Recommended Best Practices Related to Fixed-Term Faculty
Updated November 2015
The Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty and the Community and Diversity Committee recommend the following best practices for the employment and professional support of full-time fixed-term faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill. These recommendations come from a 2014 survey of UNC Fixed-Term Faculty, practices from other universities, and discussions with the University Ombuds about improving the climate and inclusivity for all faculty, especially women and faculty of color.
1. LENGTH OF CONTRACT
When a fixed-term appointment fills an ongoing role in the appointing unit’s academic program, employment contracts should be longer than one year. Except in unusual circumstances, the following guidelines should be observed:
|Years of Service to the University||Contract Length|
|< 1 Year||1 Year|
|1 – 5 Years||3 Years|
|5 Years or Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer Level or Above||5 Years|
2. CLEAR PROFESSIONAL PROGRESSION
Academic units should have a clear career ladder system for full‐time (>.75 FTE) fixed-term positions, and appointments should be made with predictable ranks and titles. This document should be updated and revised every 5 years by the academic unit. Criteria should include responsibilities for teaching, service and scholarship (e.g., scholarship of education, scholarship of application, scholarship of discovery).
Standards and criteria for reappointment and progression in rank should be written and widely distributed to both full‐time fixed-term faculty and those who perform the evaluations and who make recommendations and decisions. The process of reappointment should be communicated to individuals who are offered a fixed term appointment. At the point of inception, it should be made clear if a career ladder system is in place in the unit and whether or not its benefits might extend to the position. Individuals under consideration for reappointment should be given an opportunity to prepare evaluation dossiers and make a case for their continued participation in the appointing unit’s academic program.
4. NONRENEWAL NOTICE
Decisions not to renew the appointments of full‐time fixed-term faculty should be made with adequate notice, at least six months prior (or prior to January 1) to the end of the first year’s appointment. Except in cases of urgent financial contingency, notice in advance of nonrenewal should progressively increase to twelve months for individuals with at least ten years of continuous service. Individuals with appointments that fill an ongoing role in the unit whose contracts are not to be renewed should have access to an expedited process of review, so that a final decision can be made in a timely and responsible manner.
5. CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Fixed‐term faculty members should be mentored and should receive regular feedback (at minimum yearly) on their performance, as well as the support necessary to advance their careers. Support might include access to training, competitive leaves, internal grants and awards, and travel funds. Because career development is heavily influenced by climate, departments should encourage open communication about professional roles and expectations, including sensitivity to differences based on race, gender identity/expression, family status, class, geography, age, sexual orientation, and other protected categories of identity.
When they have met the criteria for faculty voting rights as specified in the Faculty Code of University Government, fixed‐term faculty should be fully integrated into their departments. This includes incorporating them into departmental governance by allowing them to participate in departmental faculty meetings and advancing appropriate voting privileges. It also includes listing their names in university academic catalogs, faculty building directories, and departmental websites, and including them in all routine departmental and university mailings. Teaching faculty should be included in curriculum discussions. When requested,, leadership development opportunities should be made available to fixed-term faculty. Leadership opportunities including departmental and university-wide service should be considered.