Faculty Evaluation Model at VSU

I. Introduction
II. Student Opinion of Instruction (SOI)
III. Annual Faculty Activity Report and Action Plan (AFARAP)
IV. Annual Faculty Evaluation (AFE)

V. Merit Pay

VI. Promotion and Tenure Review

VII. Pre-Tenure / Third-year Review

VIII. Post-Tenure / Fifth-year Review
IX. Faculty Development Plan
X. Approval

I. Introduction

Valdosta State University helps faculty members develop successful, productive careers by regularly evaluating their performance, providing constructive feedback, and facilitating their professional growth. Consisting of a structured, flexible process of continuous planning, communication, and feedback, faculty evaluation begins at the point of initial employment, it guides the promotion and tenure process, and it informs the years of post-tenure service.

Faculty members are evaluated in three areas: (a) teaching and student learning; (b) research, scholarship, professional growth, and creative production; and (c) service to the university, community, or profession.

Several principles shape this evaluation model1:

Transparency. VSU’s Faculty Evaluation Model provides a conduit for early and consistent communication between department/unit heads and faculty members about university expectations, faculty goals, and departmental needs;
Intentionality. It emphasizes the value of annual, faculty-developed action plans that are devised in consultation with department/unit heads and designed to meet the long-term goals of individual faculty members as well as of the units in which they serve.
Flexibility. It recognizes and rewards the shifting emphases in professional activity that may occur during an academic year as well as over the course of individual faculty members’ careers.
Breadth of Perspective. It yields feedback from diverse perspectives, including students, department/unit heads, and departmental, college, and university peers.
Ease of Access. It employs an online system, which provides a consistent format, automatically populates some data, and organizes reports in various formats, as needed.

[1] “Model” indicates that colleges and units will modify elements of the evaluative procedure (e.g., arrangement of professional categories or addition of questions to the SOI, etc.) to facilitate planning, program evaluation by external accrediting bodies, or other disciplinary requirements.

VSU’s evaluation model employs the following assessment activities:

Review Reviewers Frequency Location
Student Opinion of Instruction

Students voluntarily provide feedback on faculty members’ teaching effectiveness.

Each term Smart Evals SOI portal
Annual Faculty Activity Report and Action Plan Faculty members report on their activities for the past year, reflect on their accomplishments, and set goals for the upcoming year. Annual Faculty Activity Tracking System
Annual Faculty Evaluation Department/unit heads use faculty members’ Action Plans and Annual Faculty Activity Reports to evaluate their performance during the past year. Annual Faculty Activity Tracking System
Merit Pay Review Department/unit heads use individual department/college standards to reward faculty members’ performance since the last award of merit pay. Periodic, depending upon legislative appropriations Department/ College Policy Manual
Promotion and Tenure Review Department committees and department/unit heads; college committees and deans; and university committee and Provost evaluate faculty members’ performance in teaching and student learning; scholarship and creative productivity; and service to the university, community, and profession. Tenure and first promotion review usually between the fourth and seventh year of full-time university service; subsequent promotions not sooner than five years after the last promotion College and University Promotion and Tenure Documents
Pre-tenure / Third-year Review Department committees and department/unit heads evaluate tenure-track faculty members’ progress toward meeting standards for promotion and tenure and non-tenure track faculty members’ success in meeting departmental and unit standards. Generally, during the third year of service, unless the faculty members brings years toward tenure College Promotion and Tenure Documents

Post-tenure / Fifth-year Review

Department personnel committee evaluates faculty members' professional activity since the last review. Department/unit heads design faculty development plans, if needed. College personnel committees will act as the first level of appeal, if needed.

Every five years unless interrupted by another personnel action

University Policy

Faculty Development Plan

Department/unit heads may recommend a faculty development  plan based on the outcome of the faculty members AFE or review. If recommended at AFE or Review Department, College, and University Policy

Section I Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.


II. Student Opinion of Instruction (SOI)

As per BOR Policy Manual 8.3.5.1, each institution, as part of its evaluative procedures, will utilize a written system of faculty evaluations by students, with the improvement of teaching effectiveness as the main focus of these student evaluations.

SOIs through SmartEvals are provided for each course,2 including summer sessions.

SOIs include open-ended and closed-ended questions about faculty performance. These are available soon after the end of the semester and are stored electronically. Information from them is used in Annual Evaluations and Promotion and Tenure documents.

Guidelines for interpreting Student Opinions of Instruction are available online through the Office of Academic Affairs.

[2] Exceptions include thesis sections, dissertation sections, zero credit hour courses, other courses with low enrollments (<3) where the student’s anonymity could be compromised.

Section II Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section II Resources


III. Annual Faculty Activity Report and Action Plan (AFARAP)

Each University System of Georgia (USG) institution shall establish definite and stated criteria, consistent with Board of Regents’ policies and the statutes of the institution, against which the performance of each faculty member will be evaluated. The evaluation shall occur at least annually (BOR Policy Manual 8.3.5.1).

Valdosta State University combines an action plan with the self-reporting of annual activities required for this USG-mandated annual evaluation. The resulting document, the Annual Faculty Activity Report and Action Plan (AFARAP), performs a variety of important functions:

  • it engages faculty members in a structured process of reflection, self-evaluation, and personal career planning;
  • it allows department and unit heads to assess faculty members’ progress toward their next personnel action or merit determination and to help faculty reach departmental expectations and goals; and
  • it provides documentation for future personnel actions as well as for strategic planning and development at the department, college, and university level.

The Annual Faculty Activity Report and Action Plan fulfills three distinct but closely related purposes:

  • First, it clearly and accurately details faculty members’ specific activities and accomplishments in the areas of (a) Teaching and Student Learning, (b) Research, Scholarship, Professional Growth, and Creative Production, and (c) Service to the University, Community, or Profession during the past year. This information is stored electronically and may be entered at the faculty member’s convenience. 
  • Second, it allows faculty members to reflect upon their professional accomplishments and growth during the past year as well as to identify perceived needs and new professional interests they have developed during the year. Faculty members must refer specifically to SOI reports from the past year as part of their reflection upon their teaching and instruction. They should also comment upon their progress toward meeting the action plan they outlined for the year under review. If new assignments or responsibilities interrupted the pursuit of these plans, the reflective comments should explain.
  • Third, it identifies specific tasks that faculty members intend to pursue in the coming year. Since these plans help define the standards used to evaluate the faculty member’s performance in the coming year, they should be phrased in actionable and not merely aspirational terms: e.g. “to prepare and submit at least one conference paper” or “to revise and resubmit an article to XYZ journal,” or “to finish editing a book under contract,” rather than “to become a recognized scholar in XYZ studies.”

Faculty members are responsible for uploading a syllabus for each course and teaching qualifications each semester. They can update their scholarly activities and additional professional experiences at any time. Instruction on accessing the database, using it, and printing reports; information required for the AFARAP; and timelines for submitting and reviewing this document are available online through the Office of Academic Affairs.

Department/unit heads are responsible for meeting with new faculty members during their first semester of employment to discuss the Faculty Evaluation Model, to clarify departmental expectations, and to set appropriate action plans for the coming year.

Copies and supporting documentation are housed in the employee’s official personnel file. Department/unit heads respond to each Annual Faculty Activity Report and Action Plan through the Annual Faculty Evaluation form.

Section III Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section III Resources


IV. Annual Faculty Evaluation (AFE)

Conducted by department/unit heads, the Annual Faculty Evaluation provides faculty members with a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of their past year’s performance in teaching and student learning; research, scholarship, professional growth, and creative production; and university, community, or professional service.  

The following principles inform this document:

  • it uses written departmental or college standards, aligned with the University Annual Faculty Evaluation Form, as the basis for evaluation. Each department/unit will review and maintain its statement of expectations for each performance level applicable to all faculty members (tenured and non-tenured) every five years. Departmental/unit statements will address expectations for the areas of teaching and student learning; research, scholarship, professional growth, and creative production; and service to the university, community, or profession. These must be as specific as possible, without precluding the diverse contributions that individual faculty members might make to the university community. Individual differences in teaching, scholarship, and service are valued;
  • it documents faculty members’ success in meeting individualized action plans or faculty development plans;
  • it employs a five-point scale: “Exemplary,” “Exceeds Expectations,” “Meets Expectations,” “Needs Improvement,” or “Does Not Meet Expectations”;
  • it includes written comments that explain and/or document the basis for the rating given in each category;
  • it offers specific recommendations if activity in any of the three performance categories is determined to need improvement or does not meet expectations.

During the Annual Faculty Evaluation process, department/unit heads meet with faculty members (a) to review the past year’s activities, (b) to assure that faculty members’ goals and plans for the upcoming year are aligned with departmental, college, and university goals, and (c) to determine that they are prioritized in a way that may lead to tenure and promotion where appropriate. 

Both the faculty member and the head sign the Annual Faculty Evaluation to certify that they have met and discussed this document.  Faculty members have the right to append a response to this evaluation before it leaves the department. Copies of the Annual Evaluation document will be forwarded to the appropriate dean and then to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. A copy of this evaluation form as well as the schedule for the departmental and college review of this document appears online through the Office of Academic Affairs.

Section IV Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section IV Resources


V. Merit Pay

Institutions in the University System of Georgia are authorized to offer performance-based salary increases as often as once per year. However, both the availability and the amount of increase depend on the appropriation of money for this purpose by the Georgia General Assembly.

When funding is available, salary increases are awarded on the basis of merit. Criteria for determining merit may include teaching and job performance; completion of significant professional development activities, including the attainment of additional academic degrees; promotion in rank; seniority; research productivity; academic achievements and publications; academic honors and recognitions; relevant professional achievements and recognitions; and non-teaching services to the institution.

Individual colleges and departments are responsible for developing standards of evaluation for use within their respective units and for working with the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs to ensure that these standards comply with university policies.

Department/unit heads and deans are responsible for communicating these standards to all members of their unit, and faculty are encouraged to be familiar with and adhere to these established standards.

Section V Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section V Resources


VI. Promotion and Tenure Review

General guidelines for promotion and tenure within the University System of Georgia appear in its Board of Regents’ Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Handbook (Tenure 4.4, Promotion 4.5) as well as in three sections of its Board of Regents’ Policy Manual: 8.3.5.1 (Evaluation of Faculty), 8.3.6 (Criteria for Promotion), and 8.3.7 (Tenure and Criteria for Tenure). Tenure is reserved for faculty members in tenure-track positions. Tenure is not guaranteed. Normally, faculty members must be employed in a tenure-track position for at least four years of full-time consecutive service before they are eligible to apply for tenure.

Faculty with non-tenure track appointments and honorific appointments, including adjunct appointments, are not eligible for tenure (BOR Policy Manual 8.3.8). Depending on their academic rank, individuals employed in non-tenure track positions may be eligible for promotion (BOR Policy Manual 8.3.8.3 Senior Lecturers and Principal Lecturers).

Individuals employed in non-tenure track positions may apply on an equal basis with other candidates for tenure track positions that become available (BOR Policy Manual 8.3.8 Non-Tenure Track Personnel).

VSU’s general policies and procedures for promotion and for awarding tenure as well as the guidelines used in its various units, including its colleges and Odum Library, are available online through the Office of Academic Affairs.

The timeline for submitting promotion and tenure materials appears in the resources below.

Section VI Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section VI Resources


VII. Pre-Tenure / Third-year Review

According to BOR Policy Manual 8.3.5.1, “Each University System of Georgia (USG) institution shall conduct in-depth pre-tenure reviews of all faculty in their third year of progress toward tenure with a focus on the criteria established for promotion and tenure, emphasizing excellence in teaching. The institution shall develop pre-tenure review policies, as well as any subsequent revisions.”

Pre-tenure review is advisory. Its purpose is to highlight probationary faculty members’ strengths and potential weaknesses at least two years before probationary faculty members submit applications for promotion and tenure. 

Pre-tenure review typically occurs during faculty members’ third year of employment in a tenure-track position at the assistant professor level or higher. However, faculty members who bring prior years of service will receive a pre-tenure review at the mid-point of the remaining probationary period.

Keeping in mind the University System’s emphasis upon superior teaching/job performance, pre-tenure review carefully assesses faculty members’ instructional competence. It also evaluates their progress toward meeting departmental, college, and institutional standards for research, scholarship, and creative production and assesses their service to the institution, community, and/or profession.

When undergoing pre-tenure review, faculty members should complete the Application for Promotion and Tenure form currently used by their unit. Pre-tenure dossiers must be submitted by the date specified for their unit.  Copies of these forms and the Personnel Action Cover Sheet, a list of materials required in the dossier, and timelines for submitting dossiers for each unit are available in Valdosta State University Tenure and Promotion Policies and Procedures.

Faculty members in non-tenure track positions will also undergo review in their third year of service. This review is tailored to their specific duties and is designed to assure that non-tenure track faculty members are successfully meeting departmental standards for performing these duties. If a non-tenure track position can lead to promotion, then this review will serve as a pre-promotion review and will follow the process outlined below.

Departmental personnel committees evaluate candidates’ pre-tenure, pre-promotion, and third-year review dossiers in light of their respective unit guidelines. Following that analysis, committees prepare a written report identifying areas of strength, noting areas where additional attention is warranted, and making recommendations.  These reports are submitted both to department/unit heads and to candidates. Department/unit heads independently evaluate pre-tenure dossiers, review advisory committees’ recommendations, and submit reports and recommendations to the dean. Deans review material prepared by committees and department/unit heads, meet with faculty members if a meeting is desired, and provide a letter of notification to the faculty member and to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Section VII Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section VII Resources


VIII. Post-Tenure / Fifth-year Review

According to BOR Policy Manual 8.3.5.4 updated October 13, 2020 “The primary purpose of the post-tenure review process is to assist faculty members with identifying opportunities that will enable them to reach their full potential for contribution to system institutions. Post-tenure review is one of several types of faculty performance reviews (e.g., annual, promotion, and tenure reviews) and is intended to provide a longer term perspective than is usually provided by an annual review. The review should be both retrospective and prospective, encouraging a careful look at possibilities for different emphases at different points of a faculty member’s career.

With the exception of tenured administrators whose majority of duties are administrative, all tenured faculty will be reviewed. Each faculty member must be assessed five years after the most recent promotion or personnel action, and reviews will continue at five-year intervals unless interrupted by a further review for promotion.

Specific written post-tenure criteria and procedures must be stated in writing and available in a faculty handbook on an institution’s website.

The review should focus on the faculty member’s accomplishments, research agenda (where applicable), teaching program, and service contributions, relating these to the stated expectations for performance developed by the institution. The results of post-tenure reviews must be linked to rewards and professional development. Faculty members who are performing at a high level should receive recognition for their achievements. Each institution will prescribe how the results of the review will be related to merit pay increases, and study and research leave opportunities.

When deficiencies are identified, the faculty member’s supervisor(s) and faculty member will work together to develop a formal plan for faculty development that includes clearly defined and specific goals or outcomes, an outline of activities to be undertaken, a timetable, and an agreed-upon monitoring strategy. If, after three years, the faculty member has not been successful with remedying the identified deficiencies, he or she may be subject to dismissal for cause (regular, independent dismissal processes will apply).”

Post-tenure review encourages motivated and professionally active tenured faculty by assessing faculty goals and achievements and monitoring continuous intellectual and professional growth over a longer term. The post-tenure review offers faculty an opportunity for career reflection on evolving professional interests, responsibilities, and roles in the university, while facilitating alignment of faculty contributions with the VSU mission.

The post-tenure review process begins five years after a faculty member’s most recent personnel action (promotion, tenure, and/or third-year review) and continues at five-year intervals unless interrupted by a promotion, impending candidacy for promotion within a year, or an approved leave of absence. Tenured faculty who hold administrative positions, including department/unit heads, will be reviewed five years after returning to a full-time teaching appointment. The AFE cover sheet, completed by the department/unit head, will inform the faculty member of their next scheduled personnel action, e.g. post-tenure review, and the anticipated date of this action.

Annual performance ratings in the three areas of Teaching and Student Learning; Research, Scholarship, Professional Growth, and Creative Production; and Service to the University, Community, or Profession will provide the basis for post-tenure review.

Since tenured faculty members continue to participate in the thorough annual evaluation process required of all VSU faculty members, post-tenure/ fifth-year review should require less documentation than promotion and tenure review.

In addition to the Personnel Action Cover Sheet, the primary documents should include

(1) the five most recent annual evaluations,
(2) a current curriculum vita,
(3) a self-assessment,
(4) any additional supporting materials the faculty member chooses to submit in support of the application.

These materials will be submitted to department/unit heads by the dates identified by the faculty members’ college.

Departmental Promotion and Tenure committees, or appointed personnel advisory committees evaluate post-tenure reviews and submit recommendations to the department head. The department/unit head will then prepare a letter to share with the faculty member. Both the department/unit head and the faculty member must sign the report indicating the results have been presented and discussed.

Faculty who received multiple AFE ratings of “Needs Improvement” or “Does Not Meet Expectations” during the post-tenure/fifth-year review period may be candidates for a faculty development plan if recommended by the department/unit head. Policies and procedures governing post-tenure faculty development plans are described in the post-tenure review policies and procedures document. Similarly, faculty who received multiple AFE ratings of “Exceeds Expectations” or “Exemplary” during the post-tenure/fifth-year review period may be candidates for recognition or reward of their professional excellence.

Faculty members in non-tenure track positions will also undergo review in their fifth year of service, and every five years thereafter. This review is tailored to their specific duties and is designed to assure that non-tenure track faculty members are successfully meeting departmental standards for performance of these duties. Annual performance ratings in areas of their assigned duties will provide the basis for fifth-year reviews of non-tenure track faculty. If a non-tenure track position can lead to promotion, this review will also serve as a pre-promotion review and will follow the processes outlined for these positions.

Section VIII Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section VIII Resources


IX. Faculty Development Plan

Faculty who receive rating(s) of “Needs Improvement” or “Does Not Meet Expectations” during the Annual Faculty Evaluation, Pre-Tenure/Third-Year review or Post-Tenure/Fifth-Year review may be candidates for a faculty development plan if recommended by the department or unit head.

Similar to the Annual Faculty Evaluation, each department or college will develop written standards regarding faculty development plans. The standards should align with University policy and be comparable and equitable across departments within a college, and across colleges in the University.

At a minimum, these standards should include

a) the criteria under which faculty may be placed on a development plan
b) the process for documenting and reporting a faculty development plan
c) the consequences for faculty who are on development plans,
d) the consequences for faculty who fail to satisfy the conditions of the development plan within a specific time period, and
e) the appeals process for faculty who are recommended for a development plan

If the department/unit head recommends a faculty development plan, it must (1) define specific goals or outcomes; (2) outline activities to be undertaken to achieve these goals or outcomes; (3) contain a schedule for progress and completion of the development plan activities and outcomes; (4) define the procedures by which the faculty member’s progress will be monitored; and (5) define how the faculty member’s progress and outcomes will be documented in the evaluation process.

Section IX Revisions

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021.

Section IX Resources


X. Approval

Approved by the Faculty Senate March 25, 2021. This document replaces the Faculty Evaluation Model approved April 19, 2007.