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Appointments of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty and Research Staff

Section II. Item 6.

A number of titles are available for the appointment of non-tenure-track faculty (including librarians with faculty rank) and research staff. These titles carry different assumptions regarding conditions of employment and are variously related to the State Universities Civil Service System. They should be used consistently throughout the university. Except in the case of faculty appointed with the title "instructor" or "visiting assistant professor" pending clearance of a degree or visa contingency, appointments to the following positions carry no expectation of tenure. Time served in these positions will not be counted toward tenure in any subsequent tenure-track appointment without the written permission of the provost.

Visiting Appointments

Board of Trustees regulations recognize three professorial ranks--assistant professor, associate professor and professor. Individuals who meet Board and departmental criteria for appointment at one of these ranks may be appointed to a non-tenure-track position in any of these ranks in a "visiting" capacity. A visiting appointment is particularly appropriate when an individual is hired to replace a specific regular faculty member who is on leave or temporarily unable to teach or when a scholar with special expertise is brought to campus for a specific period of time to make that expertise available to NIU students. Visiting appointments are always "temporary" and may be for no more than one year at a time. Consecutive full-time visiting appointments may not total more than five years. Part-time appointments ordinarily will not exceed 75 percent. The positions held by visiting faculty are exempt from Civil Service under section 36e4.

Research Faculty Appointments

Research Faculty appointments, in the ranks of Research Assistant Professor, Research Associate Professor, and Research Professor, are strictly non-tenure track and non-teaching in nature. Individuals (incumbents) holding these positions are not eligible to participate in the governance of the academic units. It is envisioned that these appointments will be supported in large part by extramural research grants and contracts, and other non-appropriated funds. These appointments are distinctly different from tenured and tenure-track positions as well as those senior research staff appointments,  Research Assistant, Research Associate, and adjunct professorship. The duration of these appointments may vary from one year to multiple-year terms based on University goals, funding sources and availability, the nature of the projects, and other contractual agreements in the grants and contracts that support these appointments.

Primary responsibilities include pursuing research, seeking extramural funding as PI and/or co-PI, and generating knowledge in the forms of publications and intellectual property, and other documented activities recognized by the disciplines as scholarly work. Incumbents may engage in training graduate and undergraduate students in research laboratories, and seek Graduate Faculty status. The approval process for obtaining graduate faculty status is the same as outlined in the graduate catalog of Northern Illinois University.  Once Graduate Faculty status is approved, these appointees may direct theses and dissertations and may be appointed to serve on other thesis/dissertation committees of students for whom they do not have direct supervisory responsibilities.  Likewise, these individuals may direct undergraduate theses and assume responsibilities for special topics research courses.  Although these appointments are non-teaching in nature, academic units, centers/institutes may assign responsibility for seminar and colloquium courses to these appointees. In the event that special needs for teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in a specialty area arise, separate contractual agreements for part-time teaching will be required.

The basic qualifications for each rank of these appointments are comparable to those of tenure-track and tenured faculty ranks. For example, a terminal degree in the appropriate discipline, documented scholarly productivity, and postdoctoral experience (as appropriate in some fields) will be required for an initial appointment in the rank of Research Assistant Professor.  Substantial documented research accomplishments are required for initial appointments in the higher ranks.

Academic units, centers and institutes, as appropriate, will initiate appointments even though in some cases these appointments may be supported by faculty research grants. In initiating a new position, Chairs/Directors must create a succinct job description, delineate required qualifications for the position, and indicate funding sources and length of employment.  In order to maintain standards for these appointments, in addition to the formal approval by respective Deans and Vice Presidents of the units under their jurisdiction, these positions be approved by the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships.   Final approval of employment will be made by the Executive Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs.

Chairs and Directors are primarily responsible for annual performance reviews based on the expectations outlined in the offering letter. However, if the position is supported by Research Grants from individual faculty members, these members will conduct formal annual evaluations and submit them to the appropriate Chairs/Directors/Deans. Copies of these evaluations must be submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Research. It is expected that individuals holding these appointments will be eligible for salary increases equal to those for tenured and tenure-track faculty. These salary increases will be determined by the Chairs/Directors/Deans. However, disputes regarding salary request may be addressed to the Council for Research Faculty. The council’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Executive Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs for final resolution.

Promotion requirements from one rank to the next must be comparable to those accomplishments outlined in the tenured and tenure-track faculty appointments in the discipline. In particular, fulfillment of the required period of service in the given rank, performance, and productivity in that rank are prerequisites for promotion consideration. However, since these appointments do not carry primary teaching responsibilities, much higher scholarly productivity and extramural funding compared to the tenured and tenure-track appointments are expected for promotion to the next rank.

Promotion from one rank to the next will be recommended by the Chair/Director and respective Deans, as appropriate. Following the recommendation by the Chair/Director/Dean, the Council for Research Faculty will deliberate and make a recommendation to the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships. The Council will be chaired by the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships. The Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships will forward his/her recommendation along with the Council’s recommendation to the Executive Vice President and Provost for final determination.

Disputes regarding promotion and other issues will be reviewed by the Council for Research Faculty. The council’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Executive Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs for final resolution.

In a given year, the Council for Research Faculty will consist of only the active members of the selection committee for Presidential Research Professors (non-retired Presidential Research Professors and Distinguished Research Professors).

Clinical Faculty Appointments

Clinical Faculty appointments, in the ranks of Clinical Assistant Professor, Clinical Associate Professor, and Clinical Professor, are non-tenure track in nature. It is envisioned that these appointments will be supported in large part by the provision of services, extramural research grants and contracts, and other non-appropriated funds. These appointments are distinctly different from tenured and tenure-track positions as well as purely clinical appointments. The duration of these appointments may vary from one year to multiple-year terms based on University goals, funding sources and availability, the nature of the projects, and other contractual agreements in the grants and contracts that support these appointments.

Primary responsibilities include providing and/or overseeing the delivery of professional services to individual patients or clients, as well as teaching at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. The approval process for obtaining graduate faculty status is the same as outlined in the Academic Policies and Procedures Manual of Northern Illinois University. It is expected that clinical faculty would be involved in curricular development within their programs; other involvement in shared governance would be determined by the employing units.

The basic qualifications for appointment at the rank of Clinical Assistant Professor will be discipline-specific, and are to be determined for each position by the academic unit responsible. Substantial documented clinical and teaching accomplishments shall be required for initial appointments in the higher ranks.

Academic units, centers and institutes, as appropriate, will initiate appointments even though in some cases these appointments may be supported by external funding sources. In initiating a new position, Chairs/Directors must create a succinct job description, delineate required qualifications for the position, and indicate funding sources and length of employment. Approval must then be received from the appropriate academic dean(s); final approval of employment will be made by the Executive Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs.

Chairs and Directors are primarily responsible for annual performance reviews based on the expectations outlined in the offering letter. Salary increases for individuals holding these appointments will be recommended by the Chairs/Directors/Deans after consultation with the appropriate faculty body within the academic unit.

Promotion requirements from one rank to the next should be comparable to those accomplishments outlined in the tenured and tenure-track faculty appointments in the discipline, with the understanding that research expectations are to be replaced with clinical expectations. In particular, fulfillment of the required period of service in the given rank, performance, and appropriate productivity in that rank shall be prerequisites for promotion consideration. Since these appointments do not carry primary research responsibilities, both substantial clinical and related teaching productivity are expected for promotion to the next rank. Specific requirements for promotion shall be developed by the hiring unit prior to offering clinical faculty positions.

Promotion from one rank to the next will be recommended by the Chair/Director and respective Deans after consultation with the appropriate faculty body within the academic unit. The Deans will forward their recommendations to the Executive Vice President and Provost for final determination.

Clinical faculty whose positions are fully funded and contingent upon grants and/or contracts for the provision of services to parties external to the university are not subject to the provisions of the Board of Trustees Regulations Section II, Subsection A.10.b.(2). For these faculty, termination during the term of appointment must be for failure to meet written standards of competence and performance established by the unit and the University. A decision not to renew an appointment of such a clinical faculty member may be for failure to meet written standards of competence and performance established by the unit and the University, or for changed economic circumstances or program needs such that the position itself is terminated. Non-renewal for changed economic circumstances or program needs may only occur at the conclusion of an appointment, and must carry appropriate notice.

Disputes regarding promotion and other issues will be reviewed by the Council for Clinical Faculty. The council's recommendation will be forwarded to the Executive Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs for final resolution.

Post-Doctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral scholars advance institutional research and scholarship and enhance professional skills and research training for individuals who recently received a doctoral degree (or equivalent).

Individuals appointed under this classification must hold a recently-awarded doctoral degree, generally awarded within the last 5 years. Equivalent degrees include (but are not limited to) a ScD or DENG, first professional degree in a medical or related field (MD, DO, DVM) or foreign equivalent for a U.S. doctoral degree.

Postdoctoral appointments are temporary positions that include mentored advanced training to enhance the individual’s professional skills and research independence to pursue his/her chosen career path. Mentorship occurs under the supervision of NIU senior faculty or research scholars/ scientists.

Postdoctoral scholars may participate in all phases of a scientific or scholarly project and shall pursue publication and results of one’s work during their NIU appointment.

Postdoctoral scholars do not engage in instruction except on a part-time and occasional basis and are not expected to supervise other professional staff.

Postdoctoral scholars are exempt from Civil Service under section 36e4 and are classified as temporary Supportive Professional Staff (SPS). Appointments are on a limited-term basis, generally no more than 5-7 years and are considered training positions.

Senior Research Appointments

The university recognizes appointments with the title of "research scholar," "research scientist," senior research scientist," or "senior research scholar." Doctorally-qualified individuals with significant research experience beyond the dissertation may be appointed with such a title by academic departments or research centers for the purpose of conducting research relevant to the University's mission. Individuals carrying these titles will ordinarily be "temporary" appointments because their positions will ordinarily be funded by grants or contracts. Such appointments can be renewed indefinitely, subject only to the availability of funds and the University's continued assessment of the appointment as beneficial to the institutional mission. While the criteria may differ, research scholars and research scientists should be evaluated on the same schedule as, and according to the same process used for, departmental faculty.

The title "research scientist" should be used in those disciplines in which "scientist" best describes the activity of a researcher. The title "research scholar" should be used in those disciplines in which "scholar" best describes the activity of a researcher. In either case, the work of the individual so titled is likely to be that of the principal or co-principal investigator on a grant or contract. This individual would be expected to engage in activities such as planning, directing, and participating in complex scientific or other scholarly projects, supervising project staff, administering a research project, identifying problem areas, formulating proposals, designing new studies, and developing applications. A research scientist/scholar maintains professional contacts with colleagues in other institutions and professional organizations, reviews literature applicable to current research, prepares materials based on research findings for publication, and, as appropriate, makes presentations to professional and lay groups.

Ordinarily, individuals appointed as research scientists/scholars will not engage in instruction (except on a part-time or occasional basis). The University considers research scholars/scientists to be exempt from Civil Service under Section 36e4 of the State Universities Civil Service Act.

Research Associate Appointments

Research associates work collaboratively with research faculty to prepare reports, papers, and monographs reporting the results of research and scholarly projects. They work under the direction of senior faculty and research scholars/scientists to carry out research, scholarly, and technical activities, most of which will be externally funded. Such individuals are ordinarily required to have sufficient knowledge of a specific academic discipline (generally evidenced by possession of an appropriate master's degree) to develop or assist in developing research designs; to plan or assist in planning the conduct of research and scholarly operations; to supervise the activities of support personnel; and to write or assist in writing interpretive reports, scholarly articles, monographs, and proposals for additional external funding.

Individuals carrying these titles will ordinarily be "temporary" because they will ordinarily be appointed to positions funded by grants and contracts. Such appointments can be renewed indefinitely, subject only to the availability of funds. The positions held by research associates often involve tasks which overlap those associated with various Civil Service positions. Research associate positions must therefore be exempted from Civil Service rules under section 36e3 before any attempt is made to fill them. Such exemptions occur on a case-by-case basis and require the approval of both the President's Office and the state Merit Board office. [See Business Procedure Manual , Procedure No. 7-1.] While the criteria should be determined by the nature of the position, research associates should be evaluated on the same schedule and according to the same process used for supportive professional staff.

Instructor

This title is available for the employment of temporary instructional faculty. Ordinarily, individuals carrying this title will possess an appropriate baccalaureate or master's degree but will not have completed the doctorate. The terms and conditions of employment for individuals appointed under this title are governed by a collective bargaining agreement. Questions regarding these appointments should be directed to the Senior Associate Vice President for Human Resource Services.

Lecturer

This title is used in the College of Law to employ practicing lawyers and judges to teach an occasional class on a part-time basis. The title is not available in other colleges.

Adjunct Appointments

The President is authorized to make adjunct faculty appointments in accordance with Board regulations. Such appointments are limited to individuals who are not employees of the University, to non-instructional personnel who occasionally teach university courses in specialized areas, and to university faculty who interact with academic departments other than their own. Adjunct faculty are appointed on an annual or semester basis. They are not eligible for tenure, do not receive a salary, and are not eligible for participation in the State Universities Retirement System unless they occupy a concurrent university position which justifies such benefits.

Approved by the Council of Deans, Executive Vice President and Provost and President, effective February 1, 1994.

Editorial modification, June 5, 1997 
Modification September 28, 2007
Modification October 1, 2010
Editorial modification approved February 11, 2016
Modification September 12, 2016
Modification February 27, 2017
Modification May 30, 2017