Appointments, Rank and Tenure
1. Faculty Appointments
A faculty member is appointed by the President or an Executive Vice President of the University. Ordinarily, a faculty member is appointed to a department, school, or other academic unit, and may have one or more joint appointments. A faculty member’s title, rank, responsibilities, and full- or part-time status are determined by the Executive Vice President or President, and specified in the letter of appointment before the effective date of the appointment.
A tenure-line faculty member is a faculty member who is tenured or tenure eligible as specified in the letter of appointment.  A tenure-line faculty member is full-time and holds one of the four academic ranks: Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor. The responsibilities of tenure-line faculty members include teaching, research, and university service.
The responsibilities of faculty who are not tenure-line include teaching and/or research, and may include service. They may hold various titles defined in the three campuses in addition to those denoting the academic ranks.
Unless explicitly specified otherwise, the rights and responsibilities set out for faculty in this Handbook are applicable to all faculty, tenure-line or not tenure-line, part-time as well as full-time.
In recognition of their role in teaching and research, individuals appointed as professional librarians share certain faculty rights and responsibilities specified in the Faculty Handbook. Professional librarians are not members of the faculty unless so appointed by the President or Executive Vice President.
2. General Norms for Appointment, Retention and Advancement
Those appointed to the faculty are expected to observe the professional standards and procedures set forth in this Faculty Handbook. Included within these standards is the expectation that all those appointed to the faculty will provide the University with full and accurate information about their credentials.
It is to be expected that all members of the faculty will perform satisfactorily their teaching and other duties. Satisfactory performance does not of itself constitute grounds for retention or advancement in academic rank however. With advancing levels of academic experience, it is expected that faculty members will demonstrate an increasing level of achievement in teaching, scholarship and service, as appropriate.
A faculty member who teaches is expected to have a thorough knowledge of the subject(s) being taught, a demonstrated ability to communicate that knowledge to students, and the skill to stimulate students to reach their potential.
A faculty member whose responsibilities include research is expected to have a wide and critical command of the field of his or her study. The highest indication of scholarship is the ability to make original contributions in one’s field of knowledge. Scholarship is generally evidenced by scholarly publications of high quality, but also may be evidenced in certain areas by creativity and professional contributions demonstrated through the medium of communication customary in that discipline. Consideration will be given to such subsidiary evidence as direction of or significant participation in research projects, particularly in the scholarly activities of learned societies and professional consultative service.
Faculty with a responsibility for service are expected to make contributions that enhance the University, the missions of their unit, and their profession.
Georgetown is a global university that excels in research, teaching, and service. The rank and tenure system is critical to the achievement and maintenance of that stature. Tenure is the most fundamental commitment that the University can make to its faculty, as it encompasses the commitment to academic freedom and the untrammeled quest for knowledge. It provides the security, continuity, and academic freedom necessary to sustaining life-long projects. Through the institution of tenure, the University is able to attract and retain outstanding faculty and protect the academic freedom essential to the best research, teaching, and service.
a. Tenure entails a mutually acknowledged expectation of continuing employment that is terminable by the University only for just cause (as for professional incompetence or moral turpitude of the faculty member, for grave economic stringency on the part of the University, or for reasons of major changes in institutional aims).
b. Tenure is awarded by the President. Tenure is awarded only following explicit review and never by length of service. Initial appointment, promotion, and the award of tenure are separate actions. Appointment or promotion to any rank does not confer tenure.
c. The award of tenure confers at least the rank of Associate Professor or Professor.
d. Requirements for tenure, at any rank, ordinarily include 1) teaching ability rated by one’s students and peers as being of high quality, over a period of several years; 2) scholarly accomplishments consistent with the rank, and supportive evaluations of the scholarship by authorities outside the University; and 3) service (both inside and outside the University) commensurate with the rank. The basis for the awarding of tenure extends beyond a distinguished scholarly record achieved during the probationary period or prior to appointment. The award is also contingent upon a strongly favorable judgment of the faculty member’s prospects for continued accomplishment in research, teaching, and service throughout his or her University career. Tenure is warranted only if there is a clear expectation that the candidate’s professional record already does or eventually will justify promotion to Full Professor at Georgetown University.
e. The recommendations for tenure are submitted for decision by the President. The decision shall be transmitted to the pertinent faculty member in an expeditious and appropriate manner.
f. Tenure expires at the date of retirement or earlier if the faculty member’s employment at the University has been terminated for other reasons. If a faculty member resigns from the University and later returns, his or her situation with respect to tenure should be set forth in clear, unequivocal language in the letter of appointment.
4. The University Committee on Rank and Tenure
a. The University Committee on Rank and Tenure (UCRT) serves as the President’s advisory body on all matters pertaining to the granting of tenure and promotion. The UCRT’s deliberations are confidential. All decisions on tenure and promotion rest with the President of the University.
i. When the candidate’s EVP and at least 75% of the UCRT members who vote (yes or no) or abstain on the case support the requested action, the President will approve the action, without further review, and notify the candidate. In all other cases, the EVP will inform the candidate that the case will be reviewed by the President (unless the candidate withdraws the application), who will make the final decision.
ii. The President may ask the UCRT to clarify its minutes for a particular case that requires further review. The President may also ask the UCRT to deliberate and advise in light of new information or specific questions.
b. The UCRT should have a minimum of sixteen members, with half appointed by the President and half elected by the Faculty Senate. At least one of the President’s appointees and one of the Senate’s appointees shall come from each campus.
i. The Chair of the UCRT should inform the President and the President of the Faculty Senate of any persistent imbalance between UCRT membership and the caseload. The President and the Faculty Senate may unilaterally appoint additional members beyond the minimum of eight, with the proviso that the numbers appointed by the President and elected by the Faculty Senate may differ by at most one. These special additions will have a specified term not to exceed three years, at the end of which the need for the addition will be reassessed.
ii. Membership is typically offered for a three-year term. Replacements (before a member’s term has expired) or special additions (beyond sixteen members) may be appointed for shorter durations. An individual may serve on the UCRT for no more than two consecutive terms, after which the former member is ineligible for three years.
iii. The UCRT elects a Chair and other officers specified in its bylaws for a term of one year. Officers may serve for no more than three consecutive years. Successive Chairs should rotate among the three Campuses of the University.
c. To avoid conflicts of interest:
i. UCRT members must follow the recusal policy set out in the UCRT bylaws.
ii. A UCRT member who would be eligible to vote on a case at a UCRT meeting may not vote on the case at a lower level or be present for any part of a department/unit, school, or campus rank and tenure committee meeting during which the case is considered.
d. When a UCRT member persists in not performing his or her duties (e.g., not preparing adequately for meetings, disregarding the Faculty Handbook and the UCRT Guidelines, or participating in cases from which he or she should be recused) or abuses his or her power as a member of the UCRT, the UCRT officers may, by majority, secret ballot vote, recommend the member’s removal to the President and the President of the Faculty Senate. If they concur, the member will be removed from the UCRT and be ineligible to serve again. Removal from the UCRT by this process is not a grievable action under the Faculty Grievance Code.
e. A faculty member is not eligible to serve on the UCRT if the faculty member has been subject to a disciplinary action as a result of (1) a finding of Faculty Misconduct by the Faculty Responsibilities Committee; or (2) a finding of a policy violation by the Research Integrity Committee, IDEAA, or other body or office with jurisdiction under the Faculty Handbook to determine whether a policy violation has occurred. A faculty member who has been informed in writing that he or she is under investigation by such a body or office must immediately take a leave from the UCRT pending the resolution of the investigation, and the President or Faculty Senate will identify a replacement to serve. If the investigation does not result in a disciplinary action, the faculty member may resume service on the UCRT at the beginning of the next Academic Year and complete his or her term, if applicable.
5. Applications for Rank and Tenure
a. Applications for rank and tenure are initiated by the candidate. For the current guidelines for submitting applications for rank or tenure, go to: http://governance.georgetown.edu/rank-and-tenure-committee/applications
b. The candidate’s ‘department’ or ‘unit’ is the department, school, or other academic unit to which the faculty member has been appointed with either tenure or tenure-eligibility in the unit (the candidate’s “tenure home”). Candidates appointed to more than one tenure home are to be assessed and voted on by each.
c. It is the responsibility of the candidate’s department or other appropriate faculty body to secure genuine and timely evaluations of the candidate’s scholarship. The candidate may suggest appropriate outside reviewers. However, the ultimate decision on the group of reviewers rests with the academic department or the appropriate faculty body which, in consultation with other appropriate faculty members, selects leading authorities who represent a broad and unbiased sampling of scholarly opinion in the field and who are in a position to give an objective evaluation regarding the merits of the candidate’s work. All faculty members in the candidate’s unit who are eligible to vote should have access to the letters from external evaluators before they vote on a case.
d. Secret votes shall be taken on applications for rank and/or tenure. These are to be reported to the UCRT. In the case of applications for tenure, the eligible voters are the tenured members of the candidate’s department. In the case of applications for promotion or appointment to the rank of Associate or Full Professor on the tenure line, the eligible voters are the tenured members holding at least the rank to which the applicant is applying. When the application is for rank and tenure and the sets of eligible voters for the two actions differ, the vote totals must be reported separately. When the application is from the Main Campus or the Medical Center seeking tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor, there must be a single vote covering both tenure and rank.
Remote participation and voting shall be permitted when a face-to-face meeting is not practical for some or all of the eligible voters.
- While other members of the candidate’s unit may participate in discussions of the application (depending on the unit’s bylaws), voting should take place during a meeting (or part of a meeting) at which the application is discussed by the eligible voters alone.
- Absentee votes, if permitted by the Department, should be so noted in the dossier in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
e. In Schools or Departments having separate committees on rank and tenure, applications will indicate the votes submitted by such bodies as well as votes obtained from the relevant department(s).
f. Applications can be submitted by tenure-line faculty who are eligible to be considered for promotion and/or tenure. Internal support, whether from the department or the school, is not a prerequisite for consideration. However, all applications must be forwarded to the office of the appropriate EVP through the Department Chair or Dean or other official normally responsible for applications.
6. Confidentiality and Transparency of the Rank and Tenure Process
The University takes extensive measures to protect the confidentiality of the sources of information and evaluations used in these proceedings. The opinions expressed in discussions by the school or unit faculty or by internal or external reviewers shall never be shared with parties outside the official internal process. Any breach of these confidences or sharing of rank and tenure materials with unauthorized individuals shall be categorized as a serious violation of the faculty member’s responsibilities under the Faculty Responsibilities Code (Section III.G). Any audio or video recording, in whole or in part, of rank and tenure meetings at all levels is prohibited. Any sharing of such prohibited recordings is also prohibited.
While maintaining this commitment to strict confidentiality, the University recognizes that faculty benefit from feedback at critical stages in the process, and therefore allows the following information to be shared with the parties specified.
- If expressly permitted by campus policy, prior to the department/unit vote a summary of the substance of the outside reviews may be shared with the candidate and the candidate given the opportunity to address any relevant criticisms in those reviews. Sharing the substance of outside reviews is permitted only to the extent that such sharing does not jeopardize the confidentiality of the source’s identity. All candidates within the campus shall be given the same opportunity.
- After the department/unit vote, the faculty member’s department/unit head will share with the candidate whether or not the department/unit vote was majority positive (the vote tally is not to be shared). When fewer than 75% of the members voting (yes or no) or abstaining on the case support the requested action, the department will also provide the candidate with a written statement explaining the rationale for the vote (including strengths as well as weaknesses) that does not jeopardize the confidentiality of the internal or external reviewers, or (unless permitted by campus policy) go into the substance of their specific reviews. The statement must be approved by the faculty who voted or abstained and appended to the department/unit meeting minutes. In schools with more than one voting body, the provisions of this paragraph would apply to all.
- If the application will be reviewed by the President because it has not met the threshold of having the support of the EVP and at least 75% of the UCRT members voting (yes or no) or abstaining, the EVP will inform the candidate that the threshold has not been met, and provide the candidate in writing with sufficient information regarding strengths and weaknesses of the case and/or procedural lapses so that the candidate may address concerns with the dossier, provided that nothing shared jeopardizes the confidentiality of the internal or external reviewers, or goes into the substance of their specific reviews.
- The President or Executive Vice President (EVP) will share with the candidate, the candidate’s dean(s), and the candidate’s unit head(s) (as applicable) the President’s decision on rank and/or tenure. In case of a denial, the EVP will share with the candidate in writing the substance of the rationale for the decision, and invite the candidate to discuss it in person, provided that nothing shared jeopardizes the confidentiality of the internal or external reviewers, or goes into the substance of their specific reviews.
Furthermore, parties to the process may bring an allegation or evidence of a breach or violation of the process or University policy, to properly authorized University officials who may review the rank and tenure process and all information related to the process.
7. Supplementary Letter to the President
In cases that will be reviewed by the President as per III.D.4, the applicant shall have the option to submit a supplementary letter to the President that addresses concerns with the dossier. The EVP will notify the applicant of the impending review and advise him or her of the option to submit a letter within 30 calendar days of notification or later at the discretion of the EVP. The letter should focus on professional accomplishments and should not include personal information that is not professionally relevant.
Documents confirming recent changes to the record (e.g., newly accepted publications or newly awarded grants) may be included with the letter. Testimonials or letters of support may not be included and will not be considered.
8. Standards for the Academic Ranks on the Tenure Line
- Instructor. Appointment to the rank of Instructor requires the following qualifications:
- Candidacy for the Ph.D., M.F.A., J.D., M.D., or other recognized terminal degree.
- Satisfaction of requirements ii.v for appointment as Assistant Professor.
- Assistant Professor. Appointment to this rank or promotion from the rank of Instructor requires:
- Possession of the Ph.D., M.F.A., J.D., M.D., or other recognized terminal degree.
- Evidence demonstrating that the candidate has produced excellent research.
- Evidence demonstrating that the candidate is a dedicated and effective teacher, or has the potential to become one.
- Evidence indicating that the candidate will fulfill all other University responsibilities.
- Evidence indicating that the candidate is likely to perform at a level sufficient to achieve promotion to associate professor with tenure.
- Associate Professor. Promotion to this rank from the rank of Assistant Professor requires:
- Excellence in research. This requires a substantial body of scholarship that impartial experts in the candidate’s area of study and the relevant faculty at Georgetown consider to be outstanding. The quality of a candidate’s scholarly work, including contributions to collaborative activities, is crucial. Quality is judged by the contribution that the work makes to a specific body of knowledge and is usually indicated by its scholarly impact or recognition (nationally and often internationally). The candidate’s corpus of scholarly work must demonstrate creativity and originality.
- Excellence in teaching. Quality of teaching is assessed in terms of a thorough knowledge of the subject(s) being taught, a demonstrated ability to communicate that knowledge, and the skill to stimulate students to reach their potential.
- Effective professional or institutional service. Service is judged by its contribution to the candidate’s field, to the missions of his or her unit, and to the University as a whole. Given that faculty in the probationary period need to establish a record in teaching and scholarship, service is decidedly less important for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor than either scholarship or teaching. An exceptional service record cannot substitute for outstanding scholarship and excellent teaching.
- Evidence of a trajectory indicating that the candidate will achieve promotion to full professor.To be eligible for appointment at the rank of Associate Professor, faculty members who are hired from academic institutions must meet the standards for promotion to that rank.Faculty members who are hired from non-academic institutions must have a record of research excellence that meets the promotion standard in order to be eligible for appointment at the rank of Associate Professor. The promise of sustained excellence in teaching and of substantial service and leadership must be demonstrated as well.
Promotion to the rank of Full Professor requires a sustained level of achievement according to the same indicators of scholarly excellence as those required for the rank of Associate Professor. This rank is awarded in the expectation that the rest of the faculty member’s professional career will live up to this standard. Promotion to Professor is recognition of scholarly achievement at a level that meets or exceeds what is generally expected for full professors at peer research universities, a commitment to excellence in teaching, and substantial service and leadership with every expectation of continuing contributions to the University. To be eligible for appointment at the rank of Professor, faculty members who are hired from academic institutions must meet the standards for promotion to that rank. Faculty members who are hired from non-academic institutions must have a record of research excellence that meets the promotion standard in order to be eligible for appointment at the rank of Professor. The promise of sustained excellence in teaching and of substantial service and leadership must be demonstrated as well.
9. Term of Service
a. Prompt written notice shall be given by the University to the pertinent member of the tenure-line faculty setting forth the rank of initial appointment, the rank to which one is promoted, the grant of tenure, the denial of tenure, or of any final action taken in regard to rank and tenure.
b. For one regularly appointed to the tenure-line faculty without tenure, the normal term of employment is one year, renewable annually within the tenure probationary period. (See 10 below)
c. During the probationary period, notice of non-reappointment will be given in writing to members of the tenure-line faculty in accordance with the following standards.
i. Not later than March 1st of the first academic year of service at Georgetown.
ii. Not later than December 15th of the second academic year of service.
iii. Not later than July 31st in the year prior to termination after two or more years of service.
d. If for any reason a member of the tenure-line faculty intends to terminate his or her employment with the University, due notice should be given in writing to the Provost or Executive Vice President of the appropriate campus at least six months prior to the date of termination.
10. The Tenure Probationary Period
- The tenure probationary period for untenured full-time members of the tenure-line faculty is seven academic years, unless adjusted as set forth in this section III.D.10. The duration of the tenure probationary period is not affected by the status of, or changes in, a faculty member’s rank (such as instructor or assistant professor).
- For a faculty member whose term of appointment begins 1 January, or later in an Academic Year, the tenure probationary period commences with the Academic Year following his or her initial appointment. Otherwise the tenure probationary period commences with the Academic Year of the appointment.
- A faculty member may apply for tenure in any year of the tenure probationary period up to and including the sixth year. Applications in the seventh year are not permitted. Untenured tenure-line faculty must confirm in writing no later than the beginning of the sixth year: 1) their intention to apply for tenure, and 2) their understanding of the remaining tenure probationary period and reappointment limits. A faculty member who has not been granted tenure by the end of the seventh year of the tenure probationary period will be offered a terminal one-year appointment at no less than the faculty member’s seventh year salary. No application for tenure may be made during a terminal year following expiration of the probationary period.
- The tenure probationary period at Georgetown for an untenured member of the tenure-line faculty with previous employment in a tenure-eligible position at another university will be reduced by the number of tenure-eligible years previously served minus one; provided that Georgetown will offer a tenure probationary period of at least four years, and the faculty member may submit an application during that time as set forth in section c above.
- The tenure probationary period may be interrupted while a faculty member is on leave to perform public or professional service that does not contribute to the production of academic scholarship of the type normally considered in an application for tenure. The Executive Vice President, acting with the advice of the Chair and Dean, will determine if the leave interrupts the tenure probationary period. However, leaves granted in the seventh year of the probationary period will not extend the probationary period.
- The tenure probationary period may be interrupted as provided in Faculty Handbook section III.C.10.d “Family Care Leave,” in the New Parent Leave Option for Tenure-Line Faculty on the Main Campus, or in such other personal and family leave policies that may be adopted from time to time; or as required by District of Columbia, state or federal law, including but not limited to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (“DC FMLA”).
In exceptional cases, the tenure probationary period may be interrupted if a faculty member’s professional progress has been disrupted significantly for reasons beyond the faculty member’s control that are not covered by sections III.D.10.e-f. Examples include, but are not limited to:
damage to University infrastructure (e.g., lab space, office space, equipment), external research materials and sites and/or research samples
loss of access to University infrastructure, external research materials and sites, research subjects and/or data
delay in receipt of the start-up package from the University
The faculty member must apply for extension of the tenure probation period at the time of the significant disruption. The probationary period extension may not be secured retroactively at the time of tenure consideration. To request an extension, the faculty member shall submit a statement detailing the reason for requesting the extension to the unit head and dean for their review and recommendation. The request and recommendations shall then be given to the appropriate Executive Vice President. The Executive Vice President’s decision is final.
- For purposes of this policy, references to a particular numerical year of the tenure probationary period are to the adjusted year after accounting for any adjustments described in this Section III.D.10.
- Tenure-line faculty in their probationary period as of June 30, 2019 will be governed by section III.D.10.c as amended in June 2019 unless by September 15, 2019 they notify their EVP that they elect to be governed by section III.D.10.b as it was in effect on their date of hire.
11. University Professor
Georgetown University reserves the rank of University Professor for faculty members of extraordinary achievement whose scholarly accomplishments have earned them substantial recognition from their academic peers. The rank is bestowed by the President in recognition of distinguished record of scholarship, teaching, and service to the University and higher education community at large. The rank is recognized as the University’s most significant professional honor, and is awarded rarely and only in accordance with the criteria specified in this policy.
To be eligible for appointment to the rank of University Professor a faculty member must satisfy the following criteria:
- He or she must either hold the rank of professor with tenure at Georgetown University or have been recommended to the President for tenure at that rank in accordance with the University’s rank and tenure policies and procedures.
- He or she must possess an outstanding record of scholarly accomplishment that establishes him or her at the front ranks of university faculty nationally and internationally.
- As a condition of appointment to the rank of University Professor, the faculty member must agree to relinquish any chair or endowed professorship he or she currently holds.
To be appointed to the rank of University Professor, an otherwise eligible faculty member must be selected by the President of the University upon the affirmative recommendation of at least two Executive Vice Presidents or Provost and taking into account the views expressed by members on affected department(s).
- Privileges of Rank
Appointment to the rank of University Professor will be with tenure. Tenure will reside in the department in which the faculty member serves as a professor.
12. Emeritus/Emerita Policy
A retiree with a record of meritorious service to the University will be awarded an emeritus title by the appropriate Executive Vice President. The emeritus title would consist of the retiree’s pre-retirement title followed by the word ‘Emeritus/Emerita.’
For the purposes of this policy, a retiree is a Georgetown University faculty member or professional librarian who resigns his or her University appointment after satisfying the University’s age and length of service conditions for retirement benefits.
Emeritus/emerita faculty or librarians are eligible for continuation of library privileges and their email accounts. The provision of salaries, facilities, and additional amenities, is subject to the written approval of the relevant administrative officer.
Emeritus/Emerita status does not confer the right to participate in meetings of departments or other faculty governance bodies, or prohibit participation.
- Earlier editions of this handbook used the term “Ordinary” for tenured or tenure-eligible faculty. (Return to text)
- Termination of a continuous appointment because of financial exigency should be demonstrably bona fide. (Return to text)
- Section III.D.10.b in effect from December 2005 until June 2019: “An untenured tenure-line faculty member becomes eligible for tenure review at the end of the third year of his or her tenure probationary period and may request a review in any year of the tenure probationary period after becoming eligible. Untenured tenure-line faculty must confirm in writing no later than the beginning of the sixth year: 1) their intention to apply for tenure in the sixth or seventh year of the tenure probationary period, and 2) their understanding of the remaining tenure probationary period and reappointment limits. A faculty member who is denied tenure in the sixth year of the tenure probationary period and who does not reapply in the seventh year of the tenure probationary period, will be terminated at the end of the seventh year. A faculty member who applies for tenure in the seventh year of the tenure probationary period, may request a terminal appointment for the subsequent year, in case the application is denied. If tenure is denied, the tenured faculty of the relevant unit may, at their discretion, recommend a terminal year appointment with a normal teaching assignment but without tenure-eligibility, provided that the request for the appointment is received prior to course planning for the year of the appointment and that such appointment is consistent with the needs of the department. No application for tenure may be made during a terminal year following expiration of the tenure probationary period.” (Return to text)
- The choice between ‘Emeritus’ and ‘Emerita’ is up to the retiree. (Return to text)
- See https://benefits.georgetown.edu/benefitsretirees. Non-University employed individuals may satisfy these conditions even though they are not eligible for such benefits. (Return to text)