Academic Performance Review and Merit Process

Department Heads

The regular assessment of each academic appointee is normally prepared by the Department Head as the appropriate administrative officer in the department or unit who is uniquely qualified to assess the impact of the academic’s contribution to the academic’s particular field. (CA 29.1.3.e)

Delegation of Duties

This duty may not be delegated unless there are extenuating circumstances. The "Parties" (the Provost & Vice-President (Academic) and the Faculty Association) will seek to find and agree upon an appropriate replacement.

Absence at Time of Assessment

In the situation where a Head is absent for an extended period of time, an Acting or Interim Head will be appointed to complete the review and recommendation. If a Head is going to be away for the assessment and would like to give those duties to someone else, a request to deviate as agreed to between the Parties will be required. A Head cannot be replaced with another Head. Depending on the circumstance, the reviews assigned to a Head may be held until the Head returns.

New Department Heads

The individual who is formally appointed as the Head when the assessment takes place (as per the timeline) completes the review. A new Head may request input from the former Head or other relevant sources (29.5.1) to ensure a comprehensive review of the academic’s performance during the reporting period. A new Head cannot request or expect the former Head to write or conduct the review. The new Head  will be representing the academic at the FMC and is expected to understand and defend the recommendation. This responsibility may not be delegated without prior approval


The timelines and deadlines as set out by the Faculty and University must be adhered to at all times. Failure to comply with the timelines may result in delays in the process and/or appeals to the FMC or GMC. Should you need an extension of a deadline, contact your HR Academic Advisor with your request as soon as you know of the concern.

Inform your appropriate academic staff members of the process, procedures and timeline for merit assessment:

  • provide a current copy of the GFC Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook to each academic staff member
  • provide current approved Faculty Guidelines to ensure each academic staff member is aware of the criteria and standards to be met within the Faculty/Unit and/or Department, if applicable
  • ensure the academic staff member is aware of the documentation required for the process, and understands what documents to upload to Academic Portfolio for review
  • ensure the academic staff member is fully aware of the faculty and/or university prescribed deadlines by which to submit their documentation
  • contact your HR Academic Advisor if any of your academics are unwilling to complete the assessment.

Complete the review and recommendation for each academic staff member within your department ensuring that they are assessed in a consistent, fair, and equitable manner according to these guidelines:

  • Review and evaluate each academic staff member’s contributions in the areas of research, teaching, and service as outlined in the approved merit assessment criteria (CA 29.2). The basis of this review is the documentation submitted by the academic for the current reporting period. Take into consideration that expectations of performance increase as an academic appointee progresses through any rank or between ranks.
  • Provide written comments on each academic’s career progress. Take into consideration any comments written from the Secondary Department /Unit/Agency Head. Include factual statements only, no hearsay or anything that would identify one academic staff member to another. Assessments should be written so that recommendations presented can be understood without reference to other information or documentation beyond what is specifically requested by the GFC.
  • Identify where the applicant has deficiencies according to the relevant criteria.
  • Ensure an academic staff member has not submitted anything reported in the prior reporting period. Work that was moved from one section to another (for example, from work in progress to published) should be identified so the committee considers them as new submissions rather than duplicates.
  • Verify that information automatically populated in the Academic Performance Report is from the current reporting period or that the academic has noted the error in the text portion of the report.
  • Ensure that the academic appointee's performance in the teaching and supervision of graduate students is also considered and mentioned in the review, with appropriate consultation with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  • It should be recognized that Outside Professional Activity (OPA) may “offer valuable opportunities to enrich teaching and research, and to share the knowledge, skills, know-how and other resources of the institution with the community at large” (CA 13.2). As such, the Department Head shall consider OPA reported by the academic in their evaluation to the extent that this activity demonstrably contributes to the fulfillment of the academic's obligations to the University and to the enhancement of the university's stature.
  • Recommend merit increments for each academic staff member within the merit pool allocated to you by the Dean.
  • Include a deadline for the academic to discuss the merit recommendation and/or the wording of the assessment.
  • Include in the final written assessment a deadline by which to appeal to the Faculty Merit Committee (FMC).
  • Upload the final written assessment to Academic Portfolio for FMC review.
  • Meet with the academic staff member to discuss any concerns regarding the merit recommendation and/or wording of the assessment. At this time, should there be any missing information identified, the staff member may request their Academic Performance Report be re-opened in Academic Portfolio.
  • Ensure the staff member signs the final written assessment to signify they have read the comments and recommended merit increment (when applicable). This does not indicate their agreement.

Appeals of the Department Head assessments are heard at the FMC meetings.The appeal letter from the appellant and supporting documents are forwarded to the Chair of the FMC, c/o HR Academic Advisor.

The appellant and Head are invited to present any clarification of factual information in response to the FMC's request.

  • Head may only be present if appellant attends
  • Appellant may be accompanied by an advisor
  • Appellant, Head, and advisor are not present during discussion and voting.

A Head in a departmentalized faculty may formally seek the advice of a departmental advisory committee, only if a majority of the department members vote in favour of establishing such a committee (CA 29.5.6)

The advice of the Departmental Advisory Committee is submitted directly to the Department Head to provide additional commentary to the Head only and is not included in the review of the FMC or the Dean. Should the Head include any of the commentary in the assessment, the source of the comment shall be the “Departmental Advisory Committee” not the individual.

The Head has a continuing role to provide support and coaching throughout the academic staff member’s appointment in order to guide them to success in all aspects of their career at the university.

Special Considerations

New academic staff members beginning their appointment between January 1 and June 30 during an assessment year are not required to submit an Academic Performance Report and will not be assessed for merit. They will receive a default 1.2 increment for a 1.0 FTE. This is prorated for appointments less than 1.0 FTE (CA 29.3.3).

Points to clarify

  • During their first merit assessment, any academic accomplishments that were not reflected in the Curriculum Vitae (CV) or considered at the time of hiring may be considered by the FMC. (CA 29.4.4)
  • Explain the difference between work in progress, in press, and completed.
  • Describe what an increment is and the difference between a default increment and an assessed increment.

The onus is on the individuals involved in the relationship or conflict to report a conflict of interest to the Dean and/or Head.

The Head and/or the applicant may request an alternate reviewer based on a conflict of interest expressed in writing to their Dean. You will continue to provide an assessment for the remaining academics under your supervision with whom you have no conflict of interest.

In all cases where there is a conflict of interest, if an alternate is in place, the academic appointee involved should be informed of the alternate’s identity to ensure there are no further conflicts.

Seek advice from your HR Academic Advisor to ensure the matter is cared for in accordance with university standards.

If an academic staff member holds a split or joint appointment in another Faculty/ Department/Unit or is seconded to another unit, the primary Department Head will perform the merit assessment but must seek input from any secondary Faculty/Department/Unit to include in the assessment.

This input is a requirement of the employment contract and/or secondment agreement and should be in writing to the Head of the primary Faculty/Department/Unit. Absence of this input may result in revision of the assessment and delays in the process.

If you are the Head of the Secondary Faculty/Department/Unit of a joint appointment or secondment and have not been asked to provide input to the Primary Department, please contact the primary Department Head as soon as possible.

Academic Portfolio

Academic Portfolio is the University of Calgary’s tool to support the Academic Career processes.

Learn more

TUCFA Collective Agreement


June 2021 GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Processes Handbook


April 2019 GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Processes Handbook

For use only under the transitional provisions of the June 2021 GFC Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook (Part A, Section 4.2)