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K-State Today

May 28, 2015

Update on non-tenure-track professional titles

Submitted by April C. Mason

A new policy allowing each of the Regents universities to determine additional titles and ranks for non-tenure-track faculty positions was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents, or KBOR, at its February meeting. In addition, the new policy provided the option of multiple-year term appointments for these positions. The policy was created by the KBOR staff in response to the request submitted this last fall by Kansas State University for expansion of the set of titles and ranks for non-tenure-track faculty.

The request came after extensive universitywide discussion of the November 2012 recommendations from the Professional Titles Working Group, which was jointly appointed with Faculty Senate.

You can find the details of the KBOR-approved policy here. KBOR did make two significant changes to the proposed policy in that it set the maximum length of a multiyear appointment to three years and only allowed such appointments in the form of a three-year term contract with no notice of nonreappointment. In other words, individuals accorded these titles may be appointed either to a regular "rolling" appointment with the right to notice of nonreappointment or to a terminal contract for up to three years. Subsequent three-year term contracts can be issued depending on adequate performance, as well as the continuing need and resources for the position.

KBOR did provide more flexibility by allowing each university to determine the exact set of titles and ranks it wishes to use. The new professional titles and ranks that will be used at K-State are:

  • Senior professor of practice, professor of practice — regular or term.
  • Teaching professor, teaching associate professor, teaching assistant professor — regular or term.
  • Extension professor, extension associate professor, extension assistant professor — regular or term.
  • Senior instructor, advanced instructor, instructor — probationary, regular, or term.

We know many of our academic units are eager to use the new titles and ranks. Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost are working on finalizing policy language related to these new titles and contract terms for inclusion in the University Handbook. Once the final language is approved in early June, the Office of the Provost will work closely with Human Capital Services, Faculty Senate, deans and department heads this summer to help facilitate the implementation of this new policy. Before any department can assign the new titles, its departmental document must be updated and approved by the dean and Office of the Provost. The changes should include which new titles are being added and the procedures and criteria necessary for appointment, reappointment, annual evaluation and promotion within each set of titles. 

To help make this process more efficient, I have asked Ruth Dyer, senior vice provost for academic affairs, and Brian Niehoff, associate provost for institutional effectiveness, to create a template to be used by departments to streamline making changes to their documents and to determine an efficient process for review and approval. The goal is to have the template in place by mid-June and begin reviewing departmental documents in July. Human Capital Services also will be updating related administrative procedures in the university's Policy and Procedures Manual, or PPM, so they can process requests to use the new titles once departmental documents have been approved.  

Many individuals devoted considerable time and energy over the last two years in the development of the recommendations and the subsequent campus discussion that led to our request to the KBOR, and I want to extend my thanks to everyone involved in this collaborative effort.

We are excited by the opportunities these new professional titles will provide to our academic units as they recruit faculty with particular interests and expertise and as they seek to appropriately recognize the professional advancement of our non-tenure-track faculty through promotion in rank.


April C. Mason
Provost and senior vice president