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. [1] 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.

3. Tenure

Through the institution of tenure, the University seeks to retain outstanding faculty and protect the academic freedom essential to the best research, teaching, and service. 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). [2] 

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.

A tenured faculty member must hold the rank of Associate Professor or Professor.[3]

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.

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.

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

The UCRT serves as the President's advisory body on all matters pertaining to the granting of tenure and promotion. The Committee's deliberations are confidential and the Committee reports only to the President. All decisions on tenure and promotion rest with the President of the University.

Membership on the University Committee on Rank and Tenure comes about either by Presidential appointment (half of the membership) or by election by the Faculty Senate. It is offered for a three year term. An individual may serve on the Committee for no more than two terms in succession, and must remain off the Committee for at least one term between appointments.

The UCRT elects its officers, who may serve for no more than three consecutive years. As much as possible, successive chairpersons should come from different campuses of the University.

Individual members of the Committee, as well as its officers, are not available to discuss the business of the Committee except with the President and those designated by him.

5. Applications for Tenure and Promotion

Applications for tenure and promotion can be submitted by all full-time members of the tenure-line faculty who are eligible to be considered for promotion and/or tenure.

In general, evaluation of applications takes place in three stages, at the departmental level, at the school level, and at the level of the University Committee on Rank and Tenure (UCRT). Internal support, whether from the Department or the School, is not a prerequisite for consideration by the UCRT. However, all applications must be forwarded through the Department Chairperson or Dean or other official who normally is responsible for applications.

It is the responsibility of the academic Department or other appropriate faculty committee 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 committee which, in consultation with other appropriate faculty members, selects impartial and competent evaluators.

Secret votes shall be taken on applications for promotion and/or tenure. These are to be reported to the UCRT. In the case of applications for tenure, all tenured members of the Department are entitled to vote. In the case of applications for promotion of tenure-line faculty, all members holding at least the rank to which the applicant is applying are entitled to vote. Voting should take place at a meeting at which the application can be discussed by the group as a whole. Absentee votes, if permitted by the Department, should be so noted in the transmission of the file to the UCRT.

In Schools or Departments having Executive Faculties or 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).

For the current guidelines for submitting applications for promotion and/or tenure, go to:

6. Confidentiality and Transparency of the Rank and Tenure Process

The entire process during which specific individuals are discussed and evaluated for rank and tenure is to be held in strict confidence by all participants. 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 not be shared with parties outside the official internal process. Any breach of these confidences by a participant in the rank and/or tenure process or failure to safeguard rank and tenure materials shall be considered to be a serious violation of the faculty member's responsibilities under this Faculty Handbook.

While maintaining this commitment to strict confidentiality, the University recognizes that faculty benefit from feedback at critical stages in the process.

  1. 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.

  2. After the department/unit vote, the faculty member's department/unit head will share with the candidate (i) whether or not the department/unit vote was majority positive (the vote tally is not to be shared); and (ii) when a decision is negative or significantly divided, a designated statement from the department 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 reviews. The designated statement must be approved by the voting faculty 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.

  3. The President or Executive Vice President (EVP) will share with the candidate the President’s final decision on rank and/or tenure and will share with the candidate and/or the unit head the substance of the rationale for the decision upon request.

    Notwithstanding the above, if there is an allegation of a breach or violation of the process or University policy, properly authorized University officials may review the rank and tenure process and all information related to the process.

7. Request for Reconsideration

Whenever a faculty member receives in writing an adverse decision of the University concerning his/her application for promotion and/or tenure, the faculty member has thirty calendar days to file with the President of the University a petition for reconsideration. The petition should be submitted in writing and list the reasons for the request for reconsideration.

8. Standards for the Academic Ranks
  1. Instructor

    Appointment to the rank of Instructor generally presupposes the following qualifications:

    1. Candidacy for the Ph.D. or possess the degree required for teaching in certain fields.
    2. Proven or presumptive teaching ability.
    3. The potential to progress toward the Assistant Professorship according to ordinary norms.
    4. Those qualities of character and personality expected in a teacher and advisor of students.
  2. Assistant Professor

    Appointment to this rank or promotion from the rank of Instructor presupposes:

    1. Possession of the Ph.D. or the degree required for teaching in certain fields.
    2. Evidence of the possession of those qualities of character, personality, and competence expected in a teacher and advisor of students.
    3. Evidence of scholarship and research
    4. Expectation or evidence of satisfactory performance of other University responsibilities.
  3. Associate Professor

    Promotion to this rank  from the rank of Assistant Professor requires:

    1. 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.
    2. 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 to students, and the skill to stimulate students to reach their potential.
    3. 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.

    Initial appointments to this rank shall be based on the standards described in 1-3 above or on professional experience and recognition.

  4. Professor

    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 faculty member’s entire professional career will live up to this standard. Substantial accomplishments since appointment or promotion to the prior rank should be clearly demonstrated. 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.

    Initial appointments at the rank of Full Professor shall be made on the basis described in the previous paragraph or, in exceptional circumstances, may be based on professional experience and recognition.

9. Term of Service 

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.

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 7 below)

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.

  1. Not later than March 1st of the first academic year of service at Georgetown.
  2. Not later than July 31st in the year prior to termination after two or more years of service.
  3. Not later than December 15th of the second academic year of service.

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
  1. The tenure probationary period for untenured full-time members of the tenure-line faculty is seven academic years. For a faculty member whose term of appointment begins 1 January, or later, 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. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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 the tenure probationary period at Georgetown will never be less than four years. Exceptions must be approved at the time of the faculty member’s initial appointment by the Executive Vice President on recommendation of the Chair and Dean, and explicitly stated in a written agreement between the faculty member and the Executive Vice President. In approving exceptions, consideration shall be given to whether the previous employment provided adequate opportunity for scholarship and teaching.
  4. 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. Such leave and interruption of the tenure probationary period shall not ordinarily be granted in the seventh year of the tenure probationary period. The Executive Vice President, acting with the advice of the Chair and Dean, will determine if the leave interrupts the tenure probationary period.
  5. 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 Ordinary 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.
  6. 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 interruptions described in paragraphs (d) and (e) that have occurred and approved credit for service elsewhere. 
  7. Nothing in this policy shall have the effect of changing the tenure probationary period for any faculty member whose tenure probationary period begins before July 1, 2006. All such faculty will have their probationary period determined by the policies and practices in place at the time of their initial appointment. If such faculty have not received a research or teaching leave that interrupted their tenure probationary period, they may request a terminal non-tenure-eligible year as specified in paragraph (b) above.
11. University Professor
  1. Policy

    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.

  2. Criteria

    To be eligible for appointment to the rank of University Professor a faculty member must satisfy the following criteria:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  3. Procedure

    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).

  4. 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.'[4]

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.[5]

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.