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Professorial Promotion Process FAQs

Faculty members listening to a seminar.

The goal of the Professorial Promotions Committee (PPC) is not to create barriers to promotion; in fact, we view the PPC as an important tool for career development. In that light, the PPC is willing to provide advice to any faculty member on his or her own career, CV or portfolio. Usually, this happens AFTER the department has provided advice.

Contact the PPC chair directly: Ralph Hruban at or Karen Parkent at Either of us would be willing to review a CV for accuracy and impact.

  • Impact is the most important element. National leadership. International professional recognition. Being among the foremost leaders in a field. Outstanding scholarship and teaching. Being a master clinician, and producing scholarship around your clinical work.

    The threshold for reaching the rank of professor is set forth in the school of medicine’s Gold Book, which governs policies and guidelines for faculty appointments, promotions and professional activities. It is very useful to read the letter from Paul McHugh, former chair of the PPC, which lays out very clearly the reasons that we have a single-track system at The Johns Hopkins University and how the PPC views the possibility of promotion.

  • This is a newly introduced pathway within our single-track system that recognizes and rewards individuals who are spending most of their professional time in clinical care activities, and who have achieved a high and demonstrable level of recognition for their work. Scholarship is required in addition to clinical excellence, and the criteria are modeled on those of the Miller-Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence.

  • For promotion to professor, please provide a list of 10 names of referees, including:

    • National and international leaders in the field who know you or your work
    • No more than three current colleagues/collaborators within the Johns Hopkins community who can speak about your contribution to Johns Hopkins

    All referees must already be full professors in their institutions or of comparable rank at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or in industry. The PPC will solicit additional reviewers in your field or a closely related field of expertise. Your subcommittee will be encouraged to finish its work and bring you to the full PPC when a minimum of seven of the letters requested by the subcommittee are received, regardless of how many of the letters from your suggested reviewers have come.

  • Yes, if you think that this will make it easier for the PPC to understand the impact of your work. The portfolio should NOT be excessively lengthy; five to 10 pages is usually adequate, and there are various examples posted on the website.

  • The goal is to reduce the time from the arrival of the candidate’s packet in the dean’s office to the candidate’s presentation at the Advisory Board of the Medical Faculty (ABMF) to under a year. However, limiting factors include the time it takes for the subcommittee to choose additional reviewers, and then for those additional solicited letters to be received in the dean’s office. Once the subcommittee receives seven of the letters from the reviewers it chose, it will meet to discuss your candidacy and consider if additional materials should be requested. When the subcommittee is satisfied that it has all the information it needs, the chair will write the subcommittee report and schedule your presentation at the next available PPC meeting that the subcommittee chair can attend.

    The length of the process for promotion can be as short as four months or as long as two or more years, without necessarily being a reflection on the quality of an individual candidate’s credentials. Candidates may query the PPC for information about the process, but we recommend doing this only infrequently.

    Neither the PPC nor ABMF meets during July or August, but work on the nominations continues year round. Thus, although a candidate’s process may be completed by the subcommittee during the summer months, the recommendation will not be voted on until September.

    For new appointments, the PPC has a policy for exceptional candidates who may be considered and approved at two PPC meetings before being sent to ABMF. PPC will consider, on a case-by-case base, approval of exceptional new appointees without full subcommittee review if they are established professors at other institutions with a substantial publication and grant record, and an H-index at least double our current norm (i.e., 60-plus). The PPC will consider the candidate with two votes; in the event that there is any hesitation about the candidate’s qualifications, a subcommittee will be convened and the process completed as usual.

  • Scholarly accomplishments are necessary for promotion, but they aren’t the only criteria. Each year, some faculty members who are experts in their fields are surprised to learn their promotions aren’t approved because of their unprofessional behavior. This can include concerns about collegiality and citizenship.

    Expectations of professionalism and civility are not new. The Gold Book describes obligations of faculty members: “To teach, conduct research, and/or care for patients with professional competence, intellectual honest, and high ethical standards.” Implicit in professional competence is the obligation to treat students, fellows, staff members and faculty colleagues with respect.

    In recent years, the university and hospital have more purposely addressed these issues in various statements and policies, including the university’s Principles for Ensuring Equity, Civility and Respect for All, and the Safe at Hopkins program, and the hospital’s 2006 Code of Conduct. In addition, the school of medicine’s Teacher - Learner Conduct Policy emphasizes the importance of respect in interpersonal conduct and condemns behaviors that are “clearly inappropriate,” including shouting, personal attacks or insults, and displays of temper that demonstrate a lack of professionalism.

    Inappropriate behaviors can lead not only to problems with promotion, but also to disciplinary review that can affect employment. Abusive conduct in the clinic, operating room, office or lab can result in mandatory counseling, action under the school’s procedures for dealing with professional misconduct issues or, in the case of clinical faculty, corrective action under medical staff bylaws. In some cases, faculty members have found their conduct scrutinized under the university and hospital workplace violence policies. Sanctions range from training to termination.

    The standards for promotion at the school have historically been high. Increasingly, the expectation is clear that civility, collegiality and respectfulness are highly valued qualities for advancement.

    Coaching and counseling to resolve problems that may be causing you difficulty are available through various school and university offices. For more information, referrals and support, contact the Office of Faculty Development.

  • Specific recommendations are made by the PPC to the dean regarding what the candidate should accomplish in order for the PPC to recommend promotion to the rank of professor. To ensure that the candidate has time to fulfill the recommendations, the PPC requires a two-year waiting period before resubmission. This decision may be appealed to the dean for reconsideration if substantial new information becomes available.

    The department director also has the option of appealing the negative decision by the PPC directly to ABMF. If the negative decision is upheld by ABMF, the two-year rule is invoked again.

  • The word “tenure” is not part of the lexicon of the school of medicine. Newly promoted or appointed full-time professors will normally be given a contract to retirement, following approval by the board of trustees. In exceptional circumstances, individuals whose promotion to professor is unlikely to occur but who have proved to be of tremendous value to the school of medicine can be given a contract “to retirement” at the associate professor level.

  • The criteria for termination are stated very clearly within the Gold Book. There is broad understanding within the faculty of criteria for termination related to scientific and professional misconduct, particularly misconduct related to grossly inappropriate behavior. Termination is a rare event at the school of medicine, and when it occurs, it is usually because of recruitment to another position, lifecycle events, or loss of financial support for salary and programs. In summary, it is made clear that irrespective of a faculty member’s promotion pathway, all faculty members must meet the same criteria for appointment and promotion at each level. There are different pathways toward becoming an outstanding leader in one’s field. At all ranks, the criteria for appointment or promotion include that faculty members carry out their academic and/or patient care responsibilities with professional competence and intellectual honesty, high ethical standards, and in a manner consistent with the policies and procedures of the university, which are clearly stated in the Gold Book.

  • Policies governing appointment, promotion, tenure and dismissal of full-time faculty are clearly delineated in the school of medicine’s Policies and Guidelines Governing Appointment, Promotions, and Professional Activities of the Full-Time Faculty, known as the Gold Book.

    The policy for promotion is flexible in time at rank and does not require termination or terminal contracts when a faculty member requires additional time to achieve promotion.

    The “Silver Book: Professional Development Guide for Faculty” is also available online. 

    In addition, as part of the departmental/divisional annual review, faculty members and their department/division directors address progress to promotion.

    In 2005, a formal governance and organization of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine document was drafted and approved by the dean and chair of the board of trustees. School of medicine “Organization and Governance SOM Bylaws” are available online.

  • The same criteria apply to part-time faculty members as to full-time faculty members, namely that the impact of an individual’s work needs to be quantifiable and demonstrable. More part-time faculty members are likely to be on the pathway to clinician of distinction, and outstanding scholarship will still be required for successful promotion. Policies governing appointment, promotion, tenure and dismissal of part-time faculty are clearly delineated in the school of medicine’s Policies and Guidelines Governing Appointment, Promotions, and Professional Activities of the Part-Time Faculty, known as the Blue Book.

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