Guidelines on Shared Faculty Appointments
The University of Memphis, College of Arts and Sciences
I. Principle and Values
Although faculty members are conventionally appointed to a single academic unit in
the College of Arts and Sciences, various professional or programmatic reasons may
justify developing an arrangement that shares duties and responsibilities across multiple
units (departments, divisions, schools, centers, institutes, etc. ). When deviating
from traditional single-unit appointment practice, there is special need for clarity
about expectations to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. The guidelines
below create an administrative structure and process that balances the need for consistency
with university policy while still allowing flexibility in designing the terms and
conditions of faculty appointments. Shared positions offer the potential for fostering
innovative work and creating new knowledge, attracting and retaining high quality
faculty, and emphasizing interconnections. The need for a shared appointment occurs
when there is a university/programmatic need driven by research and teaching priorities.
There are two categories, but four types, of faculty appointments that warrant shared
Joint appointments that share/apportion regular instructional, research, or clinical
duties among multiple units:
- Tenure/tenure-track and research faculty appointments established upon hire, with
responsibilities among multiple units, e.g. , Bioinformatics/Biology; CERI/Earth Sciences
- Split appointments that apportion responsibilities of U of M faculty as they assume
new institutional duties, e.g. , Director, Marcus Orr Center for Humanities/History
- Associate appointments which remain in force only as long as participating parties
mutually wish to continue the agreement and with the understanding that level of involvement
is based on the individual's time and interests:
- Adjunct Graduate Faculty appointments, e.g. , for faculty at St. Jude or University
of Tennessee Health Science Center
- Collegial appointments, indication of promised involvement with a second unit but
the relationship is uniquely personal and reflects that individual's willingness to
invest in the secondary unit, e.g. , physics professor with a courtesy appointment
When a joint appointment is created, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be initiated
by the involved Dean(s) and coordinated with the heads of the units involved as well
as the involved faculty member. When an associate appointment is created, the chair
of the initiating department will draft a brief MOU with an approval line for the
Dean(s). Section III lists the various items that should be included in the MOU, as
applicable to the position.
II. Guidelines on Terms and Conditions of a Shared Appointment
The establishment of a shared appointment reflects an alignment of the teaching, research,
and professional service interests of the faculty member with the mission and goals
of the units involved. Although the guidelines presented below cannot possibly cover
all contingencies, it is anticipated that formalizing the shared arrangement will
benefit all parties involved and reduce the potential for conflict or harm to the
participants. Academic Units: The units participating in the shared appointment will
be identified, with one designated as the administrative unit of record for the faculty
member and consequently will have the lead responsibility in personnel issues, payroll,
mail address, etc. Each unit should help the faculty member become part of its community,
including participation in unit meetings and events, receiving regular communications,
and involvement in tenure and promotion processes. Distribution of Work: The MOU will
explicitly outline the expected distribution of faculty duties and responsibilities
- the anticipated teaching load, clearly specifying how teaching assignments will be
made, the teaching load in each unit, and whether courses will come from an existing
pool of courses in each unit or new courses will be expected to be developed. Teaching
load expectations will be individualized to the overall responsibilities of the position;
- service expectations for the position, especially given the risk of having a faculty
member burdened with a doubled service expectation, including department meetings,
department initiatives, student advising, assessment activities, etc.; and,
- the agreed upon general definition of the field(s), types, and productivity levels
of scholarship anticipated (realizing that research agendas evolve over time). Overall,
the individual's research agenda should be relevant to both of the participating units
and external funding expectations should be made explicit. Appointment Process: At
the time of proposing a joint appointment, the Dean's Office(s) and involved academic
units will agree on an outline of the key procedures they will use to recruit, select,
evaluate, promote, and resolve disputes.
When proposing to hire a new faculty member for a joint appointment, the proposal
should describe the rationale for establishing a joint position, the nature and expectations
of the position, the academic units to be involved in the joint appointment, the composition
of the search committee, the recruitment plan/selection process, and the specific
Candidates will likely have substantive graduate course work or substantive experience
and/or publications in the respective area(s). The proposed terms of the joint appointment
will be discussed with all candidates at the time of their interview, with a written
draft of the memorandum of understanding provided to the candidates. When the joint
appointment is offered at the time of the faculty member's initial hire at The University
of Memphis, the specification of primary and secondary departments, budgetary allocation,
and workload distribution will be included in the President's letter of appointment
to the faculty member.
The memorandum of understanding will be finalized as part of the negotiation process.
When a split appointment is offered to a faculty member already employed at the U
of M, the memorandum of understanding serves as documentation of the expectations
to and from each participant. Period of shared appointment: The length of the appointment
should reflect the nature of the position. Evaluation, Promotion and Tenure: Prior
to the evaluation period, leaders of both units should be transparent about the assessment
procedures they will use and the evaluation criteria that will be applied. The evaluation
standards and criteria should take into account the unique features of the collaboration
as well as the differences between the involved units.
The format and deadlines for reporting annual or mid-tenure accomplishments should
be coordinated to avoid or minimize duplication of reporting effort. The assessments
will be based on the total performance, with both the home and sharing unit involved
in completing the evaluation; feedback provided to the faculty member will be detailed
and specific. For efficiency purposes, one unit will be responsible for initiating
the evaluation report. The sequence of the evaluation should be agreed to as part
of the MOU; the second unit will share the evaluation report with the initial unit
head to assure open and cross-communication among all stakeholders. The tenure and
promotion process for joint appointments will follow university policy and timelines.
The process followed will be specific to the responsibilities of the position. For
example, some interdisciplinary joint appointments may suit a unified process for
promotion and tenure as the clearest and simplest way to assure representation of
involved academic units. In these situations, the proportionate representation on
the internal committee from the participating units should be outlined in the MOU.
Other joint positions may require independent and sequential assessment processes,
with each unit's committees communicating with each other as to their findings. Separate
letters from each of the heads of the units will be provided to the College committee
(with an exchange of information between the unit heads).
Care will be taken in selecting external reviewers for tenure/promotion to identify
scholars capable of looking beyond a disciplinary-specific lens and who can understand
the whole picture of the faculty member's academic contribution. The solicitation
of external reviewers for tenure/promotion will proactively describe the nature of
the shared appointment and interdisciplinary work to be reviewed. When faculty members
have joint appointments in two or more colleges, deadlines for annual reviews, award
nominations, leaves, etc. may differ. Deans of colleges involved in joint appointments
should consult with each other and reach mutually acceptable agreements regarding
deadlines which will be communicated to the faculty member.
Change: As the role and responsibilities or interests of the faculty member evolve
over time, it is expected that the initial understandings guiding the agreement will
change. Difficulties with the joint appointment may also occur. Working with the Dean's
Office(s), modification of the terms of agreement will be required if there is modification
of work distribution, budgetary issues, substantial change in expectations, the faculty
member wishes to rescind his/her joint appointment status, or either academic unit
wishes to reconsider the agreement. Although rights to change the MOU should not be
assumed, the faculty member should be informed about what options are available. Mutual
agreement is needed on whom the faculty member should contact if he or she wishes
to renegotiate the terms and conditions of the joint agreement and whom to contact
if the faculty member wishes to terminate the agreement.
The Dean's Office(s) will clarify any constraints in place for changing a budgeted
shared appointment, especially when this involves an assistant professor wishing to
discontinue a joint appointment prior to tenure/promotion review. Conflict Resolution:
The faculty member should first express concerns to the home unit and work with the
lowest level possible to resolve issues. If the academic unit becomes concerned about
the individual's performance or conduct, administrators knowledgeable about the concerns
should consult with the Dean's Office(s). Consultation with the Dean's Office(s) will
also occur if there are serious inter-unit conflicts or if major programmatic changes
suggest needed modification of the arrangement. Assurance of the individual's due
processes is critical. Disciplinary action, if deemed necessary, must be recommended
jointly through appropriate channels.
III. Checklist of points to be covered in the Memorandum of Understanding, as applicable:
(Thursday, December 02, 2010)
- Academic unit(s) and/or program(s) sharing the appointment, indicating which unit
serves as the faculty member's home administrative unit and tenure home.
- If a new hire, tenure status, e.g. , tenured, tenure-track, non tenure (if tenure
track, when tenure review will occur).
- Rank or title of the faculty member.
- Length of the Shared Appointment.
- Workload Division (teaching and service; research agenda).
- Understanding regarding:
- membership on unit level committees, voting rights and involvement in graduate student
admissions and advising; role in the unit's tenure and promotion procedures
- administrative support--office location, staff/secretarial help (faculty with joint
appointments will generally have a single office in the primary unit)
- professional support, including mentoring, access to labs, equipment, IT support,
graduate student support, and funds for professional development, travel and supplies;
approval process for academic, research, and non-academic leaves including responsibilities
for provision of adjunct replacement; and,
- allocation of overhead receipts on grants, start-up costs, relocation expenses, matching
funds on grants, indirect cost sharing and buyout policy.
- Review procedures (annual evaluations, reappointments, salary increase recommendations,
tenure, and promotion). Process for modifying or terminating the shared appointment;
retreat rights and/or constraints to retreat rights. Signatures: The involved academic
unit leaders, Dean(s) and Provost all sign the memorandum of understanding. Copies
will be provided to the units and the faculty member.