The Danger of Being Too Nice: Avoiding Legal Pitfalls in Faculty Evaluation

Admittedly, one of the hardest tasks performed by a dean or department chair (evaluator) is to evaluate the faculty. On the one hand, as an academic and a former faculty member, the evaluator is aware of the measurement criteria in teaching, scholarship, and service. On the other hand, as a former faculty member, the evaluator will understand the struggle to teach more students while performing an increasing number of service activities, yet still maintaining a cutting-edge research agenda, not to mention having a normal family life. But here is where the danger lies. The evaluator must not be too nice and allow the tenure-track faculty member (candidate) to think that he or she is progressing well toward tenure when there are real problems that may pose roadblocks.

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