A. Joint Appointments

(1)   Joint Appointments

a.   Description

A joint appointment may arise in three different circumstances:

i.  As the result of an authorized joint search (either within the FAS or in conjunction with another School).

ii. When a search conducted by a single department produces a candidate whose scholarly profile suggests the desirability of a joint appointment at the time of hire.

iii. When a faculty member’s research and teaching evolve significantly beyond the boundaries of his or her department, suggesting the desirability of a joint appointment.

Joint appointments may be made between FAS departments, between an FAS department and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, between an FAS department and another FAS ladder-faculty-appointing unit,[1] or between an FAS department and another Faculty or University-wide ladder-faculty-appointing unit.

Faculty members holding joint appointments are voting members, according to rank, in both units and enjoy privileges and responsibilities in each. For this reason, both units involved in the appointment must agree to the terms of the appointment; both units should ensure, at the time of appointment, that the FTE allocation and the responsibilities for teaching, advising, and departmental service in each unit are clearly defined. Ordinarily, the level of responsibility should reflect the fraction of the FTE being shared. Each jointly appointed faculty member has a primary department, which is identified at the time of hire or promotion. The primary department takes responsibility for a faculty member in administrative matters (e.g., initiating reviews and collecting Faculty Activity Reports). Ordinarily, a faculty member may only hold a titled appointment as professor in a unit if the faculty member has a full or joint appointment within the unit.

Note: Voting on tenured joint appointments (including zero-FTE joint appointments) is done by tenured faculty.

Special Considerations: Assistant and Associate Professors

Joint appointments for assistant and associate professors should be carefully considered, due to the additional burdens they may impose on tenure-track faculty. Any unit wishing to propose a joint appointment for a tenure-track member of the Faculty will first consult with the Office for Faculty Affairs.

In all cases involving joint appointments of tenure-track faculty, the process for subsequent promotion review(s) must be clearly defined, documented, and communicated to the appointee and departments at the time of the joint appointment. Both appointing units should be formally involved in these reviews. The primary department is ultimately responsible for ensuring that reviews take place in a timely manner. Both units must vote on the promotion, regardless of the FTE.

Because working towards possible tenure is already a significant demand on a tenure-track faculty member’s time, the chairs of both units should work together in consultation with the divisional dean(s) to ensure that the jointly appointed tenure-track faculty member is not overburdened with administrative and/or teaching responsibilities and that the faculty member is being appropriately mentored regarding these issues.

b.   Appointment Processes               

There are three paths to a joint appointment at the tenure-track or tenured rank.  Two of these paths pertain to appointments of faculty who are not currently at Harvard. The third path pertains to appointments of faculty who are already at Harvard. The appointment process in each case is described below.

Note:  In all of these appointment processes, the divisional dean/SEAS Dean and/or their designee and the Dean for Faculty Affairs and Planning can ask for changes to the dossier at any time. 

Note: For the purposes of this discussion in “b. Appointment Processes,” the term “department” includes SEAS areas, and the term “FAS” includes SEAS.

Appointment of faculty not currently at Harvard:

Below are the two paths to a joint appointment for faculty who are not currently at Harvard.

i. The search is an authorized joint search that is either conducted by two departments within the FAS, or else is conducted by the FAS in conjunction with another (non-FAS) School.

If both of the departments conducting the search are in the FAS, the two departments should work with their FAS divisional dean(s) or SEAS Dean to form a joint search committee and then follow standard search procedures as outlined in this handbook. If the search is conducted by the FAS in conjunction with another (non-FAS) School, the FAS divisional/SEAS Dean will coordinate with the other School to ensure that the appropriate process is followed. The final dossier will need to include votes from both units. For tenured appointments, the dossier should also include confidential letters from both units.

ii.  The search conducted by a single FAS department produces a candidate whose scholarly profile suggests the desirability of a joint appointment at the time of hire.

The department conducting the search should consult with its divisional dean or SEAS dean about the possibility of a joint appointment with an additional unit and the appropriate process to follow.

Note: If an FAS department anticipates offering a joint appointment to a tenure-track or tenured professor from another (non-FAS) Harvard School, the FAS divisional dean or SEAS Dean and the appropriate dean from the other School must be advised of the possibility early in the process and must approve the final proposal before any agreements are finalized.

Appointment of faculty currently at Harvard:

Below is the path to a joint appointment for faculty who are currently at Harvard.

iii.   A faculty member’s research, teaching, advising, and mentoring evolve significantly beyond the boundaries of his or her department, suggesting the desirability of a joint appointment.

iii. a) For appointments between two FAS departments

Step 1) The faculty member has a discussion about the possibility of a joint appointment with the chairs of his or her home unit and the prospective unit.

Step 2) The chair of the prospective unit should then convene a departmental meeting for a discussion and a vote.

  • For appointments involving two FAS departments, if the vote is favorable, the chair of the prospective unit informs his or her divisional/SEAS assistant dean and the chair of the faculty member’s home unit.

Step 3) The chair of the prospective unit then writes to the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS, cc'ing the appropriate people (see table below). The chair of the home unit may co-sign this letter (or write separately) to indicate his or her support to the FAS Dean. The chair of the prospective unit should:

  • provide a rationale for the appointment,
  • provide a summary of the departmental discussion and vote,
  • indicate that the home chair has been consulted,
  • propose how the FTE will be shared between the units.

Whom to CC on the Letter to the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS

For appointments between two FAS departments, the prospective chair should cc: For appointments between a SEAS area and an FAS department, the prospective chair should cc:

The divisional dean(s) for both units

The divisional assistant dean(s) for both units

The SEAS Dean

The FAS divisional dean

The divisional/SEAS assistant dean(s) for both units

Step 4) If the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS approves the joint appointment, she then writes to the faculty member, cc'ing the appropriate people (see table below), confirming the joint appointment and the faculty member's new title.

Whom to CC on the Letter from the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS

For appointments between two FAS departments, the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS cc’s: For appointments between a SEAS area and an FAS department, the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS cc’s:

The chairs of each department

The divisional dean(s) for both units

The divisional assistant dean(s) for both units

The chairs of the department and area

The SEAS Dean 

The divisional/SEAS assistant dean(s) for both units

Step 5) The Office for Faculty Affairs enters and processes the appointment in Aurora.

          iii. b)  For appointments between the FAS and another non-FAS School

Note: If a faculty member receives an appointment at another School, he or she should inform his or her home unit chair and the assistant dean.

Step 1) The faculty member has a discussion about the possibility of a joint appointment with the chairs of his or her home unit and the prospective unit. 

Step 2) The chair of the prospective unit should then convene a departmental meeting for a discussion and a vote.

  • For an FAS department seeking to jointly appoint a faculty member from another (non-FAS) Harvard School, if the vote is favorable, the chair of the FAS department seeks approval from the divisional dean or SEAS Dean to proceed with the process of appointing a non-FAS faculty member in the FAS (the divisional/SEAS assistant dean should be copied on this communication). If the divisional dean or SEAS Dean approves proceeding with the process, he or she will then inform the chair and Dean of the other School.

Step 3) The chair of the FAS unit then writes to the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS, cc'ing the appropriate people (see table below).  The chair of the non-FAS unit may co-sign this letter (or write separately) to indicate his or her support to the FAS Dean. The chair of the FAS unit should:

  • provide a rationale for the appointment,
  • provide a summary of the departmental discussion and vote,
  • indicate that the non-FAS chair has been consulted,
  • propose how the FTE will be shared between the units.

Whom to CC on the Letter to the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS

The FAS chair should cc:

The FAS divisional dean or SEAS Dean

The appropriate dean from the other (non-FAS) School

The divisional or SEAS assistant dean

The appropriate assistant-dean counterpart in the other (non-FAS) School

Step 4) If the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS approves the joint appointment, she then writes to the faculty member, cc'ing the appropriate people (see table below), confirming the joint appointment and the faculty member's new title.

Whom to CC on the Letter from the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS

The Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS cc’s:

The chairs of both departments

The Dean of the other (non-FAS) School

The divisional or SEAS assistant dean

The appropriate assistant-dean counterpart in the other (non-FAS) School

Step 5) The Office for Faculty Affairs enters and processes the appointment in Aurora.

(2)  Zero-FTE Self-Assessments

Faculty members holding a zero-FTE joint appointment may find, over time, that the responsibilities owed to their primary department make it difficult to adequately contribute to their joint unit. For this reason, faculty members holding zero-FTE appointments will be requested by the chair of their joint unit to undertake a self-assessment of their activity every five years. This assessment provides an opportunity for faculty members with zero-FTEs to consider whether they can continue to perform the duties agreed upon at the time of their appointment and whether they wish to continue to be jointly appointed. This is a decision made entirely by the faculty member holding the zero-FTE appointment.

[1] This includes all FAS departments, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, History and Literature, Folklore and Mythology, Study of Religion, Social Studies, and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.