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Guidelines for Reappointment and Promotion of Term Faculty
School of Communication

Final Draft 4-18-2019
(Approved by Provost July 2019)

According to the American University Faculty Manual, the university uses term appointments primarily to retain excellent and committed teachers, maintain flexibility in allocating resources, bring in outstanding individuals to enrich the learning experience, and provide additional time for tenure-line faculty to pursue research interests.

Section 14.a of the Manual states that "appointment and reappointment of all term faculty are contingent on the relevant qualifications and performance of the faculty member, the enrollments and other needs of the teaching or academic unit, and the instructional resources of the university."

All teaching units and academic units in the university are required to develop guidelines establishing the overall contributions expected of all faculty candidates for promotion and reappointment, in accordance with the “General Criteria for Evaluation of Faculty.”

Although often conflated with questions of reappointment and promotion, the merit review process is fundamentally distinct (Section 3.e of SOC by-laws). The evaluation guidelines listed below are to be used in the process to reappoint and promote term faculty (Section 7.e of SOC by-laws).

Term Faculty Reappointment Guidelines

AU term faculty are eligible for one of two sequences -- lecturer or professor -- though they are customarily appointed to the lecturer sequence. Section 13 of the Faculty Manual contains academic ranks and qualifications for term faculty. Those faculty on the lecturer sequence are evaluated using teaching and service guidelines. Faculty on the professor sequence are evaluated using teaching, service, and scholarship guidelines.

The current General Criteria for Evaluation of Term Faculty state that "term faculty members must demonstrate excellent teaching/primary responsibilities, currency in the field, and evidence of a willingness to provide appropriate levels of service to the university and the professional community."


The current Manual states that teaching evaluation metrics must extend beyond student evaluations of teaching (SETs). In addition to SETs, SOC academic units should use other criteria to evaluate teaching effectiveness. Those criteria may include overall quality of syllabi and course materials, including clear articulation of course objectives and outcomes; innovative use of classroom formats and technologies; new instructional modalities pertinent to the candidate’s discipline; and development of new courses or online and hybrid courses. Faculty should also engage with students beyond the classroom and be available for individual discussions about coursework, networking, professionalism in the workplace, and career guidance.

SOC faculty are expected to stay current with developments in their fields. Each faculty member should keep abreast of current debates in the field and integrate these into the classroom where applicable. In addition, each faculty member is expected be cognizant of new literature and trends in their field and integrate these into their teaching. Examples of ways to demonstrate currency may include attending CTRL events or seminars offered by professional associations; recent creative and professional work; grant development; and scholarly research.

In addition, each SOC teaching unit may offer term faculty the option of requesting a peer classroom observation and follow-up report.


The current Manual states "term faculty members must demonstrate engagement in the university community, including a meaningful level of teaching unit, academic unit, or university service, as well as participation in major campus-wide events, such as commencement."

Faculty members should demonstrate a willingness to carry an appropriate share of service obligations to the unit, school or university, which may include mentoring of students, student recruitment activities, supervision of student groups, service on committees and/or task forces, new program development, and marketing activities of the unit and school.

Demonstration of service obligations may also include service to the faculty member’s discipline and professional field, such as juries and awards selection committees; chairing of professional meetings or panels at academic conferences; editorial service; organizing professional workshops and/or forums; mentoring of faculty; and significant involvement as a strategist, researcher, writer, data analyst, or work that initiates, influences, advances or shapes public discussion, debate, issues, policies, or institutional, political, cultural or social change.

Scholarship (Professor Sequence Only)

According to Section 15.c of the Faculty Manual, the university "shall base its assessment of a faculty member's scholarly achievements on the aggregate productivity and impact of the work since degree completion, including evidence that the faculty member is productive at AU. The work should satisfy the criteria established by the unit and demonstrate the faculty member's capacity for continued scholarly achievement."

In SOC, a term faculty member’s scholarly achievement should be similar to a tenure-line member's; however, term faculty on the professor sequence do not have to meet requirements within a specific period of time.

As stated in the SOC guidelines for tenure-track faculty, SOC values the work of term faculty that contributes to scholarship, advances the practice of communication, is directed toward a public purpose, and demonstrates innovation and leadership. Because SOC faculty have widely diverse interests and experience -- from traditional social science research to the production of media for the common good -- each division may have its own specific benchmarks and measures of success. The professional work should relate directly to the criteria established by the academic unit’s contract with the term faculty member. If SOC guidelines for tenure-track faculty are updated, then these guidelines for term faculty should also be revised.

The following demonstrate scholarly achievement, however, they are by no means an inclusive list.

• A book or books published by a well-respected academic press.

• A consistent record of refereed articles in top journals in communication fields, including works as a single or lead author.

• A high-impact and consistent contribution to the communication fields through monographs, refereed conference proceedings, articles in highly selective professional and policy publications (including journalistic and opinion pieces), as well as rigorous research reports and policy briefs aimed at policymakers, the press, industry and NGOs.

• Creation of film, video, photography, gaming, and emerging media content that is selected for highly regarded peer-judged, peer-reviewed, or curated festivals, competitions, installations, or publications; national and international or high-impact festivals, conferences, and other events.

• Awarded grants and fellowships, professional consultations, media appearances, service on expert advisory committees, invitations to jury or review competitions or journals, and authorship of government or organization reports.

Term Faculty Promotion Guidelines

SOC requires excellence in teaching and service for a faculty member seeking to qualify for promotion in the professorial lecturer sequence and excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service from a term faculty member seeking to qualify for promotion in the term professor sequence. Any term faculty member, regardless of rank, may seek promotion under either sequence.

SOC follows the standards, timetable, and procedures for reappointment and promotion laid out in Section 14 of the Faculty Manual. In general, guidelines for promotion are generally more demanding than those for appointment. All candidates for promotion must show excellence in teaching and must have a track record of service to the unit and/or university. Candidates for the term professor sequence must also demonstrate scholarly excellence and intellectual impact.

Professorial Lecturer Sequence

The lecturer sequence includes the ranks of instructor, professorial lecturer, senior professorial lecturer, and Hurst senior professorial lecturer. Faculty in these positions are typically evaluated for reappointment and promotion solely on the basis of teaching and service. They can refer to the prior section on reappointment guidelines for examples of demonstrating teaching and service excellence. These faculty may elect to include a supplemental evaluation of their scholarly, creative and professional work in their reappointment and promotion reviews.

The rank of instructor customarily applies to a one-semester or one-year appointment of term faculty members who do not hold a terminal degree in their field. This rank also may be applied to positions that fill specific, temporary teaching needs, as determined by each unit in accordance with instructional resources. Instructors are evaluated primarily on their teaching and, if applicable, service to the unit. Instructors who meet the criteria for professorial lecturer may apply for promotion to that rank.

Professorial Lecturer
Applicants for reappointment at this level should be successful teachers whose courses foster student learning and achievement and reflect the current state of their academic field(s). Their course materials should state clear objectives that are informed by the goals of their department or program. Their professionalism will be displayed through syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching assessments. They should also document appropriate level of service to the unit, college, and/or university. Professorial lecturers who meet the criteria for senior professorial lecturer may apply for promotion to that rank after five years as professorial lecturer.

Senior Professorial Lecturer
The Faculty Manual states that a senior professorial lecturer should demonstrate “excellence as a teacher and strong engagement with the university community” over and beyond the criteria for appointment as a professorial lecturer. A faculty member at this level is an expert teacher whose courses foster, in challenging and motivating ways, student learning and achievement. Their course materials promote the goals of their program and demonstrate currency in their academic field(s). They display professionalism through syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching. They also provide significant service and contributions to professional development, which might include leadership activities such as faculty mentoring, assessment work, and research in their field, in addition to significant service to their department, college, and/or university. Senior professorial lecturers who meet the criteria for Hurst senior professorial lecturer may apply for promotion to that rank after five years as senior professorial lecturer.

Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer
Candidates for Hurst senior professorial lecturer should demonstrate a consistent record of marked teaching excellence. They display professionalism and expertise through their course and curriculum development, syllabi, assignments, evaluation of student work, advising or mentorship, and student evaluation of teaching assessments. Their application portfolios should show refinement of teaching, adaptation to new student populations, and adoption of innovations in their field(s) of research. They should be able to demonstrate strong leadership in their department or program, contributions to professional development initiatives in their department or program and in their field, as well as notable service to their unit, college, and/or university.

Term Professor Sequence

The Faculty Manual states that new appointments of term assistant professor will be made “only under extraordinary circumstances and with approval of the provost” (section 13.b.i). Faculty at this rank who meet the criteria for promotion to term associate professor normally may apply for promotion after six years of full-time service.

According to section 14.d of the Manual, term faculty may request to move between the professorial lecturer and term professor sequences, if they meet the relevant criteria for the rank. The request can be initiated by any term faculty member, including in-residence faculty, or by mutual consent with their academic unit head.

A term faculty member in the professorial lecturer sequence may apply for the rank of term associate professor; in addition, a senior professional lecturer may apply for the rank of term full professor. Any request to move into the term professor promotion sequence at the associate level or above must follow the procedures outlined in section 11 of the Manual. The Committee on Faculty Actions reviews all such files.

The standards for promotion to the ranks of term associate professor and term professor in the area of scholarship are essentially the same as those for their tenure-line equivalents (see Section 7.g of the SOC Bylaws). There are, however, some notable differences. Term assistant professors are not required to apply for promotion to term associate at the end of six years of service and, unlike their tenure-line peers, may be reappointed in the absence of such a promotion. Although always welcome, the securing of major grant funding is less critical for promotion in the term professor sequence than in the tenure line. For more on the university’s expectations of term associate and full professors, see the Faculty Manual, sections 13.b.ii and 13.b.iii.

Faculty who wish to move from the term professor sequence to an equivalent rank in the professorial lecturer sequence must do so with a memo to, and approval of, their division director, the SOC dean, and the dean of faculty. Moving from term assistant professor to senior professorial lecturer is a promotion and requires a corresponding faculty action. Movement from the professorial lecturer sequence to term associate or above requires a full review with external letters. Faculty contemplating such an action should explore its viability with their division director and the SOC dean.