review (sample template of letter), the chair shall minimally include the following:
    • the date by which a written review is required by the department;
    • the letter should be printed on the reviewer’s university/college letterhead with a clear, legible signature. An electronic version is acceptable, provided that it is on university letterhead and contains a clear, legible signature. All external review letters (including electronic versions) should be uploaded to SharePoint and a hard copy should be placed in the faculty member’s review folder. Email letters are not acceptable;
    • the information sought by the department to assist in its evaluation and deliberations, and the role of the external review in our process;
    • the transparency of the UTSA promotion and tenure process and the likelihood that the letter will be viewed by others, including the faculty candidate; and
    • appreciation for their willingness to provide a review.
  • In soliciting the review, the Chair should indicate that the reviewer is not obligated to provide any advisory or conclusive statements, or to speculate as to the likely success of the application for promotion and tenure at another institution. Reviewers’ comments should include, but are not necessarily limited to:
    • a description of any past association with the faculty candidate;
    • prior familiarity with the candidate’s scholarly work;
    • identification of the most significant scholarly results produced by the faculty candidate and the impact that those results have had on the discipline;
    • appropriateness of the venues/outlets used by the candidate to disseminate scholarly products; and
    • any relevant information about common practices within the discipline or sub-field of the candidate related to collaboration, multiple authorship, grant funding, or other characteristics that may help the university evaluate the scholarly output of the faculty candidate fairly and objectively.
  • Reviewers may optionally provide information about the impact of any professional (disciplinary) service rendered by the faculty candidate, but should not attempt to evaluate the significance of the candidate’s teaching or local service activities, unless they have had the opportunity to personally observe those activities.
  • The Chair should obtain a short vitae or biography for each reviewer for inclusion with the review letter. Such vitae should be no more than two pages in length.