Message to All Penn Faculty on Probationary Period Extensions Related to COVID-19

March 23, 2020

In this time of unprecedented crisis, we are mindful of the ongoing disruptions in the personal and professional lives of our Penn faculty colleagues. For faculty who are assistant professors in the Tenure, Clinician-Educator, and Research Tracks and associate professors without tenure, we recognize the impact of COVID-19 on your ability to perform the academic responsibilities on which the evaluation for promotion will be based.

To that end, the University and the Schools recognize that catastrophic events are occurring for some of you, warranting relief under the policies found in the University’s Policy on Extension of the Probationary Periods that Apply to Granting of Tenure or Promotion to Associate Professor (see Section II.E.3 at link). Under these policies, any faculty member in their probationary period (except those currently in their mandatory year) will be eligible to request an extension to their probationary period.

The length of time that we will be affected by COVID-19 is unknown, so the impact of COVID-19 on research and other academic activities of any individual faculty member may not be immediately apparent. In keeping with University rules, you are asked to apply for your optional extensions within a year of the catastrophic events and before the commencement of your original mandatory review year. Thus it is not necessary to apply for an extension right now. However, if your mandatory review year begins July 1, 2020, you must apply before that date. To reduce administrative burden and anxiety to the extent possible, we will be expediting the process of granting extensions.

The simple process to apply for an extension is as follows:

  • Complete the extension form.
  • Include a brief written description of the COVID-related circumstances that impacted your academic productivity.
  • Submit to your chair (or, if none, to your dean) for signoff.


Following signoff by the department chair, your request will undergo review. The exact nature of the review may vary from School to School based on the likely volume of requests. For example, in the Perelman School of Medicine (home to the majority of the roughly 700 affected junior faculty), a separate investigation by an ad hoc faculty committee will not generally be required and an administrative review by Faculty Affairs will be conducted. For catastrophic event applications in PSOM that are not related to COVID-19, the standard process will be used. In most Schools, the standard process will be used.

Candidates presently in their mandatory year (AY 2019-2020) are not eligible for extensions, since review is in its final months. Those faculty whose mandatory reviews or promotions are in progress can expect that they will be completed on or close to schedule this spring or early summer.

The University’s extension policy was intended to address catastrophic events such as this, and we encourage you to take advantage of it to help ensure your success. Extensions of your probationary period are also available under existing rules for new children in your home, serious illness, and caregiving of family members with serious illness, using the same extension form as above.

If you have any questions about the extension process or policy, please reach out to your school’s Faculty Coordinator or to Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen ( Faculty in the Perelman School of Medicine should direct their questions to Executive Director for Faculty Affairs Victoria Mulhern (

We thank you for your partnership as we navigate the unprecedented changes to this semester.


Wendell Pritchett, Provost
Anita Allen, Vice Provost for Faculty


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