The purpose of this document is to specify the procedures for faculty appointments and promotions, so that all steps can be clearly understood by all concerned parties. The term “tenure” is used throughout to mean “academic tenure.” If you have questions regarding faculty affairs policies or procedures, please contact Faculty Affairs.
The standing faculty ranks in SEAS are Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. Assistant Professors are initially appointed without tenure, for a term of four years. (For tenure-probationary appointments beginning on or after 1 July but before 1 January the probationary period shall begin retroactively on 1 July; for tenure-probationary appointments beginning on or after 1 January but before 30 June, the probationary period shall begin the following 1 July.) The term may be extended for another three years. Service for seven years confers tenure unless the faculty member is notified in writing no later than the end of his or her sixth year that the appointment will end at seven years. Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor may be made at any time and confers tenure. New appointments at the rank of Associate Professor may be made with tenure, or without tenure for a term of five years. Service beyond this term confers tenure, unless the faculty member is notified at least one year before the end of his or her term that the appointment will not be continued. Appointments or promotions to the rank of Professor (without qualifying title such as “Visiting” or “Adjunct”) are always with tenure.
The associated faculty ranks include Research Professor or Research Associate Professor or Research Assistant Professor, Practice Professor, Visiting Professor or Visiting Associate Professor or Visiting Assistant Professor, and Adjunct Professor or Adjunct Associate Professor or Adjunct Assistant Professor. These positions are not tenure accruing and are temporary appointments. Research faculty and Practice Professor appointments require approval of the SEAS Faculty Personnel Committee and Administrative Committee and of the Provost’s Staff Conference; Adjunct and Visiting faculty appointments require approval of the SEAS Administrative Committee and Provost’s Staff Conference.
The academic support staff consists of persons who contribute to teaching and research programs but who are not eligible to be appointed to the standing or associated faculty. Positions within SEAS defined in the University’s Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators: A Selection of Policies and Procedures include Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Associate, Lecturer (an eminent scholar whose appointment is temporary or part-time, scholars still in professional training, or persons who do not possess the normally expected scholarly credentials but nevertheless provide valuable instructional services), Senior Lecturer (this track is positioned to allow for greater continuity of full-time teaching service for the School’s special programs’ needs), and Senior Fellow (individuals who have served with distinction in the industrial world and now can add, either in a full-time or part-time way, some luster to a program by offering specific expertise and great experience). These positions are not tenure accruing and have no tenure significance. Conditions/limitation on such appointments are contained in the Handbook and Provost’s Staff Conference Documentation Supporting Proposals for Faculty Appointment, Reappointment and Promotion.
Visiting Scholar (distinguished visitor of professorial rank here for mutual scholarly interaction with faculty and students)/Visiting Associate (visitor of less than professorial rank but of solid educational background (terminal professional degree in discipline preferred) and for whom a well-planned enterprise of benefit to the School is the objective of the visit) appointments are temporary appointments, normally made for a period of one year. Other full-time employment is not a requirement. Visiting Scholar and Visiting Associate appointments are forwarded to the Deputy Dean for decision.
Personnel actions are normally initiated by the Department Chair, in consultation with appropriate faculty members. The candidate’s academic qualifications are reviewed by the SEAS Personnel Committee, whose recommendations are then presented to the Administrative Committee along with all other pertinent considerations. Proposed actions passing these steps are taken by the Dean to the Provost’s Staff Conference and then presented by the Provost to the President and to the Trustees. The following sections explain the procedure in more detail and provide for certain exceptions and appeals.
Personnel actions are normally initiated by the Chair of the Department in which the primary appointment exists or is proposed. Any action should be based on a careful consideration of the present status of the Department and its plans for the future. The Chair must consult on proposed actions with all faculty members of the Department with voting rights at or above the rank (Assistant Professors who have been reappointed do not constitute a separate rank and are, thus, not consulted on a reappointment case) at which the appointment or promotion is to be made, including any faculty on leave, and record in the dossier the number of votes for and against the proposed action. The Department Chair shall retain in the Department files all documentation of the votes of the individual faculty members. Consultation with students and with persons outside the Department is encouraged. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Chair proceed with a personnel action unless a majority of the appropriate faculty concur.
The Chair prepares a dossier on the candidate, in accordance with the University and School procedures. No pertinent information once accumulated, such as an unfavorable recommendation, may be withheld from the dossier. Evidence must be submitted that the department has made a serious effort to find a woman or a minority group member qualified for the position. (In accordance with the University’s Affirmative Action Plan, all applications and supplementary material received from applicants for full-time faculty posts must be retained for two years after the position in question has been filled.)
The proposal for personnel action, with the complete file, is sent to the Chair of the SEAS Personnel Committee by the Dean. This committee shall consist of five tenured members of the Faculty, all of whom shall have the rank of Professor. Three of these members shall be nominated by the Faculty Council. The Personnel Committee confines its attention to the academic qualifications of the candidate for the position. On actions leading to tenure, the full committee should act; on other matters, the committee may appoint a review panel, with a committee member as a Chair. The committee or the panel may request additional information from the Chair who originated the action, or may (especially in the case of a tenure action) seek additional information from its own sources. The committee or the panel may approve the proposed action, disapprove it, or recommend modifications. The committee report is sent to the Dean; it should state the reasons for its recommendations and should record dissenting votes, if any.
The Dean brings the complete case, including the Personnel Committee recommendation, to the Administrative Committee, which considers, in addition to academic qualifications, such matters as financial limitations, rank distribution in the Department and in the School, appropriateness of the candidate’s field of specialization, etc.
The Personnel Committee is advisory to the Administrative Committee and the Administrative Committee is advisory to the Dean. The Dean is responsible for the final decision on whether to carry a case forward to the Provost’s Staff Conference. If the Dean favors a personnel action over the objections of some or all members of the Administrative Committee, he is obligated to report the Committee’s advice to the Provost’s Staff Conference. If the Dean disapproves an action favored by the Administrative Committee, he is obligated to provide an explanation of his action to the candidate, and to be sure the candidate is fully informed of possible avenues of appeal (see section on Grievances).
Personnel actions that are approved by the Trustees will be reported to the candidate by the Secretary of the University. If an action is disapproved at any step in the procedure, the reasons for the action must be reported to the Chair who originated the action. If a Department decides not to renew an appointment, or makes a final decision to recommend against a promotion to tenure, both the candidate and the Administrative Committee must be informed in writing of the decision.
Any member of the faculty, including the Dean, may make suggestions or recommendations to a Department Chair concerning promotions or appointments. If the Chair fails to act, the faculty member may propose the personnel action, with the proper supporting documents, and submit it to the Dean. The case will then be handled in the normal way, except that copies of all recommendations will be sent to the Department Chair as well as to the faculty member who originated the request for action. To bypass the Chair in this way is clearly an unusual step and should be taken only after careful deliberation.
Action that might result in termination of service must be completed so that the faculty member will have one year’s notice of termination. It is the responsibility of the Department Chair to ensure this outcome.
The Personnel Committee should make its recommendations within three weeks of receiving a request, unless additional information is required. A case containing the Personnel Committee recommendation may be presented to the Administrative Committee at any time.
The Dean may present cases to the Provost’s Staff Conference in accordance with the Provost’s Staff Conference calendar and should notify the Department Chair when he proceeds with a case. It is necessary to present all promotions to tenure and full professor rank and all reappointment actions for an academic year to the Provost’s Staff Conference at a particular time; therefore, all promotions to Full Professor should be submitted to the Dean by mid fall and promotions from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor and reappointments at the Assistant Professorial level should be submitted to the Dean in early spring of the academic year in which action must be taken. In general, the vitae, recommendation letters, etc. should include material dated no more than one year earlier than the Provost’s Staff Conference at which they are to be considered.
With Voting Rights
Secondary appointment to an SEAS Department to acknowledge an all-encompassing association of a Standing faculty member of another Department of the University (inside or outside SEAS) requires consultation with all members of the appointment Department, approval by the Administrative Committee, and approval by the Provost’s Staff Conference. Concurrence of the Chair of the candidate’s home Department should be obtained. The terms of the secondary appointment must specify voting rights.
Without Voting Rights
Secondary appointment to an SEAS Department without voting rights to acknowledge a “concentrated” interaction by a Standing faculty member of another Department of the University (inside or outside SEAS) requires consultation with all members of the appointment Department and approval by the Administrative Committee. Concurrence of the Chair of the candidate’s home Department should be obtained. Secondary appointments of Research Faculty affiliated with other Schools at Penn will be considered without voting rights, as above, and with the stipulation these faculty not be assigned responsibility for SEAS course instruction.
Scholarly Chairs – Appointment and Review
An endowed professorship is a chaired position supported by a permanent endowment that provides support for some scholarly activities as well as a significant fraction of the chairholder’s salary. The appointment to an endowed professorship is the highest honor that the University can award to a member of the Faculty. The holder of an endowed chair must have not only a past record of scholarship and teaching that is unambiguously distinguished, but clear prospects of continuing to serve as a model for junior faculty members. Appointment is for ten years, with a formal review in the ninth year toward ten-year reappointment. The holder of an endowed chair is expected to continue to carry a normal teaching load and share in collegial responsibilities. The School, in conjunction with the chairholder, is expected to communicate annually with the donor (or heirs) on the activities of the chairholder. While this can be accomplished as a written report, a personal visit to the donor can also serve this purpose. Copies of the report or an accounting of the visit shall be recorded with the Dean and School’s development officer.
When an endowed professorship is established or becomes vacant for an open or internal search, the Dean shall consult with appropriate faculty regarding suitable members to form a Consultative Committee and then consult with Faculty Council for their advice and consent regarding the final composition of the committee. The decision to make a search open or internal is made by the Dean in consultation with the appropriate department chair(s). The Chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee or, if necessary, his/her designee shall be a member of the Consultative Committee for an internal search. The committee shall be formally appointed and charged by the Dean. The committee shall identify a suitable candidate or candidates for the chair. The nominee(s) from an open search, but not an internal search, will be reviewed by the SEAS Faculty Personnel Committee. The Dean shall make the final selection decision and forward the name of the chair designee to the Provost in accordance with University policy.
With regard to open searches, the Consultative Committee shall follow established University procedures. In performing its tasks for all searches, the Consultative Committee must recognize the importance that is attached to chaired professorships. It shall submit a confidential report to the Dean which documents all of its activities. It should state from what collection of candidates the selection was made and who was consulted in the selection process. It is expected that the committee will consult widely and seek advice from all appropriate constituencies. In making its final recommendation, the committee should submit a dossier to the Dean which includes a curriculum vitae and appropriate supporting evidence.
The ninth-year review process shall follow the above procedure in the appointment of a consultative committee, review of the candidate, and recommendation to the Dean regarding reappointment. If the committee’s recommendation is for a reassignment of the chair, this same committee will be reconstituted by the Dean as a Consultative Committee for chair candidacy selection, with duties as described above.
Each faculty member’s vitae and publication list should be updated annually, and the achievements, performance, and prospects should be carefully reviewed with the faculty member by the Department Chair. This is especially important for those faculty members who have not attained the rank of Full Professor.
Salaries are determined on the recommendation of the Department Chair with the approval of the Dean, subject to normal budgetary restrictions and any special conditions or restrictions imposed by the University.
The Department Chair, the faculty originator, or a candidate may request reconsideration of any decision which is felt to be improper or unfair and may submit additional evidence. The person or committee which made the challenged decision must reconsider and decide promptly whether or not to change the original recommendation. A changed recommendation requires reconsideration at the subsequent step(s) in the procedure. Only one challenge to a decision need be considered.
If these administrative procedures do not lead to a satisfactory resolution, a variety of formal grievance procedures exists. If the case is thought to involve a violation of academic freedom, it may be appealed to the SEAS Standing Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, to the corresponding committee of the Faculty Senate, to the Faculty Grievance Commission, or to the local chapter of AAUP. The University Ombudsman exists to help resolve disputes within the University. Finally, the SEAS Faculty Council is charged with presenting faculty opinions and complaints to the appropriate administrators and will hear grievances brought to it by any members of the faculty. Since the experience of other grievance bodies in the University has been that complaints are varied in nature and content, the Faculty Council has not specified any rules or limitations of procedure in such cases. In general, the Council would prefer to avoid formal adversary proceedings. The Council has no administrative powers but can recommend action to the appropriate administrators.
Grievances by candidates denied appointment as Assistant Professor pose a special problem, since the complainant has no standing in the University. In this case, the matter should be brought to the Faculty Council by a faculty member.
Conflict of Interest
Situations involving possible conflict of interest can arise at any step in the personnel procedure. It is the responsibility of the Chair of each Department to be alert to possible conflict of interest situations, to discuss them fully with the individuals involved, and to follow a course designed to minimize conflict of interest without sacrificing thorough consideration of the proposed personnel action. Conflict of interest problems are best resolved by facing them openly, not by ignoring or evading them.
Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators: A Selection of Policies and Procedures of the University of Pennsylvania.
Council of Deans’ Memorandum #80-14.
Minutes of the Faculty Council Meeting, 21 April 1982.
Minutes of the Faculty Council Meeting, 20 November 1985.
Provost’s Memorandum #2-88.
Minutes of the Faculty Council Meeting, 28 June 1988.
Provost’s Memorandum, 13 October 1988, with effective date 1 January 1989/Deputy Provost’s Memorandum, 8 February 1990/Deputy Provost’s Memorandum, 1 August 1991.
Minutes of the Faculty Council Meeting, 15 January 1992.
Faculty Council Recommendation re Appointment of Scholarly Chairs/Endorsement by Faculty, 11 May 1993.
Faculty Council Recommendation re Faculty Reappointment Procedures, 9 November 1993/Endorsement by Faculty, 14 December 1993.
Faculty Council Recommendation re Faculty Reappointment Procedures, 9 November 1993/Endorsement by Faculty, 14 December 1993. Provost’s Staff Conference Documentation Supporting Proposals for Faculty Appointment, Reappointment and Promotion, 2/6/95, revised 8/97.
SEAS-specific Addendum to Provost’s Staff Conference Documentation Supporting Proposals for Faculty Appointment, Reappointment and Promotion, relative to Promotion/Reappointment Dossiers: Faculty Personnel Committee
Recommendations/Administrative Committee Actions of 1/13/99 w/Acceptance by Faculty Council, 1/20/99.
Faculty Adoption of Research Faculty Track effective 7/1/99.
Faculty Adoption of Secondary Appointments of Standing Faculty without Voting Rights, 12/22/99.
Faculty Adoption of Practice Professor Track effective 7/1/00, recorded at Meeting of 5/9/00; recorded by the Trustees on 5/17/01.
Faculty Adoption of Scholarly Chairs – Appointment and Review Procedure, recorded at Meeting of 11/13/01.
Faculty Adoption of Senior Lecturer Track, recorded at Meeting of 4/8/03; Academic Planning Committee Approval reported by the Provost/recorded by the Trustees on 2/19/04.
Revised 12/20/78, 1/17/79, 5/21/80, 4/14/81, 11/20/85, 6/28/88, 1/1/89, 5/11/93, 12/14/93, 2/6/95, 8/97, 1/20/99, 7/1/99, 12/22/99, 5/9/00, 5/17/01, 11/13/01, 2/19/04.