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Study: Add Entrepreneurship, Community Engagement to Promotion, Tenure Decisions

UMass Lowell Provost Part of Coalition Recommending Changes to Higher-Ed Policies

Joseph Hartman
Research co-written by Provost Joseph Hartman on promotion and tenure policies at higher-education institutions has been published in Science.


Contact for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or
LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell’s provost is among a team of scholars whose latest research advocates for revamping the process by which faculty members are offered promotions and tenure at higher-education institutions.

In an article published last week in Science, the group found that promotion and tenure policies at universities must be broadened and made more inclusive to value innovation, entrepreneurship and other diverse forms of scholarly contributions from faculty. 
The economic stakes are potentially very high. In 2019, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges reported technology transfer from universities is a major driver for the U.S. economy, contributing $591 billion to the gross domestic product over the past two decades and supporting more than 4 million jobs.

Joseph Hartman, UMass Lowell’s provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, co-authored the Science article after serving as a member of the Promotion and Tenure, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PTIE) Coalition. Last year, the group’s more than 100 leaders, who represent 65 universities and 13 national organizations from across the country, unanimously voted to approve recognizing innovation and entrepreneurial achievements among the criteria used when considering awards of promotions and tenure to faculty members.

“Universities serve as economic and creativity engines because faculty are extremely innovative with work that manifests itself in many ways, including patents, startup companies, community partnerships and industry sponsored research, to name a few,” Hartman said. “The coalition suggests broadening promotion and tenure guidelines to include these measures of innovation and entrepreneurship, alongside traditional measures such as journal articles, books and research foundation grants.” 

The group’s recommendations were informed by the results of a nationwide survey of nearly 100 higher-education institutions that found considerations of a faculty member’s innovation and entrepreneurial efforts are desired, but are largely absent at the department, college and central administration levels.

“UMass Lowell is a national leader in providing entrepreneurship education to students and takes pride in being an entrepreneurial campus with innovative faculty. This PTIE effort can help codify faculty efforts in these areas into the promotion and tenure process,” Hartman said.

The work, led by researchers at Oregon State University, was funded by the National Science Foundation with additional support from VentureWell and the Lemelson Foundation.

“It was a pleasure to be a part of the team and process that examined how broadening promotion and tenure processes might better serve university missions and priorities,” Hartman said.

In addition to Hartman and scholars from Oregon State, authors contributing to the Science article include researchers from the University of Arizona; the University of California, Berkeley and San Diego campuses; Iowa State; Jackson State; University of Kentucky; Michigan State; North Carolina State; Oregon Health & Science University; Purdue University; Texas A&M University; and Washington State.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.