Peer Committees

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension has established peer committees in compliance with the contractual agreement between Associated Faculties of the University of Maine System (AFUM) and the University. Peers include all Cooperative Extension faculty members, whether or not they are AFUM members. Peer committees provide information/feedback to the faculty member concerning ongoing performance evaluation, reappointment, continuing contract status, promotion, outside employment, post-tenure compensation, and similar considerations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary responsibilities of my Peer Committee?

What is the composition of my Peer Committee?

A minimum of 3 Cooperative Extension Faculty Members with at least one member outside of my immediate program area is needed. At least one member has a continuing contract. It is encouraged to include at least one member who has achieved a positive personnel action within the past five years. Additional members including peers from outside Cooperative Extension may be members of my peer committee.

What is the length of term of Peer Committee members?

It is a 3-year renewable term. Members are appointed on a rotating basis. Terms run from January to December.

What should I look for in a Peer Committee member?

Someone who is:

  • Familiar with the guidelines
  • Is willing to challenge me
  • Provides support
  • Has different strengths than I do

For more details read insights (Word) from Lisa Phelps, Extension Educator.

How do I choose whom I invite to be on my Peer Committee?

Choosing peer committee members is a very important decision. Give thought to what your strengths and weaknesses are. Questions to ask yourself are:

  • What is my learning and thinking style? Do I process information sequentially or randomly?
  • When I review the reappointment criteria, which areas do I excel in? Which reappointment criteria will I need support with?
  • Am I a person that can set deadlines and keep to them?
  • What are my organizational skills like?

All of us bring different strengths and perspectives to Cooperative Extension. Make a list of your strengths and the areas where you know you will need support in. For example, the reappointment process is sequential in nature and you are a random thinker; you might consider inviting a colleague who is a sequential thinker to be a member of your committee. It is to your advantage to invite colleagues who bring different strengths and perspectives than you do. This provides an opportunity to develop a strong reappointment packet.

As a new faculty member, you probably do not know many of your colleagues and what they could contribute to your success. Engage your PA (Program Administrator) and mentor in a conversation about Cooperative Extension colleagues who have strengths in areas that you need support in. Being strategic about who is on your peer committee can have a positive impact on your reappointment process.

What are my responsibilities as a faculty member in the reappointment process?

Be sure to:

  • understand the Faculty Performance Evaluation and personnel action processes and timelines
  • select members of your Peer Committee
  • convene meetings of your Peer Committee
  • provide a hard copy of your plan of work on the Maine Planning and Reporting System to Peer Committee as necessary
  • meet with your Peer Committee when required
  • work with your Peer Committee on an ongoing basis to prepare a professional packet
  • report accomplishments on the Maine Planning and Reporting System in a timely manner
  • meet with your Supervisor for Faculty Performance Evaluation and feedback
  • meet with your Supervisor to discuss preparation and content of the personnel action packet prior to submission
  • submit personnel action packet according to the timeline located on Plugged In.
  • request a meeting with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Promotion Review Committee (PRC) while they are in session if desired

Note: If you choose not to meet with the PRC, either in person or by conference call, you will not receive feedback on your packet prior to the PRC submitting their recommendation or have the opportunity to revise your packet.

How do I go about establishing a relationship with my Peer Committee?

As soon as you have asked colleagues to be on your peer committee, invite them to meet with you. The purpose of the meeting is to design how you will work together. You might invite your PA or mentor to facilitate this first conversation so that you can fully be present. Meeting face-to-face begins to build connection and deepen commitment.

What can I ask of my Peer Committee members?

This is a time when you get to ask for what you want to ensure your success. Your colleagues said yes to your invitation because they want to support you. Identifying what support and structures you want from them is a critical step in the process. Consider the following:

  • Meeting on a regular basis (3 to 4 times a year) for feedback and support about your work as well as the development of your reappointment packet.
  • Setting up meeting dates early on for reviewing your reappointment packet provides a structure for you to receive feedback in a timely fashion allowing time to make changes in your reappointment packet. Negotiate with your peer committee members what is a reasonable turnaround time for reading your packet.
  • Designing a process early on for adding or letting go of peer committee members as well as establishing a peer committee membership rotation schedule.

Given where I am in my reappointment process, I want different input or members on my Peer Committee? How do I restructure my Peer Committee membership to support me at this time?

  • Remember your colleagues want you to be successful. Assume they will be appreciative of your clarity in pursuing what you want at this time.
  • Decide what it is you want more of? If you are unclear, talk this over with your mentor, PA or a trusted colleague.
  • Decide if you want to renegotiate the support or if you want to invite another colleague to be on your peer committee.
  • If you want to renegotiate, initiate a conversation with the peer committee member as soon as possible letting them know what it is you want. After hearing what you want, they might agree and be willing to provide that kind of support.
  • If not, thank them for their service and acknowledge their contribution to your process.

What is the role of the Cooperative Extension Promotion Review Committee?

Note: It is the responsibility of the Peer Committee to provide feedback on the preparation of the packet; it is the responsibility of the Promotion Review Committee to evaluate the packet presented to them and provide written feedback.

I have a joint appointment. What is the role of my Peer Committee?

A peer committee for a faculty member with a joint appointment is comprised of Cooperative Extension and departmental colleagues. This peer committee’s function is similar to the Promotion Review Committee in that it reviews the reappointment packet; provides written feedback for each criterion and forward personnel action recommendations to Cooperative Extension and departmental administration. You have the option to meet with the peer committee to receive oral feedback and guidance about your reappointment packet.

Additionally, a joint appointment faculty member may choose to form a separate peer committee whose purpose would be similar to a regular faculty member’s peer committee.