Report and Recommendation: Appointments and Promotion for Non-Tenure Track Faculty

Return to Resolution

December 7, 2005


Syracuse University makes extensive use of non-tenure track faculty, primarily in part-time appointments. As a teaching and research university we need to support these valuable faculty members who are responsible for teaching approximately one third of the undergraduate courses on our campus as well as some graduate level classes. 1 The University does not currently provide any systematic means of addressing the recognition, reward, and career advancement needs of these faculty members, many of whom are long-term members of our campus community. In order to support the professional lives of non-tenure track faculty, this proposal formally establishes a means of recognition in the form of promotional ranks as well as affirming existing academic freedom protections for all faculty. By articulating and systematizing such appointments and ranks, the committee hopes to ensure fair access to them across the academic units of the University.

Also, we deem it essential that faculty in the schools and colleges maintain control over appointments and promotions, including the types, criteria, and numbers of such appointments and promotions; this proposal clearly advocates for full participation of faculty members in this process, while recognizing the varying needs from college to college and department to department.


The Academic Affairs Committee recommends establishing a university-wide system of promotional ranks for all non-tenure track faculty as detailed in the motion, which displays the proposed ranks and their application to non-tenure track faculty titles in a chart. The committee further recommends that deans of schools and colleges move as expeditiously as possible to implement promotional ranks for non-tenure track faculty as appropriate for each school and college and to encourage the faculties of academic units to determine processes and criteria for appointment and promotion.

This proposal makes no recommendations about load or contract lengths and does not include or imply recommendations on the merits of long-term renewable full-time positions for non-tenure track faculty. 2


The Senate Agenda Committee established The Ad-Hoc Committee on Part-time Teaching in Spring 2000. The Ad-Hoc Committee was charged with gathering data and examining the use of part-time faculty on the Syracuse University campus with the intention of making recommendations for improving the conditions of the academic work life of these faculty members.

After analysis of data from student records and payroll, surveys of deans and part-time faculty members, and comparative data released from a national survey conducted by the Coalition for the Academic Workforce, the Ad-Hoc Committee released its report “Part-time, Adjunct/Temporary and Full-time Non-tenure Track Faculty Study” in February 2001. The Committee reported that non-tenure track faculty play a crucial role in undergraduate instruction at Syracuse University, teaching roughly one third of the classes. Many of them have many years of experience teaching at Syracuse University.3They have had little opportunity for advancement, little recognition, and poor compensation.

Specifically the 2001 report recommended: “The central administration should create a plan to encourage and facilitate the possibility of annual merit raises for part-time faculty, and the possibility of promotion within the part-time ranks. Such a plan can create a career path with opportunities for advancement for part-time faculty. Presumably, any costs involved in offering promotions would be handled the same way as promotion adjustments for full-time faculty, where no special budget increment is provided for promotions. Usually, the school/college handles promotion adjustments using dollar savings from normal turnover-higher paid senior faculty leaving and being replaced by junior faculty at lower pay rates”(17).

In 2003 the Agenda Committee charged several Senate committees to make recommendations to address these issues. The Academic Affairs Committee was asked to devise a plan for promotional ranks for part-time faculty, subsequently broadened to include all non-tenure track faculty working at Syracuse (part-time, full-time, and adjunct). In the course of working on this task, the committee found it necessary as well to address the issue of titles associated with the appointments to which promotional ranks would apply.

In extensive consultation about titles in actual use, the committee discovered that non-professorial titles for non-tenure track faculty at Syracuse are highly diverse and reflect the culture of academic units. These titles carry historical weight with faculty in the schools and colleges and often indicate the specialized contributions of non-tenure track faculty. The committee decided to apply two ranks beyond entry-level to such non-professorial titles (the majority of non-tenure track faculty positions) for purposes of appointment and promotion: “advanced” and “senior.” Thus, for example, an instructor or research scientist would be eligible for promotion, first, to “Advanced Instructor” or “Advanced Research Scientist,” based on criteria of experience and significant accomplishments; and from this rank to “Senior Instructor” or “Senior Research Scientist,” based on criteria of seniority and superior performance in the position.

The committee also learned of the use across the University of a small but important number of non-tenure track appointments with professorial titles, both part-time and full-time. The committee consulted with department chairs and others to find out whether the existing titles (including the “Professor of Practice” appointments used in some units, and formalized in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication during the committee’s work on this project) met their needs and, specifically, accounted for non-tenure track faculty already working in their departments. As a result of these consultations, the committee has proposed that promotional ranks apply to a limited set of professorial titles for non-tenure track faculty, whose interpretation and use in the schools and colleges will be determined by their faculties. These titles include “Research Professor”; “Professor of Practice”; “Professor of Teaching Practice”; and “Clinical Professor.” These titles clearly identify the specialized nature of these positions as distinct from tenure-track positions with traditional responsibilities and criteria. The ranks of “assistant,” “associate,” and “full” (professor) are already available for these positions for purposes of appointment or promotion, although their use is not systematic.

Under circumstances determined by the academic units, it is possible for faculty members to be appointed from a position with a non-professorial title to one with a professorial title. The committee has identified instances of such appointments.

The committee emphasizes that the use of these professorial titles and promotional ranks is not tied to contractual category or load. They apply to all non-tenure track faculty positions: part-time, full-time, and adjunct.


Implementation Timeline

Upon approval of the proposal, we would expect the Vice Chancellor to ask the deans of schools and colleges to work with their faculties to establish the means of promotion for non-tenure track faculty in their units. In addition, schools and colleges may want to determine new types of appointments enabled by this system or to convert previous positions to such appointments. The proposal allows for such decisions about appointments, promotions, criteria, caps, and the processes for implementation to be made within the school or college, individual departments, or both. In either case, faculty deliberations should include input from the non-tenure track faculty members affected by them. Having peer faculty members on committees that make decisions regarding promotion is highly desirable.

Ranks and their Basis

If the proposal is accepted, promotional ranks will be established and regularized in colleges and departments. Non-tenure track faculty members may be appointed to or promoted into these ranks. Due to the special circumstances of non-tenure track faculty, longevity of service at Syracuse University should be a factor in decisions about promotion. However, as with other types of faculty promotion the focus should remain on an evaluation of the overall performance of work accomplished at the University as well as its quality and exemplary nature.

Public Dissemination of Means of Promotion

Public dissemination and easy access to the rules regarding the means of promotion is essential to the success of the implementation of the proposed ranks. Many departments have systems currently that include merit distinctions while others do not. However, this proposal should lead to university-wide access to promotion for non-tenure track faculty and thereby recognition of their exemplary performance in all schools or colleges and departments in the University. We suggest that information about the criteria and processes for promotion be made available on the web and that faculty members be informed promptly about any rule changes.

Relation of Ranks to Load, Contract, and Benefits

Distinctions among faculty positions based on load, contract lengths, and benefits eligibility will remain separate from this system of appointments and promotional ranks. Promotional ranks will be available to any non-tenure track faculty member without regard for contract load or length. While promotions in schools and colleges or departments may in some cases relate to changes in contract length, load, or benefits eligibility, it is important to allow for promotion without any of these types of changes.

Budgetary Implications

Our committee is aware of potential budgetary implications of establishing promotional ranks and supports the principle that promotions should lead to raises. In the short term, some schools and colleges may need help to implement a promotional system, especially for those units with large numbers of non-tenure track faculty. We recommend that the Budget Committee, in conjunction with the Provost and the RCM Committee, consider the need for a special university-level fund to be established to assist schools and colleges in the transition period as they implement this proposal.


The establishment of university-wide promotional ranks will allow room for career growth among a group of more than 570 faculty members. Having a way to achieve recognition and be rewarded for meritorious work is essential to retention of the many talented and dedicated non-tenure track faculty on our campus.

1 “Part-time, Adjunct/Temporary and Full-time Non-tenure Track Faculty Study,” Report of Ad-Hoc Committee on Part-time Teaching at Syracuse University, February 2001 (1).

2The motion on tenure timing approved by the Senate on November 9, 2005 includes new language for section 2.32 of the Faculty Manual stating explicitly the University’s longstanding practice regarding contract limits for full-time non-tenure track faculty appointments: “Individuals may hold non-tenure track faculty appointments no longer than six years.”

Of 535 faculty identified as teaching part-time in Fall 2005, 59, or 11%, were appointed before 1990; 149, or 28%, between 1990 and 1999; and 327, or 61%, since 2000.