Policies and Procedures for Graduate Faculty Membership

Section II. Item 1.

Appointment to Membership on the Graduate Faculty Form (Appendix A)
Request for Permission to Teach a Course for Graduate Credit Form (Appendix B) 

  1. Function and Responsibilities.

    The graduate faculty of Northern Illinois University are vested with the responsibility for advancing the university's mission at the graduate level: establishing appropriate standards for admission to, and retention in, graduate studies, and recommending students to receive graduate degrees; initiating and maintaining high-quality graduate curricula; promoting scholarship among faculty and graduate students; fostering an institutional environment conducive to the pursuit of research and artistry; encouraging excellence in teaching among graduate faculty and graduate students; and promoting the integration of teaching, scholarship, and professional practice.

    The graduate faculty are entitled to vote for faculty membership on the Graduate Council and in graduate faculty referenda; to teach courses for graduate credit; to serve on graduate students' thesis, dissertation, and other guidance and evaluation committees; and, with appropriate approval, to serve, as mentors and models, as academic advisers/directors for theses, dissertations, and other scholarly projects. The graduate faculty, except for provisional members, are entitled to serve as members of the Graduate Council. Exceptions to the provisions of this paragraph apply to graduate faculty who are not tenured or tenure-track members of the university faculty, as indicated in the following paragraph.

    Graduate faculty membership is open to persons who meet the membership qualifications specified by the department of intended association, regardless of whether they are tenured or tenure-track members of the university faculty. Graduate faculty members who are not tenured or tenure-track members of the university faculty may be appointed and reviewed as Graduate Faculty Scholars, but they may have their graduate-faculty membership terminated at any time upon request of the departmental committee and department chair. Only tenured or tenure-track faculty members have access to the graduate-faculty membership appeal process; and only graduate faculty with tenure or tenure-track appointments are included in determining the apportionment of Graduate Council seats, and are eligible to vote for members of the Graduate Council or in graduate-faculty referenda. Only full and senior members of the graduate faculty are eligible to be elected to the Graduate Council.

    These policies and procedures have been established to encourage academic units to develop, maintain, and adhere to appropriate professional standards for graduate faculty membership, and to provide for routine monitoring of these standards by the Graduate School.

  2. Qualifications for Graduate Faculty Membership.

    The Graduate Council will set minimum qualifications for graduate faculty membership. Beyond those, appropriate discipline-specific qualifications, in terms of scholarship, graduate-level teaching, and other pertinent factors, shall be defined for each category of graduate faculty membership, including provisional, full, and senior members. Members granted graduate faculty scholar status shall meet the standards established for full members. Statements of these discipline-specific criteria shall be developed by each respective departmental faculty (or each recognized faculty unit therein). The criteria shall be formulated by an appropriate faculty committee within the department (or departmental subunit), as described in  Section 4, and, upon receiving the endorsement of the department chair and college dean, shall be forwarded to the Graduate School.

    A Graduate Faculty Membership Committee, reporting to the Graduate Council, will formulate procedures for academic units to propose criteria to be used in appointing persons to the graduate faculty, will participate in the process to approve such criteria, and will serve as a faculty appeal body as indicated in Section 6, below. The Committee shall be composed of senior graduate faculty members, representing all graduate degree-granting colleges, appointed by and from the Graduate Council; the dean of the Graduate School will chair the Committee, in an ex-officio, non-voting capacity.

    Criteria for graduate faculty membership will generally be established by, and be applicable to, individual academic departments; and graduate faculty membership will generally be by department. However, intra-departmental units may be recognized by the Graduate Council if the units have distinguishable characteristics such as separate faculties, separate academic administrators, separate catalog course listings, and separate degree programs. Recognition will be considered by the Graduate Council upon petition of a majority of the graduate faculty in the proposed unit and consultation with the department chair and college dean.

    The approval of departmental criteria will be by the following procedure: The criteria will be considered by the Graduate Faculty Membership Committee and then will be considered for approval by the Graduate Council. Minimum membership criteria are indicated in Section 3, below, for the three membership categories.

  3. Categories of Graduate Faculty Membership.

    There are four categories of graduate faculty: (1) provisional member, (2) full member, (3) senior member, and (4) graduate faculty scholar. 

    Provisional Member of the Graduate Faculty. A provisional member may, with no further Graduate School approval, vote for faculty membership on the Graduate Council, vote in graduate faculty referenda, and teach courses for graduate credit. A provisional member may serve as a member of a student’s master’s or sixth-year thesis (or thesis analogue – such as a one-person show, recital, or final project), doctoral dissertation committee, or comprehensive examination committee. With a full or senior graduate faculty member, a provisional member may serve as co-director of a master’s thesis (or thesis analogue) or non-doctoral comprehensive examination committee, provided that the committee is otherwise constructed in accordance with the Graduate Catalog. Provisional membership is for a three-year, non-renewable term. Upon resignation or retirement from the university, a provisional member may at the request of the department(s) in which he/she has graduate faculty membership, retain provisional status for one year only.  

    A provisional member must have an appropriate terminal degree, or the equivalent, and, in accordance with approved departmental criteria, must have initiated a program of personal research or artistry. A provisional member may be proposed for full membership or senior membership at any time.

    Full Member of the Graduate Faculty. A full member may, with no further Graduate School approval, serve as a member of the Graduate Council, vote for faculty membership on the Graduate Council, vote in graduate faculty referenda, teach courses for graduate credit, serve as a graduate student's academic adviser, and serve as a member of a graduate student's examination committee. With approval of the department chair, college dean, and dean of the Graduate School, a full member may serve as a member or director of a master's or sixth-year thesis (or thesis analogue) or as co-director (along with a senior member of the graduate faculty) of a doctoral dissertation or doctoral student examination committee, provided that the committee is otherwise constructed in accordance with the Graduate Catalog.  

    A full member must have an appropriate terminal degree, or the equivalent, and, in accordance with approved departmental criteria, must show evidence of advancing a program of personal research or artistry, the products of which have received positive assessment by independent external experts in the field according to the national standards in the discipline. A full member may be proposed for senior membership at any time. A full member who retires or resigns from the university may at the request of the department retain his/her graduate faculty status for one year; departments may then nominate such faculty for membership as a graduate faculty scholar.

    Senior Member of the Graduate Faculty. A senior member may, with no further Graduate School approval, serve as a member of the Graduate Council, vote for faculty membership on the Graduate Council, vote in graduate faculty referenda, teach courses for graduate credit, and serve as a graduate student's academic adviser. With approval of the department chair, college dean, and dean of the Graduate School, a senior member may serve as a member or director of a graduate student’s examination, thesis (or thesis analogue), or dissertation committee. 

    A senior member must have an appropriate terminal degree, or the equivalent, and, in accordance with approved departmental criteria, must show evidence of having established and maintained a program of personal research or artistry, the products of which have received positive assessment by independent external experts in the field according to the national standards in the discipline. A senior member will normally also have a record of active involvement in graduate teaching and in the guidance of scholarly activities of graduate students. A senior member who retires or resigns from the university may at the request of the department retain his/her graduate faculty status for one year; departments may then nominate such faculty for membership as a graduate faculty scholar.

    Graduate Faculty Scholar. A graduate faculty scholar is an affiliate member of the graduate faculty, who meets departmental and university qualifications to serve as a full member of the graduate faculty. A graduate faculty scholar has all the privileges of a full member, except for the right of membership on the Graduate Council, the right to vote for Graduate Council membership, and the right to vote in graduate faculty referenda. A graduate faculty scholar may teach graduate-level courses, and with approval of the department chair, college dean, and dean of the Graduate School, may serve as a member or director of a master's or sixth-year thesis (or thesis analogue--such as one-person show, recital, or final project) or as co-director (along with a senior member of the graduate faculty) of a doctoral dissertation, provided that the committee is otherwise constructed in accordance with the Graduate Catalog

    A graduate faculty scholar must have an appropriate terminal degree, or the equivalent, and, in accordance with approved departmental criteria, must show evidence of having established and maintained a program of personal research or artistry, the products of which have received positive assessment by independent external experts in the field according to national standards in the discipline. A graduate faculty scholar will normally also have a record of active involvement in graduate teaching and in the guidance of scholarly activities of graduate students. Graduate faculty scholars are appointed to a maximum four-year, renewable term.

    Graduate faculty scholars may be former full or senior members of the NIU graduate faculty who have retired or resigned. They may be NIU research faculty or other qualified individuals, including instructors, who otherwise meet requirements to serve as a graduate faculty scholar. As appropriate, they may be qualified individuals from outside the university.

  4. Appointment to the Graduate Faculty.

    Each department (or recognized intra-departmental unit) is to have a committee of tenured or tenure-track, non-provisional graduate faculty members to examine the credentials of persons to be proposed for new membership, or for a change in membership category, in that unit; a majority of this committee must be senior members of the graduate faculty (unless the unit has fewer than three senior members). The department chair shall not be a voting member of this committee.

    For each case, the recommendation of this departmental committee, of the department chair, and of the college dean, shall be forwarded to the Graduate School and to the faculty member. Any persons desiring to be considered for new membership or for a change in membership category shall be permitted to have their cases forwarded to the Graduate School. The dean of the Graduate School will compare the recommended faculty member's record with the approved criteria for the three membership categories for that person's academic unit. Those individuals judged by the dean to conform to those criteria will be approved. Actions possible if there is a negative recommendation or a disapproval at any step are described in Section 6, below.

  5. Review of Graduate Faculty Membership.

    All full and senior graduate faculty memberships shall be reviewed by the department, the dean of the college, the dean of the Graduate School, and the Graduate Council as part of the University's eight-year academic program review. *

    * Note: If an academic program review occurs before an affected person has been in his or her graduate faculty category for fewer than six years, then that person will not have the graduate faculty review result in a reduction in category. Instead, another review will take place after the six-year period has expired, and thereafter as part of the regular program reviews (the first of which may occur in fewer than six years).

    If a regular program review will not take place for a program within a seven-year period, the Graduate Council shall determine when the graduate faculty in that program will be reviewed. Department offices will be responsible for compiling and submitting the information to be used for this review, which will take place using the criteria previously approved for their discipline. An individual whose record is found out of conformance with those criteria will, upon concurrence of the dean of the Graduate School, be moved to the next lower category of graduate faculty membership (i.e., senior to full, or full to provisional for three years). Such a change in category may be appealed by the process described in Section 6, below.

    A faculty member who has been approved to direct a thesis or dissertation retains the approval for that thesis or dissertation, on recommendation of the department, if that faculty member's graduate faculty status is moved to a lower category of membership.

    This periodic review shall also review the discipline's previously-approved criteria for graduate faculty membership. The discipline's criteria to be used until the next program review shall be approved, through the Graduate Council, by the procedure described in Section 2, above.

  6. Appeal of a Decision on Graduate Faculty Membership.

    Any recommendation or decision regarding graduate faculty membership may be appealed by the affected faculty member.

    In the case of a negative recommendation from the departmental committee or the department chair, an explanation of the decision will be provided to the affected person. The faculty member may ask for a reconsideration of this negative recommendation in accordance with departmental procedures. The faculty member shall be informed of a negative recommendation by the college dean, and the reasons for it, at the time that recommendation is forwarded to the Graduate School.

    If a negative recommendation reaches the Graduate School, the affected faculty member may submit a written appeal, to be considered by the dean of the Graduate School before his or her decision is reached. If the decision of the dean of the Graduate School is negative, the reasons shall be given to the faculty member, who then may submit a written appeal to the Graduate Council. That appeal statement will be included with the faculty member's credentials package that will then be examined by the Graduate Faculty Membership Committee and the Graduate Council. The appellant may appear personally at any of these steps in the appeal process. On considering the appeal, the Graduate Council and the dean of the Graduate School will decide to approve or disapprove, and their decision will be final. If the final decision is negative, the faculty member may be recommended again in a subsequent academic term.

  7. Non-Members of the Graduate Faculty Performing Duties of the Graduate Faculty.

    Teaching Graduate-Level Courses. Persons who are not members of the graduate faculty may be granted permission to teach a course that carries graduate credit. This provision makes available to the graduate student body persons from outside the regular university faculty who have important expertise to offer.

    Academic units may request approval from the dean of the Graduate School for qualified individuals to teach specific graduate classes.  Initial approval may be given for a period of up to one year.  Renewal to teach a specific graduate-level course may be made for subsequent periods of up to three years.  

    When initially approving appointment of a non-member of the graduate faculty to teach graduate-level courses, the dean of the Graduate School shall primarily consider an awarded terminal degree in the discipline or a closely related one as evidence of qualification to teach graduate students.

    For individuals without a terminal degree for whom a department seeks permission to teach doctoral students, approval may be granted when the individual has a record of recognized scholarship, creative endeavor, or achievement in practice commensurate to the scholarly expectations of a doctoral degree recipient in the field.

    When the individual for whom permission is sought will teach only masters-level students, approval may be granted if the individual has experience equivalent to that of graduate faculty who hold a relevant terminal degree.  In such cases, the dean shall consider the relevance of the highest earned degree, professional licensure and certifications, and direct and substantial work experience (5 plus years) related to the specific content of the course, which may include effective graduate-level teaching or continuous demonstrated competency and achievement in the field.

    Requests for renewal of appointment to teach a specific course must be accompanied by the chair's/director's analysis of teaching effectiveness in that course, as well as evidence of the individual's continuing professional development.

 

Approved by the Graduate Council, April 17, 1989
and by Graduate Faculty Referendum, May 8, 1989
Procedures modified by the Graduate Council, February 3, 1997
Addition to section 1 approved by Graduate Council, April 6, 1998
and by Graduate Faculty Referendum, November 16, 1998
Modified by Graduate Council, March 1, 1999; May 2011; February 6, 2012
and by Graduate Faculty Referendum, April 23, 2012

Last Updated: 6/6/12