Standards for Tenure and Promotion

Note: The standards below were used prior to December 2017. To see current standards, go to the "December 2017 to Current" page.

The faculty of the Department of Performing Arts developed the following standards in AY 2006-2007, refined them in AY 2007-2008, and finalized them in fall 2009.

The purpose of these guidelines is to assist faculty seeking tenure and promotion to assess what their colleagues believe to be acceptable standards in each discipline and to help colleagues on the Development, Promotion and Tenure Committee and Faculty Status Committee understand the particular nature of the work in the Performing Arts professions.

As faculty of Emerson College, faculty members from the Department of Performing Arts seeking tenure and promotion will be reviewed under the criteria set forth in Section 7 of the Faculty Handbook, Assessment of Tenured/Tenure Track Faculty and its sub-sections as they define the general assessment of a candidate’s Teaching, Scholarship and Creative/Professional Work, Service and Long Term Usefulness. However, because of the unique mission of Emerson College and the unique makeup of the Performing Arts Faculty supporting that mission, we believe that certain special evidence should be considered in the evaluation of Performing Arts faculty for tenure and promotion.

We propose that to better comply with the requirements of Section 7 of The Faculty Handbook, a candidate for tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate and/or Full Professor in the disciplines of Directing, Dramaturgy, Performance Theatre Design and Technology and Theatre Education may/should include additional materials and/or be evaluated by additional criteria in the areas of Teaching, Service, and Scholarship and Creative/Professional Accomplishments.

Candidates should consider this special evidence as supplemental to the criteria outlined in the Faculty Handbook, Sections 7 and 10.

Addendum to the Standards for Tenure and Promotion for the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College

Recommendations to the Chairs and Deans regarding Conditions for Sustaining Professional Accomplishment

From the PA Faculty: October 2nd, 2007

We need to be mindful of the unique challenges inherent in creating and maintaining a professional career in the theatre. Work in the theatre is profoundly time-intensive and is subject to the vagaries of the commercial theatre market, the schedules of collaborators and the budgets of producers. In order to establish a “national reputation,” the candidate is required to work away from campus. In many ways, the demands of the profession are at odds with the demands of the academic life and calendar. As attractive as Boston is, with its intellectual pursuits, cultural activity, and quality of life, it is not a major theatrical center; the nearest major hub of American theatre is a four-hour drive away. This simple fact of geography presents profound drawbacks in terms of access to the professional markets, certainly at the most prestigious levels. It is extremely problematic to create a national career in the theatre outside of Boston while still teaching full-time in Boston without significant support from the College. We believe that Chairs and Deans must develop strategies for easing these challenges. These strategies might include the following:

  • Foster flexibility in course scheduling;
  • Provide for means to “cover” classes to allow a faculty member to take a role, design or direct a production on short notice;
  • Provide financial support to a teacher/artist to take a position that may not “support” him/her, but which will represent a major artistic opportunity for and enhance the reputation of the program and college. (Northwestern University has a working model for their actor/teachers, which allows for this kind of departmental and university support; it may be a valuable resource for future discussions).
  • Provide for the ability to negotiate a contract reduction without losing one’s job and benefits should an opportunity for participation in a quality project arise

Further, we recommend that the College pay honoraria and travel expenses for reviewers to assess work performed either at the home institution or at an external venue. It is important that peer reviewers have the opportunity to observe a candidate’s work in the context of performance or exhibition if the proficiency of the creative artist is to be fully understood. It should also be noted that designers do not have personal control over the subject matter, visual style and resources on projects that they might engage. They must be regarded as members of a production team that shares responsibility for developing a production concept. “The evaluation of individual accomplishment within this collaborative framework must be made not only on the basis of the creative product, but also the context in which it was created.” (USITT) We also need to be mindful that the actor’s professional life is often dependent on others – producers, directors and agents. Actors’ performances are most often not solo performances. Actors are directed by directors, and the critical success of their performances is often dependent on the director’s process and concept or the quality of the local reviewers. A director’s work, likewise, is not without restrictions, conditions and the contributions of collaborators. The peer reviewer must be competent to assess the work at hand in the context of these conditions, and should therefore be a respected professional in the candidate’s field with substantial experience in the theatre.

With respect to service, we agree that candidates for tenure and promotion need to serve, but we also agree that they must be mindful to restrict the time and energy devoted to service until tenure is achieved. Chairs and Deans must help probationary faculty candidates do so. After tenure is achieved, we believe that service should be a high priority for faculty who has the experience and expertise to make major contributions to the life of the department and college, especially for those who seek promotion to the rank of Full Professor. 

Reviewed and approved by the tenured faculty of the Department of Performing Arts:

  • Mary Ellen Adams
  • Melia Bensussen (Chair)
  • Robert Colby
  • Kathleen Donohue
  • Mary Harkins
  • Timothy Jozwick
  • Robbie McCauley
  • Maureen Shea
  • Scott Wheeler