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Faculty Promotion Guide

To assist in planning your future promotions in the Norton College of Medicine, please familiarize yourself with the process and required documentation.

All faculty candidates for promotion should review the policy regarding Standards and Criteria.  The final promotion package will consist of your Annual Academic Expectations (AAEs), Curriculum Vitae (CV), Portfolio(s), and Letters as explained below. It is important to begin working on your CV and portfolios well before your promotion package submission and to work with your Departmental Promotions and Tenure (P&T) Committee throughout the process. Letters are generally not requested until later in the final steps of compiling your promotion package. Promotion packages are reviewed by the Norton College of Medicine Faculty Appointment and Promotions Committee (COMFAPC) five times each year. Voluntary Faculty follow a different process.

Promotion Process

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Getting Started

Choosing an Area of Excellence

To demonstrate a focus and career trajectory over time in rank, the Norton College of Medicine (NCOM) requires faculty choose one of three areas of excellence:

  • Education
  • Research
  • Service

Service may be clinical, administrative, or community service. In choosing an area of excellence, consider your biggest accomplishments. If you were to outline the most important things you have done over the past 6 years, what would they be? Faculty must also show proficiency in all three mission areas. These three areas are reviewed and updated annually with your supervisor (chair and/or division director) and documented in your Annual Academic Expectations (AAE). In general, the area with the highest percent of effort allocation represents the area of focus and is often the most logical choice to be designated as your “area of excellence.” See our NCOM Guide to review criteria for proficiency and excellence for Associate Professor and Professor promotions.

For some faculty, areas of excellence may overlap, such as for clinician-educators who may spend a significant amount of time teaching and treating patients. Excellence criteria are dependent on leadership and scholarship activities and a review of the criteria can help guide your decision. Areas of excellence may change over the years and this will be evident in your AAE. Often, a personal statement, to be included with your promotion package, can be helpful in documenting a unique career trajectory. 

Reviewing the Policies, Guidelines and Checklists

  • The Standards and Criteria Policy provides a detailed description of the specific requirements for promotion including time in rank, criteria for excellence vs proficiency in the 3 mission areas, and other expectations.
  • Two Quick Guides, one for promotion to Associate Professor and one for promotion to Professor, provide a brief introduction to the NCOM criteria for promotion.
  • Individual departments may have additional promotion requirements. Check with your department P&T committee chair or committee assistant to learn about any additional department guidelines and timelines.
  • The Norton College of Medicine Faculty Appointment and Promotions Committee (COMFAPC) checklists for promotion, used by committee members when reviewing your promotion package, may be helpful to you as you assemble your materials.
  • To assist in keeping track of promotion package components, please see the table in the section below, Putting it All Together.

Mentoring for Promotion and Tenure

  • Monthly Path to Promotions Workshops (virtual) on specific promotion-related topics are offered from September to May and open to all. See the Faculty Affairs Calendar for topics, dates, and times.
  • Contact your department P&T committee chair or departmental committee assistant for specific guidance with regard to departmental policies and processes.
  • Consider discussing promotion plans with peers. Recently promoted faculty can often be helpful in providing tips on how to highlight your accomplishments.
  • Dr. Steven Taffet, Assistant Dean for Promotions, and Dr. Ann Botash, Sr. Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development, are available to assist you and answer questions on any aspect of the promotion process. Please contact Kelly Donovan for an appointment ([email protected]).

Collecting Evidence of Quality

Evaluations, reviews, notes, press releases

Evaluations of your teaching by your learners are important for your promotion package. Consider developing a systematic way of keeping track of evaluations of your presentations, workshops, and other teaching activities. NCOM student, resident, and other learner evaluations are collected in MedHub. Clinical departments generally have access to these for regular review. For more information or assistance regarding evaluations, please contact the Office of Evaluation, Assessment, and Research. Evaluations should be collected at regular intervals, reviewed by you, and saved for future use as an appendix to your educator portfolio.

If you are a clinician, you may have other “reviews by recipients of service” such as Press Ganey reports and comments. Keep track of these and compile for future use.

Notes from patients, students, and others may be anonymized (block patient names) to provide documentation of collegiality, teaching, patient care, research collaborations, or other skills.

Other forms of recognition may be used to document the quality of your work, such as press releases regarding funding, appointments, national committee leadership, or other similar recognitions.

Building Your Promotion Package

Updating your Annual Academic Expectations (AAE)

Your Annual Academic Expectations are required aspects of our NCOM faculty annual performance reviews. See policy. They are an opportunity for you to reflect on your goals and accomplishments and to discuss your plans, including plans for promotion, with your supervisor. The promotion package requires current AAEs as well as AAEs from each year during your time in rank for promotion review (usually up to 5 years).

Developing your Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Your CV should follow the NCOM suggested template. Keep your CV up-to-date by adding new accomplishments every 6 months. CVs should include recent publications, as well as leadership roles, committee memberships, grants and awards. If you need an example CV, consider asking for one from a colleague who was recently promoted.  Consider additional sections for unique content that may not fit under the traditional headings (social media, media presentations, accomplishments during the pandemic, etc.). 

For those applying for tenure, the CV should include annotations in the publications section to enable recognition of the various methods of meaningful contributions to scholarly work.  See tenure section for more details.

Creating Your Portfolios

Portfolios provide an opportunity to explain your accomplishments. Unlike the CV, which provides an outline and list of accomplishments categorized by area (for example, publications in one area, awards in another, listed in chronological order), portfolios allow you to tell a story. You can connect and highlight your accomplishments by showing your trajectory through tables and/or paragraphs. How did your area of interest grow over time? It may have started as an interest, grew into a local presentation, then a publication, and eventually to national recognition, such as an award. Connecting the dots of development of clinical programs, scholarship, or research, can help you to reflect on your professional goals and next steps.

Educator Portfolio

Everyone is required to submit an Educator Portfolio (except those applying for an expedited or rapid review). The Educator Portfolio template provides guidance on what materials to include and how to organize them so that the COMFAPC can easily see that you meet excellence or proficiency criteria in education. Your portfolio, like your CV, should be updated regularly.

Clinical Portfolio

The Clinical Portfolio should be submitted with any promotion package where the area of excellence is clinical. Although our policy says it is optional, it is not optional for clinicians desiring promotion based on excellence in clinical service. Consider asking to see the clinical portfolio of a colleague who was recently promoted for examples of clinical accomplishments in your field. The Clinical Portfolio template is a guide, offering prompts to help you identify and highlight your most important clinical accomplishments.


For details regarding tenure, visit Tenure and Stop the Clock

Requesting Letters for Your Promotion

Requesting Letters for Your Promotion

For the Norton College of Medicine, there are 4 types of letters that are generally required for the promotion package:

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Letters of Support

Letters of support are generally requested by the promotion candidate and should be addressed to the Department Chair. You should request letters from individuals who know you well, regardless of academic rank. Letters of support should provide evidence of excellence and may be used to support specific required elements of promotion. 

Letters may be requested from faculty colleagues, learners, community leaders, recipients of service and/or others who are able to provide details regarding the candidate’s excellence in the areas of education, research, and/or service.

There are no specific guidelines for letters of support and, in general, they are not more than one page. Letter writers should explain their relationship to the faculty candidate for promotion and provide details regarding their own work and expertise as well as their knowledge of the candidate’s work and accomplishments.

External Letters of Evaluation

Your Department Chair must solicit at least three extramural evaluations to assist in the assessment of your academic credentials. In some departments, these letters are requested prior to the Departmental P&T Committee review; while in others, they are requested after the Departmental P&T Committee reviews your documentation and makes a recommendation to the Department Chair. Please check your department policy and process for promotion. In many cases, the Department Chair will ask you to suggest respected colleagues for letters. 

These letters of evaluation must be requested by the Department Chair and are usually addressed to the Department Chair or to the Dean of the Norton College of Medicine.

Please check with your department to determine if your department has additional requirements regarding criteria and/or letters of evaluation.

Letters of Evaluation SHOULD be solicited from:

  • faculty at a non-Upstate institution holding academic rank at or above the rank under consideration for your promotion
  • no more than two (of three) faculty members who have had collaborative engagement with you more than three years prior to consideration for promotion and/or tenure

Letters of Evaluation should NOT be solicited from:

  • faculty who had collaborative engagement with you within three years of your consideration for promotion and/or tenure
  • faculty who served as your mentors (i.e. graduate, post-graduate, residency or fellowship supervisors)

This form will assist in determining the suitability of external evaluators.

Guidelines for external evaluator letter writers are available on the Resources for Letter Writers Page. Department chairs will need to send your CV and portfolios, as well as the promotion guidelines with the request for a letter. Letter writers should address promotion criteria and independently examine your accomplishments for alignment with criteria.

Exemptions to the requirement for letters of evaluation

All promotion applications for tenure and for professor require letters of evaluation requested by the Department Chair (no exceptions or exemptions).  Some hospital-based faculty are exempt from extramural letters for promotion to associate professor. A non-inclusive list of such specialties includes hospital-based disciplines such as pathology, emergency medicine, radiology, hospitalist medicine and anesthesiology.

For more information, see Standards and Criteria for Appointment, Rank, Promotion and Tenure Policy, VI. B; Pages 12-13.

Departments submitting a promotion application for candidates who are exempt from needing external letters of evaluation may submit the waiver form in place of the letters.

Letter from the Departmental P&T Committee

The Departmental P&T Committee must provide a letter of recommendation to the Department Chair to be included with your promotion package. It will be written by the Committee Chair after your Departmental P&T Committee reviews your materials. The letter will include:

  • Specific and detailed assessments of your credentials and accomplishments meeting the standards and criteria for proficiency in all areas and excellence in one area
  • If applying for tenure, assessment of your scholarship
  • An assessment of your collegiality, including professionalism and personal engagement in advancing the departmental and institutional goals and mission

For all letter writers, including the P&T Committee Chair, we provide Resources for Letter Writers.

Letter from the Department Chair to the Dean

The Department Chair must submit a letter of recommendation to the Dean for your promotion package. This letter is usually completed after a recommendation is made by the Departmental P&T Committee. It will include:

  • Comments regarding the Departmental P&T Committee letter
  • Comments regarding external evaluator letter writers, including how they were chosen, their stature in the candidate’s area of expertise, and objectivity.
  • Comments on whether or not you meet the criteria of proficiency in all areas and excellence in one area
  • If applying for tenure, assessment of your scholarship
  • An assessment of your collegiality, including professionalism and your personal engagement in advancing the departmental and institutional goals and mission
  • Comments regarding your efforts and personal engagement, where applicable, to meet Upstate’s diversity and inclusion mission such as via support of diverse recruitment and retention efforts, review of educational materials for bias, promotion of interprofessional understanding and respect, or other diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging activities

For all letter writers, including the Department Chair, we provide Resources for Letter Writers.


For all letter writers, we provide a separate page, Resources for Letter Writers.

Letters of Support Versus Letters of Evaluation

Letters of support are requested by you, the faculty member, while letters of evaluation are requested by the Department Chair (see table below for the key differences between these two). These letters are then provided to the Departmental P&T Committee who will review your promotion package and submit their own letter of recommendation to the Department Chair for consideration. If the Chair agrees with plans for promotion, they compose a letter to the dean, outlining your merits for promotion. In most cases, a faculty CV and relevant portfolios should be provided to letter writers.

Types of Letters

Details Letters of Support Letters of Evaluation
Must be requested by the Department Chair No Yes
Number of letters 4-6 recommended

3 required by NCOM

Individual departments may require up to 6

Exemptions may apply
(see below)
Letter writer must hold equal or higher academic rank No Yes
Letter writer must meet criteria to prevent conflicts of interest No Yes

Expedited Review

Expedited Review for Senior Rank Appointments

Expedited reviews are available to some faculty on a case-by-case basis. Faculty who are being appointed at Upstate from another similar academic institution and who were promoted to a senior rank prior to appointment at Upstate, may be eligible to be reviewed by the Norton College of Medicine Appointment and Promotions Committee  (COMFAPC) using the pathway outlined in the Policy for Faculty Rapid Review for Senior Faculty Appointments.

The purpose of an expedited review to is to enable appointments at senior ranks to accommodate needs of new faculty at times that may be off cycle with COMFAPC meetings. Faculty at another academic institution intending to make a lateral move must meet the NCOM criteria for their area of excellence and must meet our proficiency requirements.

Rapid reviews are not available for tenure considerations and tenure applications must be submitted for full committee meetings.

The process of rapid review will require a minimum of one week and in some cases may be deferred to a full committee meeting.

  • Guidelines and criteria for review will be the same as for regular COMFAPC review
  • An electronic vote is tallied and the majority of a quorum of 10 respondents must approve. If there is not a quorum, the promotion package will be tabled and reviewed at a subsequent full COMFAPC meeting
  • If the majority do not vote to approve, the package will be deferred to the next committee meeting
  • If any committee member raises significant concerns, the chair of COMFAPC and the Senior Associate Dean will confer to determine if the package should be deferred for later review by the full committee
  • For complex packages or others not meeting criteria for rapid review, full review by COMFAPC will occur, as per standard procedure

For expedited review, the following documents are required:

  • Department Chair’s Letter
  • Department P&T Committee Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Three external letters of evaluation
  • Portfolios are not required. Learner evaluations are suggested and often provide valuable support for a candidate’s appointment at a senior rank.

Putting it All Together

This table of essential documentation will help you keep track of necessary documentation to give to your department P&T Committee Chair or assistant.

Documentation for the Promotion Package

Component Sub-components Tips, Faculty Tasks, & Resources
AAE Current AAE

Must submit the latest AAE, completed within one year of date of COMFAPC review

Past AAEs

Collect AAEs of years being reviewed

  • SELF-SERVE (faculty AAE PDFs)
Curriculum Vitae CV Template

Update regularly (recommend every 6 months)

Portfolios Educator Portfolio
Appendices for Educator Portfolio Collect and organize your documentation of teaching such as learner evaluations; notices of teaching awards or other relevant documents
Clinical Portfolio
Appendices for Clinical Portfolio Attestations, Press Ganey comments, and thank you notes/letters from patients and families with names redacted are not required but may be included in an appendix to the Clinical Portfolio.
Letters Letters of Support See your department guidelines regarding requesting letters of support. Depending on your department, letters of support may be requested by you (the candidate for promotion) or the department chair. Generally, 4-6 letters are enough and should be requested from people who know you well. Your CV and portfolios should be available for the letter writer to review.
External Letters of Evaluation

When it’s time, your Department will ask you to provide several suggested names and contact information for faculty from other academic institutions at ranks equal to or above your requested rank and who meet the requirements for external letter writers (3 required for most departments; some require up to 6).

  • Guidelines for Letter Writers are available for Departments to assist letter writers.
  • Hospital based faculty applicants for associate professor rank may qualify for a waiver for the requirement of External Letters of Evaluation.
Departmental P&T Letter

This letter is written by the P&T Committee Chair after the Departmental P&T Committee meets to review your materials and will provide guidance to the Department Chair

Chair Letter After reviewing the result of the Departmental P&T Committee review, the Chair writes a letter to the Dean of the Norton College of Medicine to recommend and request your promotion.
Additional Materials
(Not Required)
Other portfolios Occasionally, a research or administrative portfolio may be useful as a way to compile a record of accomplishments
Personal statement Although not required, a personal statement may be helpful in describing unique pathways to promotion.


Expected Time in Rank

Assistant to Associate Professor: Minimum of 6 years. Initiate process during year 5.

Associate to Professor: Minimum of 7 years. Initiate process during year 6

Promotion Preparation Timeline

Prepare Materials

Allow at least 6 months for yourself to prepare and update your CV and portfolios.

Submit to Department

Allow sufficient time for the Department P&T Committee to review and for the Department Chair to request external letters of evaluation. Please see department specific guidelines for submission dates.

Submit to COMFAPC

Materials are due 8 weeks prior to the COMFAPC meeting and are usually submitted by an assistant to the Department P&T Committee. Meeting dates are on the website (September, December, February, April, and June). Rapid reviews are completed at other times. Allow at least 1 week after COMFAPC meeting for committee results to be reported to the Dean. Note, these results are confidential.


  • Approval by the Dean, notification sent to Department Chair, allow 2-3 weeks after COMFAPC meeting.
  • Approval by the Upstate President, letter sent to candidate, allow 1-2 weeks after Dean notification.
  • If applicable, notification of tenure (continuing appointment) approval by the SUNY Chancellor. Allow approximately one month after notification by the Upstate President.