Faculty Handbook

Faculty Status: Reserved for Appointments in Primary Academic Units of the University / Joint Appointment

Last updated: 1/11/1980


This policy was issued by the Office of the Provost with an effective date of January 11, 1980.

The academic quality of MSU and the integrity of the tenure system are determined fundamentally by decisions for appointment to faculty ranks. These objectives are served best by limiting appointments to faculty status to the primary academic units of the University, i.e., academic departments, schools and colleges.

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. All appointments in the tenure system, except those subject to the stipulations indicated below, must be recommended by an academic department, or a school in a college, or a residential or other non-departmentally organized college as the primary academic unit, or by such units jointly.

Tenure System Appointments: Primary Academic Units and Other Types Of Units

When a primary academic unit, i.e., a department, school, and/or residential or other non-departmentally organized college, joins with any other type of unit in the University to recommend appointment of an individual in the tenure system, the primary academic unit commits to accept the individual as a regular faculty member. The academic unit should make this commitment only after direct involvement in the recruitment of the individual and specification of the unit's role in evaluations for salary increases, reappointment, tenure, promotion, and leave recommendations. In all cases, except as designated below, responsibility and final decision for salary increases, promotion, reappointment, tenure and leave eligibility rests with the designated primary academic unit. This commitment means that the individual will serve as a regular faculty member in the academic unit if there is a determination at any future date by the Provost after consultation with the appropriate vice president, as applicable, that the best interests of the University will be served by discontinuation of the assignment of the individual in the non-academic unit(s). A faculty member may also initiate a request to return to the academic unit. Notice of one year to the Provost from the faculty member will usually be sufficient time to reassign the individual to the sponsoring primary academic unit, i.e., department, school, or residential or other non-departmentally organized college.

The reassignment of an individual to a department, school, or residential or other non-departmentally organized college will not constitute an addition to the authorized FTE count except as may be necessary during a transition period. Transition periods will be extended only as necessary by the Provost's assessment of the resources available. As soon as the Provost determines that resources are available, the individual will be included in the academic unit's regular FTE count. Thus, before this type of commitment is made, overall department, school, or college priorities must be considered carefully, including both short-term and long-term plans. The number of such commitments should be limited.

Any individual with a multiple appointment of this type holds status in the tenure system as a member of the primary academic unit, i.e., department, school, or residential or other non-departmentally organized college; and the academic unit is obligated to honor this status fully if and when called upon to do so by the Provost or the faculty member. Consequently, departments, schools, and colleges must be centrally involved in the ways specified above in recommendations on appointment, salary increases, reappointment, tenure, promotion and leaves.

Tenure System Appointments: Between Primary Academic Units

The policy stated in the previous paragraphs does not apply to recommendations for joint appointments between primary academic units, i.e., departments, schools, and residential or other non-departmentally organized colleges. Recommendations for joint appointmentsbetween primary academic units for new or currently appointed faculty should include the MSU Multiple Appointment Memorandum which identifies the primary unit with responsibility and final decision for salary increases, promotion, reappointment, tenure and leave eligibility.

As specified by the Multiple Appointment Memorandum, all units, including the primary unit, participate in discussions and reach agreement about the initial appointment recommendation and have the opportunity to provide an evaluation of the faculty member concerning salary increases, promotion, reappointment, tenure and leave eligibility, although the primary unit has the final responsibility for such actions. Although, with the agreement of the relevant chairpersons (directors), deans, and the Provost, such assignments may be changed, multiple appointment assignments are viewed as stable and on-going unless made for a specific period as recorded on the academic personnel form at the time the joint appointment is approved. Unlike joint appointments between primary academic units and other types of units, the individual faculty member does not have the option of unilaterally electing to cease performing specified duties in any of the primary academic units party to the original (or amended) joint (multiple) appointment agreement. At the conclusion of joint appointments between primary academic units for specified time periods, the individual faculty member's assignment reverts to the unit(s) specified in the original or amended Multiple Appointment Memorandum.


Such understandings, together with the other required information, should be included in or attached to Michigan State University's Multiple Appointment Memorandum. In instances where the other type of unit provides more than 50 percent salary support, any one of these personnel actions may be designated as the responsibility of this unit. However, such arrangements (a) require the concurrence of the academic unit, (b) should be specified in the Multiple Appointment Memorandum, (c) may be changed at the initiative of the academic unit after consultation with the faculty member, and (d) do not affect the individual's status as a regular faculty member in the academic unit.

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