Communication #25: Employment Guidelines for Specialized Faculty Holding Non-Tenure System Positions (AY2023-24)

Last revised April 2024

Overview

The University Statutes recognize a category of employees who are engaged with the teaching and/or research missions of the University and who are not part of University’s tenure system.1 These individuals perform specialized functions, and their scope of work is more specific than their tenure-system peers. In recognition of the specialized nature of these positions and the contributions made by this group of employees, we will refer to this group of employees as “specialized faculty.”2

Specialized faculty members serve an integral part of the university function, with a teaching, research, or clinical focus. These individuals may work for a single semester or may dedicate years of service to the University. Whatever the configuration, specialized faculty members make substantial contributions to the mission of the University of Illinois. Specialized faculty members often teach core courses in units and as a result are highly influential to the student experience on campus. They often are responsible for curricular innovation as well. Specialized faculty members who focus on research are contributing to innovation and break-through knowledge in scholarship. Specialized faculty members with a clinical focus draw on their expert knowledge gained from significant practical experiences in a discipline or profession that contributes to our teaching and applied research endeavors. The University is committed to the academic citizenship and well-being of specialized faculty on campus, and to their overall professional growth. We prefer the term “specialized” rather than “contingent” or non-tenure system, which are phrases used at other institutions. Specialized faculty members are integral to the excellence of our campus and our terminology reflects that important status.

This Communication recognizes the crucial contributions of this employee group on the campus and provides best practices regarding a number of important employment matters. It is intended to provide guidance to units (e.g., departments, schools, and colleges) regarding the wide variety of employment matters affecting specialized faculty.3 Issues addressed in this communication include titles, promotional tracks, hiring procedures, performance evaluations, grievances, unit involvement and professional development.

Guiding Principles

This section provides guiding principles for campus units regarding the hiring and employment of specialized faculty. Information regarding specific required policies and practices are identified in later sections of this Communication. Every unit should examine its employment practices to ensure that policies and procedures are in place that reflect the following guiding principles:

  • Specialized faculty members are important members of our campus community who collectively make significant contributions to the teaching, research, and service missions of their individual units and to the campus. 
  • The academic community flourishes when the best specialized faculty members are recruited, evaluated, and retained using fair employment practices and procedures.  In conducting searches and hiring, units shall adhere to the campus guiding principles relative to equal employment, affirmative action, diversity, and inclusivity.
  • Units shall identify the responsibilities and privileges that are appropriate to extend to specialized faculty in their units, given that specialized faculty do not receive the full panoply of statutory rights and privileges afforded to tenure system faculty. 
  • Units shall have bylaws that clearly identify the roles, responsibilities, and privileges of specialized faculty.  
  • To optimize performance and to meet objectives, hiring units must inform specialized faculty what the job duties and performance expectations are for their positions.
  • Specialized faculty shall have access to department, school, college, and campus grievance procedures. 
  • Units shall identify promotional paths that create opportunities for specialized faculty to invest in long-term careers at Illinois, thereby providing needed stability for these employees and ensuring the high level of excellence required in these positions.

Summary of Specialized Faculty Titles and Attributes

Specialized faculty are represented in the following four main categories: those focused primarily on teaching; those focused primarily on research; those focused primarily on providing specialized instruction borne out of practical experience; and those who function in all academic components of teaching, research, and service but for a limited time. These categories point to the primary focus of those hired in these positions, which is not to say that there is no overlap with other types of contributions. Those who mostly teach may do some service, and those who mostly conduct research may do some teaching. This section is intended to guide units in the use of the specialized faculty titles, relying on both established practices regarding the use of the respective titles as well as best practices for promotional tracks.

Specialized Faculty: Teaching Focused

Specialized faculty who primarily are involved in the teaching mission of the University can have the following titles: instructor, senior instructor, principal instructor, lecturer, senior lecturer, principal lecturer, teaching assistant professor, teaching associate professor, and teaching professor. In relatively rare cases the title of teaching associate also may be appropriate. The campus criteria for each of these specialized faculty teaching-focused appointments are outlined below. Additionally, this section outlines fundamental principles for promotional processes for instructors and lecturers (for promotion principles and processes for specialized faculty on professorial tracks, please see Provost’s Communication No. 26).

Instructors and Lecturers

Instructors and lecturers are members of the specialized faculty who are engaged primarily in providing classroom instruction. While employees in these positions may also have ancillary administrative duties, they are not typically engaged in the kinds of service work expected from faculty on the professorial tracks, such as curriculum development or committee service. The instructor and lecturer titles should also not be used when there is an expectation for research activity beyond classroom instruction. (Please see Provost’s Communication No. 26, General Guidelines, for information on how units may define research activity for specialized faculty.) The distinction between the instructor and lecturer titles is whether the employee holds a terminal degree in the relevant discipline or profession as determined by the unit. The instructor title should be used when an appointee does not hold the terminal degree. When an appointee holds the relevant terminal degree, the lecturer title should be used.

Senior and Principal Instructors & Lecturers

When lecturers and instructors have made significant contributions to the unit’s teaching mission, including contributions to the curriculum, appointment or promotion to a senior title is appropriate. In addition, units have the option to recognize more significant, distinguished contributions of senior instructors and senior lecturer by appointment or promotion to a principal instructor or principal lecturer. If a unit wishes to provide the option of promotion to or appointment at the rank of principal, they must first develop and share the specific criteria used to differentiate seniors from principals in terms of the significance and distinguished nature of contributions to the unit’s teaching mission.    

In developing specific criteria for the senior and principal levels, units should aim for criteria that characterize fundamentally and objectively higher contributions to the unit’s teaching mission at each successive level. When assessing teaching contributions, units should apply the campus-wide Definition of Teaching Excellence. In particular, although units can use different methods of evaluation, their evaluation will summarize the extent to which the candidate meets the four criteria noted in the Definition for excellence in course-based teaching (i.e., well-designed, well-delivered, inclusive and ethical, and reflective and evolving) and whether the candidate’s other contributions to teaching meet expectations for a senior or principal rank.

The senior and principal modifiers should not be used simply because a person has been in a title for a certain amount of time (although length of service and contribution to the unit can be a factor that is evaluated). Rather, in consultation with their colleges, units should develop clear promotion policies that identify the criteria governing the advancement of individuals to senior and principal titles for their instructors and lecturers. Appointment to a senior or principal title among instructors or lecturers must be supported by a candidate-prepared dossier that demonstrates that the individual’s experience and qualifications meet the unit criteria.  These dossiers must be reviewed at the department level, after which college-level approval for the appointment or promotion must be obtained. Promotion to a senior title or to a principal title appointment should ordinarily be accompanied by a uniform promotional increase in base salary, as set and funded by the unit. Similarly, as a general matter, units should consider offering a multi-year contract with senior or principal appointments. Provost’s Communication No. 17 sets forth the policy and procedures regarding multi-year contracts. Finally, because of the differing requirements for the teaching professor ranks, there is no presumption that a senior or even principal lecturer will advance to the teaching professor track automatically. 

Teaching Professorial Appointments

The expectation is that teaching professorial titles will be reserved for those individuals who are committed to making an instructional impact and contributing to the unit’s broader mission through public engagement, service, or research. It is also expected that these titles will be reserved for the appointment of those who the unit foresees as having an ongoing relationship with the University, as opposed to those hired for specific short-term appointments, such as for a sabbatical replacement or as a temporary supplement to the faculty. (See section III.A.v., below for more on part-time and short-term appointments.)  

Teaching professors (assistant, associate, and full) must have either a terminal degree or equivalent expertise and experience in the relevant discipline. Because this position carries the title of professor, the review of the candidate’s credentials and experience must be rigorous. At a minimum, a candidate for a teaching assistant professor position should be able to demonstrate a history of or potential for strong instructional contributions to the unit and campus or broader discipline.

Units should refer to Provost Communication No. 26 when considering an appointment at the level of associate or full, based on the impact and maturity of the individual’s record of teaching, classroom innovation, student interactions, and/or scholarly accomplishments. Appointment at these levels must be supported by a candidate-prepared dossier that demonstrates that the individual’s experience and qualifications meet the unit criteria. Units must follow policies and procedures they develop for expedited review of such appointments, and candidate dossiers must be submitted to the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for an administrative review. 

Appointment at or promotion to teaching associate professor or teaching professor should ordinarily be accompanied by a uniform promotional increase in base salary, as set and funded by the unit. Consistent with the stature of the title and level of contribution expected from a teaching professor, a multi-year contract should, as a general matter, be issued with teaching associate professor and teaching professor appointments. Provost’s Communication No. 17 sets forth the policy and procedures regarding multi-year contracts.

Teaching Associates

With the creation of the various titles and tracks outlined above, it is expected that the use of the teaching associate title should be used only for truly unique situations, and units should consult with their college human resources office and get approval from the Office of the Provost before making teaching associate appointments. Although there may be isolated instances in which the teaching associate title is appropriate, as a normal course the Lecturer/Instructor track or teaching professor track should be used to appoint individuals whose duties and responsibilities center on providing instruction.  Please note that teaching associates who are employed full-time and paid on hard funds have notice rights.

Key Characteristics of AppointmentAvailable Titles & Promotional Path
Does not hold terminal degree for the discipline; teaching focused with little to no additional service or research expectations.Instructor → Senior Instructor → Principal Instructor
Holds terminal degree for the discipline; teaching focused with little to no additional service or research expectationsLecturer → Senior Lecturer → Principal Lecturer
Terminal degree for the discipline or equivalent experience; expected to make an instructional impact and contribute to the unit’s broader mission through public engagement, service, or researchTeaching Assistant Professor → Teaching Associate Professor → Teaching Professor

Visiting and Adjunct modifiers

Instructors, lecturers, and teaching professors (assistant, associate and full) with less than a 0.50 FTE (cumulative of all their university appointments) must have the “adjunct” modifier added to the title.

As noted above, teaching professorial titles are reserved for the appointment of those who the unit foresees as having an ongoing relationship with the University. Short-term hires (such as those for sabbatical replacement or as a temporary supplement to the faculty) who are teaching focused should instead be assigned the instructor or lecturer title, with appropriate modifiers that reflect their level of experience. It is also permitted for units, in consultation with the Office of the Provost, to assign a working title that best reflects the hire’s function during their appointment (e.g., “professor of practice,” “artist in residence,” etc.).

The “visiting” modifier should not be used with any teaching-focused titles. The “visiting” modifier should be reserved for visiting professor (assistant, associate and full) appointments (see Section III.D). Under limited appropriate circumstances, the “visiting” modifier may be used with teaching associate positions. Units must consult with their college human resources office and contact the Office of the Provost to obtain approval prior to the use of the visiting modifier with a teaching associate appointment.

Appointment Term

Teaching professors may be offered either the academic year or twelve-month appointments. 

Specialized Faculty:  Research Focused

Research Professorial Appointments

The expectation is that research professorial titles will be reserved for those individuals who are committed to contributing to the unit’s broader mission through their research, teaching, public engagement, or service. It is also expected that these titles will be reserved for those appointment of individuals who the unit foresees as having an ongoing relationship with the University, as opposed to those hired for specific short-term appointments, such as for a sabbatical replacement or as a temporary supplement to the faculty.4  (See section III.B.iii below for more on part-time and short-term appointments.)

As defined in Provost Communication No. 26, research includes “not only research and scholarship as narrowly understood, but encompass[es] creative artistry, as well as research that is interdisciplinary and/or translational.” 

Professorial titles with a “research” modifier may be used to create specialized faculty appointments for individuals who are primarily focused on the research mission of the University. Research professors (assistant, associate, and full) are required to have both a terminal degree and expertise in the relevant discipline. Research specialized faculty may also be expected to involve students in research, including supervising graduate students and post-doctoral research associates. Appointment to a research assistant professor title requires demonstration that the individual has the ability to make a substantial impact in a research area, as demonstrated by publications, invited talks, external funding, and other related activities. 

A research professor appointment (assistant, associate and full) within a given unit requires that the appointee has a non-zero FTE portion of their appointment in that unit. Units have discretion on the minimum portion of an appointment needed beyond this requirement for it to be non-zero.  Where appropriate, a unit may provide a 0% affiliate appointment to a research professor (please see Provost Communication No. 3 for details on 0% appointments).

Units should refer to Provost Communication No. 26 when considering an appointment at the level of associate or full, based on the impact and maturity of the individual’s scholarship. Appointment at these levels must be supported by a candidate-prepared dossier that demonstrates that the individual’s experience and qualifications meet the unit criteria. Units must follow policies and procedures they develop for expedited review of such appointments, and candidate dossiers must be submitted to the Office of the Provost for an administrative review.

Research assistant or associate professor appointments initially may be funded either entirely or partially from existing grants for which principal investigators need assistance in conducting and/or managing the research. Over time, these individuals are expected to develop independent research agendas and, typically, secure some external funding for their work.

Appointment at or promotion to research associate professor and research professor titles should ordinarily be accompanied by a higher starting or promotional increase in base salary, as set and funded by the unit (including soft funds, if appropriate). Consistent with the stature of the title and level of contribution expected from a research professor, a multi-year contract should, as a general matter, be issued with Research Associate Professor and Research Professor appointments. Provost Communication No. 17 sets forth the policy and procedures regarding multi-year contracts.

Research Associates

In addition to research professorial appointments, there are the following research-focused titles:  research associate, post-doctoral research associate, and post-doctoral research fellow. Use of the research associate title is infrequent, and units should consult with their college human resources office and get approval from the Office of the Provost before making research associate appointments.  Post-doctoral research associates and post-doctoral research associate appointments are overseen by the Graduate College and more information about these appointments can be found on the Graduate College website.

Visiting and Adjunct modifiers

Specialized faculty in this research-focused category who are less than 0.50 FTE (cumulative of all of their university appointments) should have the “adjunct” modifier added to the title.

As noted above, research professorial titles are typically reserved for the appointment of those who the unit foresees as having an ongoing relationship with the University. Short-term hires (such as those for sabbatical replacement or as a temporary supplement to the faculty) who are teaching focused should instead be assigned the instructor or lecturer title, with appropriate modifiers that reflect their level of experience. For research-focused short-term hires, units should consult with The Office of the Provost on the appropriate title, as well as on any working title that might be assigned (e.g., “professor of practice,” “artist in residence,” etc.).

The “visiting” modifier should not be used with any research professorial titles (assistant, associate, or full). The “visiting” modifier should be reserved for visiting professor (assistant, associate, and full) appointments (see Section III.D.). Under limited appropriate circumstances, the “visiting” title may be used with research associate titles. Units must consult with their college human resources office and obtain approval from the Office of the Provost to use the visiting modifier with a research associate appointment.

Appointment Term

Research professors may be offered either the academic year or twelve-month appointments.  As set forth more fully in Section IV.C. below, under certain circumstances, research professors may be entitled to formal notice of non-reappointment six months prior to the end of a current appointment term.

Specialized Faculty:  Clinical Focused

Clinical Professorial Appointments

Professorial titles with a “clinical” modifier may be used to create specialized faculty appointments for individuals who provide instruction that draws on and provides specialized knowledge gained from practical experiences in a discipline or profession. Clinical faculty are employed throughout the university, with the greatest numbers concentrated in the medical colleges and schools (i.e., the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Applied Health Sciences, and the School of Social Work), the College of Law, Gies College of Business, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the College of Media, and the Grainger College of Engineering.

The expectation is that clinical professorial titles will be reserved for  those individuals who are committed to making an instructional impact and contributing to the unit’s broader mission through public engagement, service, or research. It is also expected that these titles will be reserved for the appointment of those who the unit foresees as having with an ongoing relationship with the University, as opposed to those hired for specific short-term episodic appointments, such as for a sabbatical replacement or as a temporary supplement to the faculty. (See section III.C.v., below for more on part-time and short-term appointments.)

Units may, in consultation with their college and the Office of the Provost, assign working titles to their clinical appointments (e.g., Assistant/Associate/[Full] Professor of Practice) if such titles better align with the discipline.

Units should evaluate and determine minimum criteria that are appropriate to warrant appointment at the rank of clinical assistant professor. Because this position carries the title of professor, the review of the candidate’s credentials and experience must be rigorous. Factors to consider include requirements regarding level of education and degree obtained, years of experience in the relevant field, areas of expertise, and specialized knowledge necessary to fill curricular needs.   

Units should refer to Provost Communication No. 26 when considering an appointment at the level of associate or full, based on the impact and maturity of the individual’s clinical or scholarly contributions. Appointment at these levels must be supported by a candidate-prepared dossier that demonstrates that the individual’s experience and qualifications meet the unit criteria. Units must follow policies and procedures they develop for expedited review of such appointments, and candidate dossiers must be submitted to the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for an administrative review.  

Appointment at or promotion to clinical associate or clinical full professor should ordinarily be accompanied by a higher starting or promotional increase in base salary, as set and funded by the unit.  Consistent with the stature of the title and level of contribution expected from a clinical professor, a multi-year contract should, as a general matter, be issued with clinical associate professor and clinical professor appointments.  Provost Communication No. 17 sets forth the policy and procedures regarding multi-year contracts.

Clinical Associates

The University Statutes authorize a clinical associate title, but this is not a title in use on the Urbana campus.  Units should not make appointments using the clinical associate title without first consulting with their college human resources office and getting approval from the Office of the Provost

Visiting and Adjunct modifiers

Specialized faculty in this category who are less than 0.50 FTE (cumulative of all of their university appointments) should have the “adjunct” modifier added to the title.

As noted above, clinical professorial titles are reserved for the appointment of those who the unit foresees as having an ongoing relationship with the University. Short-term hires (such as those for sabbatical replacement or as a temporary supplement to the faculty) who are teaching focused should instead be assigned the instructor or lecturer title, with appropriate modifiers that reflect their level of experience. It is also permitted for units, in consultation with The Office of the Provost, to assign a working title that best reflects the hire’s function during their appointment (e.g., “professor of practice,” “artist in residence,” etc.).

The “visiting” modifier should not be used with any clinically focused titles.  The “visiting” modifier should be reserved for visiting professor (assistant, associate, and full) appointments (see Section III.D.).

Appointment Term

Clinical professors may be offered either the academic year or twelve-month appointments.

Specialized Faculty: Visiting Professors

Specialized faculty who are more broadly involved in all three of the University’s missions of teaching, research, and service but who are here for a limited time period should be designated as “visiting” professor (i.e., visiting assistant professor, visiting associate professor, and visiting professor). In most cases, visiting faculty members have regular appointments at another institution.

Faculty in this category who are less than 0.50 FTE should use the “adjunct” title rather than the   “visiting” modifier.

Key Characteristics of AppointmentAvailable Titles & Promotional Path
Primarily engaged in the research mission, housed in academic unit, and capable of independently developing and securing funding for a research programResearch Assistant Professor → Research Associate Professor → Research Professor
Primarily providing instruction based on practical expertiseClinical Assistant Prof. → Clinical Associate Prof.
→ Clinical Professor
More broadly involved in teaching, research and service missions, on a limited time appointmentVisiting Professors (Assistant, Associate or Full)

Hiring Specialized Faculty

Just as careful attention is paid to the recruitment and hiring of tenure-system faculty, it is critical that units hire specialized faculty based on established standards and pursuant to regularized hiring procedures. Every unit must evaluate the roles played by these faculty members and identify the appropriate unit criteria and standards. 

Units should strive to engage in strategic and long-term planning regarding the hiring of specialized faculty. This planning requires a careful assessment of unit needs and the role that specialized faculty will play in meeting immediate and long-term unit goals. Although it is inevitable that last minute unanticipated hiring needs will occur, it is imperative units work to anticipate and regularize hiring of specialized faculty. 

A critical aspect of strategic planning is having established criteria and hiring standards for specialized faculty positions, including identifying minimum job qualifications, educational and degree requirements, and substantive knowledge and experience required for each specialized faculty position. Such standards are necessary to ensure that specialized faculty will meet the performance expectations, curricular needs, and research objectives of the unit.    

Hiring Procedures

Guidance regarding the campus procedures governing academic searches and hiring can be found in the following:

Specialized faculty positions should generally be filled through an open and competitive process, especially with those positions that include the professorial title. However, when urgent and unforeseen circumstances arise requiring the immediate filling of a specialized faculty member to further the campus’ mission and objectives, a waiver may be requested. The waiver should generally be for a limited time (e.g., one semester) to address the immediate need. When possible, it is suggested that an open and continuous search process is used to assist with positions that are continuously needing to be filled and re-filled (i.e., lecturers for a multi-section course). This process allows the search to be open for up to a year with applicants ready for review at any point during the year. For more information regarding this process, please contact the Office for Access and Equity.

Offer Letters

Each specialized faculty appointment shall be accompanied by a written offer letter that clearly states the title, unit of appointment, service period, percentage of appointment, salary, and a statement of the duties for the position. 

Job descriptions can provide greater details about duties and performance expectations but offer letters must provide at least a general statement of the duties associated with the position.  Additional issues that should be addressed either in the offer letter or by separate communication include:

  • Service expectations, if any
  • Expectations regarding attendance at unit meetings
  • If applicable, expectations regarding office hours and course preparatory time
  • Policies governing required attendance at unit meetings, preparatory time, and cancelled courses
  • Access to office space, staff or other institutional resources

Typically, the duration of a specialized faculty appointment is for a period of time that is one year (sometimes less for short-term needs), but multi-year contracts are more typical when a senior or principal title is appropriate for instructors and lecturers or when an associate or full title is appropriate for clinical, teaching or research professors.5 Specialized faculty may, however, be re-appointed on an on-going basis, either for consecutive appointments or as otherwise dictated by the unit’s needs. Each reappointment requires an offer letter and a written acceptance from the candidate for the appointment to be processed.

Providing as much advance notice as possible of an appointment offer is in the mutual best interests of our units and our specialized faculty.  Units should attempt to extend employment offers as soon as is reasonably practicable, but particular circumstances will dictate how much advance notice of an appointment is feasible.  Strategic and long-term planning should enable greater predictability of appointments and thus, stability for units and for specialized faculty members.

Formal Written Notice of Non-Reappointment is Required for Certain Appointments

In general, formal written notice of non-reappointment is not required for most specialized faculty appointments. However, the University Statutes, Article X, Section 1(a)(7), does require written notice of non-reappointment for individuals who have full-time appointment (1.00 FTE), are paid solely from hard funds and who are appointed in the following titles:  teaching associate, research associate, clinical associate or research professor (assistant, associate, and full). When all three of these conditions exist (i.e., 1.00 FTE, solely supported by hard funds and in one of the qualifying titles), specialized faculty are entitled to receive formal notice of non-reappointment at least six months prior to the end of a current contract.  Provost Communication No. 11 provides additional guidance on when formal written notice of non-reappointment is required for members of the academic staff who are not in the tenure system.  Unit administrators should be familiar with the statutory requirements and the procedures laid out in Provost Communication No. 11. 

Multi-Year Contracts

Pursuant to the University of Illinois Statutes, academic units may develop policies for offering longer employment contracts to certain categories of employees.6 Specifically, units may offer contracts for appointment periods of up to five years. Provost Communication No. 17 outlines the policy and the procedures that units must follow in offering multiple-year contracts.  The main purpose of the Multiple-Year Contract policy is to help units recruit and retain the best available personnel. Therefore, as a general matter, an offer of a multi-year contract should accompany appointment to Senior- and Principal-level titles and to teaching, research and clinical associate professor and full professor titles. In addition to these appointments, units are encouraged to evaluate whether and under what circumstances multiple-year contracts are appropriate and how these appointments meet the mission of teaching, research, and service.

Evaluations of Specialized Faculty

In accordance with campus expectations, all academic staff should receive appropriate feedback and guidance regarding job performance (see Provost Communications No. 21, Annual Faculty Review, and No. 22, Annual Review of Academic Professional Employees). Thus, every unit shall have a policy and procedures governing how specialized faculty will be evaluated. Provost Communications No. 21 and No. 22 provide guidelines on how to structure review procedures and other guidance on the requirements, objectives, and importance of annual performance evaluations. Consistent with unit bylaws and circumstances, units may incorporate policy and procedures for performance evaluations of specialized faculty into existing practices or may design separate processes for such evaluations.

Performance expectations for specialized faculty should uniquely reflect their particular workload and their access to resources. Units may also design their own procedures for evaluating specialized faculty separate from that for tenure-system faculty, one which might better evaluate their unique roles within the unit.

Grievances

Departments, schools, and colleges shall have grievance policies and procedures available to specialized faculty. Academic units may explicitly state that specialized faculty have access to existing grievance policies or provide a separate grievance process for specialized faculty.  Specialized faculty members may have access to campus grievance policies and committees if the complaint or issue falls within the jurisdiction of the committee. Consistent with the governing policies and bylaws, units should notify specialized faculty about applicable appeal rights or access to campus-level grievance policies and committees.

Unit Orientation, Involvement and Governance

Across campus, specialized faculty are heavily engaged in carrying out our teaching, research and service missions. Units should consider how the following practices can be adopted and for which positions they are appropriate. 

Orientation

Taking into consideration the nature and scope of the position, units should ensure that new faculty members receive an appropriate orientation to unit and campus policies and procedures, curricular objectives and standards, and other relevant practices and terms and conditions of employment. How such orientation is delivered may vary depending upon the job duties and full-time equivalency status of the position. Formal orientation sessions may not be feasible or appropriate, depending upon the type and duration of appointment.

Unit Involvement and Governance 

To the extent appropriate, units should seek to incorporate specialized faculty into the academic life of the unit. Decisions about what level of participation within a given unit is appropriate will vary across campus and will be impacted by the types of job duties, years of experience, and other unique factors of the specialized faculty positions within a unit and by the unit structure, accreditation requirements, and other factors. The University Statutes state that tenure system faculty have inherent rights in academic policy and governance, including enacting bylaws that govern the internal administration of their academic units. Tenure system faculty can adopt bylaws that extend certain faculty privileges to specialized faculty within their units (see Article II.). Units should develop consistent practices and policies related to specialized faculty appointments, including but not limited to, (a) attendance and participation in unit meetings, (b) eligibility and expectations for service, and (c) participation in curricular discussions and decisions. When such guidelines are developed by departments, they should be done so as to accord with any guidelines that exist at the college level.

Units using the promotional tracks outlined in this document are encouraged to involve specialized faculty in the review process for promotions of specialized faculty members. It is important, however, to ensure that significant tenure system faculty involvement occurs in promotion reviews of specialized faculty and any decisions impacting the academic mission of the unit.

Professional Development Opportunities

To best serve students, units must pay attention to the ongoing professional development of the faculty and staff providing instruction to students inside and outside the classroom. Accordingly, units should consider to what degree they are able and/or should pursue the following activities:

  • Mentoring of specialized faculty, either by other specialized faculty members or by those in the tenure system, possibly including peer-review of teaching
  • Providing unit funds for professional development activities to specialized faculty and allowing them to participate in unit teaching academies and workshops

Units should work to ensure that specialized faculty members are aware of campus resources, such as the services of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, and the eligibility requirements for campus funds. For example, specialized faculty may be eligible to apply for funds from the Teaching Advancement Board (e.g., full time faculty members or lecturers with significant instructional involvement are eligible to apply for the Campus Instructional Awards, Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Program and Provost’s Initiative on Teaching Advancement), and the Campus Research Board’s Scholars’ Travel Fund (full-time lecturers are eligible to apply for conference support). Additionally, although the Campus Research Board’s Research Support Awards primarily are intended to support full-time tenure-system faculty, there may be circumstances under which the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation is willing to consider research proposals from other employees on a case-by-case basis if developed and submitted with the approval of the leadership of the academic unit.  (See crb.research.illinois.edu). 

Assistance

  • Office of the Provost
  • Illinois Human Resource (IHR)

Footnotes

  1. University Statues, Art. IX. ↩︎
  2. This Communication does not create rights beyond those conferred by the University Statutes or established in specific employment contracts with individuals. ↩︎
  3. In accordance with University Statute Article VIII.1.a, this Communication uses “unit” as a collective term to refer to departments, schools and colleges and employs the specific terms “department,” “school,” and “college” where appropriate and necessary for clarity. ↩︎
  4. In special circumstances, the research professor title (assistant, associate, and full) may be used somewhat differently than as outlined here. One of those circumstances is the use of the research professor title as an affiliation appointment for emeriti faculty to facilitate an ongoing research program after retirement (see Provost Communication No. 12). Another circumstance is the use of the title for special post-doctoral fellowship appointments, as is done in the Department of Mathematics (e.g., JL Doob Research Assistant Professor). Units must seek Provost’s office approval for unique uses of the research professor titles that differ from the guidelines in this document ↩︎
  5. Multiple year appointments are available under other circumstances as well, discussed in more detail in the following section and Provost Communication No. 17.  ↩︎
  6. Per University of Illinois Statutes, Article X, Section 1.a. (6-7), certain academic staff eligible for multi-year contracts are defined as Adjunct Faculty (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Adjunct Associate Professor, or Adjunct Professor), Associate (Clinical Associate, Research Associate, including Postdoctoral Research Associate, or Teaching Associate), Clinical Faulty (Clinical Assistant Professor, Clinical Associate Professor, or Clinical Professor), Research Faculty (Research Assistant Professor, Research Associate Professor, Research Professor), Instructor and Lecturer. ↩︎