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A&S Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointments


Many faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences maintain a variety of interdisciplinary relationships with other departments or programs both within and outside the College. Such interdisciplinary relationships can be very beneficial to students, the participating faculty, and the departments and programs. Often these relationships, while providing important interdisciplinary support, do not involve a substantial fraction of the faculty member's effort and are done effectively with informal understandings with at most an adjunct appointment in another department or membership in a center, institute, or interdisciplinary program. However, sometimes the interdisciplinary nature of a faculty member's professional effort does involve a significant portion of their total professional time. This could occur either by the initial design of the position or through the natural evolution of an existing position.

These guidelines are intended to assist the faculty and the departments/programs involved in clarifying those relationships where a significant portion of the faculty's effort during the academic year is outside their home department. Underlying these guidelines is the assumption that these interdisciplinary relationships benefit everyone involved as well as the institution as a whole. Consequently, the guidelines described here are intended not only to clarify expectations and evaluations of individuals currently involved in interdisciplinary programs, but also to build for the future and to allow for the growth and expansion of interdisciplinary programs warranted by national trends and local conditions. In formalizing these relationships, these guidelines aim to continue the high standards of teaching, research and service that already characterize departments in the College of Arts & Sciences, while providing a supportive environment for members of the faculty whose interests and capabilities cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries. The guidelines apply to tenured or tenure-track faculty appointments in the College of Arts & Sciences and are intended to be consistent with the spirit and letter of the Faculty Handbook.

Tenure, 'Home Department,' and the Nature of Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointments

Tenure at Ohio University is fundamentally based in a Department or School (Faculty Handbook sections II.C.2.a, II.C.4, and II.C.6.) The department in which Faculty Status and Tenure of the individual resides will be referred to as the individual's "Home Department". An Interdisciplinary Appointment is an appointment of a faculty member who is expected to spend a significant fraction of their professional time on endeavors that are not normally evaluated by their home department or on endeavors that are best evaluated by units or programs outside their home department. The appropriate units (departments or programs) are referred to as secondary programs or departments. These guidelines provide a way for the secondary departments or programs to participate in the search and evaluation processes. Part-time administrative appointments (such as part-time associate dean, associate provost, etc.) are not Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointments. But, the coordinator of an interdisciplinary academic program who qualifies for faculty status (Faculty Handbook section II.C.4.e) may qualify for an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment.

While the concept of an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment recognizes that two or more units maintain an interest in the appointment, it is equally important to recognize that such an appointment is a single appointment, involving a single individual. It is not two conjoined fractional appointments. The budgetary considerations and the procedures for conducting searches and evaluations outlined below both reflect this understanding of Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointments as single appointments and assume that departments and programs will cooperate in good faith in sharing the services and evaluations of the individuals involved in such appointments.

All significant special terms and conditions relevant to an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment will be outlined in a document (described in detail below) called the "Summary Description of an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment." The Summary Description will specify an expected term of duration not to exceed five years. An Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment may be renewed after review during the Fall Quarter of the last year of the term. The Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment and its Summary Description shall have the approval of the dean.

Budgetary Considerations

Normally, the Home Department will carry the full budgetary responsibility for the base academic salary and benefits of the Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment. However, special circumstances may allow the secondary department(s) or program(s) to share in the budgetary responsibility for the appointment. Any such shared budgetary responsibility must be clearly spelled out in the Summary Description for the appointment. For example, the nature of the interdisciplinary appointment may result in a change in the distribution of effort from the typical 40% teaching, 40% research, and 20% service to 20% teaching, 40% research, and 40% service because of an added responsibility in the administration of an interdisciplinary program. The interdisciplinary program may also have a budget and agrees to provide budgetary support of 20% of the faculty appointment. Such budgetary arrangements must be clearly indicated in the "Special Budgetary Arrangements" Section of the Summary Description document.

New Position Request

If the Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment is for a new faculty position, then the department(s) and/or program(s) should jointly prepare and submit a request for the tenure-track position through the normal College of Arts and Sciences staffing process. Preliminary discussions should take place with the dean, as the written request for the position is prepared. The request should indicate the expected Home Department of the Interdisciplinary Faculty member and have the support of the prospective Home Department including a letter indicating the departmental support from the chair. If the Home Department is to be determined as a result of the search, then all prospective Home Departments must indicate their support for the position request. An example Summary Description should be included as part of the request for the position. If the Home Department is to be determined by the search process, then an example Summary Description for each Home Department should be included in the position request. A description of the proposed search process should be appended to the position request and representatives of all relevant departments/programs must be included on the search committee.

Search Process

The membership of the search committee, including representation from all the relevant departments/programs, must have the approval of the dean. The search committee will compose the position description (advertising the position) in consultation with the relevant department chairs and/or program directors for approval by the dean. Normal university and college search procedures apply. The search committee, in consultation with the relevant departments and programs, will review the applicants and determine a short list for the on-site visit. A candidate's Home Department must concur in the decision to invite the candidate for an on-site interview. As with all searches, the search committee will receive approval from the dean before any candidates are invited for on-site interviews. The campus interview for each candidate must include adequate time spent with their prospective Home Department and adequate time with the secondary department(s) or program(s) so that the search committee can obtain meaningful feedback. The Chair of the prospective Home Department must give their approval for possible tenure-track appointment and rank for any candidate that is to receive further consideration. Finally, the search committee considers the candidates having received Home Department approval and submits a ranked list of acceptable candidates to the dean for approval. The dean, in consultation with the search committee, gives final approval to the appropriate Home Department to offer the position to a candidate on the list. The offer made to the candidate should include an approved Summary Description of the Interdisciplinary Faculty Position for the specific candidate.

Statement of Expectations and Responsibilities

The Summary Description for an Interdisciplinary Faculty Position should include a brief statement of the duties and responsibilities both inside and outside the Home Department that are expected of the faculty member. When completing the Summary Description document, particular attention should be given to teaching assignments, direction of undergraduate or graduate research, academic administrative responsibilities, etc., that are outside the normal duties expected as a faculty member of the Home Department. Any modifications or special considerations in the Home Department's Promotion and Tenure criteria must be clearly indicated in the Summary Description document for the Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment.

Evaluation Process

The guidelines here apply to annual peer evaluations and promotion and tenure or continuing status evaluation of faculty with an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment.

The Home Department is responsible for administering all peer evaluations, probationary reappointment, and P&T progress evaluations and recommendations. In the case of a faculty member in an Interdisciplinary Appointment, special steps must be taken to insure proper evaluation of work done outside the normal purview of the Home Department. When evaluating the performance of a faculty member in an Interdisciplinary Appointment, any peer evaluation committee of the Home Department must include at least one voting representative from the secondary departments/programs. The additional membership of the peer evaluation committees for an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment should be indicated in the Summary Description document.

The peer evaluation committee(s)∗ will consider the expectations and responsibilities for the Interdisciplinary appointment as outlined in the Summary Description document when evaluating the faculty member. The peer evaluation committee (committees) should (each) produce a single written evaluation statement. The members representing secondary units have the option of appending a statement in addition, or in reaction, to the evaluation statement of the full committee if they so desire. The Home Department then follows the usual departmental procedures using the evaluation committee's statement (with optional appended statement by the additional members). The evaluation statement (with optional appended statement) will be forwarded to the dean together with the evaluation by the chair of the Home Department.

Renewal, Modification, or Dissolution of an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment

Renewal of an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment should normally take place during the Fall Quarter of the fifth year for an existing Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment. However, if the appointee is a probationary faculty member, the review should be completed at least three full years before the end of the probationary period. (This is to insure that a review of the Interdisciplinary Appointment occurs as far in advance of the tenure decision as is reasonable.) The renewal requires the approval of the reviewed and updated Summary Description of the Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment by all parties. Any faculty member with an Interdisciplinary Appointment may request a renegotiation of the terms described in the Summary Description at any time without penalty. Similarly, any department or program participating in an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment may request a renegotiation of terms at any time. The new terms in a renegotiated Summary Description would be expected to take effect at the beginning of the next academic year unless all parties are in agreement that the new terms should take effect in mid-year. As with an initial Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment, such renegotiations will be subject to approval of the dean.

A possible result of the renegotiation process would be the reversion of the faculty member to regular faculty status in the Home Department by dissolving the Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment. Such dissolution of an Interdisciplinary Faculty Appointment must have the approval of the dean taking into consideration the consequences that such an action would have on the interdisciplinary program, the Home Department, and the Faculty Member.

∗ Some departments have multiple peer evaluation committees, e.g., separate committees for teaching, research, and service.

Last modified Oct. 9, 2001