General Description


“Professor of the Practice” is a proposed title to describe a non-tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech to be held by a limited number of eminently qualified academic, business, or government leaders who have made major impacts on fields and disciplines important to Georgia Tech’s programs.  The title “Professor of the Practice,” which is well-established among many of Georgia Tech’s peer institutions (see Appendix A), is intended to provide such highly regarded individuals with the positioning and respect that is customarily extended to faculty members who hold tenure.  This designation represents an effective and meaningful way for Georgia Tech to involve accomplished professionals who seek a position within a leading research university that does not fit the tenure track model.


Because of the stature of individuals to be offered this position, we anticipate that the category will have only one rank, rather than Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor of the Practice.  Other non-tenure track positions currently available would be more appropriate for appointments comparable to the more junior ranks.  Unlike the currently available title of “Adjunct Professor,” the expectation is that Professor of the Practice would be paid, either on a fulltime or part-time basis as appropriate for the situation.





Professors of the Practice will






















Over the past decade the title “professor of the practice” or “professor of practice” has been adopted at a number of leading American research universities.  At some institutions, particularly those with medical, dental, or nursing schools, the term is conflated with clinical faculty, although that is not anticipated at Georgia Tech.  The title has been most commonly adopted in professional schools or colleges in fields such as architecture and design, business, engineering, international relations, and public policy.  It is less commonly found in schools of arts and sciences.

This general pattern is well-described in Judith M. Gappa, Off the Tenure Track: Six Models for Full-Time Nontenurable Appointments.  The New Pathways Working Paper Series, American Association for Higher Education, 1996.  It has also been discussed in a 2004 Statement of the American Association of University Professors (“Professors of Practice”), found at http://www.aaup.org/statements/REPORTS/05profprac.htm.  This statement, prepared by a subcommittee of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, is framed in the context of the rapid overall rise in non-tenure track appointments (they now account for 34% of all fulltime faculty appointments in American higher education) and of the AAUP’s ongoing concern for academic freedom.  The policy envisioned for Georgia Tech assures that  “Professor[s] of the Practice are subject to, and protected by, the same Institute policies concerning academic freedom as tenured and tenure track faculty.” 


This position is explicitly non-tenure track and thus not subject to any presumption of tenure after the traditional probationary period of seven years in rank.  However, during our development of policies covering family leave and extension of the probationary period for tenure it came to light that (a) the AAUP had in fact dropped the claim for de facto tenure in its 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure some time ago, and (b) case law in Georgia has clearly denied any such claim.  Therefore the extension of contracts for professors of the practice for more than seven years carries no presumption of tenure.


Universities that currently have some form of Professor of the Practice include Harvard (School of Design, School of Education, and Kennedy School of Government, among others), MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Lehigh, Perdue, Penn State, Worcester Polytechnic, George Washington, and Duke.


For policies and procedures at MIT, Harvard, and Carnegie-Mellon see the following URL’s:



http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/academic/instructors/appointment handbook/descriptions.html.




Definitions and categorization of the title “Professor of the Practice” vary somewhat from institution to institution.  At MIT, for example, this title is used interchangeably with “adjunct professor,” and at some institutions “Professor of the Practice” is ranked assistant, associate, and full.  This latter practice is most common when the title is conflated with “clinical professor” or when professors of the practice are used extensively for studio or practicum courses.


Adoption of this faculty classification has not been without controversy, with both the AAUP and some faculty unions questioning whether it was intended as an entering wedge to abolish or dilute tenure.  However, at some of the leading universities in the nation limited use of this classification has contributed to the variety of faculty talents and to the advancement of the institution without in any way damaging the institution of tenure or diverting resources to non-tenure track faculty.




The University System of Georgia has approved two job titles called “Academic Professional” for use by the four research universities.  The first of these, officially known as “Academic Services Professional” is now fairly commonly used at Georgia Tech and applies to individuals whose job is primarily administrative but who are qualified by degree credentialing to offer instruction and who may teach on a limited basis.  Persons holding this title may not teach or conduct research more than 50% time.  The policies governing this job title are found in the BOR policy manual at 803.1001 and are repeated in the Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook.  The job code assigned to these individuals is in the Master BOR Category List is 400X70.
The second version, which has not heretofore been applied at Georgia Tech is included in the Master BOR Category List under the general category of “Faculty/Academics” within a specific subgroup called “Professionals with Academic Rank” and is called “Academic Professional with Academic Rank” (job code 212X00).  This category includes those with faculty rank whose teaching, research, and non-administrative responsibilities account for more than 50% of fulltime effort.
The latter of these two versions would clearly apply in most, if not all, instances of Professor of the Practice under existing BoR policy.   Thus it appears that no additional BoR approval is required to establish the working or business title of Professor of the Practice..    

Institutions of the University System are authorized to establish professional positions designated as non-tenure track positions. Each institution shall prepare annually, along with its budget, a list of positions so designated for signations [sic] submitted during the budget year must also be approved by the Chancellor or his/her designee. Positions designated as non-tenure track positions or as tenure track positions may be converted to the other type only with approval by the Chancellor or his/her designee.

Non-tenure track positions may be established for full-time professional personnel employed in administrative positions or to staff research, technical, special, career, and public service programs or programs which are anticipated to have a limited lifespan or which are funded, fully or partially, through non-System sources. There shall be no maximum time limitation for service in positions in this category.

The following provisions shall apply to all non-tenure track professional personnel:

  1. Individuals employed in non-tenure track positions shall not be eligible for consideration for the award of tenure.
  2. Probationary credit toward tenure shall not be awarded for service in non-tenure track positions.
  3. Notice of intention to renew or not to renew contracts of non-tenure track personnel who have been awarded academic rank (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor) shall follow the schedule required for tenure track personnel. This schedule of notification shall not apply to other professional personnel.
  4. Individuals employed in non-tenure track positions may apply on an equal basis with other candidates for tenure track positions which may become available.

This statement is repeated in the Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook, Section 3.1.7, found at http://www.academic.gatech.edu/handbook/handbook3.html