Roles and Conflicts in Appointments and Promotion


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Roles and Conflicts in Appointments and Promotions Actions

In Stanford appointment and promotions decisions, the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest is paramount.  The following guidelines set forth parameters for recusal in appointments and promotions actions.  The Stanford Faculty Handbook sets forth general guidelines for avoiding conflicts of interest in faculty search, appointment and promotion processes:

Search [or evaluation] committee members should take care to be attentive to any conflict of interest or possible perception of conflict of interest with regard to the candidate.  Reasons for recusal include a spousal or other family relationship with the candidate, collaboration (other than minor) on research, a mentoring relationship with the candidate, membership in downstream review committees that may see the file, and having written a letter for the file.  If in doubt concerning a recusal, committee members should consult the committee chair, department chair, Vice Dean, or Office of Academic Affairs.

The table below offers more specific guidelines, including as regards search and evaluation committees, departmental appointments & promotions committees, and lead authorship on constructing/writing the long form.

Role

Search or Eval. Com./Unit

Eval. Com. /Unit (Voting)

Vote Dept A&P Com. or Dept. Vote

Lead/Write Long Form

Mentor (Faculty)

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Mentor (Grad degree or Postdoc)

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Collaborator

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

Division Chief

Not Best Practice

Not Best Practice

No, if candidate in same division

Not Best Practice

Chair

No

No

No

No

Dept. A&P Committee Member

No

No

Yes

OK


General Principles

Search or evaluation committee members who have a relationship with a candidate who is a finalist in a search should be recused from the search committee.

If in doubt about whether a particular faculty member should serve on a committee, chairs and/or search committees should seek advice from OAA and the Vice Dean, who may in turn want to seek advice from the Provost’s Office of Faculty Affairs.

Mentors

Mentors in general are strongly discouraged from serving on search and evaluation committees or evaluation units, but the university recognizes that involvement with the evaluation of a case may sometimes be unavoidable or preferable to other alternatives.  In these cases, the department chair should consult with the Vice Dean. The distinction between mentorship as it relates to 1) a candidate’s direct research supervisor for graduate or postdoctoral work and 2) senior faculty mentorship of junior faculty candidates is not significant in terms of search and appointment/promotion processes, but may affect certain other processes (for example, it is imperative that mentors in the first category not serve as authors of solicitation letters to referees; the relationship in the second category is unlikely to be known to outside referees, but it is preferable to have someone else author the solicitation letter who does not have a mentoring or collaborative relationship with the candidate).

In every case in which a mentor of either category serves on the search or evaluation committee, the nature of that relationship should be disclosed in the long form after having discussed the situation with OAA and the Vice Dean.

Co-Authors

Having limited collaborations that do not pose a conflict of interest, such as in large consortia or in collaborations that occurred far in the past, is allowed, although search and evaluation committee chairs should confirm that such collaborations do not present a conflict and disclose them in the long form.

Division Chiefs

In some departments, Division Chiefs make the A&P decisions at the division level.  If this is the case, then the following points apply.  Division Chiefs are strongly discouraged from participating in search and evaluation committees, although the university recognizes that, in small divisions, this may be unavoidable or preferable to other alternatives in certain situations.  If the school’s review process involves a separate division vote, they should recuse themselves from participation and voting in the same manner as department chairs, as outlined below.  Division Chiefs should not write the long form or sign the referee and trainee solicitation letters.  For certain cases, it may be appropriate for the Division Chief to write an internal referee letter.  In some cases, it may be unavoidable or preferable to other alternatives for the Division Chief to write the long form.  Because they make the final decision for the division, they should not vote on files.

In other departments, the role of the Division Chief does not involve A&P actions or decisions.  In these cases, the Division Chief may be involved in the A&P process as a faculty participant with no additional restrictions.

Department Chairs

Department Chairs are strongly discouraged from participating in search and evaluation committees, although the university recognizes that, in small departments, this may be unavoidable or preferable to other alternatives in certain situations. Please discuss this situation with the Vice Dean.  Chairs should not write the long form or sign the referee and trainee solicitation letters or vote at any stage, as they already play an evaluative role in deciding whether to forward a file to the school for further review.

A&P Committee Members

A faculty member should have input at only one level of review during the A&P process, but a faculty member who writes the long form may vote at the department level.  A member of the A&P committee should not be on a search or evaluation committee within the department or vote at the division level.  He/she may write the long form but not serve as a an internal referee for the action.  If an A&P committee member wishes to participate on a search or evaluation action in the department, vote at the division level or write a referee letter for the long form, he/she must be recused from voting on the file at the A&P committee meeting.