B. Steps: Second-Year Review of Assistant Professors





The department conducts the assessment in the manner it finds most productive for the tenure-track faculty member

The second-year review should be completed by the end of the second year of the appointment. Ordinarily, a small committee of senior colleagues reviews the assistant professor’s teaching, advising, research, and service/citizenship to date.

The second-year review is the first of potentially three reviews in an assistant professor’s time at Harvard. As such, this review is an opportunity for the tenure-track faculty member and their departmental mentor(s) and department chair to begin thinking together about elements that are common to all three reviews and in relation to which the candidate’s efforts will continuously build over the next several years. The tenure-track faculty member and departmental colleagues who are participating in the second-year review are encouraged to discuss together how to articulate the candidate’s field. They should also assess and discuss, for the tenure-track faculty member’s ongoing development, how that faculty member can heighten their impact in research, teaching, advising, mentoring, and service/citizenship. Those conducting the review should also discuss in specific terms whether the faculty member is receiving effective mentoring.

Relevant materials submitted by the assistant professor include:

  • A current CV, with a list of any undergraduate and graduate student advisees and mentees (and postdoctoral advisees and mentees, as relevant, including those who moved to another research group). This list may include informal advisees/mentees designated by the candidate.
  • Copies of publications, including forthcoming and works-in-progress (or in art-making fields, copies, as appropriate, of creative works).
  • A research statement, which succinctly summarizes the work the candidate has accomplished, articulates the impact they are having on their field, and lays out their future research goals. Departments are encouraged to mentor candidates on how to articulate their impact in the field.
  • Given the importance of the field definition and its effect on who the external letter writers (in associate reviews and tenure reviews) and comparands (in tenure cases) are and how a candidate’s case is viewed, the candidate and department can work together over time (ideally from the second-year review onward, and certainly when the candidate is actively preparing for the associate review), to understand and clearly articulate a definition of the candidate’s field. The field definition should be sufficiently broad that the candidate’s impact beyond their own specialization can be determined. For instance, the field definition may situate the candidate’s area of specialization within a broader field; or the definition may speak to the “Venn diagram” of the candidate’s impact, i.e., not only the immediate subfield in which they work, but the adjacent subfields and fields affected by this work.
  • Teaching, advising, and mentoring:
  • Teaching, advising, and mentoring are distinct categories of activity and assessment. In particular:
  • Teaching: refers to classroom teaching of undergraduates and graduate students.
  • Advising: refers to the many ways that faculty provide intellectual guidance to undergraduates and graduate students outside of the classroom, and to postdocs. This includes, and is not limited to, such things as (for undergraduates) senior thesis advising or concentration advising and (for graduate students) dissertation advising, advising on Ph.D. oral exams, etc.
  • Mentoring: in contrast to the intellectual advising described above, refers to faculty efforts to support the professional development and career development of undergraduate students, graduate students, TFs, and postdoctoral fellows.
  • The FAS endorses a developmental view of the candidate’s teaching, advising, and mentoring—that these activities are learned over time, and as important as “achievements” in these areas are the effort, thoughtfulness, and willingness to improve that a faculty member demonstrates. The FAS encourages departments to take an expansive view of all the different ways that people can contribute to the teaching, advising, and mentoring missions. Faculty have different strengths and inclinations and contribute to these missions in different ways.
  • The candidate should submit a teaching/advising/mentoring statement.

The statement should provide a brief summary description of the candidate’s teaching so far and any advising and mentoring work they did with undergraduate and graduate students, TFs, and postdoctoral fellows.

The candidate should not just describe, but also assess and reflect on their efforts in teaching, advising, and mentoring. Because the FAS takes a developmental view of teaching, advising, and mentoring, the candidate should reflect on aspects of their professional progression and on how they are addressing any areas of concern.

In the statement, they may discuss:

  • their philosophy/approach to teaching, advising, and mentoring
  • how the candidate defines effectiveness in each of these areas, and the methods and approaches they use to achieve these
  • their reasoning and process in forming their teaching portfolio
  • how they engage with students, advisees, and mentees at various levels (e.g., first-years, concentrators, graduate students, TFs, postdoctoral fellows)
  • any challenges the candidate faced and any modifications made to courses, teaching, advising, and mentoring in response to feedback
  • any ways the candidate has actively worked to improve their teaching, advising, or mentoring

Given the often interconnected nature of teaching, advising, and mentoring individuals, the candidate is not obligated to discuss these three topics in rigid separation from, and in sequence with, each other. However, regardless of how the candidate organizes their statement, their discussion should still clearly maintain the distinctions between these activities, as noted in the definitions above.

  • The department is encouraged to informally gather feedback on the candidate’s advising and mentoring.
  • A service/citizenship statement that reflects on any committee work or administrative work to date, the candidate’s aspirations for contributions in this realm, and how the candidate has contributed to diversity, inclusion, and belonging in all areas of their professional life, both to date and with regard to their future plans.


The department chair reports on the assessment to senior members of the department



The department chair drafts letters to the divisional dean and the assistant professor

  • The letter to the divisional dean describes the review process and summarizes its findings.
  • The letter to the assistant professor conveys advice, including a reminder of mentoring arrangements that have been established within the department for the candidate. The divisional dean reviews the letter before it is sent.
  • To be useful, feedback to the candidate should be candid, constructive, and complete. Cursory, vague, or pro forma feedback does not help the tenure-track faculty member to improve, change course as needed, and effectively prepare for their next promotion review. The department should provide, as appropriate, both positive feedback and concrete suggestions for how the faculty member can improve and heighten their impact in research, teaching, advising, mentoring, and service/citizenship.
  • With regard to teaching, departments are encouraged to provide clear and consistent guidance from the point of hire onward about what a strong teaching portfolio consists of. Teaching portfolios should contain different types of courses to show that the candidate can contribute to a range of teaching needs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The courses should span a range of formats such as (and without needing to be all-inclusive) seminars, lectures in introductory courses, required courses, and electives. However, the portfolios should not be so broad as to prohibit faculty from teaching a course more than once, as teaching a course multiple times can help to show the trajectory of the candidate’s development.
  • If the candidate later stands for a review for promotion to associate professor, the feedback letter from the second-year review will be shared with the review committee in the associate review. This provides a fuller context for understanding how the candidate has developed and also sheds some light on the mentoring they received.
  • The divisional dean should also receive all materials considered in the review (e.g., see Step 1).

Please securely send one electronic copy of these letters and materials to the divisional dean, cc’ing the assistant dean for the division. Please follow HUIT’s recommended practices for secure document transfer (e.g., Accellion Kiteworks, encryption, etc.), which can vary by user.


The department chair meets with the assistant professor and submits final documents

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the assessment and provide advice. At the end of the meeting, the department chair gives a signed copy of the letter, which has been reviewed by the divisional dean, to the assistant professor.

Please submit one signed copy of the final letter to the assistant professor to the assistant dean for the division and to the Appointments Office in the Office for Faculty Affairs.