A PROPOSAL FOR
CREATING THE TITLE OF
“PROFESSOR OF THE
PRACTICE” AT GEORGIA TECH
“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
- be distinguished academicians and practitioners who have
had a major impact on fields important to Georgia Tech’s teaching and
research programs, and who are committed to enhancing Georgia Tech’s
programs and reputation.
- have substantial bases of experience, normally of at least
10-15 years, and a national/international reputation for excellence
- have rich and extensive backgrounds in fields and
disciplines related to the school or college of appointment at Georgia
- may be expected (depending on circumstances of their
appointment) to generate financial resources to support and enhance the
Georgia Tech programs in which they work
- serve as liaisons between industry or government and
Georgia Tech in identifying teaching and research opportunities that
support the public interest and societal needs.
- “Professor of the Practice” is a non-tenurable business
title which falls under the BOR job classification of “Academic
Professional with Academic Rank” (see Appendix B). This classification
carries with it membership in the General Faculty of the Institute.
- The position may be described as “Professor of the
Practice of X,” where X is an academic discipline or specialty. For
communications purposes, a Professor of the Practice may represent himself
or herself with a shorter title as “Professor of X.”
- General duties and responsibilities must be agreed upon in
advance with each Professor of the Practice and his/her chair and/or
dean. They may include teaching, research, and service, or some
combination thereof. It is expected that Professors of the Practice will
set personal/professional goals consistent with those of the Institute and
their College, School, or Center.
- Appointments as Professor of the Practice may be fulltime
or part-time. Individuals appointed to 50% time or greater are eligible
for fringe and retirement benefits normally provided to Georgia Tech
faculty. Georgia Tech policies relating to consulting and external
activities for Professor of the Practice will be the same as for fulltime
tenure track faculty.
- Consistent with University System of Georgia and Georgia
Tech policies for non-tenure track personnel (see Appendix C), Professors
of the Practice will be reappointed annually but with no limit as to the
number of years that may be served. According to Board policy, “Notice of
intention to renew or not to renew contracts of non-tenure track personnel
who have been awarded faculty rank…shall follow the schedule required for
tenure track personnel.” In plain English, Professors of the Practice may
be hired with the expectation of a multi-year appointment, but,
like untenured professors at any rank, the Institute may decide not to
renew their annual contact prior to the end of that expected term.
Following the schedule required for tenure track faculty, the Institute
would be obligated to notify the individual of non-renewal three months
prior to the second contract, six months prior to the third contract, and
nine months prior to the fourth and subsequent contracts.
- Professors of the Practice will participate in an annual
evaluation, as is regularly conducted for tenure track faculty.
Performance will be evaluated during this annual review, with actions and
recommendations made as appropriate.
- During the term of their appointment, Professor of the
Practice are subject to, and protected by, the same Institute policies
concerning academic freedom as tenured and tenure track faculty.
- Funding sources for Professors of the Practice may include
the Institute, College, School, or Center, or some combination of these,
and the funds may consist in whole or part of funds generated by the
- Schools and Colleges at Georgia Tech have considerable
latitude in developing complementary policies and procedures for
Professors of the Practice as long as they are consistent in spirit with
overall policies detailed in this section. This includes policies and
procedures governing the privileges of departmental membership which the
school or college of appointment agrees to bestow upon individuals holding
this rank and for appointment and reappointment.
- The Institute and its Schools and Colleges will adopt
appointment and reappointment policies that, in general, parallel, those
followed for tenure track faculty, though they need not be as elaborate as
the latter and the criteria will be different. At minimum, these policies
will involve on-campus interviews of the individual being proposed for a
position as Professor of the Practice, input into the decision by a body
of the faculty in the School or College, recommendation of the Chair and/or
Dean, and approval by the Provost. Faculty involvement in the decision to
hire should be identical to those procedures used for hiring tenured full
- Approval of these appointments by the Board of Regents is
not required before the fact.
- The Institute may wish to limit the number or percentage
of appointments to this position campus-wide or by unit.
OF THE PRACTICE” IN NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
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
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:
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.
PROFESSIONAL WITH ACADEMIC RANK
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
UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA POLICY
803.10 NON-TENURE TRACK PERSONNEL
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
- Individuals employed in non-tenure track positions shall
not be eligible for consideration for the award of tenure.
- Probationary credit toward tenure shall not be awarded for
service in non-tenure track positions.
- 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.
- 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