UCSF Additional Guidance on Academic Review in Response to COVID-19

UCSF Additional Guidance on Academic Review in Response to COVID-19
June 25, 2020 • 5:00pm


Dear Colleagues:

We are writing to provide additional guidance pertaining to the consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on your path for academic advancement.

We recognize that this pandemic is having significant, adverse effects on faculty members’ academic performance and productivity, and we are committed to considering these consequences in the promotions process. The UCSF tradition is and remains that we want to see our faculty succeed.

This message covers the following topics:

  • Senate Faculty: Stop-the-Clock
  • Non-Senate Faculty: Deferment
  • All Faculty: Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 During Academic Review
  • COVID-19, Review of Performance and Disparate Impact

You will see that there is a lot of detail below, but we ask that you take the time to read through this message, as it has important implications as to the way you should view your options for advancement.

Senate Faculty: Stop-the-Clock

APM 133 and APM 760 allow for the stopping of the 8-year review clock up to two times during the probationary period for either childcare/childrearing, a serious health condition including disability, care or bereavement of a child, spouse, domestic partner, or parent, or a significant circumstance interfering with research or creative activity. As noted in the academic personnel guidance sent by us on April 6, 2020, significant disruptions due to COVID-19 will now qualify for a year of stop-the-clock. Recently, UC Provost Michael Brown also communicated his support should a third one-year “stop-the-clock” be necessary for COVID-19 reasons; such requests require his approval for ladder-rank appointees only.

As we have a better sense of the mid- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on our campus, and in reviewing the recent proposal from the systemwide University Committee on Academic Personnel and the Academic Council, we are now amending the process of COVID-19 related stop-the-clock requests.

The change is as follows: For Assistant Professors who are not currently undergoing their “8-year reviews,” we are by default extending the tenure clock to nine years (an automatic one year extension) without the need to submit any formal request or justification.

For example, if your mandatory review has an effective date of July 1, 2021, your new adjusted effective date will be July 1, 2022. This extension will be in effect for Assistant Professors with appointments in a senate series between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

At UCSF, Assistant Professors may request to proceed with their Associate Professor review according to their original promotion schedule. This automatic assignment of an added year of stop-the-clock does not mean that an Assistant Professor must use it, nor does having a “stop-the-clock” on the record imply that the candidate is in any danger of not receiving a positive review.

Delaying a promotion review should not be discouraged or stigmatized, even subtly. In fact, it can often be a smart approach that allows a healthier balance of critical priorities early in one’s career to create an enduring foundation of professional success. Thus, stop-the-clock should never be considered in a negative light when reviewing the scholarship and creative works, teaching and service records of Assistant Professors in a senate series.

Fourth-Year Appraisals may also be deferred by one year due to COVID-19 or any other reasons for which a stop-the-clock was approved. If an Assistant Professor has not undergone their Fourth-Year Appraisal yet, they may request to defer their Fourth-Year Appraisal for one year. If an Assistant Professor chooses to move ahead with their Fourth Year Appraisal, it does not negate any extensions to the 8-year review clock. Furthermore, this extension of the 8-year review clock does not automatically defer the Fourth-Year Appraisal or any other academic review actions.

We encourage each school and department to meet with Assistant Professors in a senate series and discuss their options. If faculty wish to defer an academic review action on the basis of a stop-the-clock on file, they should let their Academic HR representative know at the time they receive a request to submit materials for their Advance packet.

Non-Senate Faculty: Deferment

In response to the serious challenges facing many faculty related to COVID-19, we want to acknowledge that some hardships may impact a faculty member’s productivity and preparedness for academic advancement. Anyone wishing to defer their merit or promotion for COVID-19 related reasons should be allowed to do so without prejudice. Faculty should work with their department chairs or Deans office to determine if deferment is warranted and communicate their decision to their Academic Shared services representative as needed.

All Faculty: Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 During Academic Review

Faculty wishing to address any negative impact or to report additional accomplishments (including clinical or scholarly contributions) related to COVID-19 during their academic review are encouraged to attach a personal statement with their packet materials in Advance. Once attached all reviewers will have access to the statement during the review process.

Instructions for attaching a personal statement in Advance:

  1. Click on the “My Packet” tab.
  2. Navigate to the sub-tab “Attachments” and click.
  3. Click on the “Browse” button and select the appropriate PDF document from your computer to attach to the packet.
    Attach Personal Statement in Advance
  4. Select “Candidate Personal Statement” from the drop-down menu and click the “Upload” button.
    Select Candidate Personal Statement in Advance
    Select Candidate Personal Statement My Packet in Advance

If you need assistance with this process or have additional questions, contact information for your academic HR generalist is available at the bottom of your screen in Advance.

COVID-19, Review of Performance and Disparate Impact

As we all understand, COVID-19 will continue to have significant impacts on the University, including its faculty. Senior leadership encourages deans and departments to keep in mind the disparate burdens caused by COVID-19 as they appraise faculty performance in the coming years. We know that, overall, women bear more household burdens than men in terms of taking care of schoolchildren, parents and others who may be in greater need because of COVID-19. It is also true that faculty who belong to underrepresented groups bear more burden mentoring and assisting similarly situated colleagues and students who may be facing greater challenges responding to COVID-19. And we recognize and appreciate the many other examples of unique burdens faculty bear (e.g., single parents, those caring for the elderly or disabled, those with limited financial resources). These are, of course, generalizations that do not apply to every individual, but the patterns exist, nonetheless. Thus, we ask deans and departments to be on the lookout for these disparities and to do what is necessary for equity in decision-making.


Daniel H. Lowenstein, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Brian K. Alldredge, PharmD
Vice Provost-Academic Affairs

Lundy Campbell, MD
Chair of Committee on Academic Personnel