Faculty Records and Confidentiality
Some information about Oregon State University faculty, including salary and rank, are part of the public record. Other data such as social security number and birth year are confidential. This chapter provides an overview of the guidelines and policies that pertain to faculty records and periodic evaluations.
Personal and personnel records are limited to those records that are directly related to the individual’s conditions of employment, or to his or her periodic evaluation. They include:
". . . records containing information kept by the institution, school, division, or department concerning a faculty member and furnished by the faculty member or by others, including, but not limited to, information as to discipline, counseling, membership activity, other behavioral records, professional preparation and experience, professional performance (e.g., assignment and workload, quality of teaching, research, and service to the institution), personnel data relating to such matters as promotions, tenure, leaves, retirement credits and the like, and professional activities external to the institution, including, but not limited to, awards, recognition, research activities, and travel." (OAR 580–22–065).
Other records (which cannot meet the definition in OAR 580–22–065) are maintained elsewhere, e.g., general correspondence written by the faculty member does not belong in his or her employment record.
Location of Personnel Files. Oregon Revised Statutes limit evaluative files to three. At OSU, one personnel file is kept by the college or department in which the faculty member is employed; one in the office of the faculty member’s dean, director or vice president; and one in the Office of Human Resources. The head of the academic unit maintaining the files is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality and security of the records.
In those instances when a faculty member is appointed in two or more academic or administrative units, the faculty member’s major administrative unit shall maintain the personnel file. All other departments or units which maintain records of a faculty member shall use such files for fiscal and administrative purposes only and shall not use such files for evaluation of performance.
General Personnel Data. Certain information about the faculty member may be released upon request without the consent of the faculty member:
- Contract end date
- Dates of employment
- Employing department
- Educational background as listed in the OSU Catalog
- Job title
- Publications (requests for lists of current publications should be directed to the faculty member)
- Supervisor's name
- Birthday (as distinguished from birth year)
Public Only if in Staff Directory. If the faculty member is listed in the Staff Directory, the following information may also be released upon request without the consent of the faculty member:
- Current address, if given in the Staff Directory
- Home telephone number, if given in the Staff Directory
- Work telephone number, if given in the Staff Directory
All other information contained in faculty employment records is considered confidential and may not be released to any person or agency without the faculty member’s written consent or prior approval by the University legal adviser. This includes:
- Social security number –– confidential
- Birth year –– confidential
- Marital status –– confidential
- Reason for leaving the University –– confidential
- Sick leave accrual –– confidential
- Copies of periodic performance evaluations –– confidential
- Retirement benefit status –– confidential
- Grievances, reprimands –– confidential
Confidential information may not be released to the faculty member by telephone unless the faculty member’s identity has been positively confirmed by the department chair or head.
Exceptions to this policy are limited to:
- University personnel who have a demonstrably legitimate need to review the records in order to fulfill their official, professional responsibility with regard to the faculty member.
- Upon receipt of a subpoena or other court order or process or request by a federal or state investigative agency seeking access to faculty records, the recipient’s unit head must notify the University’s legal adviser prior to releasing any confidential information. The legal adviser will determine whether or not appropriate University personnel should appear in court to test the validity of the subpoena, court order, or process.
- Personnel records files more than 25 years old as outlined in ORS 351.065.
Access by the Faculty Member to Personal Records Files
Faculty members are allowed full access to their own personnel records files kept by the University, college, or department, except for the following records:
- Confidential letters and other confidential information submitted prior to July 1, 1975. The Oregon Revised Statutes provide for review of these materials after editing to provide for anonymity of the author(s). Contact the Office of Human Resources for further information on these procedures.
- Pre–employment confidential letters and other confidentially submitted pre–employment evaluations received by the University, college or department after July 1, 1975. Evaluations submitted as part of an OSU faculty member’s review for other OSU positions are also considered "pre–employment," and are also confidential. The Oregon Revised Statutes provide for review of these materials after editing to provide for anonymity of the author(s). Contact the Office of Human Resources for further information on these procedures.
The faculty member may review his or her personnel records file with the supervisor or in the Office of Human Resources. The file may be reviewed in the office in which it is maintained and may not be removed from that office.
To provide a faculty member access to information and evaluations submitted in confidence, the University, college, or department official shall disclose to the faculty member upon request the substance of the confidential items in the personnel records file (keeping the name and content that would reveal the source confidential).
The faculty member shall have the opportunity to enter into the file a rebuttal, refutation, or explanation of any materials in his or her personnel file. As described in the University Promotion and Tenure Guidelines (Chapter 8), department supervisors are expected to include in their letters of evaluation a summary of all solicited evaluations –– confidential and non–confidential –– received as part of a promotion and tenure review. The faculty member may enter into the dossier a rebuttal, explanation, or comment for these or any other evaluations in the dossier. Should the faculty member request it, a faculty committee appointed and authorized by the Faculty Senate shall examine the contents of the faculty member’s file or dossier to verify that all statements therein have been provided or summarized.
Peer and Student Teaching Evaluations
Evaluations of teaching by faculty peers and by students provide invaluable information and direction for faculty members to improve their own teaching. Peer evaluations, arranged with a colleague, include review of lecture notes, reading materials, and examinations; observation of several lectures; and a signed written evaluation by the peer.
Anonymous evaluations by all students in the class are required each term for each class the faculty member is teaching. A copy of tabulated results must be provided to the faculty member; a duplicate copy shall be placed in the faculty member's personnel records file. Students may also be solicited by department chairs or heads or deans for signed letters of evaluation to be used in assessing the faculty member's performance. Unless the faculty member has signed a "Voluntary Waiver of Non-Confidentiality" such solicited letters may not be confidential.
The University will not solicit nor accept anonymous oral or written evaluations from students or other reviewers, except a) tabulated student evaluations, and b) solicited promotion and tenure evaluations for faculty who have signed a "Voluntary Waiver of Non-Confidentiality" for a particular promotion and tenure review year. All requests for evaluation of a faculty member sent without a waiver shall be accompanied by a statement that the faculty member shall have access to the evaluation.
Evaluations Received by Telephone
Any evaluation received by telephone shall be documented in the faculty member's files by means of a written summary of the conversation, with the names of the conversants identified.
Nondisclosure About Race, Religion, Political Affiliation, or Sexual Preference
Faculty members have the right to decline a response to requests for information pertaining to race, religion, sex, political affiliation, or sexual preference unless such information is required by state statute or federal law, rules, or regulations. Any request must stipulate the purpose for the information and the individual's right to decline.
Faculty Data for Research
Data about faculty members may be provided for research, providing:
- there are adequate provisions to conceal from the individuals doing the research the identity of the individuals whose personnel data or information is being provided for the research. If the confidentiality of faculty records would be jeopardized in any way by the release of information for research purposes, the written consent of the faculty member must also be obtained prior to the release of the information.
- approval is granted by the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and the Human Subjects Committee.
Guidelines for Periodic Review of Faculty
A regular review of faculty can improve the quality of the teaching, research, and service functions of the University. In addition, it will benefit individual faculty members by assuring that they are regularly informed of their status. Such a review shall include input from colleagues and students from the faculty member’s own administrative unit as well as from other appropriate units. The written summary of the review shall be provided to the faculty member, and the faculty member shall have ample opportunity to add written rebuttals or explanations.
Administrative faculty shall also be reviewed in terms of their administrative function.
Frequency of Review. The procedure for the actual review is best developed by the individual school, college, or division. Nevertheless, certain guidelines are appropriate for the University as a whole. All faculty with an FTE of 0.5 or more shall be reviewed as follows:
- Those on annual tenure shall be reviewed annually.
Those on indefinite tenure shall be reviewed as follows:
- Assistant and Associate Professors shall be reviewed annually during their second through fifth years in rank at OSU and during any period in which they are reviewed intensively for promotion in rank. Otherwise, they shall be reviewed at least once every three years.
- Professors and tenured Senior Instructors shall be reviewed at least once every three years.
- Those on fixed–term Senior Research or Clinical professorial appointments shall be reviewed as described for faculty with indefinite tenure.
- Other fixed–term faculty with professorial rank not described in (3), Instructors, Faculty Research Assistants, Senior Faculty Research Assistants, untenured Senior Instructors, and Research Associates, shall be reviewed annually during their first five years of service; during any period in which they are being reviewed intensively for promotion in rank and at least once every three years thereafter.
- Professional Faculty shall be reviewed annually.
- Faculty on multi–year or extended fixed–term appointments shall be reviewed annually.
However, no periodic review is required for the following faculty members on fixed–term appointments:
- Emeritus appointments
- Temporary postdoctoral appointments
- Visiting appointments for two years or less.
Any faculty member eligible for review is entitled to a review at any time, upon the member’s request.
Each school, college, or division shall annually report those members of its faculty reviewed to the Office of Faculty Affairs.
Nature of the Evaluation. In each instance, the evaluation shall include
- a statement of current responsibilities of the faculty member; and
- signed comments on the faculty member’s progress in teaching, research or other scholarly pursuits, extension, librarianship, professionally related service, and University service from those persons designated by the department, school, or University to make the evaluations.
The sources of information used as the basis for the evaluation should be included. Sources to be used are current and former students, other faculty from this University or other universities, professional colleagues and, if appropriate, the public. In all instances, the evaluation shall be based only on material that is appropriate to the faculty member’s profession and the performance of faculty assignments.
The faculty member must be provided the opportunity of reading and initialing the evaluation and of furnishing written comments, explanations, or a rebuttal to the evaluations to be placed in the faculty member’s personnel records file. Disagreements on the contents of the file should be handled through normal University appeal procedures.
Initiation and Disposition. The initiation of the review, except one requested by a faculty member, is the responsibility of the department head or chair or the appropriate administrative officer. Principal investigators are reminded that all faculty on their projects, including Faculty Research Assistants, should be reviewed following the guidelines in this chapter.
The review and all related materials are to be placed in the faculty member’s personnel records file that is maintained by the department.
Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Department Heads/Chairs, and other major unit leaders will receive continuous counsel on their effectiveness, including specific suggestions when improvement is needed.
Evaluation of their performance shall be one element of their annual review with their supervisor. In addition, they will be formally reviewed at intervals not to exceed five years. Formal reviews will include a request for input from individuals internal and external to OSU.
Annual Performance Reviews
No standard procedure for annual performance reviews will fit all cases because administrative positions vary greatly in scope and complexity. However, each performance evaluation shall be conducted personally by the administrator’s supervisor. This evaluation will be a part of the supervisor’s annual program/budget review and planning session. It is important that the process for annual reviews be transparent, including the time of year annual reviews are to be completed so that faculty, staff, and students may provide input should they wish to do so.
Annual evaluations may include the following and will provide opportunities for self-assessment:
- Key results for the past year.
- Key strengths in achieving those results.
- Key challenges and obstacles.
- A list of key goals/initiatives that are essential to address during the current academic year (these will be the unit leader’s main focus areas) and a description of what would constitute success in each of the goals/initiatives
The supervisor will meet with each direct report to discuss the accomplishments for the previous academic year and the goals for the current academic year.
The supervisor will write a memo summarizing the annual review meeting. The original will go to the unit leader, and a copy will be placed in the personnel file maintained in the supervisor’s office.
Formal Performance Evaluations
Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Department Heads/Chairs, and other major unit leaders will be formally reviewed at intervals not to exceed five years. The first objective of the five-year evaluation is to evaluate past performance of individuals in leading their academic units or divisions on factors such as achievement of unit's strategic goals, mentoring and development of faculty and staff, and developing relationships with appropriate external constituents that will help position the unit for success in external grants and contracts, private philanthropy, and legislative funding priorities. The second and related objective is to seek input to help those administrators to better perform their responsibilities and to help them succeed in the future.
Formal reviews will provide opportunities for substantive input from
- all faculty, staff, and students within the unit;
- groups inside and outside the University who are significantly affected by the administrator's performance; and
- others in a position to observe and evaluate the incumbent's performance effectively.
Continuation of the incumbent's administrative appointment following the periodic performance evaluation requires a letter from the supervisor formalizing the action to continue the appointment. Should the supervisor wish to change any of the terms and conditions of the employee’s appointment, he/she is to contact the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs prior to issuing a letter to continue the appointment.
The supervisor requests the following from the incumbent:
- A list of individuals to contact regarding the incumbent’s performance. The comprehensive list must include all faculty and staff within the unit, and can be as extensive as needed. The list should include both internal and external colleagues and peers, if appropriate. The supervisor must give all faculty and staff within the unit an opportunity to provide input, but may or may not contact everyone else on the list, and may or may not add to the list.
- A current position description.
- A current CV.
- A brief document that includes significant accomplishments and future strategic goals for the incumbent and their college/division.
- A signed Waiver of Access to the raw information gathered, or a memo indicating the incumbent does not wish to waive access. The incumbent has a legal right to review all input from reviewers. However, they may waive access to the raw input if preferred. It is important that the supervisor makes clear to the reviewers whether or not the incumbent will retain their right to access to the information. If a Waiver is signed, the supervisor will share with the aggregate input with the unit leader, sans attribution.
Once the list of contacts is finalized, the supervisor will provide a copy of the position description to individuals from whom he/she wishes to receive input, and will ask that they respond to the following questions. (The unit leader may make suggestions for additional questions that might provide meaningful input.)
- What is your appraisal of ___’s overall effectiveness in her/his role as described in the position description?
- How does ___’s performance meet your expectations?
- What do you see as ___’s greatest strengths in this role?
- What do you see as major weaknesses or areas of specific concern in ___’s performance in her/his role?
- Do you have specific recommendations for improvement in ___’s performance?
- Other comments?
Input will be handled with the very strictest confidence, and assuming a Waiver of Access has been signed, the incumbent will see a summary of input, sans attribution.
The supervisor will provide the incumbent with a summary of the major themes from the input, and will meet with the incumbent to discuss the results of the evaluation, the incumbent’s goals, and any other issues.
This memo from the supervisor will become part of the incumbent’s official evaluation file in accordance with the Faculty Records Policy. The incumbent will be asked to sign the memo and add any comments, explanations or rebuttal they wish. A copy of the document will remain with the incumbent. The review and all related materials will be secured in the incumbent’s personnel records file maintained by the supervisor.
Policy for Mid-term Reviews for Tenure-Track Faculty
In addition to the annual Periodic Review of Faculty (PROF), all academic units will conduct mid-term intensive reviews for faculty on annual tenure-track appointments. The primary intent is to review progress toward indefinite tenure so that timely guidance can be extended to the faculty member.
Mid-term reviews are supplemental to annual PROF evaluations and to a subsequent formal promotion and/or tenure evaluation. The mid-term review provides opportunity for the Department faculty, Department Head, Dean and other supervisors to observe and comment upon an individual faculty member's performance relative to University and College promotion and tenure guidelines, and to offer appropriate advice and counsel on improving performance to meet promotion and tenure requirements. It also provides a forum for the faculty member being reviewed to ask questions about the process and criteria for granting indefinite tenure or promotion. This policy does not alter the probationary status of a tenure track appointment and the University’s rights to issue a letter of timely notice under State Board of Higher Education Rules, OAR 580-021-0110.
The following general University guidelines are to be used in conducting mid-term tenure reviews:
- Mid-term reviews will usually be conducted during the final quarter of the third year of the initial appointment. For faculty whose probationary service has been either shortened for prior service or lengthened for extenuating circumstances, the review should be done during the year which best equates with the mid point in the faculty member’s probationary service.
- In general, the mid-term review is to be used as a supplement to, and not as a replacement for, the annual review in the year it is given. Exceptions to this statement are possible if the mid-term review contains all the components of a regular annual review. If it does not, an annual PROF review must be done in addition to the mid-term review.
- Colleges and/or departments must apply the process uniformly to all members of the faculty on annual tenure-track appointments.
- All materials used in the review must be open to review by the faculty member, including any external letters of evaluation that might be solicited (unless a waiver of access has been signed).
- The outcome of the mid-term review must be shared with the faculty member for comment and signature, and included in the individual's personnel file.
- Colleges and Departments may write additional guidelines in order to provide extra detail on process, or that are specific to their personnel or mission. All such unit specific guidelines must be consistent with the university guidelines and must be submitted to the Provost for review and approval prior to implementation. As with any set of guidelines, units are responsible for informing their faculty of any additional guidelines they have created.
- The guidelines for mid-term reviews should not preclude the University in issuing letters of timely notice in any of the years prior to a tenure decision; nor should they limit the purpose or intent of the annual review.
- The mid-term review is discussed with each eligible faculty member by the department head/chair during the winter or spring of the academic year prior to a planned review.
- The faculty member prepares a dossier for review under specifications and time guidelines provided by the department head/chair. The format for the dossier should be similar to the format used in the final promotion and tenure process. External reviews and evaluation letters for this dossier should only be sought in extraordinary cases, for example where there is insufficient expertise on campus to make an evaluative judgment of an important part of a candidate’s performance. As with the final promotion and tenure dossier, formal student or client input, and peer review of teaching reports should be included if the faculty member has a teaching and advising role outlined in their position description.
- The dossier is reviewed by the department head/chair (and any other supervisors, if applicable) and the departmental faculty review committee. Their written evaluations are appended to the dossier and are provided to the faculty member. Their letters should include an evaluation of progress towards promotion and/or tenure, as well as recommended actions the faculty member and department should take.
- The department head/chair schedules a meeting with the faculty member to discuss the outcome of the review and initial recommendations. The chair of the faculty review committee and other supervisors (if applicable) should also be invited to participate. The performance of the faculty member relative to University and unit P&T guidelines (if different from the University) is discussed in the form of a dialogue among all parties present. P&T guidelines and procedures are reviewed to ensure that the faculty member has been informed about the process and criteria for evaluating faculty for granting of indefinite tenure, or promotion. At that time the faculty member may attach comments, explanations, or rebuttal to the review before signing to indicate that the document is complete.
- The department head/chair forwards the dossier and any attachments to the dean for review.
- At the discretion of the dean, the review is either signed and returned, or a meeting is scheduled with the faculty member, the department head/chair, the dean, and other appropriate administrators.
- In the event of a meeting at the college level, the dean will send written comments to the faculty member on the performance of the individual relative to P&T guidelines. The dean's letter, including any modifications in the recommendations for the faculty member, is sent through the department head/chair to the faculty member for signature and response, if desired.
- The department head/chair, in consultation with other supervisors, reviews the final results of the mid-term review with the faculty member and discusses issues or concerns raised during the review. A copy of the review and the recommendations, signed by the faculty member, the chair and the dean, is placed in the individual's personnel file.