Frequently Asked Questions: Agronomist (___in the A.E.S.) Titles

Preparation of the Dossier

  • As an appointee in the Agronomist (_ in AES) Series, where do I find information on the personnel review process for my series?
  • Academic Affairs procedures are outlined in the Academic Personnel Manual (APM 220 and UCD 220AF). The review process is summarized in the Delegation of Authority. For all academic titles, the Vice Provost-Academic Personnel sends an Annual Call to the deans which is updated and issued after the end of each academic year. It outlines information on changes in the APM and a timeline for submitting documentation for merit and promotion dossiers to the office of the Vice Provost. Since these actions must pass through the deans’ offices, each dean provides his/her deadlines for specific types of actions. The Annual Call, APM, and Delegation of Authority Chart are available on the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs web page. Agronomists (_ in AES) should review the specific criteria for advancement outlined in APM 320 and UCD 320.
  • What is the normal time between merit and promotion reviews, i.e., how often will I be reviewed?
  • The normal period between merit reviews is two years at Assistant rank and Associate rank, Steps I-III, and three years at Associate Step IV-V and full Agronomist rank. Promotion to the Associate rank entails a career review of the period since appointment to Assistant rank in the series. Promotion to full title (i.e., to Agronomist), entails a review of the whole period spent at the Associate rank.
  • When will I be notified that I am up for a merit or promotion review and that I am expected to prepare a dossier?
  • In the spring/early summer each dean's office sends to department/program chairs a list of individuals who are eligible to be reviewed for merit and promotion during the next academic year. The Chair (or his/her delegate) then notifies each eligible individual. Due dates for dossiers span the period November to April, and the specific dates for file submission to the office of the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs are listed in the Annual Call. For redelegated actions, due dates are set by the deans.
  • On what criteria will my work in the review period be evaluated?
  • As specified in APM 320 and UCD 320, Agronomists in the AES are evaluated on the following criteria:

    - Mission oriented research and creative work
    - Mission oriented outreach
    - Professional competence and activity
    - University and public service

    UCD 320-10 describes the expectations which the reviewing bodies will use in evaluating dossiers for contributions in each of these areas.
  • What are the expectations for an Agronomist (_ in AES) who has a split appointment with a Professorial Title?
  • See Exhibit A: Evaluating Split Appointments: Agronomists (___in the Agricultural Experiment Station) with a Professorial Title in UCD 320 which provides specific guidelines for evaluating individuals with these split positions.
  • Specifically, what is in the dossier and who puts it together?
  • The dossier is a summary of the body of work during the period of review presented for review.  Departments often have a designated staff member who works with the chair and the candidate in assembling the dossier. The candidate’s performance in each of the designated categories in question # 4 (i.e., research/creative activity, mission-oriented outreach, professional achievement, university and public service) will be described by the candidate, either in a Candidate's Statement (UCD 220-IV F. 2) to be optionally included in the dossier, or in a separate document that is not included in the dossier, but does go to the chair and the approved voting group.

    Based on information on the candidate’s performance in the various categories as judged by information supplied by the candidate, the approved Peer Group, and supporting documents (e.g., publications, etc.), the approved Voting Group in the department votes, and the chair writes the department letter (APM 220AF, exhibit C) that summarizes the departmental evaluation of the candidate’s record, the results of the vote, and a recommendation for or against the advancement. In the case of promotions and merits to full step VI and first Above Scale, a list of extramural reviewers who have been contacted and their confidential letters in response are part of the dossier voted on by the department Voting Group and submitted as part of the dossier going forward. Also included is a list of all of the external reviewers solicited, with notation as to whether they were suggested by the candidate or the department, and whether they responded. This list is a confidential document and is therefore not reviewed by the candidate. The dossier also includes a position description, list of service activity, list of contributions to jointly authored works, complete list of publications and list of grants, honors and awards. (See the Checklist for Agronomist (__in the A.E.S.) title series.)
  • How is the performance record documented and prepared for evaluation?
  • The performance record is assessed according to the candidate’s position description and the criteria for review listed in question #4. Documentation, supplied by the candidate or the department is needed to support performance descriptions in each category, and it can consist of the following:

    Mission oriented research and creative work:
    - Describe your mission-oriented research program;
    - List publications in the standardized format; see: Guidelines for Preparation of Publications and Other Efforts Lists, including letters of acceptance of articles that are in press, and abstracts
    - List/describe research or creative activity presentations of articles that are in press, and abstracts;
    - Briefly describe each publication detailing the candidate’s specific role in
    each article (if multi-authored), along with the roles of the other authors;
    - If there are grants/competitive funding supporting the research, describe each of them, including the name of the Principal Investigator, names of co-investigators, inclusive dates, title, amount, purpose, and candidate’s role.
    - Attach copies of all of these publications;

    Mission-oriented outreach:
    - Describe your mission-oriented outreach program;
    - Describe the outreach groups with which you interact
    - Describe the nature of the interactions, i.e. meetings, newsletters, e-mail, workshops, short courses, etc.

    Professional competence and activity:
    This category refers to participation in outside activities specifically related to one’s discipline/expertise: If the candidate uses his/her expertise to further the related goals of the University to a government agency, a public organization/association, consumer/agricultural group etc., these activities constitute examples of professional competence:

    - List any professional society memberships you hold and describe any offices you hold in those organizations, or activities you have participated in, such as chairing a session at a research meeting or giving a plenary lecture, etc.;
    - List any service as an editor or editorial board member;
    - Describe other activities you have participated in for a professional society or journal, such as writing an invited review article; organizing a research meeting/symposium, etc.

    University and public service:

    University Service: Participation in the governance of the university,
    maintenance of its facilities, provision of services to its faculty and students,
    such as:
    - List committee assignments (departmental, college, graduate group, campus, AF, systemwide) with inclusive dates and with role;
    - List assignments to chair a committee;
    - List/describe assignments to oversee a departmental facility, or manage a departmental website.

    Public Service: Participation in local/state/federal programs, review panels and committees where the candidate’s expertise is needed, or in public organizations related to the candidate’s discipline, such as:
    - List/describe any government committee assignments (review panels, study sections, advisory committees);
    - Describe any participation in the briefing of legislative staff, etc.;
    - Describe any requests for testimony at bill hearings, etc.
  • Are awards, prizes, and commendations considered in the merit or promotion review?
  • Yes. They should be fully described in the department letter and the Candidate’s Statement. Letters of thanks/appreciation for service to the University, the government, a research society, agricultural group, etc., while not included in the dossier, should be discussed in the department letter as indicators of the impact of the candidate’s service. Prizes, commendations, honors for research, as well as awards given to students/fellows working with the candidate, should be described under the Research category. A list of grants, honors and awards should be included as part of the dossier.
  • Once the candidate, or the department, assembles all of the above information, how is it presented in the dossier?
  • The candidate may send the above information described in questions #5, 6, 7, and 8 to the chair with/without further commentary; or, he/she may include a Candidate’s Statement (UCD 220-IV F.2) that would be used by the Chair in writing the Department letter. The Candidate’s Statement would also be considered by the Peer Group and the Voting Group. It may also be included in the dossier that goes forward for review outside the department. The following examples describe the kinds of information which may be included in the Candidate’s Statement, the Peer Group Report, and the department letter.

    Candidate’s Statement (UCD220-IV F.2): Each candidate may include a personal statement in the file (up to 5 pages), describing their perspective on any or all aspects of their performance during the period of review. Although optional, it is an opportunity for the candidate to describe in their own words not only important contributions to UC Davis, but also their philosophy of teaching and service. They also have the opportunity to describe any unusual circumstances, both good and bad, that have affected performance in the various areas. For example:
    - Description of the significance of the research, any unusual problems which had to be overcome, or any breakthroughs which pushed the research forward;
    - Explanation of the significance of any awards or honors received during the review period;
    - Description of any difficult, time-consuming new assignments where new strategies had to be developed in order to accomplish the goals; or describe any particularly noteworthy committee assignment that could be considered a significant career asset.

    Peer Group Report (Optional inclusion in dossier): The Peer Group which was specifically selected according to the department plan, evaluates the candidate’s performance, reviews the written materials and advises the department on the merits of the personnel action.

    Department Letter: The letter is written by the chair (or a senior designate) and reflects the department’s evaluation (not merely the chair’s) of the adequacy of performance of the candidate, i.e. whether he/she meets departmental expectations and goals in the various areas of responsibility. In addition to the analysis of work performance i.e., mission-oriented research, mission-oriented outreach, professional competence and activity, and university/public service, the letter includes the views of the Peer Group reviewing the dossier, as well as the official vote of the approved Voting Group, including the number of yes, no, and abstention votes and any reasons expressed for the no or abstention votes. There are Sample Departmental Letters in the APM.
  • When are extramural letters needed?
  • Extramural letters are required for promotions and merits to full rank Step VI and Above Scale. Evaluation of the quality of the work or service is sought from extramural contacts that would have the expertise/knowledge to provide an objective evaluation of the candidate’s accomplishments during the period of review. Such external reviewers could include administrators of government programs or agencies with whom the candidate has interacted, scientists, researchers or other experts in the field, administrators of agricultural/consumer groups or other constituency groups, and comparable academics at other universities who have worked on similar programs, etc. The candidate provides the chair with a list of extramural reviewers and their qualifications to serve as reviewers. The chair, sometimes after consultation with senior members of the department generates another list that is not revealed to the candidate. The chair then selects names from each list and solicits the letters. The list of reviewers who were contacted is included in the dossier, with notation as to whether the names were suggested by the candidate or the department. Letters can be requested from faculty on other UC campuses, particularly from people holding comparable positions who are familiar with the candidate’s work. The confidential letters in response to the solicitation are added to the file by the chair.
  • How many extramural letters are needed?
  • When letters are required, five letters are usually expected in the review dossier. The department will solicit more than five letters to ensure that the required five letters are received.

    Campus reviewers will look to see if the extramural referees:
    - Are respected in their field;
    - If University employees (i.e., from another UC campus), are at least of a rank comparable to the position being sought;
    - Discuss the impact of the candidate’s research or service;
    - Consider the candidate’s career to be on an upward trajectory;
    - Discuss the context in which they have known the candidate (below their signature line).
  • What supportive documentation is appended to the dossier?
  • Copies of research publications from the review period: articles, books, abstracts, etc.; outreach short course outlines, manuals, etc.
  • Does the candidate see the Department Letter?
  • The candidate must be provided an opportunity to review the materials before they are reviewed by the Voting Group. The Department Letter which contains the vote is also provided to the candidate before the file goes forward to the dean’s office for review. This gives the candidate an opportunity to alert the chair to any factual errors.
  • What can the candidate do if he/she doesn’t agree with the department letter?
  • Although the content of the letter is not negotiable, the candidate should alert the chair to factual errors. After these errors are corrected, the candidate can write a rebuttal if he/she still disagrees with the department’s recommendation or wants to clarify statements made in the letter. Any rebuttal letter must be submitted within 10 calendar days from the candidate’s receipt of the departmental letter and his/her signature on the disclosure form (indicating that he/she has read the file and certifies that it is complete and factually correct). A rebuttal may be sent directly to the dean or Vice Provost-Academic Affairs if the candidate does not want to submit it via the department chair.
  • What is the Candidate’s Disclosure Certificate?
  • This is a standard form which the candidate reviews and signs, verifying that he/she has seen the non-confidential content of the file and that it is complete and free of factual errors, and also that a summary or redacted copy of confidential materials has been provided.
  • In summary, what documents are in the dossier, or appended to it, when it leaves the department?
  • The Agronomist (in _AES) candidate can use the Checklist for Merits and Promotions form on the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs’ website, to determine whether they have included all the necessary information in the dossier.

    Dossier Inclusions:
    Department Letter (including the vote)
    Peer Group Review (optional)
    Candidate’s Disclosure Certificate
    List of Invited Extramural Reviewers (promotion actions)
    Extramural Reviewer Letters (promotion actions)
    Candidate’s Statement (optional)
    Position Description
    List of Service Activity
    List of Contributions to Jointly-Authored Works
    Publication List
    List of Grants, Honors and Awards

    Appended Materials (To be returned to the candidate):
    Publications/Evidence of creative activity
    Materials for outreach groups, i.e. newsletters, outlines for short courses, course evaluations, etc.

    The use of the MyInfoVault (MIV) program for all merits or promotions is highly encouraged.  Please contact your department MSO for further information.


Review of the Dossier

  • What is the dean’s letter?
  • After the dossier leaves the department, it goes to the dean’s office. For actions that are redelegated to the dean for final action, the dean’s office sends the dossier to the Joint Academic Federation/Senate Personnel Committee (JPC) which evaluates the dossier and appended materials and makes a recommendation on the action. The JPC writes comments regarding their evaluation of the candidate’s performance and makes a recommendation to the dean regarding the advancement. This recommendation then goes to the dean for final decision.

    If the action is not redelegated, the dean (or Associate Dean for Academic Affairs/Personnel) reviews the entire file and writes a recommendation letter for the action. The dean’s letter becomes part of the file that then goes forward for further review by the JPC and then to the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs for final decision.

    When an Agronomist also holds a Professor (or Professor in Residence) title, the entire review is conducted in accordance with the Senate title. See: FAQs for Senate Faculty.
  • What is the process by which dossiers are reviewed, how long does it take, and who does it?
  • The process is summarized in the Delegation of Authority.

    Department: Once the dossier has been assembled, it is reviewed within the department by a Peer Group that will provide evaluative comments to the voting members of the department (i.e., the Voting Group). The latter will review the entire file, including the Peer Group comments and vote on the action. For those Agronomists with teaching responsibilities: AF and AS votes are tallied separately and reported in two separate department letters. (However, only one letter needs to include a detailed evaluation/discussion about the candidate’s performance unless the views of the AS and AF voters differ). The chair may include comments from the Peer Group review. The complete dossier is then forwarded to the dean.

    Dean/Associate Dean for Personnel: If advancement is a redelegated action, the dean’s office sends all of the materials to the JPC for review and recommendation. The dean makes the final decision after reviewing all of the information, including the recommendation of the JPC. In the case of non-redelegated actions, the dean reviews the materials after receipt from the department, evaluates the record, and makes a written recommendation (with justification) that is added to the materials sent forward to the office of the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs.

    Vice Provost-Academic Affairs: All materials are sent to JPC, the members of which evaluate the materials and add their written recommendation to the file. All of these materials are then reviewed by the Vice Provost, who makes the final decision based on all the information in the file.

    Process/Time Frame: The length of time necessary for the whole process varies with the complexity of the review. Staff check the file at all stages (i.e. Department, Dean’s Office, and Vice Provost’s Office) to ensure that all necessary documents are included and that the correct processes have been followed; they try to move files along expeditiously to meet deadlines. While redelegated merit actions may need only a few months to reach the dean for a final decision, non-redelegated promotion actions, which have to be reviewed by the dean, a personnel committee, and the Vice Provost, may take several months longer. Most final decisions are made by the end of the academic year (June), but any that are not completed and had met the deadline leaving the department, will be completed during the summer or early fall and are made effective retroactive to July 1st.
  • Which personnel committee has responsibility for reviewing Agronomists?
  • Agronomists (___in AES) dossiers (100% appointments) are reviewed by the Joint Academic Federation/Senate Personnel Committee (JPC).


Reviewer's Concerns

The following topics are typical of the concerns of the various reviewers (Peer Group, Department Chair, Voting Group, Dean, Personnel Committee, and Vice Provost-Academic Affairs) who will evaluate the file. (See: APM 320-10 and UCD-320-10). A candidate’s performance will be judged on the quality of the specific areas of responsibility as identified in the position description and criteria for the position (UCD 320-10a-b).


Mission-oriented Research/Creative Work

  • What is meant by ‘mission-oriented research and creative work’?
  • Mission-oriented research extends from basic science to applied research. Agronomists (___in AES) are expected to conduct research that addresses a problem in society and relates to the mission of the AES.

    Evidence documenting applied research is usually through scholarly, peer-reviewed journals that reach professionals with common interests. Mentoring students is also encouraged as a means of disseminating research. The research should have a demonstrable impact on solving a problem in society that is identified in research in the AES. [See: UCD 320-10 a. 1.]
  • Does the publication list have to be arranged in any particular format?
  • Yes. See UCD 220 Exhibit C: Guidelines for Preparation of Publication and Other Creative Efforts Lists. The categories of the bibliography are prescribed in the APM, and it generally separates items into published, in-press, submitted, and in preparation. Abstracts, reviews, and reports having limited distribution are listed separately. It also prescribes the format of the bibliographic entries. Those who co-author publications are required to describe their role in each publication (idea, development, bench-work, data analysis, writing, etc.) as well as give a description of co-authors -- i.e., are they undergraduate, or graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, faculty colleagues. Although work that is submitted or in preparation may be listed, only work that is published or in-press by December 31 is considered, unless the action is a promotion from Assistant to Associate in their seventh-year.
  • How do reviewers evaluate your contribution to a project when there are multiple authors on the papers?
  • The department letter should evaluate the candidate’s research with respect to its quality, its impact on the field, who participated in it, and the candidate's specific role. As stated above, the candidate should include a statement with the publication list, explaining his/her role in each study, who the co-authors are, and who the primary (or corresponding) author is on each paper, if it is not the first author.
  • How do reviewers evaluate the research/creative work category? Are both quality and quantity (i.e., productivity) evaluated?
  • All reviewers consider both quality and quantity to be important. Quantity during the review period, i.e., productivity, is evaluated, but the minimum level of productivity expected will vary by department and discipline, and the department letter should discuss if productivity meets the departmental norm. Quality is judged by the importance and the impact of the work. Evidence of a program’s success may be documented with letters from clientele or reports of behavioral change. A candidate’s program of research and creative work will be reviewed by scientific peers in the department’s peer group regardless of the publication outlet(s) and documented in the department letter.


Mission-oriented Outreach

  • What is meant by ‘mission-oriented outreach’?
  • Outreach activities apply “research based” expertise to identify problems and apply solutions to people in society or the State. These are derived from research based activity. Outreach activities could include:
    - Interacting with officials in local, State and/or Federal governmental agencies;
    - Interacting with private sector companies that have interests in common with the AES, and/or
    - Interacting with Cooperative Extension (Specialists, Advisors, work groups, and programs);
    - participating in meetings with the public;
    - publishing articles in popular and trade/industry magazines;
    - providing information for media outlets (articles for newspapers, radio, or visual media)
    - developing computer software;
    - working with public or private schools;
    - teaching University Extension courses or short courses;
    - participating in workshops, field tours, or symposia; or
    - other activities.


Professional Competence and Activities

  • What kinds of professional activities are usually engaged in by Agronomists (__ in AES)?
  • The candidate's professional activities should be scrutinized for evidence of achievement and leadership in the field and of demonstrated progressiveness in the development or utilization of new approaches and techniques for the solution of professional problems. The candidate’s dossier should provide a list of professional activities. The departmental letter should provide an analysis of the quality of the work.

Special Review Considerations

The review considerations that apply are summarized in the Academic Personnel Attribute Chart. For specific procedures see UCD 220AF Academic Federation Review and Advancement. In addition to normal merit and promotion actions, Academic Administrators are eligible to be considered for the following:

Acceleration: Acceleration is a merit or promotion action that occurs prior to eligibility for normal advancement; i.e., the candidate can be considered for review if the record of performance has been exceptionally strong in at least one major aspect of the candidate’s position description since the last advancement and there was at least normal progress (i.e., very good to excellent) in all other categories. Accelerations are not granted if any component of the record is below expectation. All AF series are eligible to be considered for accelerations. See Delegation of Authority.

Appeal: An Agronomist (_in the A.E.S.) has the right to appeal his/her denied personnel action within 30 calendar days of notification of denial by submitting an appeal letter via the chair, to the dean, addressing each of the specific criticisms which led to the denial recommendation by the reviewer(s). Since the action is non-redelegated, the dean evaluates the appeal, writes a recommendation, and forwards all of the material to the office of the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs. These materials are then referred to the JPC for review and recommendation. The Vice Provost-Academic Affairs makes the final decision after reviewing all materials including the recommendation from JPC.

Term Appointment: A term appointment is an appointment for a specific period that ends on a specified date. An appointment with an established ending date is self-terminating subject to the notice requirements of APM 137-32. The University has the discretion to appoint and reappoint non-Senate academic appointees with term appointments; reappointment is not automatic. All appointees in the Agronomist (_in the A.E.S.) series have term appointments.