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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Assistant Professor

Assistant professors are responsible for teaching, conducting research and publishing its results, advising undergraduate and graduate students, and providing public, departmental, college, and university service. Assigned duties may vary among assistant professors – the dean and the department chairperson or the director of the school, center, institute or program make the determination of academic responsibilities in consultation with the faculty member – but responsibilities must include significant effort in research (or creative achievement, in the arts) and either teaching or extension/outreach.

The position of assistant professor is not a continuing appointment at Cornell. The Bylaws of Cornell University state that an individual may be in this rank for no more than six academic years at full-time equivalent service (or eight years for the Johnson Graduate School of Management). Exceptions are only possible if the provost deems a temporary continuation is justified. If an assistant professor is reviewed for tenure and is not promoted, a two-semester terminal appointment will be offered, which may constitute time in rank beyond the Bylaws’ provision. Assistant professors may not hold tenure.

New assistant professors may be appointed in a probationary tenure status, normally for a term of three years (or four years in the Johnson Graduate School of Management). Toward the end of this initial term, the individual is evaluated for reappointment to a three-year term (four years in the Johnson Graduate School of Management). Unsuccessful candidates for reappointment must be given a two-semester terminal appointment. Those who are reappointed and retained in a probationary tenure status are evaluated for tenure in the latter part of the fifth year or in the sixth year (seventh or eighth year in the Johnson Graduate School of Management), according to standard tenure procedures.

A tenure-track appointee who does not receive tenure may not be appointed to any other academic title. However, an individual may request a transfer to lectureship or other title status before the tenure review; neither the chair nor the dean is obliged to recommend this action to the provost.

A qualified individual may be appointed as an assistant professor not in probationary tenure status. This may occur, for instance, when a department’s staffing or programmatic needs or funds for the position are temporary in nature. Such an appointment can be for up to four years and is renewable through the sixth year.

Assistant professors are voting members of the university and college faculties. The Dean of the Graduate School confers membership on the graduate faculty following nomination by the field’s graduate faculty representative and approval by the General Committee.

Administrative Notes

  • The unmodified title “assistant professor” reflects a salaried position that is subject to affirmative action regulations.
  • Assistant professors generally hold the highest graduate degree in the field. In the creative and performing arts, or in certain professional studies, the dean may accept a degree other than the Ph.D. or its foreign equivalent as the highest degree. If the highest degree is not yet completed, the “instructor” or “acting assistant professor” title should be used.
  • The assistant professor title may be modified with “acting,” “adjunct,” “courtesy,” or “visiting.” More on modifiers.

Last Updated: August 20, 2017 at 6:47 am