PROV-029: Faculty Appointment Types and Titles

Date: 11/05/2014 Status: Final
Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: Part-time and full-time faculty who do not hold tenured or tenure-track positions at the University. Non-tenure-track faculty positions are tenure ineligible and are for fixed terms. This policy does not apply to members of the professional research staff, i.e., research assistants, research associates, research scientists, senior scientists and principal scientists. Members of the professional research staff are governed by policy HRM-033, Employment of Professional Research Staff.
Table of Contents:

Policy Statement

  1. Appointment Types
    1. Tenured/Tenure-Track Appointments
    2. Non-Tenure-Track Appointments
    3. Joint Appointments
    4. Courtesy Appointments
  2. Faculty Titles
    1. Professorial Ranks
    2. Tenure-Ineligible Titles


Reason for Policy:

Defines types of faculty appointments (tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure-track, joint, and courtesy) and the titles that may be used for various appointments.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Terms:

    There are no terms that require definition.

Policy Statement:

The following types of faculty appointments and titles may be used at the University of Virginia.

  1. Appointment Types:
    The Board of Visitors confers professorial rank by “electing” an individual to the faculty in a formal resolution. The term "election" therefore is used when action by the Board of Visitors is required. The board must approve the election of salaried members of the faculty holding professorial rank. All offers of faculty employment remain conditional until ratified by the board.

If the Board’s election is for a defined period of time, it is an election with term. If no time limit is specified, the election is normally without term, the equivalent of tenure. The University of Virginia recognizes the importance of academic freedom to academic excellence. An election without term is one of the fundamental means of achieving academic freedom in the University community.

  1. Tenured/Tenure-Track Appointments:
    Tenure-track faculty members may be elected without term after a probationary period as assistant professor and promotion to a higher rank, as associate professor (with or without a probationary period), and as professor. Only full-time faculty members in tenure-eligible positions may be elected without term. Faculty members who have been elected without term hold tenured appointments. All part-time elections, all other faculty appointments, and all administrative appointments are made for limited periods.

  2. Non-Tenure-Track Appointments:
    Non-tenure-track faculty members are not eligible for election without term. They may perform an array of functions including teaching, research, or public service. The University recognizes two categories of non-tenure-track faculty appointments: academic and administrative or professional. For additional information, see the policy, HRM-003, Employment of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.

    In January 2008, the University established a new category of employment, University staff. The majority of new appointments previously classified as administrative or professional non-tenure-track faculty are now classified as University staff. For more information, see policy, HRM-021, Terms and Conditions of University Staff Employment.

  3. Joint Appointments:
    Faculty members may be appointed to more than one department, program, or school when they will have significant, ongoing responsibilities for teaching, research, and/or service in more than one area. They may be tenure-track or hold tenure in one or both departments, programs, or schools.

    Faculty members holding a joint appointment usually receive some portion of their salary from each appointing department, program, or school. Specific distribution of the faculty member’s responsibilities and provisions for salary, as well as the coordination of annual evaluations, salary recommendations, promotion review, and tenure review (if applicable) should be defined in advance in the faculty member’s appointment letter, which should be signed by the dean or deans (if the joint appointment involves more than one school).

    All subsequent references in this section to “department” include both departments and programs.

    If the faculty member holds tenure or is tenure-eligible in both departments, both appointments are considered “primary” and the faculty member holds all voting and other faculty privileges in both departments (although one program/department may be designated “primary” for administrative purposes only). Otherwise, one program/department shall be designated the faculty member’s “primary” appointment and the other program/department shall be “secondary.” Faculty members with a joint appointment may hold voting or other faculty privileges in the secondary department if these privileges are expressly conferred by a vote of the faculty in the secondary department as part of the joint appointment.

    Unless the faculty member serves without term in both departments (i.e., holds tenure in both departments), the secondary appointment will be for a limited term of up to three years and may be renewed with the agreement of the faculty member, the relevant chairs/directors, and deans. A secondary appointment may not last beyond the end date of a faculty member’s primary appointment.

    Faculty members with a joint appointment hold the same rank in both the primary and secondary department. If the faculty member is promoted in his/her primary department, the secondary department must conduct the necessary review to determine if a promotion in rank is justified in the secondary department. If it is not or if the recommendation for promotion is not approved in accordance with relevant University policies, the secondary appointment will be terminated. Primary and secondary departments are encouraged to conduct reviews for promotion, tenure (if applicable), and salary recommendations for their joint appointments collaboratively.

    Faculty members may be appointed jointly at the time of their hire or the relevant dean(s) may submit a faculty action request to the executive vice president and provost (hereafter “provost) to amend a current faculty member’s appointment into a joint appointment. A joint appointment requires the agreement of the faculty member and the approval of all involved department chairs/directors and deans, as well as the provost. Joint appointments are submitted to the Board of Visitors for final approval.

  4. Courtesy Appointments:
    Faculty members who make a contribution to or have an affiliation with another department, program, or school may be given a courtesy appointment.

    All subsequent references in this section to “department” include both departments and programs.

    A courtesy appointment usually does not involve salary and does not convey full faculty status (including voting privileges or space) in the courtesy department or program.

    Faculty with a courtesy appointment may have their courses cross-listed or may teach occasionally in the courtesy department. They may advise students in the courtesy department whose research interests relate to their own and they may be invited by the courtesy department to serve on dissertation or thesis committees.

    Courtesy appointments may be made at any time, are always for limited term up to three years, and are renewable with the agreement of the faculty member and all involved chairs/directors and deans. A courtesy appointment may not last beyond the end date of a faculty member’s primary appointment. A courtesy appointment does not require the approval of the provost or the Board of Visitors.

    Faculty members hold a courtesy appointment at the same rank they hold in their primary department. If a faculty member is promoted in his/her primary department, the courtesy department must approve the change in rank for the courtesy appointment or end the courtesy appointment.

  1. Faculty Titles:
    1. Professorial Ranks:
      The normal sequence leading to an election without term is assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. These are referred to as the “professorial ranks” and in some instances, may be used also for tenure-ineligible faculty appointments in accordance with policy, HRM-003, Employment of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.

      Faculty members in these ranks typically hold the qualifying terminal degree in their field from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (or, for institutions outside the U.S., an equivalent body). In exceptional circumstances, deans may recommend that the executive vice president and provost award professorial rank to a faculty member who does not hold the qualifying terminal degree but has been recognized for outstanding achievements in his/her field. In such circumstances, the dean must present documentation to the executive vice president and provost justifying the faculty member’s qualifications for appointment to professorial rank.

      Acting Assistant Professor
      In exceptional circumstances, acting assistant professors may be invited to join the faculty. Acting assistant professors are full-time faculty members who have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree except the dissertation. Acting assistant professors are elected for one-year terms. They are expected to receive the doctoral degree (or other qualifying terminal degree) by the end of the initial term of election, despite full-time teaching commitments. When the degree is awarded, "acting" is removed from the title. The time spent as an acting assistant professor is included in the probationary period leading to consideration for an election without term; requests for exceptions must be submitted to the provost.

      Assistant Professor
      The initial professorial rank for faculty members who hold the qualifying terminal degree is assistant professor. (In some schools, e.g., architecture, a professional degree is qualification for election to assistant professor. In other schools a doctorate is the customary qualifying degree.) The basic qualification for this rank is evidence of potential as an independent scholar and teacher as judged by the school or department in which the position exists. Tenure-track assistant professors are elected initially for fixed terms and may be reelected up to a limit of seven years aggregate full-time service. In all schools except the School of Medicine, an assistant professor is considered for promotion and election without term (i.e., tenure) during the sixth year of this probationary period. For more information regarding promotion and tenure policies in the School of Medicine, contact the dean’s office.

      Associate Professor
      Associate professors are elected to this rank after a period in which they have demonstrated scholarly work and effective teaching and have achieved an acceptable level of national standing in their disciplines or professions. An individual who meets this standard may be elected initially as an associate professor. Promotion to this rank from assistant professor ordinarily is accompanied by an election without term. However, associate professors who are eligible for tenure may be elected with a specified term, provided the term does not exceed the probationary period for tenure in their school and they are considered for election without term (i.e., tenure) within that period.

      The rank of professor is reserved for individuals who have achieved advanced standing among scholars in their fields throughout the academic world. Whether by internal promotion or initial election, professors ordinarily are elected without term.

      Chair Holder
      Chair holders are particularly distinguished professors who are elected to named chairs. See the policy, Appointment of Endowed and Eminent Scholars Chairs, for additional information.

      University Professor
      Upon nomination by the executive vice president and provost or the executive vice president for health affairs, the president may designate a limited number of faculty members who teach or conduct research that crosses school boundaries as University professors. They report to the president while remaining responsible to their dean or deans with regard to their teaching, research, and service responsibilities. With approval of the president, a University professor may teach or supervise research in one or more of the schools or departments.

      Emeritus Rank
      The honorary rank of professor emeritus or associate professor emeritus is conferred upon retiring faculty following nominations made to the Board of Visitors by the president. See policy, PROV-018, Emeritus Faculty for more information regarding qualifications for and perquisites of emeritus rank.

    1. Tenure-Ineligible Titles:
      The following titles are either part-time or limited in term. They are not eligible for election without term, even though they are associated closely with teaching and research activities.

      An instructor is a junior faculty member who generally holds at least a master's degree. A large number of instructors are part-time and may be advanced graduate students who assume sole responsibility of a class. Instructors are elected to terms of one year or less and may be reappointed.

      Lecturers are faculty with special experience or professional qualifications. Many offer part-time instruction. The title may be used to recognize a faculty member who contributes to or affiliates with a school or department outside of the primary affiliation.  Administrative and professional faculty members normally hold the academic rank of lecturer and a functional working title.

      Research Ranks
      Faculty members whose principal assignment is to conduct research on sponsored programs may be given the title research instructor, research assistant professor, research associate professor, or research professor. Any teaching or guidance of graduate students is generally directly related to the professor's research program. Renewal of these term elections is subject to availability of research funds.

      Professor of Practice
      Eminently qualified leaders who have made major impacts on fields and disciplines important to academic programs at the University of Virginia may be employed as non-tenure-track faculty members holding the rank of professor of practice. The rank of professor of practice recognizes individuals with a long and distinguished record of professional accomplishment. The ranks of assistant and associate professor of practice do not exist at the University. See policy, PROV-014, Professors of Practice for more information.

      Visiting Faculty
      Visiting faculty visit the University while on leave from another institution of higher education. They are appointed at the University for a short term, usually one year or less, during which time they hold professorial rank commensurate with the rank they hold at their home institution. Visiting faculty may serve with or without pay.  See policy, PROV-013, Appointment of Visiting Faculty and Scholars for more information.

      Visiting Scholar
      Visiting scholars are appointed, often for short terms, so that they may participate in scholarly or research activities in a sponsoring department or school. Visiting scholars serve without pay except with the written approval of the provost and normally do not participate formally in instruction. See policy, PROV-013, Appointment of Visiting Faculty and Scholars for more information.

      Librarian Ranks
      Librarians hired as members of the professional non-tenure-track faculty may hold the following ranks: affiliate librarian, assistant librarian, associate librarian or librarian. Librarians who held professorial rank prior to the establishment of faculty ranks for librarians in October 1992 may retain those ranks if they so choose.


When a person is invited to join the faculty, the relevant designated hiring official (usually the dean) writes a conditional offer letter specifying the expectations of employment, in accordance with the University’s policy, PROV-006, Extending Offers of Employment to Faculty in Academic Areas. If accepted by the candidate and if approved by the Board of Visitors, these conditions are the basis of formal action by the Board of Visitors, which passes a resolution stating the title, salary, and term of the election.

Faculty members holding a joint appointment may cite both appointments in their title (for example, professor of philosophy and religious studies).
Faculty members holding a courtesy appointment may cite the courtesy appointment in their title as follows: professor of <primary appointment> and, by courtesy, <courtesy appointment> (for example, professor of chemistry and, by courtesy, chemical engineering).

Deans wishing to recommend professorial rank for a faculty member who does not hold the qualifying terminal degree must submit his/her recommendation to the executive vice president and provost, including documentation that justifies the faculty member’s exceptional qualifications for appointment to professorial rank.

Related Information:

HRM-003, Employment of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty
HRM-021, Terms and Conditions of University Staff Employment
PROV-006, Extending Offers of Employment to Faculty in Academic Areas
PROV-013, Appointment of Visiting Faculty and Scholars
PROV-014, Professors of Practice
PROV-018, Emeritus Faculty

Appointment of Endowed and Eminent Scholars Chairs

Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Next Scheduled Review: 11/05/2012
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 11/05/2014
Supersedes (previous policy):
Appointment Types and Titles