The university’s Board of Directors voted to approve broad revisions to the faculty tenure clock policy early last month, including an amendment that could allow professors to temporarily remain at Georgetown after failing to receive tenure.

Faculty members denied tenure after seven years will have the option to remain at Georgetown for a non-tenure-eligible eighth year at the discretion of their department under the recently-approved guidelines.

Under the existing policy, faculty are given a maximum seven-year probationary period in which they may receive tenure, and their employment is terminated if they do not reach it.

Wayne Davis, president of the Faculty Senate, which recommended the changes in late November, said that earlier proposals allowed non-tenured professors to remain in their position for an additional year without departmental approval, but that this initiative was tabled after opposition emerged.

Davis said that the final agreement was reached to avoid conflict between a person’s desire to remain for another year in situations where “the department felt the person shouldn’t be teaching.”

“I thought the final version was better than any of the other versions,” he added.

Peter Pfeiffer, a German professor and an opponent of the new eighth-year policy, said the required departmental approval was “a workable solution” for disagreements over the tenure cases.

“I have a very hard time imagining when an eighth year would be advantageous to everyone involved,” Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer said that he believes it may be possible that there “might be circumstances where this might be perfectly workable,” and that he is content with the final policy as long as it does not require each department to employ non-tenured faculty members for an additional year.

The changes were approved by the Senate on Nov. 17 and received final approval from University President John J. DeGioia and the university’s board of directors in early December. The revised policies will take effect with faculty members hired to teach next fall, but will not be applied to current faculty.

The Senate also approved several other changes to the tenure clock, including a provision reducing the probationary period for professors with previous service at another university and a measure preventing faculty members from freezing their tenure clocks for research or teaching leaves.

Davis added that faculty members who have previous experience at another university will have a shorter tenure clock proportional to their years of service, with no faculty member’s clock below four years. This minimum was imposed to allow faculty members to “settle in,” he said.

Pfeiffer said that the revisions preventing faculty members from increasing the length of the tenure clock due to leaves of absence standardized a policy that had been widely practiced in many parts of the university. Leaves have affected the tenure clock “in all kinds of ways that were not consistent” with the official policy, Pfeiffer said.

He added that the new policy was adapted in order to “hold more firmly to the stated policies so there are no special deals anymore.”

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