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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Academic Titles: HR Guidelines

AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH ACADEMIC TITLES

 The Trustees‟ Bylaws of Cornell University http://www.cornell.edu/trustees/cornell_bylaws.pdf determine the titles that may be used in appointment to the academic staff.

The process leading to establishment of a new academic title may be found on the website of the Academic Personnel Policy Office http://www.ohr.cornell.edu/contacthr/academicpersonnel/Index.html.

TITLES APPROVED FOR USE IN ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS

 The current list of academic titles authorized for the Ithaca and Geneva campuses by the Bylaws, the Provost, and University Faculty governance is available in Appendix 1. Only these titles are considered academic titles. Administrative titles, such as dean, director, and department chair, are not included and do not by themselves confer academic status.

Appointments to academic titles are approved under authority of either the Board of Trustees or the president; this presidential authority is exercised by the provost and for many actions is delegated further. Consult the “Academic Appointment” section of this policy for more information, and Appendix 4 for a list of approval authorities for specific academic titles.

CATEGORIES OF RESPONSIBILITY ASSIGNED TO ACADEMIC TITLES

 Academic titles are assigned with an individual‟s appointment according to the mix of primary responsibilities at the forefront of the university‟s core academic efforts in research, teaching, and extension or outreach (including library), and according to the nature of the academic affiliation. The use of an academic title may require that an approved position be available.

A matrix showing the mix of responsibilities required for appointment to one of the regular, unmodified academic titles at Cornell is available on the website of the Academic Personnel Policy Office http://www.ohr.cornell.edu/contacthr/academicpersonnel/Index.html.

ACADEMIC TITLE DESCRIPTIONS

 Title descriptions for specific academic titles may be found in Appendix 2.

MODIFIED ACADEMIC TITLES, INCLUDING APPOINTMENTS WITHOUT COMPENSATION

 Academic titles are sometimes modified in regulated ways by the terms acting, adjunct, courtesy, or visiting. These modifiers are approved for use only with particular academic titles. Visiting also appears as part of four stand-alone titles: visiting fellow, visiting scholar, visiting scientist and visiting critic.

In a particular appointment only one modifier may be used with the academic title.

Appointment without compensation is limited to the titles postdoctoral fellow, visiting fellow and those modified by adjunct, courtesy, or visiting. Approved leave may be without salary. Please consult the policy “Leaves for Professors and Academic Staff” at http://www.policy.cornell.edu/vol6_2_1.cfm.

The Trustees‟ Bylaws describe “Courtesy Appointments” and “Adjunct Professors.”

They also provide that

“… Descriptive terms such as „visiting‟, „acting‟ or „research‟ may precede titles. …”

and continue with language about the visiting fellow, visiting scholar, visiting scientist and visiting critic titles.

The approved usages of modifiers with academic titles are as follows:

  •    Acting may be applied only to the titles assistant professor, associate professor and professor.
  •    Adjunct may be applied only to the titles assistant professor, associate professor and professor.
  •    Courtesy may be applied only to the titles assistant professor, associate professor, professor, instructor, senior lecturer and lecturer.
  •    Visiting (as a modifier) may be applied only to the titles assistant professor, associate professor, professor, instructor, senior lecturer, lecturer, senior scholar and senior scientist.

Descriptions of approved modifiers of academic titles are available in Appendix 3.

THE PRACTICE OF USING FIELD DESIGNATORS AND WORKING TITLES

The dean has authority to approve the use of an appropriate field designator after an individual‟s professorial title, such as “Professor of French Literature.” The dean may approve the use of an appropriate working title that does not mimic an academic title to which the individual is not appointed.  In colleges with departmental structure, the field designator or working title would be recommended by the department chair. Field designators and working titles may not imply appointment in a different department without the consent of that department‟s chair and dean. Field designators and working titles are not recorded in the university‟s appointment systems.

In field designators and working titles, any use of a name to honor a donor or other person is likely to be subject to endowment and establishment policies of the Board of Trustees. Determining whether a particular honorary use of a name is subject to these policies is the responsibility of the vice president in charge of development.

EMERITUS OR EMERITA TITLES

 Access to emeritus or emerita status with academic or administrative titles is regulated. Nomination and approval are merit-based and require special procedures.

The Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, available at http://www.gradschool.cornell.edu/pubs_and_forms/pubs/codeoflegislation.pdf, states in its section on Administration:  the Graduate Faculty:

7. Graduate School Professorship A retired member of the graduate faculty may be appointed to a five-year, renewable term as a Graduate School Professor through a strong vote of support from the field membership. If the Graduate School Professor remains in the Ithaca or Geneva area, he or she may serve as a co-chair or a minor subject member of special committees formed during the five-year term; any restrictions that were in place during his or her membership on the graduate faculty apply as Graduate School Professor as well. Graduate School Professors who leave the Ithaca or Geneva area may serve only as minor members of special committees formed during the five-year term.”

Further information on access to emeritus or emerita status is available on the website of the Academic Personnel Policy Office and, for tenured professorial titles, in the Appendix 2 title description for “Professor Emeritus or Emerita” and in the “Provost‟s Policy Statement on the Transition of Faculty to Emeritus Status,” posted on the website of the Academic Personnel Policy Office http://www.ohr.cornell.edu/contacthr/academicpersonnel/Index.html.

ACADEMIC NAMED POSITIONS AND ENDOWED CHAIRS

 The term “endowed professorship” or “endowed chair” derives from a position‟s being supported by the income from a donated endowment. Some historical honorary chairs carry a Trustee-approved name but are not supported by endowment, although they may be referred to as “endowed” chairs.

For an endowed chair or named position to be considered “academic,” the holder must be appointed by normal procedures to a Cornell University academic title.  Approval to hold a named academic position or endowed chair does not change the academic title to which the person is appointed or other aspects of the academic appointment, such as start or end dates or renewability. The end date approved for holding a named academic position or endowed chair may not exceed the end date of appointment to the academic title, although the approval may anticipate renewals or changes in status.

Two separate procedures relate to named positions and endowed chairs: establishment of the naming of the position; and approval for an individual to be appointed to the named position.

Establishment:  The naming of positions, for instance in honor of a donor, is governed by legislation of the Cornell University Board of Trustees. This legislation applies to endowed professorships but also to the honorary naming of such positions as dean or department chair and of specified professorial and non-professorial academic titles, like senior scholar, senior lecturer or librarian. Determining whether a particular honorary use of a name is subject to the establishment provisions of this legislation is the responsibility of the vice president in charge of development. Information about minimum endowment levels may be found at http://www.alumni.cornell.edu/endowment.xls.  When Trustee requirements pertain, formal action by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees is required for the endowment-based named position or the endowed chair to be “established.” When Trustee legislation does not pertain, a dean‟s proposal to name a position honorarily must be approved by the provost.

Ethical as well as contractual issues may restrict changes that may be made to the name, focus, filling or other administration of the named position. For instance, permission of a donor or estate administrator may be necessary to change an unspecified-term position to a limited-term position; a representative from the office of the vice president in charge of development should be involved.

Approval for an individual to be appointed to a named position: When the nature of the endowment limits the professorship to a single college or unit, the dean recommends a nominee to the provost. When the professorship could be held by a faculty member in more than one college, the provost may canvass the deans of those colleges for nominations before making the selection, except as otherwise provided in the professorship‟s establishment. Terms of establishment may set forth special conditions or intentions for filling the named position – a dean‟s recommendation letter would elaborate on how those criteria are met. Election to established endowed professorships and named positions is by action of the Board of Trustees‟ Committee on Academic Affairs.  Information about contents of the dean‟s nomination packet, the schedule for a dean‟s submission of nominations, and the effective dates of Trustee approvals is available on the website of the Academic Personnel Policy Office http://www.ohr.cornell.edu/contacthr/academicpersonnel/Index.html.

Chairs normally are awarded to tenured members of the faculty for the holder‟s career in the college or department. The Trustees may act at the same meeting on recommendations to elect a professor to an endowed chair and to confirm tenure, but election to a chair or other named position does not confer tenure or eligibility for tenure. Named positions that involve appointment to highly restricted titles, such as university professor, senior scientist or senior scholar, require fulfillment of the special procedures attached to those titles for an individual to be recommended for appointment to the named position. Chairs may be awarded to individuals already at Cornell or to those from outside the University who will receive a Cornell appointment to an academic title, effective with that appointment. An individual may hold more than one named position, particularly in administrative situations, but is expected to hold only one career-long endowed chair at any given time.

Some endowment-related positions are specified in the establishment action to be for limited terms, for instance for the duration of the holder‟s appointment in a specific title or rank, or to meet limited-term programmatic objectives, or to be held coterminously with an academic administrative appointment. These limited-term named positions also are subject to the establishment provisions of Trustee legislation, but appointment of individuals to these positions may be reported to the Trustees‟ Committee on Academic Affairs upon provost‟s approval, rather than requiring prior Trustee approval through election by the Committee; the effective date may pre-date the report.

The terms of the donor may so narrowly define the discipline of the incumbent of the chair or named position that the award is limited to a single department, or they may be broad enough to encompass the entire University. Historical chairs also may be attached to a particular discipline, department or college by establishment or by agreement of the provost.  For the holder of a chair that is attached to a particular academic unit, approval to move to a different academic unit may be contingent on surrender of the chair.

Affirmative action search procedure requirements do not pertain in selection to hold an endowed chair or named position, although they may govern appointment to the attached academic title or position; but the institution‟s commitment to diversity http://www.cornell.edu/diversity/ and the Trustees‟ policy statement http://www.ohr.cornell.edu/commitment/cultureInclusive/eeeostatement.html pertain.

Holding a long-term endowed professorship at the time of retirement may qualify for carrying the title honorarily into emeritus or emerita status. Please consult the title description for “Professor Emeritus or Emerita” for further information.

Last Updated: June 29, 2017 at 8:02 pm