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Research Professor Appointments - Procedures for Policy Implementation on Research-Professor Series

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Revised February 17, 2012

1. General Considerations

This document defines re-appointment, evaluation and promotion procedures for research professor track faculty. It does not supersede, but rather complements, the policy statements outlined in the Faculty Handbook and in the memoranda of Bruce Ekstrand (Research Faculty--Implementation of New Titles, 24 June 1986) and Robert Sievers (Research Faculty Titles, 12 September 1986). In the current document, particular emphasis is directed towards clarifying the criteria for appointment and promotion; a list of supporting material to be submitted by the nominating departments/institutes meeting minimum standards is also provided.

Research faculty members on other University of Colorado campuses cannot transfer their Research faculty member status to the Boulder Campus without proper review in accordance with this document. Thus the process below will be followed by all Research faculty appointments on the Boulder campus.

1.1 Process

a. Research faculty appointments are initiated by an academic department or by a research institute. Appointments to the research professor series that are sponsored by a research institute must be co-sponsored by the academic department that will be the beneficiary of the potential instructional contributions of the research faculty member.

b. The sponsoring unit(s) assume(s) the responsibility for providing members of its research faculty with appropriate resources not normally funded by grants and contracts (e.g., appropriate space). The sponsoring unit must indicate, at the time of nomination of a person to the research professor series, that such resources will be available.

c. Appointments will carry the title of the sponsoring unit (e.g., Associate Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience or of Behavioral Genetics), unless otherwise agreed to by a co-sponsoring unit.

Each academic unit will develop its own procedures for the recruitment, selection and nominations of candidates for these positions. Whenever recruitment is possible, the sponsoring unit will follow the affirmative action guidelines pertaining to faculty recruitment. It is recognized, however, that these titles will often be extended to individuals, who are already present in the university system and in many of these cases an actual external search following the standard affirmative action procedures will not be possible. For example, the availability of the position may depend upon the receipt of a grant by a particular individual selected by the granting agency -- it would not be possible then to search for another individual to fill the position. Because of this limitation, sponsoring units must be especially sensitive to affirmative action principles in attracting and developing a research faculty member.

d. Reviews of recommendations for appointment to the research professor series will be similar to the review and approval procedures for regular faculty. However, the requirements for research faculty differ from regular tenure-track faculty. In addition to a recommendation from the sponsoring unit, approval from the following is required: (1) the relevant dean, (2) the Vice Chancellor for Research, upon recommendation by the Graduate School Executive Advisory Committee as the relevant faculty review body. Final appointment to these ranks is made by the Chancellor.

e. Research professors will be placed on limited term appointments and are not eligible for tenure. The term of appointment for a limited-term appointment refers to the length of time a person holds the faculty title and not to the length of time the University may provide interim funding (see section 5.1.a).

f. Following the convention for tenure-track faculty positions the minimum appointment for a research professor will be at 50%. Exceptions to this policy can be granted by the Vice Chancellor for Research in consultation with the Graduate School Executive Advisory Committee.

1.2 Salary and Performance Evaluations

All ranks of the research professor series will be subject to performance evaluations carried out according to the procedures of the sponsoring unit, analogous to the salary-increment reviews of regular faculty. This review will be used to establish the appropriate salary level for the research faculty member as well as to provide constructive feedback to the faculty member concerning his/her performance and progress in the unit. Salary increments at times other than the performance evaluation will not normally be allowed. Research professors with any general fund support will receive salary increments in the same time frame as regular faculty in their academic department.

2. Appointment Procedures

The evaluation of nominees for appointment should focus on promise in graduate student advising and mentorship, teaching as appropriate, and research as well as the potential of the candidate to obtain sustained external funding. Although similar criteria can be used to evaluate the three Research Professor categories, the level of expectation increases with the rank and should be consistent with the respective position descriptions

2.1 Description of the Positions

Assistant Research Professor

This title is parallel to the regular faculty rank of assistant professor, but the requirements are different. It is used for persons possessing the terminal degree appropriate to the discipline, who show demonstrated promise of independent research contributions (e.g., judged by external letters of support, the assessment of their thesis or postdoctoral advisor and publication record), and who are qualified to participate in instructional activities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Potential instructional activities may involve participation in a formal course (ranging from several guest lectures to full responsibility), and should also include supervision of graduate students, supervision of undergraduate students (e.g., through the UROP program), organizing summer program activities etc. The term of appointment is three years and is renewable (see section 3).

Associate Research Professor

This title is parallel to the regular faculty rank of associate professor. It is used for persons holding the terminal degree appropriate to the discipline who also have made significant contributions in research judged by their publications, funding history and external letters of evaluation. Appointments at this rank will require a demonstration of the applicant's current or planned involvement with the instructional activities of the host department, which includes graduate student advising and mentoring, and classroom teaching as appropriate. These activities will be of the same type as described above. The term of appointment is three years and is renewable (see Section 3).

Research Professor

This title is parallel to the regular faculty rank of professor. It is used for persons who hold the terminal degree appropriate to the discipline and who have made outstanding contributions in research and have demonstrated ability to generate substantial external funding. Appointments at this rank will require a demonstration of the applicant's current or planned involvement with the instructional activities of the host department, which includes graduate student advising and mentoring, and classroom teaching as appropriate. These activities will be of the same type as described above. The term of appointment is four years and is renewable (see section 3).

2.2. Nomination Documents

a. A current curriculum vitae (including publications). In the case of scholars working with others or as member of a group, the distinctive role that the individual played or how the nominee contributed to sets of multiple-authored publications is requested. The vitae should also include the funding history and proposal writing activity of the nominee.

b. At least five (5) outside letters of support solicited by the nominating department’s chair/institute director that give an indication of the nominee's ability to do independent research (or in the case of team efforts, his/her collaborative experience or talents), originality, and quality of work, as explained in the position descriptions in section 2.1.

c. An assessment by the nominating department chair/institute director of the funding record of the nominee, including the amount of funding received, when it was received, and whether the nominee was the P.I. or co-P.I., for those contracts/awards. If the nominee is a co-P.I., then the name of the P.I. should also be given. This letter should also include the following:

  • the departmental (or institute) vote count on the nominee's appointment
  • a description of the nominee's expected and planned contributions to the specific research project(s) he/she will be involved in; if relevant, the nominee's role and responsibility when he/she is a co-P.I. or a participant in a team project
  • a description of the nominee' potential teaching activities during the appointment period, including graduate student advising or mentorship; if relevant, the anticipated impact of the nominee's research/teaching activities on other units in the University; the interdisciplinary nature of such activities.
  1. A brief statement (1-2 pages) from the nominee describing his/her research plans and objectives.
  1. If appropriate, a brief statement (1-2 pages) from the nominee describing his/her teaching plans, graduate student advising or mentorship, and objectives. It is important to note that if the research faculty member will be engaged in classroom teaching, the funds that will be used to compensate the research faculty member must come from General Fund sources.

f. A statement from the sponsoring department chair/institute director indicating at what level the department/institute will support the nominee, if a title is conferred. The level of support should reflect the department's/institute's continued commitment to the functional and operational support of the nominee (e.g., providing office or laboratory space), excluding salary and fringe benefits, and should provide the review committee with a solid sense of the department's/institute's desire to have the nominee be associated with the department/institute.

g. A statement from the sponsoring department chair/institute director indicating what fraction of a potential financial back-stop (described in section 5) for salary between grants that it is willing to provide. (This information is necessary to monitor the financial viability of the program.)

3. Reappointment Procedures

If reappointment is desired, an application for reappointment is required six months prior to the end of the current appointment period for all research professors.

3.1 Evaluation Guidelines

The evaluation of nominees for reappointment will focus on four areas: performance in teaching, for example graduate student advising or mentoring, research, service and the ability of the candidate to sustain funding. Although similar criteria may be used to evaluate the three research professor categories, the level of expectation increases with the rank and should be consistent with the respective position descriptions (section 2.1).

The evaluation of nominees for reappointment at the same rank should focus on four areas:

a. Research

  • the nominee's research performance during the previous appointment period
  • the nominee's impact on the general research activities of the department/institute

b. Teaching: In the event the sponsoring department is able to support the nominee’s teaching from General Funds

  • the nominee's teaching performance during the previous appointment period
  • the nature of the nominee's teaching activities
  • graduate/undergraduate core/elective courses taught
  • the candidate is expected to advise or mentor graduate students in his/her field.

c. Service

  • appropriate service by the nominee to the mission of the department or institute (see section 4)

d. Funding

  • details of the financial resources for sustained funding of the nominee during the reappointment period

3.2 Reappointment Documents

a. Current curriculum vitae (including publications). In the case of scholars working with others or as member of a group, the distinctive role that the individual played or how the nominee contributed to sets of multiple-authored publications is requested. The vitae should also include the funding history and grant or contract proposal writing activity of the nominee.

b. A letter from the nominating department chair/institute director assessing the nominee's performance. This letter should include:

  • a report of the departmental (or institute) vote count on the nominee's reappointment
  • the nominee's contributions to the specific research project(s) he/she was involved in during the previous appointment period; the nominees role and responsibility in such projects.
  • an evaluation of the nominee’s teaching, if appropriate, and advising performance during the past appointment period; development of any innovative courses, etc.
  • the impact of the nominee's research/instructional activity on other programs within the University; the interdisciplinary nature (if any) of his/her research/instructional activities, including student advising.
  • an assessment of the nominee's efforts in securing grant/contract funding, a list of proposals submitted and awarded; award duration and amounts and the role the nominee played in such proposals (P.I., co-P.I., co-I. or other)

c. Annual "Faculty Reports of Professional Activities" completed during the past appointment period.

d. A summary of FCQs for any course(s) taught by the nominee and/or letters of evaluation from the graduate/undergraduate students supervised by the nominee on research projects and creative work.

e. At least two letters of evaluation from others in the nominating department/institute (or other departments/institutes in the University) familiar with the nominee's research and, if appropriate, teaching activities; the impact of such activities.

f. A brief plan written by the nominee summarizing his/her proposed research activities during the reappointment period.

g. A brief plan written by the nominee summarizing his/her proposed instructional activities, in particular graduate student advising or mentorship during the reappointment period.

h. A statement from the sponsoring department chair/institute director indicating at what level the department/institute may continue to support the nominee during the reappointment period. The level of support should reflect the department's/unit's continued commitment to the functional and operational support of the nominee (e.g., providing office or laboratory space), excluding salary and fringe benefits, and provide the review committee with a solid sense of the department's/institute's desire to reappoint the nominee.

i. A statement from the sponsoring department chair/institute director indicating what fraction of a financial back-stop (described in section 5) for salary between grants that he/she is willing to provide.

4. Promotion Procedures

4.1 Promotion Process

After two consecutive reappointments, assistant and associate research professors, and the host department chairs/institute directors will be encouraged to seek promotion of the research faculty member to associate and full research professor, respectively.

4.2 Evaluation Guidelines

The evaluation of nominees for promotion should focus on four areas, and significant growth in research, teaching, in particular graduate student advising, and service should be documented. Although similar criteria can be used, the level of expectation increases with the rank and should be consistent with the respective position descriptions (section 2.1).

a. Research

  • the nominee's research performance
  • the nominee's history and future potential to secure funding
  • the nominee's impact on the general research activities of the department/institute and on the University in general

b. Teaching: In the event the sponsoring department is able to support the candidate’s teaching from General Funds

  • the nominee's teaching performance
  • the nature of the nominee's teaching activities
  • graduate/undergraduate core/elective courses taught
  • graduate student advising/supervising activities
  • development of new courses

c. Service

  • the nominee's service activities at the department as well as in his/her profession

d. Funding

  • details of the financial resources for funding the nominee during his/her continuing appointment period at the higher rank

4.3 Promotion Document

a. A current curriculum vitae (including publications). In the case of scholars working with others or as member of a group, the distinctive role that the individual played or how the nominee contribute to sets of multiply-authored publications is requested. The vitae should also include the funding history and proposal writing activity of the nominee.

b. A letter from the nominating department chair/institute director assessing the nominee's performance. This letter should include:

  • a report of the departmental (or institute) vote count on the nominee's promotion
  • the nominee's contributions to the specific research project(s) he/she was involved in during his/her appointment period; the nominee’s role and responsibility in such projects
  • an evaluation of the nominee's teaching/advising performance in the event the candidate has taught formal courses; development of any innovative courses, teaching techniques etc.
  • the impact of the nominee's research/teaching on other programs within the University; the interdisciplinary nature (if any) of his/her research/teaching activities
  • an assessment of the nominee's efforts and success in securing grant/contract funding, a list of proposals submitted, awarded, rejected; award duration and amounts and the role the nominee played in such proposals (P.I., co-P.I., co-I. or other)
  • an assessment of the nominee's University, public and professional service.

c. At least two letters of evaluation from colleagues within the University, who are familiar with the nominee's work and written publications assessing the nominee's research and other professional effort

d. Written evaluations by at least five (5) scholars from outside the University, including (if appropriate) scientists from industry or government agencies, who are qualified to assess the research, scholarly or creative work by the nominee.

e. At least two additional letters of evaluation from colleagues within the University, who are familiar with the educational activities of the nominee, assessing the nominee's contributions to the educational mission of the University.

f. A summary of FCQs for any course(s) taught by the nominee, and letters of evaluation from the graduate/undergraduate students supervised by the nominee on research projects and creative work.

g. Annual "Faculty Reports of Professional Activities" completed during the past appointment period.

h. A brief statement (1-2 pages) from the nominee describing his/her research plans and objectives.

i. A brief statement (1-2 pages) from the nominee describing his/her instructional plans and objectives.

j. Any other information submitted by the nominee that the nominee believes will assure an adequate consideration and evaluation of his/her appointment, or promotion.

k. A statement from the sponsoring department chair/institute director indicating at what level the department/institute will continue to support the nominee. The level of support should reflect the department's/institute's continued commitment to the functional and operational support of the nominee (e.g., providing office or laboratory space), excluding salary and fringe benefits, and provide the review committee with a solid sense of the department's/institute's desire to promote the nominee.

l. A statement from the sponsoring department chair/institute director indicating what fraction of any financial back-stop (described in section 5) for salary between grants that it is willing to provide.

5. University Obligations

5.1 Definitions and Terms of Appointments

a. The term related to a limited-term appointment refers to the length of time a person holds the faculty title and not to the length of time the University may be obliged to provide interim funding. The normal length of term will be a function of the rank, with 3-year terms for assistant and associate research professors, and 4-year terms for full research professors. Appointments are renewable, although the University does not accrue any obligation to renew any research faculty appointments. Limited-term appointments automatically expire at the time specified in the appointment letter, and no further notification is required. Renewal is contingent upon satisfactory performance and upon a continuing need for and interest in the research work of the individual, as judged by the sponsoring unit(s) at the time of consideration for reappointment. Renewal is also contingent upon the sponsoring unit(s) being able to provide the appropriate support for the research (e.g., the physical space).

All research faculty are subject to immediate dismissal for cause on the same grounds as are applicable to regular faculty members according to the guidelines specified in the University of Colorado Faculty Handbook.

  1. With the exception of the required instructional contribution, the duties and responsibilities of research professor track faculty are determined largely by the sponsored research program funding the position, and not by an academic department. Research faculty will not be eligible for faculty fellowships and sabbaticals funded by the University. Also, they will not normally be eligible for campus-wide grant support that is normally aimed at tenured and tenure-track faculty. Eligibility to participate in faculty governance activities will be determined by the Boulder Faculty Assembly. Participation in the governance of the sponsoring units (e.g., voting privileges) is at the discretion of the sponsoring unit.

The salary and fringe benefits for research faculty members are to be paid from non-general funds except as provided herein below.

5.2 Provision of General Fund Support for Research Professors

General fund support may be provided for individuals in the research professor series, when these individuals have accrued service to the University while funded on sponsored research and then find themselves without sponsored research support; i.e., the University may use general funds to support these individuals, who are caught without sponsored support between projects. The exact details about this accrual and use of University general fund support are stated below. When these individuals are supported by general funds, they will be expected to carry out work in support of the University's principal missions of teaching, research, and service; i.e., they may be required to teach and/or perform functions in support of service or research such as proposal preparation and general assistance to the service or research activities of the sponsoring unit.

General fund salary support at other times (e.g., at the beginning of an appointment with the University) is not normally provided and will be available only in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances might occur when a specific regular course assignment is part of the formal appointment.

5.3 University Commitments for Financing Research Professors in the Absence of Sponsored Research Support

By definition, it is expected that faculty holding research professor titles will have their salaries and benefits funded by sponsored research programs. Occasionally, the University may be called upon to provide interim support, e.g., when there is a gap between external funding of two research grants.

Individuals may be provided interim University funding after having served continuously for two years in one of the research professor positions. Eligibility for such interim funding will be agreed on in writing in advance. (Note: prior service in the research associate ranks will not count toward this two year requirement.) At that time, they are eligible for up to two months of interim salary support. Thereafter, for each year of fully-funded service on sponsored research, these faculty members will accrue two additional months of potential University salary funding, up to a maximum accrual of 12 months of support (which could be reached after seven years of service). Any utilization of University funding would, of course, reduce the accrued balance. Replenishment would occur up to the 12-month limit at the normal rate of two months for each year of fully-funded service.

The following regulations will apply regarding utilization of the University interim support fund:

a. Salary level will be no higher than the salary paid on the most recent sponsored project of the faculty member.

b. The faculty member will be expected (unless there are exceptional circumstances) to have appropriate applications for external funds submitted and pending at one or more external funding agencies; i.e., the faculty member must be engaged in good-faith efforts to secure external funding.

c. The faculty member must apply for the interim funding to the Vice Chancellor for Research, who shall determine the amount of funding to be awarded. Funding will be for a maximum of one year or until sponsored-research funds are available, whichever comes first. Applications must be supported by the units that are the sponsors and co-sponsors of the appointment.

d. While drawing funding from University resources, the faculty member will be responsible to the Vice Chancellor for Research, who, in consultation with the head of the sponsoring unit, will determine an appropriate workload and job responsibilities for the faculty member. Faculty members drawing University support may be required to contribute additionally to the instructional programs of the University or they may be required to contribute to the University's research or service program(s) as assigned by the Vice Chancellor for Research.

e. Faculty will not normally be eligible to draw from the University fund unless they have experienced a complete lapse of funding: i.e., the first obligation against their existing research grants and contracts should be to pay their own salaries and benefits.

f. Accrued time for University funding cannot be used immediately prior to retirement or resignation. Accrual does not imply cash value upon retirement or upon leaving University employment for any reason. If the research faculty member terminates his/her connection with CU-Boulder by retirement or resignation within one year of receiving accrual time pay, the individual must refund in full the accrual remuneration to the University.

g. Vacation earned while on a funded grant must be taken during the period of funding and may not be carried forward and taken while funded by the University general fund.

The commitments to research faculty members, specified in this document, may be considered as the minimal commitments made to these faculty members. Sponsoring units are free to negotiate additional commitments with particular members of the research faculty; however, any such negotiations are subject to the approval of the relevant dean(s) and the Vice Chancellor for Research. Sponsoring units are likewise free to set their own policies with regard to additional responsibilities of the members of their research faculty, so long as those policies do not contradict this policy or any other official University policy.

5.4 Benefits

Individuals in the research professor series are eligible to participate in University medical, life and retirement plans. Individuals should contact their campus benefits office for details of eligibility and plans. The cost of all benefits (except required employee contributions) shall be borne by the sponsored projects and not by the general fund, except during those times when the individual's salary is being borne by the general fund.

Doc.EAC.Policy Implementation.Revised 2/17/2012 (Original version:4/4/96; Revised 2/97; Revised 4/06)

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