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2.6.2 Joint and Multidisciplinary Appointments

Last updated on:
Friday, September 1, 2017
Formerly Known As Policy Number: 
2.6.B

2.6.2  Joint and Multidisciplinary Appointments

2.6.2(1)  2.6.2  Joint and Multidisciplinary Appointments

As a general principle, all professorial appointments are made in departments (or in schools without departments) or may be held in two or more departments, schools or specified policy centers or institutes (“Multidisciplinary Appointments”). A multidisciplinary appointment may be made when a faculty member makes a major contribution of time and effort directly supporting the programmatic need of the academic programs of two or more departments, schools or institutes. This contribution should be on a continuing basis and judged to be sufficiently significant for the appointee to have voting privileges in both (or all) of the units in which the appointment resides. In the event the appointment will not require a major, continuing contribution of time and effort, a Courtesy appointment would be more appropriate. The units affiliated with multidisciplinary appointments frequently share salary or other support and may share in the tenure commitment, if applicable. In all multidisciplinary appointments, even those that are divided evenly between two units, one unit is designated as “primary” and the other(s) as “secondary.” The primary and secondary designations are made at the time the multidisciplinary  appointment is initiated and may be changed after a department vote and with the unanimous consent of the faculty member, the relevant department Chairs, institute directors, and school Deans.


Faculty holding multidisciplinary appointments are expected to carry a normal load of teaching, administrative, and leadership responsibilities. The precise nature of those responsibilities will depend on the roles the faculty are expected to play in the academic units to which they are appointed. The Chairs (or Deans or directors, as applicable) of the relevant academic units should consult on these matters in advance of initially recommending a multidisciplinary appointment. 

For existing multidisciplinary appointments, the Chairs (or Deans or directors, as applicable) should consult regarding annual counseling, counseling after reappointment, salary setting and prior to assigning additional significant duties, including the assignment of administrative or leadership responsibilities.

2.6.2(2) Searches for Multidisciplinary Appointments

Although searches may be conducted by a single department or school, they can also be conducted more broadly across several departments or schools, or by one or more departments using a joint billet, which may be held between a specified policy center or institute and a department or school.

Faculty searches are generally conducted (or overseen, in the case of broad-based searches) by the primary academic unit requesting the search. The search committee should be composed of faculty from each academic unit. The academic units should confer in advance regarding the terms of employment that may be offered to a candidate, subject to final approval of the appointment by the University.   

For initial appointments that are between an institute and a department, the votes of the institute and department should occur separately and  both the institute and department must vote positively. Each academic unit will have access to the complete file. 

2.6.2(3)   Initiating Multidisciplinary  Appointments

The appointment files for multidisciplinary appointments should include a description of the candidate’s anticipated role in the academic units and appointment forms are signed by all department Chairs and Deans.

Occasionally, a faculty member’s involvement with an additional  academic unit will increase over time to the point that a multidisciplinary appointment seems appropriate. In such a case, the multidisciplinary appointment is recommended on a Recommendation for Amendment of Professorial Appointment , submitted by all department Chairs and Deans (or their designees) through the Faculty and Academic Staff Appointments system. The recommendation should include a description of the basis for the change,  relevant billet arrangements and evidence of the vote by the academic units approving the appointment.

Multidisciplinary appointments for untenured Tenure Line and Non-Tenure Line faculty on term appointments are normally for the duration of the appointment. For faculty holding tenured or continuing term appointments, the appointment may be without limit of time or for a term of years, depending on programmatic need and/or the policy of the academic unit. 

2.6.2(4) Multidisciplinary Reappointments, Promotions and Tenure Reviews 

2.6.2(4)a  In Academic Departments and/or Schools

For reappointments, promotions, and tenure reviews of faculty holding  multidisciplinary appointments, the following process is to be used. Its purpose includes addressing the situation in which one department votes positively and the other negatively on a reappointment, promotion, or tenure review.

The primary department or school carries out the full reappointment, promotion or tenure review, although it is expected that the departmental review committee will include faculty from the secondary department. A joint meeting of the two departments to discuss the candidate is permissible but not required. Each academic unit will have access to the complete file.  

The two academic units should vote separately. The primary department votes on the reappointment, promotion or granting of tenure and, if the vote is positive, forwards the recommendation to the primary school Dean. If the primary school Dean recommends the reappointment or promotion, then the secondary department or school votes on the recommendation. If the secondary department or school recommends continuing the joint appointment, the file is forwarded to the Provost as a multidisciplinary  appointment. If the secondary department or school decides against continuing the  multidisciplinary appointment, the recommendation is forwarded to the Provost as a full-time appointment in the primary department or school.

Except in the case of the promotion of a previously tenured associate professor to the rank of professor, if the primary department recommends negatively, it is expected that the individual’s professorial appointment will end. However, the secondary academic unit , at its discretion and if billet, salary and other necessary resources are available, may undertake a full evaluation process. If the result of this evaluation is positive, and if the reappointment, promotion or granting of tenure subsequently receives final University approval, the appointment becomes full-time in the formerly secondary academic unit.

2.6.2(4)b  In Designated Policy Centers and Institutes

For tenure reviews (as well as reappointment and promotion reviews) of faculty appointed to both  a department (or school) and to a designated policy center or institute, as defined in Section 2.3.1 of this Chapter, there should be a single review committee with membership from both academic units. The committee is expected to solicit feedback from colleagues around the University with relevant expertise, including faculty affiliated with the institute. It is expected that the institute director will be invited to write for the file. When the case is sent to the department for consideration, the department may invite colleagues from the institute to the departmental discussion of the case. 

The department votes on the file. Since the institute does not have the authority to confer tenure, it must vote after the department/school vote. The institute’s vote determines whether or not to continue its portion of the appointment. If an institute vote is negative following a positive departmental vote, the individual becomes fully billeted within the department, which then has up to five years to return the institute portion of the billet and salary line to the institute.

Except in the case of the promotion of a previously tenured associate professor to the rank of professor, if the primary department recommends negatively, it is expected that the individual’s professorial appointment will end. However, the institute, at its discretion and if billet, salary and other necessary resources are available, may undertake a full evaluation process for a reappointment as Senior Fellow or Center Fellow. If the result of this evaluation is positive, and if the reappointment subsequently receives final University approval, the appointment becomes full-time in the institute. Such Senior Fellow appointments may be for a term of years or for continuing term, at the discretion of the Specified Policy Center.

If an institute and a department each vote positively on a tenured appointment, then both share the responsibility for the tenure guarantee; neither the institute nor the department can unilaterally elect to discontinue its share of a tenured appointment. In the event that the institute ceases to exist, the billet will go to the department for the duration of the appointment. When the billet is no longer filled, it will be returned to the Provost. Institutes do not need to participate in a departmental recommendation to promote a previously tenured associate professor to the rank of professor, but the department should inform the Institute of recommendation.