Office of the Provost | Communications

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  • Office of the Provost
    202-885-2127
    Fax: 202-885-2173
    provost@american.edu
    Leonard, Room Lower Level

    Bass, Scott A.
    Provost

Mailing Address

MEMORANDUM
September 3, 2010

 TO:  American University Deans, Directors and Department Chairs
 FROM:  Scott A. Bass, Provost
 SUBJECT:  Procedures for University Professors and Distinguished Professors

____________________________________________________________________________

The American University Faculty Manual, which was approved by the Board of Trustees on may 14, 2010, has new descriptions for the ranks of University Professor and Distinguished Professor. Each of these ranks is unique and should be awarded only when there is no uncertainty about the merit of the case. Senior faculty who are full professors at American University and prestigious full professor hires may be eligible for these ranks. Due to the extraordinary accomplishments that are required, the procedures for reviewing candidates for each rank need to be unambiguous and follow the process for internal review in the Manual. This memorandum will provide the specific procedures for each rand and the benefits and the expectations that are associated with the awarding of each rank.

Process for University Professor

The Faculty Senate crafted the language for University Professor recognizing that there are academic units (and some teaching units) that house two or more distinct disciplines or fields of study. In section 8.a.v. of the Manual, the new language clearly delineates the expectation for scholarship in earning this title:

A Full Professor may attain the rank of University Professor by demonstrating highly significant scholarly achievements that transcend a single discipline or field of study. The achievements integrate or redefine thought across academic boundaries in a way that creates new knowledge or frameworks. Distinct from Professors whose multi-disciplinary efforts draw upon the theories, methods, or practices of their primary academic field to contribute to another field outside of their specialty, the University Professor is an individual who has examined perspectives from two or more distinctly different fields and has integrated or redefined them in an original form outside of the disciplines or fields from which they came.

In the Committee on Faculty Actions (CFA) procedures, candidates for the rank of University Professor will submit a File for Action that meets the same expectations for scholarship, teaching and service as required for promotion to full professor and satisfies the following:

A current full-time tenured full professor seeking promotion to University Professor should submit a File for Action following the outline and format described in section 4 [Full Professor CFA procedures] above; however, a letter of nomination from a tenured full professor of the American University faculty and two letters from senior faculty at American University supporting the nomination should be included with the introductory narrative.

Additionally, the CFA requires:

The appropriate unit chair, designated review committee chair, or dean for faculty members seeking promotion to University Professor must obtain a minimum of five external letters to be included in the file for action that provides evidence and confirmation that the faculty member has achieved the stated criteria of crossing academic boundaries in an original manner. These letters must adhere to the criteria for external letters stated in section 3, part VI of the External Letters section in the CFA procedures and, customarily, should be from external reviewers who have not previously evaluated the faculty member.

Internal and external reviewers of the File will be asked to affirm the candidate’s scholarly achievements as highly significant, transcending a single discipline or field of study. Internal reviews of the File may include more than one teaching unit or more than one academic unit. In this case, the chair or dean of the candidate’s primary unit will coordinate the internal review with any other units that should be involved in the review.

Procedures

  1. Any tenured full professor of the University faculty may nominate a current tenured full professor for the rank of University Professor with a memorandum establishing the merits of the case to the chair or dean of the unit in which the candidate is appointed. This memorandum of nomination must include two letters from senior faculty supporting the nomination with justification that the stated criteria for crossing intellectual boundaries in an original manner have been met.
  2. The chair will coordinate with the dean of the unit in which the candidate is appointed to plan the sequence of review. If applicable, the chair then will forward copies of the memorandum to the chairs or deans of relevant units so that all parties can plan for the internal review of the File.
  3. If the candidate is to be reviewed by multiple teaching units or academic units, the teaching unit and academic unit to which the candidate is appointed should be the first review the File.
  4. The candidate will assemble the File for Action according to the CFA’s procedures published on the Dean of Academic Affairs website: http://www.american.edu/provost/academicaffairs/faculty-actions.cfm.

    At the appropriate time in the following steps, the candidate should be allowed to respond to all internal recommendations that are included in the File as prescribed by the Manual

    The candidate will be able to respond to redacted external review letters only if this is the policy of the teaching unit/academic unit in which the candidate is appointed.

    The File will go though full University review unless the candidate decides to stop the review.

  5. The candidate will submit the File for review to the chair of the teaching unit to which the candidate is appointed. The chair will forward the File to the first relevant teaching/academic unit according to the planned sequence in step 2.
  6. The relevant teaching unit and academic unit will review the File according to the unit’s procedures and the internal review process in the Manual. The academic unit dean will forward the File to the next relevant unit. This will continue until the File is forwarded to the teaching unit to which the candidate is appointed for the last stage of the planned sequence of review.
  7. When the candidate’s teaching unit has completed its review, the chair of the unit will forward the File for review by the dean of the academic unit.
  8. When the dean of the candidate’s academic unit has completed the review of the File, he or she will forward the File to CFA and the process of full University review will ensue as defined by the Manual.
  9. Any unsuccessful candidate may be reconsidered in the next annual cycle of reviews.

Process for Distinguished Professor

The rank of Distinguished Professor is reserved for the rare faculty member who is recognized as one of the premier scholars in the discipline or field. Section 8.a.vi of the Manual states:

This rank is awarded on a selective basis to acknowledge those few faculty who have achieved special renown though their extraordinarily significant accomplishments. A faculty member awarded the rank of Distinguished Professor meets all the criteria for the rank of professor in the field and has achieved national and international recognition in his or her academic field.

The candidate’s elevated stature should be overtly obvious in the File for Action, by the eminent profile of the scholarship, critiques of the scholarship, and by the external reviewers’ letters. The procedures specified by the CFA are:

A current full-time tenured full professor seeking promotion to Distinguished Professor should submit a File for Action following the outline and format described in section 4 [Full Professor CFA procedures] above; however, a letter of nomination from a tenured full professor of the American University faculty and two letters from senior faculty at American University supporting the nomination should be included with the introductory narrative.

The Committee on Faculty Actions also requires:

The appropriate unit chair, designated review committee chair, or dean for faculty members seeking promotion to Distinguished Professor must obtain a minimum of five external letters to be included in the file for action. The external reviewers should have eminent stature at leading research universities or professional/creative organizations and be recognized leaders in the field. Customarily, these letters should be from external reviewers who have not previously evaluated the faculty member. These letters must adhere to the criteria for external letters state in section 3, part VI of the External Letters section in the CFA procedures and should reflect the scholarship of the discipline or field of study.

Internal and external reviewers of the File will be asked to affirm the candidate’s scholarly achievements as highly significant and distinctively prominent within the discipline or field.

Procedures

  1. Any tenured full professor of the University faculty may nominate a current tenured full professor for the rank of Distinguished Professor with a memorandum establishing the merits of the case to the chair or dean of the candidate’s primary unit. This memorandum of nomination must include two letters from senior faculty supporting the nomination.
  2. The candidate will assemble the File for Action according to the CFA’s procedures published on the Dean of Academic Affair website.

    The File will go though full University review unless the is a negative decision at any level of the review or the candidate decides to stop the review.
  3. Candidates will follow the process for internal review as described in the Manual. Customarily, the candidate should have the unequivocal support of the external reviewers, the senior faculty in the candidate’s teaching unit, the chair, and the dean.
  4. Any unsuccessful candidate may be reconsidered in the next annual cycle of reviews.

Benefits and Expectations for both Ranks:

Once awarded, the title of University Professor or Distinguished Professor is permanent.

While it is possible for a faculty member to achieve both ranks, customarily, the funding and benefits are not cumulative for such cases. Academic unit deans may determine the policy for funding and benefits for individuals who have achieved one or both of the ranks along with an academic unit title or award.

Those who are awarded the rank of University Professor or Distinguished Professor will receive a one-time increase in base salary of $5000 above the merit raise that has been approved for the upcoming academic year.

The following benefits for both ranks are for a renewable five-year period and the renewal is approved by the dean in consultation with the chair, if applicable, based on sustained high levels of scholarly performance:

  • Customarily, the instructional workload for each academic year is reduced by one course. The reduction in instructional workload will be determined by the chair and must be approved by the dean.
  • There will be a $5000 annual allocation to support research expenses for each year of active service. The total of the annual allocations over the five-year period is capped at $25,000, but all or part of each annual allocation can be carried over from year to year within the five-year period.
  • The teaching unit and academic unit will be encouraged to use GFA funds to support research as needed.

Faculty who receive any one of the above benefits will give a public lecture on their research at some time before the end of each five-year period.

University Professors and Distinguished Professors are expected to continue to maintain a high-level of scholarship and sustain quality teaching and service at the university. In addition, they are expected to assume leadership of a relevant team of colleagues to respond to external funding opportunities.

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