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Research Faculty Promotion Guidelines FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Click one of the questions below to view its respective answer.

 

Promotional opportunities for research faculty are outlined in Section 6.5 of the Faculty Handbook.  The guidelines were established to provide a consistent and annual review process throughout the university community for research faculty promotion considerations into and within the research professorial series of research assistant professor, research associate professor, and research professor.

Promotional requests for non-professorial research faculty may occur at any time throughout the year to reflect increasing levels of responsibility, skill, or scholarship consistent with the rank description.  Rank description for non-professorial research faculty is outlined in Sections 6.3 and 6.4 of the Faculty Handbook.

Promotional information for professorial and non-professorial research faculty is available on the Office for the Vice President for Research and Innovation website at http://www.research.vt.edu/ovpr-hr/research-faculty/promotion-guidelines.

In addition, promotional information for professorial research faculty may be found on the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost website at http://www.provost.vt.edu/promotion_tenure/promotion_and_tenure.html.

Most tenure-track positions are filled through national recruitment efforts, which Virginia Tech posts on www.jobs.vt.edu, and require a background in teaching, funded research, student leadership, and publications.  Non-tenure track research faculty positions at Virginia Tech allow researchers to spend more time on research and discovery than tenure-track positions. 

Research faculty who are interested in moving to a tenure-track position are encouraged to discuss options with his or her supervisor and department head about potential opportunities.  Depending on the career goals of the research faculty member, a non-tenure track position may be of greater interest in the ability to further pursue research interests and objectives.

To learn more about the university’s 11 research faculty ranks, a matrix is available on the Office of Research Human Resources website at http://www.research.vt.edu/ovpr-hr/sites/research.vt.edu.ovpr-hr/files/research_faculty_ranks.pdf.

A career development path provides an employee with an ongoing mechanism to enhance his or her knowledge, skills and abilities that can lead to promotions and transfers to new and different positions with increase complexity and responsibilities.  Since postdoctoral associate positions are short-term, lasting no more than four years after completion of the terminal degree, employees are encouraged to begin conversations with his or her supervisor and department head about potential opportunities following the postdoctoral appointment. 

Promotion recommendations into the research professorial ranks follow an annual process consistent with other faculty rank promotion recommendations.  Promotion recommendation into a non-professorial rank may occur at any time throughout the year to reflect increasing levels of responsibility, skill or scholarship consistent with the proposed rank description.  For more information on research faculty promotions, please visit the Office of Research Human Resources website at http://www.research.vt.edu/ovpr-hr/research-faculty/promotion-guidelines.

Depending on the employee’s career goals, the university offers 11 research faculty ranks from entry/journey level to intermediate and senior researcher.  To learn more about the ranks, a matrix is available on the Office of Research Human Resources website at http://www.research.vt.edu/ovpr-hr/sites/research.vt.edu.ovpr-hr/files/research_faculty_ranks.pdf.

If funds are available, promotion in rank in the research professorial series (research assistant professor, research associate professor, and research professor) may be accompanied by a base salary adjustment. Subject to university approval, the department head or institute director is responsible for making a salary recommendation commensurate with the salaries of similar promoted research professorial faculty in the department accompanying a promotion when submitting the promotion recommendation packet for university review consideration. 

Should funding not be available at the time of the promotion, consideration of a pay adjustment may occur at a later time to the promotion when sufficient funding is made available.

The terms “regular” and “restricted” appointments apply to both faculty and staff positions.  A “regular” appointment refers to a position that is typically on-going, renewable, and supported by more permanent funding resources.  A “restricted” appointment refers to a position that has a limited duration and/or a less permanent source of funding, such as sponsored grants and contracts.

Additional information on the differences between regular and restricted appointments may be found in the Sections 2.5.8 and 2.6.4 of the Faculty Handbook.

The departmental committee charged with the administration of the research professorial faculty promotion process will be appointment by the department head or institute director, and should consist of peer faculty that have direct knowledge of the potential candidate’s research discipline.  In the event that a department does not possess sufficient peer ranked faculty at the department level, ranked research faculty from the college, institute and within the university community should be considered.  When necessary, the departmental committee may include faculty from outside the university community who has knowledge of the research area.

The Research Faculty Promotional Guidelines outline a predictable administrative process consistent with other annual professorial promotional activities.  In cases when a research faculty member in a regular appointment is being considered for promotion into or within the research professorial ranks, the promotion recommendation requires approval by the Board of Visitors.  Following an annual timeline allows for research faculty promotion requests to be viewed consistent with other faculty peer promotion activities. 

At the discretion of the college dean, and depending on the availability of rank faculty and the administrative responsibilities of the current P&T Committee, colleges may decide whether or not to establish a separate committee to oversee the promotion activities for research faculty or using the existing infrastructure. 

If the current departmental and or college P&T Committee will be used for research promotional activities, the committee should consist of faculty that have direct knowledge of the potential candidate’s research.   Should a separate committee be established to review research promotional activities, the department and college should consider if there is sufficient research faculty in ranked positions having direct knowledge of the potential candidate’s research are eligible to serve.

Departmental procedures should include criteria for handling non-professorial rank promotions into the professorial ranks.  At the minimum, strongly encourage the established departmental committee charged with promotions have the opportunity to review the CV and provide a recommendation to the department head or institute director prior to advancing the promotion request packet to subsequent review stages.

The departmental committee should establish and make available to all potential promotion candidates the dossier review criteria for research professional faculty promotion considerations, as well as the review process timeline prior to the start of the promotion cycle. 

Concurrent with its peers in other professorial rankings, the research faculty promotion guidelines are focused on promotional consideration into and within the research professorial ranks of research assistant professor, research associate professor and full research professor.  Promotion considerations to another non-professorial research faculty rank may occur concurrent to the annual merit process when the candidate has assumed significant increase in responsibilities. 

Promotion requests for professorial and non-professorial ranks are submitted to the Human Resources Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI-HR) for review.

The use of external reviewers may be decided upon at the departmental level and the extent to which external reviewers will be used during the promotion process should be documented accordingly in the department’s promotional procedures for research professorial faculty.  External reviewers may provide unbiased, additional support to the departmental committee’s recommendation as the packet is advanced to subsequent review stages.

External reviewers should be senior faculty members external from the university from major research universities, institutions or agencies, and have appropriate expertise to evaluate and comment credibly on the quality and impact of the candidate’s research, scholarship, and other professional achievements. 

External Reviewers are not expected to provide a performance review.

For information related to External Review Requests, please review the following guidelines available on the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost websites.  

In the event that a promotion recommendation has either or both the support of departmental committee and the department head or institute director, the recommendation will be advanced to the dean or senior manager for review consideration. 

Collegiate research faculty promotion considerations should be reviewed at the college level, if established, in accordance with other faculty promotion review process before submission to the dean or senior manager.  In the event that a promotion request is denied, an appeal to the dean would be for those situations where the departmental committee and department head approved the recommendation, but the college committee did not, or for when the promotion was not recommended at the department level at all.

Institute research faculty promotion considerations and other research faculty whose reporting line are directly to the dean or senior manager will be referred to the Vice President for Research and Innovation for final review of the recommendation to either uphold or over-ride the decision.

A department, institute and/or college may wish develop procedures and requirements in addition to the requirements as outlined in the Research Faculty Promotional Guidelines.  In the event that additional requirements are established, the department, institute and college should develop a written document that is accessible by the promotion committee and faculty members, and is reviewed prior to the annual promotion cycle to ensure relevance and consistency. 

The University offers a variety of professional development opportunities for employees.  To start you on your path, please consider the following resources: