Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Tenure criteria incorporating innovation activity move forward with new PTIE recommendations


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 18th, 2020

A detailed article on the National Science Foundation PTIE committee’s recommendations for incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship activity into promotion and tenure criteria appears in the November issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, as well as the publication’s 13+ year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, click here.

Recommendations for incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship into university promotion and tenure criteria, delivered recently from a group convened by the National Science Foundation (NSF), appear to be the most significant and organized effort so far to making this change in how academia sees the advancement of faculty who are involved in commercialization activity.

Proponents say adoption of these recommendations could bring significant momentum to research commercialization efforts because non-tenured faculty would have more incentive to spend their time on innovation and entrepreneurship. Those faculty currently are disincentivized for those activities because they mostly do not factor into tenure and promotion consideration, supporters say.

The NSF convened a group to research and create recommendations for incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship into university promotion and tenure criteria, and it recently released its findings and specific measures it says should be adopted by P&T committees and more broadly by universities. (The report is available here.)

The group is encouraging widespread adoption by 2022. Oregon State University (OSU) led the effort and Rich G. Carter, PhD, professor of chemistry and faculty lead for innovation excellence at OSU, was the principal investigator for the work funded by a NSF grant.

The recommendations were put together by a coalition of 65 universities and 12 national stakeholder organizations that held a summit in September, Carter says. A main goal for the group was to identify not just the ideal scenario for incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship in tenure criteria, but to determine what would be practical and workable for universities to do so, he says.

OSU has led the way in this effort, with a university-level committee that is working to adopt the recommendations now. The committee waited until the recommendations came out to start that process but has now met a couple times to start assessing how the changes can be made, Carter says.

“We have a lot of support from the committee members and university administration, and from what we can tell there is a lot support from faculty, as well,” he says. “We did a survey and got what I think is pretty good evidence that they are supportive of wanting to adopt these changes.”

Carter suggests that university leaders interested in implementing the recommendations start by looking at the implementation guidelines posted on the Promotion and Tenure Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PTIE) web site at ptie.org. PTIE has assembled a working group to help universities that are ready to adopt the recommendations now.

“There are some schools that have been waiting on these recommendations and will act on them immediately, whereas some other schools are a little bit further behind and need to work on communicating to their community the importance of this before they move forward with it,” Carter says. “I think the fact that we had 65 universities and over 100 people attend the summit, despite COVID and it being held virtually, indicates there is a considerable amount of interest in this.”

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