Faculty Handbook

Fixed-Term Appointment

Last updated: 2/24/2020


This policy was issued by the Office of the Provost with an effective date of January 11, 1980 and revised on March 1, 2010 July 1, 2012, and February 24, 2020.

Fixed-term faculty members are appointed outside the tenure system on an academic year or annual basis with nine- or twelve-month duty assignments or for shorter periods. The Office of the Provost will endorse appointment recommendations to appoint individuals on a fixed-term basis (with ending date) with the rank of instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor only in instances in which the primary recommending unit is an academic department (a department in a college or colleges) and/or a school and/or a college. (Faculty Status: Reserved for Appointments in Primary Academic Units of the University, effective January 11, 1980.) The ranks of specialist, research associate, senior research associate, librarian, lecturer, and assistant instructor may be used for fixed-term academic staff appointments. See University approved ranks and titles.

Individuals appointed with the title of postdoctoral fellow or research associate must have a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., M.D., D.O., D.V.M.) or its equivalent. Degree verification or a letter indicating receipt of the degree from the Dean of the Graduate School or other appropriate University official must be submitted with the initial appointment as a postdoctoral fellow or research associate.

All fixed-term appointments have a specific termination date. Appointments are typically for a period of one-year or less; however, fixed-term appointments may be for multiple year periods. Units may consider providing and initial one-year appointment prior to providing a longer appointment period, in order to assess performance. Nevertheless, it may be appropriate to provide an appointment greater than one year, especially if a longer appointment is necessary to recruit or retain an individual essential to important unit research or teaching programs. Appointments longer than three years require prior approval by the Office of the Provost. Employment as a research associate is limited to a maximum of 60 full time equivalent service months. The University has no obligation to provide reappointment or extension of a fixed-term appointment beyond the ending date. If reappointment is made, negotiation of the conditions of reappointment must originate with the basic administrative unit (department, school, institute, residential college, or other comparable academic unit.)

An individual who holds a fixed term appointment may be dismissed prior to the expiration of the period set forth on the appointment paperwork for incompetence or for serious personal or professional misconduct, including, but not limited to, failure to carry out assigned duties, theft or misuse of University property, acts of moral turpitude, insubordination, intellectual dishonesty, use of professional authority to exploit others, or violation of University rules and regulations. Prior to dismissal, the unit administrator shall confer with the dean/separately reporting director and Office of the Provost. The employee shall be provided with written notice of the reason(s) for dismissal, projected date of dismissal, and an opportunity to respond. Disciplinary action other than dismissal may be imposed after the unit administrator has conferred with the dean/separately reporting director and has provided the employee with written notice of the pending disciplinary action, reason(s) for the disciplinary action, and an opportunity to respond. Upon dismissal or other disciplinary action, the unit administrator shall provide the employee with receive written notice of his/her right to file a grievance under applicable University grievance procedures.

Appointments can be terminated prior to the expiration of the appointment period for unforeseen budgetary reasons. Ordinarily, a fixed term position will be eliminated for financial reasons at the end of the current appointment period. However, when budgetary circumstances warrant elimination of a fixed term position prior to the ending date of the current appointment, the employee shall be notified in writing of the effective date of his/her termination at least sixty days prior to the effective date of separation. Prior to notification to the employee, the unit administrator shall confer with the dean/separately reporting director and the Office of the Provost.

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