Suggestions for Conducting Departmental Votes

General Principles

Our transition to the Step Plus merit system is an opportunity for departments to provide explicit evaluation of peers for more than one step advancement, based on performance that exceeds normal expectations for a single step advancement.  Indeed, it was an expectation of the Senate’s STAPP Task Force report proposing Step Plus that all merit and promotion dossiers should be considered for accelerated advancement:

Step Plus provides a greater likelihood that deserving faculty who do not currently put forward their packets for accelerated reviews (because either they are less aggressive or are just too busy) will actually begin to gain the rewards of acceleration… without any additional workload. All packets will be considered for accelerated action at each review….

Every department has the right to determine its own voting process (so long as that process is not in conflict with Academic Senate Bylaw 55), but voting in the Step Plus system must accomplish the minimum requirements of:

  • a specific action recommended by the department; and
  • a vote from Senate peers that clearly indicates the degree of support for the proposed action.

Your department is encouraged to consider adopting one of the following sample ballots or using these ballots to develop a customized format that reflects your specific department culture and priorities.

Including on the ballot an opportunity to rate a candidate’s performance in specific academic areas is completely optional, but has a number of potential advantages.

  • The guidelines for accelerated advancement under Step Plus hinge on the degree to which performance exceeds expectations for a normal merit advancement, and in how many of the fundamental areas.
  • The use of specific criteria for evaluation has been shown to reduce the effects of unconscious biases.
  • By providing ratings of performance in different areas of academic evaluation, departments have an opportunity to clarify their academic priorities and expectations, and to provide stronger justification for the recommended action.

Recommended General Process

Once your department agrees on a Step Plus ballot, it must be used for all Step Plus actions for the 2014-15 merit cycle. Changes can be made for the following merit cycle, if needed.

Optional performance rating section – Your department members should decide whether you will incorporate performance ratings into your ballot. If so, you need to determine the categories for rating and the scoring system (e.g. three or five rating categories). Because the recommendation for advancement hinges on how peers perceive the candidate’s academic performance, we recommend that the performance ratings section precede the actual voting section on the ballot. One possible example for ratings is shown below.

Required voting section-- Your department is encouraged to discuss the following voting examples for possible adoption or modification. Because Step Plus is envisioned as a streamlined process, the discussion should include consideration of academic and staff workload.

The department should report on the results of the voting and comments in the department letter. Peers voting “no” on advancement are required to provide a reason for their vote.

Evaluative Rating for the Professor Series: an example in two ballot formats

Note: This is an optional section of the ballot. Departments may select additional performance areas beyond the three fundamental ones for evaluation (teaching, research and service), and may also choose to more finely decompose any of those three areas (e.g. “classroom teaching” and “grad student mentoring” as components of “teaching”, etc.). “Contributions to diversity” should be considered in evaluation for merit advancement and promotion (APM 210), but can be evaluated either as a separate area or as a component of performance in teaching, research and/or service. Below is an example of a way to gather this information.

Table-oriented Evaluation

Abstain

Does not meet expectations

Somewhat below expectations

Clearly meets expectation for 1.0 step advancement

Somewhat above expectations

Well above expectations

Teaching

Service

Scholarly/Creative Activities

If possible, please provide comments on the candidate's contributions to meeting the campus diversity goals in teaching, research, and/or service:


Question-oriented Evaluation

(1) Please choose one rating to indicate your overall evaluation of Teaching:

5. Excellent
4. Very Good
3. Average
2. Below Average
1. Poor
ο Abstain

Comment on Teaching:


(2) Please choose one rating to indicate your overall evaluation of Service:

5. Excellent
4. Very Good
3. Average
2. Below Average
1. Poor
ο Abstain

Comment on Service:


(3) Please choose one rating to indicate your overall evaluation of Scholarly/Creative Activities:

5. Excellent
4. Very Good
3. Average
2. Below Average
1. Poor
ο Abstain

Comment on Scholarly/Creative Activities:


(4) If possible, please provide comments on the candidate's contributions to meeting the campus diversity goals in teaching, research, and/or service:


Voting on Merit Advancement: three sample ballot sections

Note: The language on the ballots will need to be modified for merits versus promotions. If voting indicates support for an accelerated merit that would cross a promotion boundary or merit advancement to Above Scale, extramural letters will be required.

Voting Example #1

Description: Dr. [name] is under review for merit from Professor, Step X , effective XX/XX/20XX.  The review period for this merit is XX/XX/20XX – XX/XX/20XX.

Which of the following options do you feel is most appropriate for a merit advancement from Professor, Step X, to be effective XX/XX/20XX? Please vote for only one option.

(Note: a vote for a higher step acceleration implies support for all lesser advancements.)

  • I vote in favor of a 2.0 step increase
  • I vote in favor of a 1.5 step increase
  • I vote in favor of a 1.0 step increase
  • I do not support merit advancement. (Please provide comment below on reason for “No” vote)
  • ABSTAIN

Comment on selection:

Voting Example #2

Description: Dr. [name] is under review for a merit from Professor, Step X , effective XX/XX/20XX.  The review period for this merit is XX/XX/20XX – XX/XX/20XX.

(1) Do you support, at the minimum, a one-step merit advancement?

  • YES, I vote in favor of this action.
  • NO, I oppose this action.  An explanation (see below) is required for voting “No” on a regular merit.
  • ABSTAIN

Comment on overall evaluation:

(2) Do you support a merit advancement of greater than one step? Please select only one option below.

  • YES, I vote in favor of a 1.5 step merit advancement.
  • YES, I vote in favor of a 2.0 step merit advancement.
  • NO, I do not support advancement of greater than one step. 
  • ABSTAIN

Comment on overall evaluation:

Voting Example #3

Description: Dr. [name] is under review for a merit from Professor, Step X, effective XX/XX/20XX.  The review period for this merit is XX/XX/20XX – XX/XX/20XX.

(1) Do you support a merit from Professor, Step X to Professor, Step X+1.0?

  • YES, I vote in favor of the proposed action.
  • NO, I oppose the proposed action. (Please provide comment below on reason for "NO" vote.)
  • ABSTAIN

Comment on evaluation for regular, 1.0-step merit:

(2) Do you support a merit from Professor, Step X to Professor, Step X+1.5?

  • YES, I vote in favor of the proposed action.
  • NO, I oppose the proposed action.  (Please provide comment below on reason for “No” vote.)
  • ABSTAIN

Comment on evaluation for accelerated 1.5-step merit:

(3) Do you support a merit from Professor, Step X to Professor, Step X+2.0?

  • YES, I vote in favor of the proposed action.
  • NO, I oppose the proposed action.  (Please provide comment below on reason for “No” vote.)
  • ABSTAIN

Comment on evaluation for accelerated 2.0-step merit:

Ballot Samples From Units Across Campus

If you have a sample that you would like considered for posting on the Step Plus webpage, please contact Kelly Anders at kanders@ucdavis.edu and she will consult with the Vice Provost.  We do not request samples from every school and college, but a few would be helpful.

Veterinary Medicine:

Support for 1.0 increase
Support for 1.5 increase
Support for 2.0 increase
No support
Abstain