Academic Specialist Manual

Appendix B. Guidelines for Specialist Placements

The following guidelines have been developed to describe the major types of specialist appointments and the duties they perform. These guidelines are to assist in making appropriate placements in the specialist system. However, since it is not possible to address every possible situation in the guidelines, each case will be evaluated on its individual merits.


  1. Teaching specialists provide instruction for credit courses. Teaching and related class preparation, grading, student evaluation, etc., are substantial and continuing dimensions of ongoing responsibilities (i.e., occupying at least 30% of the time). These specialists are the instructors of record or teach portions of courses on a regular basis entailing the time commitment referenced above. Occasional teaching assignments cannot satisfy assignment to this specialist category.
  2. Advising specialists devote the preponderance of their time (50%+) to advising students on course selection, degree requirements, majors, etc., and/or to other instructional activities, e.g., tutoring, interpreting for students with disabilities or bilingual students, advising on academic developmental needs, and developing instructional strategies to assist academic progress. Advising may include career counseling, but this is incidental to the major focus of course and curriculum advice.
  3. Curriculum development specialists provide content-related support to course, curriculum and/or instructional development activities. At least 30% of time must be devoted to these activities to satisfy assignment to this specialist category.
  4. Beyond the assignments referenced in a), b), and c), above, time may be spent on research, administration, outreach, or other activities.


Research specialists take a lead role on research projects, including developing grant proposals, and directing the research project with designation as principal investigator or performing position responsibilities which require a doctorate degree.

In order to hold the Specialist-Research title, one must either: 1) be designated as the PI on a research project, or alternatively, 2) take a lead role on research projects (not as PI, but performing duties which require a doctorate degree).


Outreach specialists are responsible for disseminating the knowledge resources of the University, to meet the knowledge needs of people outside the University.

Their work involves providing non-credit educational programs to off-campus students or client groups, including course development and presentation, and/or providing a linkage for those outside the University to identify and access faculty knowledge, resources, and research results. This can involve technology transfer which provides a linkage between external University, public and faculty research resources to help resolve complex technological issues and/or share technological or scientific knowledge. These duties must involve a time commitment of at least 30%.

In addition to these responsibilities, outreach specialists may be involved in proposal writing, resource identification, and data gathering. Outreach specialists also can be designated as principal investigators. They can be appointed through any college as part of the newly decentralized Lifelong Education Program or through a college which has technological/research resources to share with the outside public.


Typically, a specialist's education is at the master's level, or above.

Specialists are appointed in units reporting directly or indirectly to the Provost or the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.

The above specialist responsibilities can be contrasted with AP positions, which focus on administrative or professional responsibilities, and may include:

When evaluating a mixed assignment of specialist and non-specialist work (e.g., part advising, part administrative), an individual must meet one of the percentages specified in the guidelines to be placed as a specialist (e.g., 30% teaching, 30% curriculum development, 50% advising or 30% outreach). An individual with a mixed assignment of two types of specialist work, e.g., 20% advising and 20% curriculum development, would be considered to meet the specialist guidelines if the combined duties meet one of the specified percentages.

Individuals who supervise or direct a specialist function (e.g., supervision of a group of advisors) would typically be categorized as the same type of specialist (unless they hold another academic rank).

The above guidelines were developed jointly between the Offices of the Provost and Human Resources, with the assistance of Lifelong Education Programs and after consultation with the Deans' Counsel. The guidelines may require further clarification based upon implementation experience and, therefore, may be changed by the University.

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