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Tenure clock extensions for faculty

March 26, 2020

Given the unprecedented challenges we face due to the COVID-19 crisis, it is unreasonable to expect that all assistant professors are able to make normal progress toward tenure in all areas of faculty activity: teaching, research, and service.

The cancellation of conferences and other research-related travel, reduced access to labs, the suspension of research involving human subjects, and other factors understandably impede scholarly activity, both in the current year and in the future, likely in unforeseeable ways. Many assistant professors also are balancing many professional and personal demands (such as illness, childcare and schooling, and caring for ill family members) during this period of uncertainty, demands that may persist beyond the current academic year.

In acknowledgement of the COVID-19 crisis and its extraordinary impacts on our faculty, particularly those in their probationary periods, UW-Madison will offer an expedited process to request an extension of the mandatory review date for tenure (that is, an extension of the tenure clock) for reasons associated with COVID-19.  All assistant professors – tenure track, CHS and clinical – currently employed at UW–Madison whose mandatory review dates are after 31 December 2020 are eligible.  Any faculty member wanting to go through the tenure process “on time” (i.e., at their previously scheduled time) may do so without prejudice.

Probationary faculty who wish to extend their mandatory review date should make their requests prior to 1 January 2021, though ideally as soon as possible.

Before requesting an extension, probationary faculty should first inform their mentoring or review committees.  To request an extension, and once they have consulted with their review committees, probationary faculty should write an email to the provost’s office ( and copy their department chair and the dean of their school or college, requesting the extension and noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to curtail it have caused limitations (either for professional or personal reasons) to their research, teaching, and service that are beyond their control.  Requests should be made by email, with the explanation – no more than 1 single-spaced page – attached, with the subject line “COVID19 Extension Request_last name_department name”.  The provost’s office will expedite review, which includes blanket approval by the University Committee, and the presumption will be that COVID-related requests will be approved unless further information is required to process them.  The provost’s approval will be copied to the department chair, dean, and – in the case of tenure-track faculty – the office of the Secretary of the Faculty.

Reviews for tenure and promotion for probationary faculty with mandatory review dates of 31 December 2020 or before (i.e., that are already in progress) will continue as scheduled because they are based on work completed before the COVID-19 crisis.

Questions regarding this new guidance should be directed to the Secretary of the Faculty, at

Karl Scholz, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Terry Warfield, Professor and Chair, University Committee