What is the periodic review process for junior faculty?
According to UH Board of Regents ByLaws, all faculty must be evaluated periodically. In the case of tenure-track junior faculty, the evaluation process occurs yearly.
The process is detailed in the ICS Policy on Faculty Evaluation, which explains what is required and the steps that are involved in the process.
Why is it important?
For junior faculty who will be coming up for tenure, the yearly evaluation provides an important milestone to help you and the department to assess whether or not you are making appropriate progress toward a successful tenure application. It also helps you to start creating a dossier of materials that can be reused when creating your actual tenure application.
Although not required, we strongly recommend that you present your materials in a format similar to what will be required for a tenure application. Information about the format of the tenure application is available here. By doing so, you will gain the maximum insight into how to strengthen your future tenure application, as well as provide reusable documents that reduce the level of effort once you are actually applying for tenure.
So this is just a rubber-stamp process, right?
Actually, no. The probationary review is a time where both the junior faculty member and the department can take a hard look at progress and decide whether there is a good fit and a strong chance that the faculty member will be awarded tenure when they apply. It is preferable from a professional perspective for a junior faculty member to leave the department early as opposed to leaving because they were denied tenure. Since the College has guaranteed that the position will stay with the Department, it does not cost the Department a position if they decide to not recommend renewal of a contract for a probationary faculty member.
That said, our primary goal for all junior faculty is to help them progress to a point where they can make the strongest possible application for tenure when the time comes. The annual review process is just one of the mechanisms to achieve this goal.