Academic Specialist Manual

Appendix A. Functional Description of Specialist Duties, Advancement in the System and Administrative Responsibilities

This appendix describes the general nature of academic specialist duties in specified functional areas including criteria for advancement in the Academic Specialist Appointment System as well as for administrative assignment. The specific description of duties, including the partitioning of effort among functional areas will be contained in the specific position description for the individual at the time of appointment. Advancement based on an individual's responsibilities in more than one functional area would, of course, depend on an appropriately weighted assessment of that individual in each area of responsibility. Identification of a primary functional area for the individual will be done by the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs as part of the position establishment procedures in accordance with established guidelines.

Individuals who are appointed in the Academic Specialist Appointment System may hold the rank of academic specialist or senior academic specialist. Appointments may be made in any academic unit that reports directly or indirectly to the Provost or the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. Individuals appointed in the Academic Specialist Appointment System will have ongoing student and faculty interactions, contribute directly to the academic affairs of the unit and must accomplish the goals and objectives of the department, school, college or other designated academic unit.

The academic credentials and the appropriate educationally related experiences and specific duties will vary depending on the nature of the appointment; however, it is expected that the academic specialist will normally have a primary assignment in either academic advising/teaching/curriculum development, research or service/outreach, but may also have other responsibilities including one or more of the referenced functional areas. Changes in characteristics and/or responsibilities of the position are more likely to result in a change in administrative title or functional area designation rather than a change in rank to that of senior academic specialist. Promotion to the rank of senior academic specialist, reappointment and the award of continuing appointment status will be determined using the guidelines of the Academic Specialist Appointment System.

Reappointment of the academic specialist, including the award of continuing appointment status and promotion to the rank of senior academic specialist, must be based on meritorious performance, not merely time spent in the position. General characteristics and responsibilities are included in later sections specific to the particular functional areas. However, the underlying premise is that individuals appointed as academic specialists are professionals dedicated to the performance of their responsibilities, the advancement of the University and maintaining Michigan State University as a premier land-grant, AAU University. The listing of criteria is not intended to be exhaustive. Nor would a single individual necessarily be measured by all the criteria related to a given functional group, even if the duties of that individual fell only within one functional area. Rather, the individual would be evaluated according to the subset of criteria from each functional area involved that is appropriate to the particular position.

Reappointment, including the award of continuing appointment status and promotion to the rank of senior academic specialist, is predicated on the exemplary performance of assigned duties, professional development, excellence in scholarly activity, leadership and contributions to the institution.

In addition to excellence in performance which warrants reappointment and/or continuing appointment status, a small number of academic specialists may achieve a level of distinction to justify promotion to the rank of senior academic specialist. Such a distinction is to be limited to a small number of individuals appointed in the academic specialist appointment system. The basis for such a promotion recommendation is to be derived from a significantly long and sustained period of excellence in the performance of assigned duties together with the recognition by peers and colleagues both within the University and regionally, nationally and internationally. Such recognition is to be based on external peer review involving evaluation of performance in one or more of the assigned functional areas: teaching/advising/curriculum development, research, public service/outreach. Only in unusual cases would an individual not previously appointed at Michigan State University be appointed at the rank of senior academic specialist. This rank designation is limited to individuals who either have continuing appointment status or would achieve such a status on positive recommendation for promotion to the rank of senior academic specialist. Academic specialists with fixed term appointments who have completed 60 FTE service months are eligible for promotion to senior academic specialist, subject to the same standards and criteria applicable to individuals in the continuing appointment system. (Specialists with fixed term appointments are not eligible for the rank of senior academic specialist upon appointment). A promotion recommendation requires endorsement not only by the immediate academic unit administrator but by intermediate administrators (usually the Dean) and the Provost.

The principal activities of academic specialists are confined to three functional areas (academic advising/teaching/curriculum development, research and service/outreach). Guidance for the assignment of academic specialists to one of the three functional areas and on whether a particular position should be placed within the Academic Specialist Appointment System is described in a document entitled Guidelines for Specialist Placements, which appears as Appendix B. The characteristic duties and responsibilities included in Section A.5. are not intended to supersede the guidelines for specialist placements but only to provide examples of typical activities.

As noted, each academic specialist is classified as being in one functional area in which the individual expends a relevantly significant amount of effort in assigned duties. The academic specialist routinely will have duties which fall into more than one functional area plus other assignments. The specific description of assigned duties is contained in the job description for the individual position. Reappointment/continuing appointment status and promotion of an individual with responsibilities in multiple functional areas will depend on an appropriately weighted assessment of performance in each area. The following detailed descriptions provide a suggested array of duties that may be performed by academic specialists; they are not intended as listings of required job duties.

The academic specialist in this category is actively involved in the instruction/curricular activities of the University. This category is divided into three sub groups: individuals primarily involved in advising students on curricular matters, individuals primarily involved in delivering instruction and individuals primarily involved in curriculum development.

The academic advising category includes individuals who provide advisement on course options and other academically related matters. These academic specialists have responsibilities in an academic department, school or college or in a unit that serves University-wide populations (e.g., Supportive Services, Undergraduate University Division, Honors College). These persons typically:

The academic specialist in this category is involved significantly in providing instruction for credit in classes, labs, seminars, practica and clinical settings. In general, the goals of any teacher should include the following:

Specifically, the academic specialist or teacher may perform one or more of the following duties:

The curriculum development category includes individuals who plan courses or curricula. Usually such responsibilities are undertaken by individuals appointed in colleges, departments, and schools. These persons typically:

The academic specialist appointed in this functional area facilitates scholarly research activity of a national and international stature appropriate for a premier land-grant, AAU university. These individuals must perform a lead role on research projects, including developing grant proposals and directing the research project with the designation as principal investigator and/or in performing position responsibilities which require a terminal degree. Individuals in this category typically:

The academic specialist appointed in this functional area facilitates service/outreach activities of state, regional, and national stature appropriate for a premier land-grant university. While the service/outreach mission of this University originated in the area of agriculture and the mechanic arts, this emphasis now has broadened to encompass fields such as health, human relations, business, communications, education and government, and extends to urban and international settings. The individual appointed in this category typically:

An individual appointed in the Academic Specialist Appointment System, in accordance with the Guidelines for Specialist Placements, may also serve in administrative roles related to their functional assignments as an academic specialist. This may involve significant responsibilities in promoting and contributing to the efficient and effective management of the applicable unit or program with the related responsibility of attracting and managing resources, funding, material and/or people to achieve unit/program goals and to maintain administrative accountability. The individual with an appropriate assignment as an academic specialist in one or more of the three previously designated functional areas may be assigned such administrative duties with a relevant title in addition to designation as an academic specialist or senior academic specialist. Examples of such titles could be Assistant to the Dean/Chairperson/Director, Coordinator, plus other relevant academic administrative titles. As is the case for other academic unit administrators, as relevant, such administrative assignments may involve an annual appointment basis and the assignment of an administrative salary increment.

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