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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Appointment Termination: HR Guidelines


 Reappointment is not a right and is not automatic. Written notice of a decision not to renew the appointment must be given to the staff member by the dean, director, or chairperson; this should be done as early as possible. The minimum periods of notification required by the university are given below. For nonterminal appointments (these are appointments where an individual, even though on a term appointment, has the possibility of renewal) at least three months‟ notice is required. For each year of service in the position beyond three years, an additional month is added to this minimum, up to six months. The same provisions for notice pertain to early termination of an academic appointment.  If the possibility of renewal is uncertain for a reason such as lack of information on the availability of funds, the individual should be notified of the uncertainty, and this notification serves as sufficient notice to satisfy the requirements – while routine contingency language in appointment letters is based on lack of information on future availability of funds, this routine contingency is not sufficient to serve in lieu of particular notice that non-renewal or early termination might be imminent.

Different requirements for notice pertain to senior lecturers and lecturers. (Provost Nesheim‟s 1994 memorandum on this subject is available on the Academic Policy web site at

\policies\academic\academicApptTermsSections\NesheimMemo.PDF.)  A one-semester notice of termination must be provided to lecturers and senior lecturers who have had at least two but not more than three years of continuous service, and a two-semester notice must be provided to those having completed three or more years of continuous service (excluding summers). Such notice should be in writing to the individual and specifically note that it is serving as notice of non-renewal or early termination, should such actions be necessary. It is not adequate, for example, simply to issue a blanket notification to all academic staff that funding, budget or other uncertainties may cause some non-renewals or early terminations of staff positions.

In some situations no notice is required. These include (1) an appointment clearly communicated as being non-renewable (a terminal appointment, although notice would be required for early termination of the appointment); (2) the termination of the grant or contract that is the sole source of salary for the staff member and for which the staff member is the principal investigator; (3) situations in which the staff member is not paid through Cornell; (4) cases in which the staff member is dismissed for cause.

The notice requirements for the reduction in effort, and a corresponding reduction in salary, for non-tenured/non-tenure-track academic staff are in most cases less extensive than those that pertain to the non-renewal or early termination of such appointments. Two months of notice are required if the planned reduction in effort/salary does not affect benefit status. In cases in which such reduction will result in the loss of benefits for such individuals, the notice provisions for early termination or non-renewal described above should be observed. If funding, budget or other uncertainties create the possibility, but not certainty, of a reduction in effort/salary, the individual should be notified, in writing, of the uncertainty, and this notification serves as sufficient notice to satisfy the notice requirements for a reduction in effort/salary.


 Professors and academic staff should contact Benefit Services in the Division of Human Resources regarding retirement plans and eligibility.

Professors:  Phased Retirement and the Transition of Faculty to Emeritus Status

 The “Provost‟s Policy Statement on the Transition of Faculty to Emeritus Status” may be found on the CAPE website at Additional information is available from Benefit Services in the Division of Human Resources.

The university’s phased retirement program permits eligible professors and associate professors with full-time appointments in the endowed and contract colleges at Ithaca to reduce their teaching, research, and administrative duties prior to retirement by allowing a gradual transition of a specified duration of time. Separate policies exist for employees in the endowed and contract units, and a copy of either policy may be obtained from the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti Office (CAPE) the website of the Academic Personnel Policy Office

Please also consult the title description for “Professor Emeritus or Emerita” in the Appendix to this policy.


 Resignation by an academic employee, whether tenured or on a term appointment, is normally effective at the end of an academic term or on June 30 or December 31 for those on 12- month appointments. To allow the academic unit to prepare for the loss of the staff member, the employee should notify the department chairperson or the director of the unit of the intended resignation as early as possible.  Because academic policy prohibits pay for accrued vacation after the termination date of a resigned appointment (except when electing formal retirement), discussions with the chair or director should include any proposed use of vacation accrual. A minimum of a month‟s notice of resignation is required from the academic employee.

A budget line is not considered vacant until a formal resignation in writing, including the date on which it is to become effective, has been submitted. If a formal resignation has not been submitted even though the individual has actually left the university, the department chairperson or the director should send a letter to the individual noting the circumstances and stating that unless a response is received to the contrary within a certain time limit, the resignation will become effective on a specified date.

In some cases, when a valued member of the faculty is to leave the University, arrangements are made for a leave of absence rather than a resignation, in the hope that the person will return to Cornell. Such arrangements for up to one year require the approval of the department chair or director and the dean or vice provost. For those with joint appointments or other concurrent appointments, the approvals must be obtained from all of the relevant units and executives. To extend leave beyond one year requires approval of the provost through the Academic Personnel Policy Office. The leave should not, in any event, exceed more than one year from the date a tenured Cornell professor assumes a tenured appointment at another institution.  In this situation, the department cannot recruit a permanent replacement, and a vacant formal position (including appropriate tenure status) with its budgetary commitment must be reserved in case the person does return.

Those considering resignation or retirement for medical reasons should consult Appendix 2 of the policy “Leaves for Professors and Academic Staff” for information about short-term medical leave and federal entitlements under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as consulting Benefit Services in the Division of Human Resources regarding such options as long- term disability and its interface with retirement and social security benefits. Tenured professors may wish to consult also with the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti Office (CAPE) regarding the availability of phased retirement.

Last Updated: June 29, 2017 at 8:06 pm