Tenure Clock

When a tenure track (Instructional track) faculty member joins the Medical School, two clocks begin to run. One is the University-wide tenure clock, the other is the Medical School tenure clock. The maximum probationary period of non-tenured Instructional Track faculty consists of service with the University for a total of 10 years in the rank at the level of assistant professor or higher (bylaw 5.09 and SPG 201.13).

University-wide Tenure Clock: The University views the ten years as a deadline within which the University must either grant tenure to, or terminate, a tenure track faculty member. Except in extraordinary cases, a school or college must make the decision about tenure for a faculty member no later than the end of the faculty member's ninth year on the University-wide tenure clock.  More information on the University Tenure Clock can be found here: (UM Provost: Tenure Clock)

Medical School Tenure Clock:  The Medical School reviews non-tenured faculty members for tenure in the sixth or seventh year of the tenure probationary period. This period of time constitutes the Medical School's tenure clock, which may not exceed the University's tenure clock.  As a result of a formal review, those who are not recommended for tenure during the sixth or seventh year of the probationary period may ask for an extension to the University’s ten-year clock. Alternatively, a one-year terminal appointment for the year following the review may be offered.

Counting of Service Time Towards Tenure:  Countable years of service begin to accrue on the University-wide tenure clock on the day when a faculty member is first appointed to a tenure track title with an appointment of at least eighty percent (80%) effort.  The appointment must be a tenure-track, regular faculty appointment at the rank of assistant professor or higher. Periods of service in lecturer appointments or clinical, adjunct, or visiting appointments do not count toward the tenure probationary period.

Tenure Clock Extensions:  Faculty who bear children, have dependent care responsibilities (including newly adopted children, ill or injured spouses or partners, or aging parents), take medical leaves or have other unusual circumstances may apply to have time excluded from the countable years of service that constitute the relevant tenure probationary period.  In recognition of the difficulty of combining an academic career with significant dependent care demands, any faculty member in these circumstances may, upon written request to the Dean, be granted an exclusion of up to two years from the countable years of service that constitute that individual’s tenure probationary period.  Requests must be made prior to the initiation of the tenure review. SPG 201.92

COVID-19:  The Medical School has developed a request and approval process for granting an extension of the tenure probationary period for COVID-related disruptions.  Please note that for COVID-related tenure clock extensions the Medical School will review requests only after a faculty member’s medical school third year review has been completed. If available, an extension from the 8 to 10 year tenure clock will be considered first. If additional time is needed, due to COVID criteria a one year extension many be granted. If extenuating circumstances further lengthen the tenure probationary period near 10 years, a 5.09 waiver will be required . Criteria for a COVID-19 extensions include:

  • Increased clinical duties due to the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the faculty member’s scholarly productivity.
  • The faculty member’s research productivity was greatly reduced because of laboratory or research unit closure, or shelter-in-home requirements for the research team due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The faculty member had to provide dependent care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The faculty member or immediate family member required care due to COVID-19 infection.

How to Apply for a Tenure Clock Extension

  • The faculty member submits a request to their chair via letter requesting the tenure extension.  This letter should include details about their research, their current and projected progress, how an extension will aid them in obtaining tenure, and reason for the request.
  • The Department Chair submits a letter to the Senior Associate Dean endorsing the faculty member’s request with a plan for review by the Department, expected outcome and impact on current professional responsibilities, as well as the faculty member’s letter and a current copy of their CV. 
  • Department submits letter, along with the faculty member’s current CV, to the Dean through the Office of Faculty Affairs utilizing the Customer Service Portal.
  • After review and approval by the Senior Associate Dean, a revised tenure chart and letter of concurrence is forwarded to the Chair.  Upon receipt of the signed letter of concurrence from the Chair, records in OFA are updated to reflect the tenure extension. 

Medical School Policy on the Tenure Clock and Worksite Exceptions

Medical school faculty members assigned to the Ann Arbor Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or to the Life Sciences Institute may be included in the Instructional Track and have the same tenure probationary clock expectations as full-time Instructional Track faculty members at the U-M Medical School, Health System, and Hospitals.

This expectation for uniform application of the tenure probationary clock also applies to Instructional Track faculty members assigned to other worksites for clinical duties.

The Medical School recognizes that exceptions to this rule infrequently may be necessary and these will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the Office of the Dean.

Effective September 1, 2006, for faculty members hired on or after this date.