University of Kentucky Provost’s Office Promotion and Tenure External Reviewer Guidelines

Guiding Regulation: AR 2:1-1. See pages 5, 7, 8, 10, 12

To review the regulation, please refer here.

Provost’s Directive

Educational unit administrators should ask external and internal evaluators to make a substantive, professional judgment of the value and significance of a candidate’s performance. The external evaluators should be assured that their letters will be handled in a confidential manner, but they must also be informed that, upon request, the candidate has the right to review all letters placed in the individual’s dossier. Evaluators should be reminded that a university must be one institution in a society where professional judgment of a colleague’s work is offered without malice and without fear of retribution. The courts have made clear that those judgments that are professionally rendered, and free of personal bias, are protected. 

All letters received from external reviewers must be included in the dossier and made available to consulted unit faculty before their evaluative letters are due. An external reviewer’s letter that arrives after the consulted unit faculty letters are due shall not be included in the dossier unless that dilatory letter is shared with the appropriate unit faculty and those faculty are given the opportunity to revise their previously submitted evaluative letters.

Selection of external reviewers:

  1. recognized experts in their disciplines;
  2. at peer or benchmark research institutions;
  3. stand at arms-length from candidate (e.g., not the dissertation advisor or post-doctoral supervisor).

Educational unit administrators should ask candidates beforehand if there are external reviewers whom they wish to avoid for justifiable concerns about conflicts of interest. The department/college is free to discuss and decide whether or not to accept any or all of the restrictions offered by the candidate. The educational unit administrator (and perhaps the dean) must explain in his/her letter any deviations from the expected norms identified above (e.g., the leading expert in the world within the candidate’s field happened to be at a four-year college, or the inclusion of outside evaluators from prestigious baccalaureate institutions is appropriate for a review candidate whose research focuses on the scholarship of pedagogy).

For expedited appointments involving the initial appointment of a senior faculty member already holding tenure at the rank of associate professor or professor at a research-oriented university, three letters solicited by the educational unit administrator will be sufficient.  Letters from external reviewers provided by the candidate during the recruitment process may be included. 

Chair’s Checklist for Solicitation of External Letters


  • candidate’s curriculum vitae
  • personal statements on the individual’s major areas of assignment
  • samples of work (i.e., publications or other products as appropriate)          
  • a copy of the appropriate statements of evidences, when statements are in the dossier

Ask the evaluator to describe any professional/personal relationships they have/had with the candidate.

Request a brief biographical sketch (not CV) of the evaluator.

Ask the evaluator to:

  • analyze the candidate’s contributions in the appropriate work areas (e.g., instruction, research, service) and to indicate the extent to which the candidate’s accomplishments have furthered the scholarly field
  • evaluate the significance of the venues in which the candidate has published and the grants/awards he/she has received
  • comment on whether the work in the areas the reviewer has been asked to evaluate meets or exceeds the unit’s statements on evidences (if included in the dossier).  Since institutional expectations differ, asking the evaluator whether the candidate would receive tenure at his/her institution is not helpful.