Appointments to the faculty of The University of Alabama are based on the personnel requirements of the University’s academic programs and on the goal of achieving and maintaining excellence in its teaching, research, and service/academic citizenship activities. Recruiting for faculty positions is conducted according to the University’s Affirmative Action Plan and other approved administrative procedures established in the various administrative and academic units. It is a policy of the University to involve faculty, students, and others as may be appropriate in the review of candidates for positions of academic and administrative leadership (see Appendix A).

Faculty appointments fall in three broad categories: tenured/tenure-track, renewable contract and temporary. In the tenured/tenure-track category, those who have not been awarded tenure are considered probationary. Probationary faculty are employed with the understanding that performance that meets expectations (as defined by departmental, college, and university criteria) during a probationary period may result in the award of tenure. Employment as a renewable contract or temporary faculty member conveys no right or expectation of continued employment beyond the period specified in the letter of appointment.

The University of Alabama has four ranks for faculty members: instructor (including senior instructor), assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Rank depends on qualifications. Eligibility for promotion is limited to full-time regular faculty members. Titles for temporary appointments may be prefixed by the words Adjunct or Visiting.

Candidates for appointment to the rank of associate professor or Professor in an academic area of specialization are expected to possess an appropriate terminal degree. Candidates for appointment to the rank of assistant professor normally are expected to have completed requirements for an appropriate terminal degree.

Faculty members with split or joint appointments should have one unit (typically a department) designated as their primary home unit. This is noted in their letter of appointment or their personnel file.

A. Instructor

A candidate for appointment to the rank of instructor must have an appropriate record of educational achievement, typically possessing a graduate degree or relevant experience or both and must have the potential to be an effective teacher. All Instructors are expected to demonstrate a high level of performance in the classroom, to contribute to instructional effectiveness in assigned courses, and to engage in service/academic citizenship. Instructors may hold temporary or renewable contract appointments, but they cannot be classified as tenured/tenure track. Instructors cannot be promoted to any rank other than senior instructor (Chapter 2, Section IV, Subsection C) and cannot be appointed to any professor rank (a tenured/tenure-track or renewable contract position) without having been selected through an open search.

B. Tenured/Tenure-Track Professor Ranks

1. Tenured/Tenure-Track Assistant Professor

Appointment to the position of tenured/tenure-track assistant professor is based on educational achievement and/or related professional experience and potential for outstanding instructional effectiveness and scholarly contributions appropriate to the discipline and field of specialization. The candidate normally should have completed a doctoral program or other terminal academic program appropriate to the discipline. There should be substantial evidence to indicate that the individual has the capabilities and competencies required for successful performance of all anticipated professional responsibilities.

An individual who has not completed requirements for a terminal degree may be offered an appointment as assistant professor. If the offer of appointment is made contingent upon completion of requirements for the degree, but the appointee fails to meet this contingency by the effective date of employment, the individual will be assigned the rank of instructor, and a revised appointment letter should be issued that specifies a period of time during which the individual is expected to complete requirements for the degree. If no period of time is specified, the period in rank as an instructor cannot exceed one academic year. Failure to complete all degree requirements will serve as cause for non-retention. If a decision is made to retain the individual, a new appointment at the rank of assistant professor will be offered as soon as requirements specified in the appointment letter are met.

For tenure-track assistant professors, the mandatory tenure decision time for an individual who completes degree requirements after the effective date of employment may, by mutual agreement, be as late as the sixth academic year after the academic year during which requirements for the terminal degree are satisfied, even if this results in a probationary period of more than six years; the terms of any such agreement shall be specified in a new letter of appointment issued at the time degree requirements are met.

All tenure-track/tenured assistant professors are expected to maintain a good level of performance in the classroom and/or other appropriate instructional settings; to contribute to the overall instructional effectiveness of the academic programs in which they have assigned duties; to engage in an ongoing program of research, publication, creative activity, or scholarly efforts appropriate to their disciplines and fields of specialization; and to engage in service/academic citizenship appropriate to their areas and expertise.

2. Tenured/Tenure-Track Associate Professor

Appointment to the position of tenured/tenure-track associate professor is based upon a candidate’s instructional effectiveness and record of scholarly contributions appropriate to the candidate’s discipline and field of specialization; however, candidates who have no prior record at the rank of assistant professor may be appointed at the rank of associate professor provided they possess a combination of educational achievement, typically possessing a terminal degree, and professional contributions that give them the capabilities and competencies required for successful performance at the associate professor rank and also the professional stature commensurate with that rank.

All faculty members who hold the rank of associate professor are expected to approach a standard of outstanding performance in the classroom and/or other appropriate instructional settings; to make a strong contribution to the overall instructional quality of the academic programs in which they have assigned duties; to engage in an ongoing and substantive program of research, publication, creative activity, or scholarly efforts appropriate to their disciplines and fields of specialization; and to engage in service/academic citizenship appropriate to their areas and expertise.

3. Tenured/Tenure-Track Professor

Appointment to the position of tenured/tenure-track professor is based upon a candidate’s instructional effectiveness and record of scholarly contributions appropriate to their discipline and field of specialization; however, candidates who have no prior record at the rank of associate professor may be appointed at the rank of professor provided they possess a combination of educational achievement, typically possessing a terminal degree, and professional contributions that give them the capabilities and competencies required for successful performance at the rank of professor and also the professional stature commensurate with that rank.

All faculty members who hold the rank of professor are expected to contribute to the leadership of academic programs; to maintain an outstanding level of effectiveness in the classroom and/or other appropriate instructional settings; to make a strong contribution to overall instructional quality; to engage in an ongoing and substantive program of research, publication, creative activity, or scholarly efforts appropriate to their disciplines and fields of specialization; and to engage in service/academic citizenship appropriate to their areas and expertise.

C. Renewable Contract Professor Ranks

Academic units, e.g. The University of Alabama School of Law, with accreditation requirements that mandate deviations from the renewable-contract professor appointment, retention, and promotion policies contained in this Faculty Handbook can request that the Provost approve an alternate policy for that division. In those cases, the approved alternate appointment, retention, and promotion policies must be made public for all faculty members in the affected unit to review and consult.

1. Renewable Contract Assistant Professor

Appointment to the position of renewable contract assistant professor is based on educational achievement, related professional experience or clinical practice, and potential for outstanding instructional effectiveness and/or scholarly contributions appropriate to a candidate’s disciplines and fields of specialization. The candidate normally should have completed a doctoral program or other terminal academic program appropriate to the discipline. There should be substantial evidence to indicate that the individual has the capabilities and competencies required for successful performance of all anticipated professional responsibilities.

An individual who has not completed requirements for a terminal degree may be offered an appointment as assistant professor. If the offer of appointment is made contingent upon completion of requirements for the degree but the appointee fails to meet this contingency by the effective date of employment, the individual will be assigned the rank of instructor, and a revised appointment letter should be issued that specifies a period of time during which the individual is expected to complete requirements for the degree. If no period of time is specified, the period in rank as an instructor cannot exceed one academic year. Failure to complete all degree requirements will serve as cause for non-retention at the end of the academic year. If a decision is made to retain the individual, a new appointment at the rank of assistant professor will be offered as soon as requirements specified to hold the rank of assistant professor are met.

All renewable contract assistant professors are expected to engage in service/academic citizenship appropriate to one’s area and expertise. Additionally, they are expected to 1) maintain a good level of performance in the classroom and/or other appropriate instructional settings and to contribute to the overall instructional effectiveness of the academic programs in which they have assigned duties or 2) engage in an ongoing program of research, publication, creative activity, scholarly efforts, and/or clinical practice appropriate to their disciplines and fields of specialization.

2. Renewable Contract Associate Professor

Appointment to the position of renewable contract associate professor is based upon a candidate’s instructional effectiveness, record of scholarly contributions, and/or clinical practice appropriate to the discipline and field of specialization; however, candidates who have no prior record at the rank of assistant professor may be appointed at the rank of associate professor provided they possess a combination of educational achievement, typically possessing a terminal degree, and professional contributions that give them the capabilities and competencies required for successful performance at the associate professor rank and also the professional stature commensurate with that rank.

All renewable contract associate professors are expected to engage in service/academic citizenship appropriate to their areas and expertise. Additionally, they are expected to 1) approach a standard of outstanding performance in the classroom and/or other appropriate instructional settings and to make a strong contribution to the overall instructional quality of the academic programs in which they have assigned duties or 2) to engage in an ongoing and substantive program of research, publication, creative activity, scholarly efforts, and/or clinical practice appropriate to their disciplines and fields of specialization. 

3. Renewable Contract Professor

Appointment to the position of renewable contract professor is based upon a candidate’s instructional effectiveness, record of scholarly contributions, and/or clinical practice appropriate to the discipline and field of specialization; however, candidates who have no prior record at the rank of associate professor may be appointed at the rank of professor provided they possess educational achievement, typically possessing a terminal degree, or professional contributions that give them the capabilities and competencies required for successful performance at the rank of professor and also the professional stature commensurate with that rank.

All renewable contract professors are expected to engage in service/academic citizenship appropriate to their areas and expertise. Additionally, they are expected to 1) contribute to the leadership of academic programs, maintain an outstanding level of effectiveness in the classroom and/or other appropriate instructional settings, and make a strong contribution to overall instructional quality or 2) engage in an ongoing and substantive program of research, publication, creative activity, scholarly efforts, and/or clinical practice appropriate to their disciplines and fields of specialization.

D. Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Endowed chairs and professorships enhance the quality of programs in higher education through both the recognition and contributions of the chair holders and professors. The positions are among the highest and most prestigious appointments in academia, and they honor significant scholarly or creative achievement and academic excellence. Distinguished scholars who hold these positions make significant contributions to the research and teaching missions of the University. Moreover, they increase the visibility of the University and aid in attracting additional high-quality faculty, superior students, and external resources for research, instruction, and service. In cases where the endowed chair or professor is being considered for appointment with tenure, normal procedures for awarding tenure are followed in addition to the process outlined herein.

Board of Trustees Rule 508 (“Establishment of Academic Chairs, Professorships, and Endowed Lectureships and the Designation of Holders of Academic Chairs and Professorships”) sets forth guidelines the University must follow for 1) obtaining approval of a new academic chair, endowed professorship, or endowed lectureship; 2) designating a holder of an academic chair or endowed professorship; 3) short-term appointments to endowed chairs, and 4) appointments to professorships. A professorship, academic chair, or endowed lectureship may not be officially recognized until first approved by The Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees allows the University to appoint endowed chairs with short-term appointments of less than 12 months. These must be made with prior approval by the Chancellor, following the procedures in Board of Trustees Rule 508. An annual report is presented to The Board of Trustees on the short-term appointments to endowed chairs for that academic year. Procedures described below do not apply to short-term appointments, but are applicable to appointments that exceed one year and may include tenure or some other long-term commitments by the University.

1. General Criteria for Appointments for Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Criteria for appointments to endowed chairs and professorships must reflect the highest ideals of academic excellence and scholarly or creative achievement. While all appointments to these positions are made by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees, procedures for recruitment must be consistent with the University’s Affirmative Action Plan, stipulations of the endowment, and other administrative procedures established in the various academic units. Involvement of the faculty, students, and others, as may be appropriate, is essential in the review and recommendation of candidates for endowed chairs and professorships.

In addition to criteria set forth in Board of Trustees Rule 508, the following general criteria will be used in the review and recommendation of candidates for endowed chairs and professorships:

  1. Convincing evidence of outstanding teaching performance and effectiveness;
  2. An outstanding record of productive research, publication, creative activity, and scholarly achievement appropriate to the discipline and fields of specialization;
  3. Evidence of a continuing record of exemplary service/academic citizenship appropriate to the discipline or profession; and
  4. Evidence of achievement of a professional status at the national or international level that will enhance the stature of the University’s faculty.

With respect to these criteria, each successful candidate should present a record sufficiently consistent in quantity and/or quality to warrant the expectation of continued performance and contributions at an outstanding level. Generally, specific qualifications required for particular endowed chairs or professorships will be based on these criteria. Position announcements will include specific qualifications, and these qualifications and those set forth in Board of Trustees Rule 508 will be employed by the search committee in the review and recommendation of candidates.

2. Procedures for Recruitment of Candidates for Endowed Chairs

Procedures for recruitment and recommendation of candidates for endowed chairs will conform to Board of Trustees Rule 508, the Affirmative Action Plan of the University, and all prevailing federal and state regulatory requirements as well as stipulations of the endowment. While The University of Alabama Board of Trustees makes all appointments to endowed chairs, recommendations to the Board will be made only after considering 1) the evaluations and advice of the faculty of the department, school, or college, 2) consultation from outside peer reviewers, who may include but are not limited to those suggested by the candidates, and 3) the advice of a search committee, as described below:

  1. When a new endowed chair is established or when a vacancy occurs, the dean shall meet with the faculty of the academic unit before deciding on the nature of the search and the size and composition of a search committee. Faculty members from the academic unit will be appointed by the dean and will constitute a majority of the search committee. Other members of the search committee will be appointed by the dean in consultation with the Provost. Usually, the Provost will appoint a staff member from the Office for Academic Affairs to serve as a non-voting member on the search committee and to provide liaison and logistical support. Giving due regard to advice and concerns expressed by the faculty, the dean will designate a faculty member appointed from the academic unit to chair the search committee.
  2. The search committee, working in cooperation with the dean and the Office for Academic Affairs and with appropriate participation from constituent groups, shall announce and advertise the position in a manner appropriate to the nature of the search, and coordinate the review and evaluation of candidates for the position. Throughout the search process, the committee shall solicit, encourage, and provide for faculty participation and the participation of other constituent groups. Faculty should have ample opportunity to review the credentials of qualified candidates, provided that the search committee takes steps to protect the identity of candidates who request confidentiality during the initial screening process. On the basis of faculty evaluations and its own judgment, the search committee will reduce the list of candidates to those deemed to be best qualified for the position. The committee and the dean will select those to be interviewed from this reduced list. Interviews scheduled should allow for discussions with the President, the Provost, deans, chairpersons, search committee members, faculty, and, where appropriate to the nature of the search, with students, alumni, and others, including the Chancellor or designated representatives. Following these interviews, and other information gathering procedures appropriate to the nature of the search, every reasonable effort should be made to obtain the views of the faculty in the academic unit and appropriately interested constituent groups. The advice of the faculty may be determined by individual written evaluations, by an expression of faculty sentiment at a called faculty meeting, or by such other means as the search committee may consider appropriate. General support of the faculty in the academic unit normally will be necessary for further consideration of a candidate. In cases where the appointment includes the award of tenure, action by the tenured faculty in accordance with normal procedures in the academic unit is necessary before the dean makes a recommendation to the Provost and President.
  3. It shall be the responsibility of the search committee to submit to the dean both a summary of evaluations and advice received from the faculty on each person interviewed and the search committee’s own advice. The dean should also receive and review outside peer reviews for candidates for endowed chair positions. The dean recommends a candidate to the Provost and President who, in turn, recommend the candidate to the Chancellor and The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. In the event the search committee and dean do not find a successful candidate for presentation to the Provost and President, the search process normally shall be continued until a candidate acceptable to the search committee, the dean, and the faculty is successfully recruited. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the Provost and President shall recommend to the Board the appointment of an endowed chair from those candidates who have general faculty support. If it should become necessary to reopen the search, the dean and the search committee may confer to establish further direction; if it appears desirable, a new search committee may be formed.

3. Procedures for Recruitment of Candidates for Endowed Professorships 

Procedures for the recruitment of endowed professorships generally will follow those for the recruitment of endowed chairs. Procedures will conform to Board of Trustees Rule 508, the Affirmative Action Plan of the University, and all prevailing federal and state regulatory requirements as well as the stipulations of the endowment. While The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama makes all appointments to endowed professorships, recommendations to the Board will be made only after considering 1) the evaluations and advice of the faculty of the department, school, or college and 2) the advice of a search committee. Exceptions to the recruitment procedures for endowed chairs may occur under the circumstances described below.

In some cases, income from the corpus for an endowed professorship may not be sufficient to justify a national or international search to fill a new or vacant position. In these cases, the dean may organize an internal search for candidates from within the department, school, or college. The dean will meet with faculty in the academic unit to determine the size and composition of the search committee. Faculty members from the academic unit will be appointed by the dean and will constitute a majority of the search committee. Other members may be appointed to the committee by the dean in consultation with the Provost. The dean may choose to chair the committee or may designate a faculty member appointed from the academic unit to chair the search committee. The responsibilities of the search committee and the procedures for recommendation of the candidate are similar to those for recruitment and recommendation of an endowed chair.

4. Terms of Appointment for Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Terms of appointment for endowed chairs and professorships are for five academic years unless an alternate term is specified in the initial letter of appointment to the endowed position. Individuals can be reappointed to these positions after the initial term. Evaluation and reappointment procedures are determined by each academic division and must be consistent with any stipulations contained in the memorandum of agreement establishing the endowed position. Deans of the academic unit in which the endowed positions are held make the final decision on reappointment for endowed professorships, while the dean recommends reappointment of endowed chairs to the Provost, who holds the final decision.

Note: Those with appointment letters written prior to the Faculty Handbook revision (Fall 2019) and silent on the term of appointment must undergo re-appointment review no later than 2023-2024.

E. University Professorships

University professorships enhance the quality of programs in higher education through both the recognition and contributions of the professors. The University research professor positions recognize extraordinary, internationally recognized scholarly attainment in an individual field. The University teaching professor positions recognize extraordinary achievements within and outside the classroom in teaching and training in an individual field. By the nature of their appointment, these distinguished scholars and teachers make special contributions to the research, creative activity, and teaching missions of the home department, school, or college, and University.  Moreover, they increase the visibility of the University and aid in attracting additional high-quality faculty, superior students, and external resources for research, instruction, and service. Appointments are expected to most often be made for an indefinite period; however, instances may exist where a limited term, with or without the possibility of renewal, is desirable.

While The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama makes all appointments to the University research professorships and the University teaching professorships, recommendations to the Board will be made by the President of the University and/or Provost only after considering the criteria in Board of Trustees Rule 508, as described below.

  1. Candidates for University research professorships and University teaching professorships are limited to faculty members with the rank of full professor at The University of Alabama.
  2. The number of University research professorships will not exceed 5 percent of the number of faculty members with the rank of full professor at the University.  The number of University teaching professorships will not exceed 5 percent of the number of faculty members with the rank of full professor at the University.
  3. Nominations for University research professorships and University teaching professorships arise from the home college of the candidate. Nomination packets are to be forwarded by the respective dean to the Provost.
  4. Nomination packets for University research professorships will consist of a) a letter from the dean describing the extraordinary attainments in the field by the candidate (three pages or less), b) a curriculum vitae limited to five pages, c) reprints of the most significant publications or examples of creative activity (maximum of six), and d) external letters from up to three outstanding scholars in the field. These scholars are to be “arms-length” from the candidate. Former advisors, co-authors/co-editors, research collaborators, and former colleagues are excluded. The preponderance of letters should be from scholars of distinguished rank, named chairs, or similar titled professorships.  When this is not possible or feasible, an explanation should be provided.
  5. Nomination packets for University teaching professorships will consist of a) a letter from the dean describing the extraordinary attainments in the field by the candidate (three pages or less), b) a curriculum vitae limited to five pages, c) reprints of the most significant publications or examples of creative activity (maximum of six) if applicable, d) letters from up to three faculty members of the University, and e) letters from up to three former students describing the influence of the candidate on their lives and careers.

F. Temporary Ranks

Eligibility for appointment to a temporary rank normally requires professional preparation and experience comparable to that required for a regular faculty appointment at that academic rank. Temporary faculty members must have preparation and experience appropriate to the duties to be assigned.

Temporary appointees may be assigned to teach courses, conduct research, direct students, assist with research projects of students, direct field work of students, or provide consultation on research or instructional projects. Temporary appointments are for a predetermined period of time and convey no right or expectation of employment beyond the period specified in the letter of appointment. Temporary appointees are not eligible for promotion in rank but may apply for any other temporary faculty position, including upgraded positions they have previously held.

The recommendation to accord temporary full-time or part-time faculty appointments begins at the program level and is forwarded to the academic dean. Deans may make temporary part-time and full-time faculty appointments after receiving approval from the Provost.

The compensation for temporary appointees will depend on the type of service rendered and the rank of appointment. Unless authorized by the Provost, compensation for temporary appointees will not exceed the rates approved for regular members of the faculty.

G. Joint Appointments

Occasionally, reasons may exist for appointing a faculty member to more than one department or area. Recommendations and authorization for joint appointments follow the same policies and procedures that apply to appointments to individual departments or areas. Before approving a joint appointment, the Provost will ensure that there is agreement between and among all the authorities involved. This agreement shall include rank in each department or area and procedures for considering tenure and promotion and for assigning duties and compensation.

The faculty member on a joint appointment participates in formal votes on tenure and promotion only in the home unit as designated in their appointment letter or personnel file. For university-wide or college-wide votes, those on split appointment can only vote once.

H. Adjunct and Visiting Professor Appointments

Faculty members in performance of their duties at The University of Alabama may have collaborations with a faculty member(s) at other institutions where their joint activity would be enhanced if the faculty member(s) at the other institution could perform some activities at The University of Alabama. When these activities require the use of an office or other facilities or equipment at The University of Alabama, a temporary, formal affiliation with the University, such as an adjunct faculty appointment at the rank of instructor or assistant professor, associate professor, or professor, may be required.

  1. Adjunct faculty appointments are normally made for a fixed period of at least one calendar year, may be renewed, and normally do not include salary from the University.  The privileges associated with the adjunct position at The University should be clearly stated in the letter of appointment.  Procedures for appointing and renewing adjunct faculty status are determined by the individual colleges.
  2. Visiting faculty appointments are normally made for a period of less than one calendar year and normally do not include salary from the University. Visiting professor status must be sought by submitting the Office for Academic Affairs Visiting Scholar Form.

I. Non-Faculty Research Appointments

Various research contracts, grants, and projects depend in part on the services of personnel whose primary commitment is to research rather than to a combination of teaching, research, and service appropriate for faculty status. Consequently, the University has established a category of research positions that are non-tenure-earning, non-faculty positions. The duration of appointments in these positions will be limited by the duration of the contracts, grants, and projects that fund the positions. While these positions are not faculty rank and therefore have no faculty rights under the Faculty Handbook, persons holding research positions have responsibilities dictated in this Faculty Handbook and are expected to abide by all applicable University policies.