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2.7.3 Searches and Search Waivers

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

Stanford’s appointment procedures are designed so that each prospective member of the faculty will be suitable for appointment at Stanford and the best available person for the proposed appointment in a broadly defined field.

2.7.3(1)  Searches

A rigorous and comprehensive search is required for new appointments to the Stanford Professoriate. When a department or school receives authorization to appoint a new faculty member, the department Chair or Dean should appoint a search committee to carry out the search in a broadly defined field.

The search committee should advertise the position publicly in addition to using other appropriate methods of candidate solicitation. Letters describing the position should be sent to institutions of higher education and other institutions that are likely to provide a suitable candidate.

All searches should engage actively in affirmative action in the search process; professional colleagues should be contacted to solicit names of female and minority candidates (as well as others who would bring diversity to the professoriate) and such candidates should be encouraged to apply. Contacts should be made with resources such as female and minority professional organizations and journals so that such groups are alerted to the search.

Advertisements and letters announcing vacancies must include a statement such as:

“Stanford is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Stanford also welcomes applications from others who would bring additional dimensions to the University's research, teaching and clinical missions.”

The Office of the Provost makes available to each Dean’s office availability pool data regarding potential candidates in various disciplines. Search committees are encouraged to obtain this information and seek the assistance of the Faculty Development and Diversity Office

Departments must retain complete records of each search, including vitae of applicants, for at least three years.

2.7.3(2)  Affirmative Action

Stanford University is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. Central to that premise is the institutional commitment to the principles of diversity and affirmative action, as well as to equal opportunity. In that spirit, Stanford prohibits discrimination and harassment and seeks to provide equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment regardless of race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, marital status, age, disability, or any other trait or status protected by applicable law.

A simple policy of equal employment opportunity may, however, not suffice to attract a diverse applicant pool to our campus. Some barriers unfortunately persist in our society and require the more active responses characteristic of affirmative action for locating and recruiting applicants. Hiring decisions that appear to have been reached neutrally may, in fact, be discriminatory if the applicant process is not equally accessible to (for example) women and minority group members.

The University does not sacrifice job-related standards when it engages in affirmative action. The best-qualified person for a given position must always be hired; that is the essence of equal opportunity. Affirmative action simply asks us to cast our net more widely to broaden the competition, so as to include in the applicant pool groups that have historically been underrepresented in certain roles in our society. 

Stanford University is particularly committed to enhancing the diversity of its faculty. This commitment is based, first and foremost, on the belief that a more diverse faculty enhances the breadth, depth, and quality of research and teaching by increasing the variety of experiences, perspectives, and scholarly interests among the faculty. A diverse faculty also provides a variety of role models and mentors for the increasingly diverse student population, which helps to attract, retain and graduate such populations more successfully.

The President and Provost have emphasized Stanford’s continuing interest in and commitment to increasing the diversity of the faculty. See for example: Building on Excellence: Guide to Recruiting and Retaining an Excellent and Diverse Faculty (2008). The primary mechanisms for accomplishing this are through vigorous outreach and recruiting at the time of initial hiring. Affirmative Action at Stanford does not include applying separate standards at the time of review for reappointment or promotion.

Faculty searches are obligated to make particular efforts to seek out qualified candidates who would bring diversity to the professoriate, including women and ethnic minority candidates, and to evaluate such candidates. It is the obligation of the search committee to demonstrate that a search has made a determined effort to locate and consider such candidates. Department Chairs and Deans have the responsibility to make sure that these obligations have been fulfilled. Search committees are encouraged to seek the assistance of the Faculty Development Office.

2.7.3(3)  Candidates with Disabilities

Qualified individuals will not be excluded from consideration by reason of disability, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 and Sections 504 and 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. Following offer and acceptance of a position, the school and the Provost’s Office will upon request by the candidate discuss such reasonable accommodations as may be required by and appropriate for a candidate who is disabled. (See University Administrative Guide Memo 2.2.7) In addition and at any time during a faculty member’s appointment, a faculty member who requires reasonable accommodation for a disability is urged to contact his or her chair or departmental or school Faculty Affairs Office or the University’s ADA/Section504 Compliance Officer. See

2.7.3(4)  International Candidates

Before undertaking the appointment of a faculty member who is a citizen of another country, immigration regulations and procedures should be reviewed. The Bechtel International Center provides expertise on visa matters for foreign nationals, advises in matters regarding immigration laws and regulations, and issues visa authorizations and other visa documents for the University. Information about the Bechtel International Center and its services may be found on-line at

For candidates who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, departments and schools should contact the International Center early to begin arrangements for visa authorizations for foreign nationals residing abroad or in the United States. (It should be noted that some candidates currently in the United States completing graduate programs may have a visa status that precludes direct conversion to a visa status appropriate for faculty appointments.)

2.7.3(5)  Search Waivers

On occasion, the Provost may approve a search waiver for a professorial position when an exceptionally talented person (usually an eminent scholar who is clearly a leader in his or her field) is unexpectedly available. The existence of such a target of opportunity may become known in the course of a regular search, through communication via professional channels, or even by the individual making it known that he or she is available.

Other potentially appropriate uses of a search waiver for a professorial position may include: for a scholar who would bring diversity (broadly defined) to the school or department; for a transition between faculty lines where there is evidence that the individual’s activities and stature have evolved; or for a spousal appointment. Search waivers for junior faculty appointments are granted only in extraordinary circumstances. There may be rare programmatic reasons that warrant a search waiver; inquiries should be addressed to the Provost’s Office.

A request to waive the search requirement for a professorial appointment must present to the Provost convincing evidence that the candidate would have emerged as the leading candidate if there had been a search in the candidate’s field. To the extent possible, the request should be substantiated by comparative evaluations (from external and/or internal referees) and evidence of the candidate’s significant accomplishments. In addition, a rigorous review of the candidate’s qualifications is expected in the subsequent preparation of the appointment recommendation.