Descriptions: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Convertible Instructor

(1)  Assistant Professor

An assistant professorship is a tenure-track appointment held by individuals who have the promise to produce scholarship and teaching of the highest quality and who have the potential to be competitive for a tenured position in the department within seven years. All formal work for the doctorate must have been completed before the appointment as assistant professor may begin. (As appropriate, a doctorate may not be required for an assistant professor appointment in the arts.) The initial appointment of an assistant professor is ordinarily for a period of five years.

(2)  Associate Professor

An associate professorship is a tenure-track appointment held by individuals who have demonstrated sufficient promise and achievement to qualify for tenure at a major research institution within three to five years. Appointments to this rank are ordinarily made by promotion from an assistant professorship. They are occasionally made by external appointment. Candidates should ordinarily have a doctorate (with the exception, as appropriate, of appointments in the arts). Internally promoted associate professors are appointed for a term of four years. Externally appointed associate professors may be appointed for a term of three to five years, depending on prior academic appointment history.

(3)  Convertible Instructor

A convertible instructorship is a temporary position held by an individual who has been hired through a search for an assistant professor but who has not yet completed the requirements for the doctorate. The individual is appointed to an initial one-year convertible instructorship, which will be converted to an assistant professorship according to the timetable shown later in this section.

Note: Generally, candidates may not spend more than eight years on the tenure track. Because reviews should be completed by the end of a candidate’s penultimate year of appointment, candidates generally do not remain in a rank for the maximum appointment limits listed above. Please see Chapter 2, Section A, “Tenure-Track System,” for more information on the tenure track.

Note: With the significant disruptions to professional life resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, the FAS instituted in Spring 2020 a policy of extensions, allowing then-current tenure-track faculty the option of extending their appointment and postponing their promotion review for one semester or a year, depending on their eligibility. Similarly, FAS faculty whose appointments began in the fall term of 2020 were offered the option to extend their initial appointment by one year. In Spring 2021, recognizing the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the FAS encouraged any interested tenure-track faculty to contact their divisional dean/SEAS Dean if they wished to request an additional year of appointment and tenure-clock extension, for reasons of significant professional and/or personal disruption due to the pandemic. In January 2022, given the continuing impact of the pandemic, the FAS provided the option of a third appointment extension, for any interested tenure-track faculty who have not yet had their review for promotion to tenure and who feel that an extension would help them to address Covid-related impacts on their professional lives.

In addition, the FAS stated in 2021 that it will grant relief from teaching one course for any interested tenure-track colleagues (regardless of dependent-care circumstances) who were on the FAS tenure-track during the 2020-21 academic year and who teach in departments/areas that have a typical teaching load of two courses or more per year. These eligible tenure-track faculty can take this course relief any time before they come up for tenure. This one-time course relief should be arranged in coordination with the department chair/area chair and can be taken during any of the years that the faculty member is on the tenure track. (The one-course reduction cannot be “banked” for use post tenure.)

Internal and external evaluators in associate reviews should evaluate candidates by using the standard criteria for associate professor provided in Chapter 5 (the “Description” of associate professors). Evaluators should assess a faculty member’s aggregated scholarship, teaching,  advising, mentoring, and service/citizenship without any penalty if the faculty member received teaching relief and/or appointment extension(s) due to the pandemic and/or parental leave. For example, if a candidate for promotion to associate professor was given a one-year clock extension and thus came up for associate promotion in the fifth (rather than the ordinary fourth) year after their initial appointment date, their body of work should be evaluated according to a standard of someone who has had four years to work towards associate promotion. All of the work the faculty member has done since they were initially appointed is evaluated as if they have done so on a clock unaffected by the pandemic and/or parental leave. Every candidate who has had an extension would receive an adjustment of the type described here, taking into account the specific clock extension they received (e.g., one semester, one year, etc.). Teaching relief granted due to the pandemic works under the same principle. A tenure-track faculty member who was given one course of teaching relief should have their scholarship, teaching,  advising, mentoring, and service/citizenship evaluated for associate promotion as if they had taught the course for which they received relief. These procedures imply that COVID-related and parental clock extensions and/or teaching relief should not be counted against candidates in any way.