Home » Part II Appointment and Tenure » Chapter 1: Academic Titles at Vanderbilt

Chapter 1: Academic Titles at Vanderbilt

Section A
Titles of Tenured Faculty

The titles University Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Professor, University Professor, Professor, and Associate Professor (except in the Blair School of Music) signify tenured positions at Vanderbilt, if so specified at the time of appointment. Except for University Distinguished Professor and University Professor, these faculty titles carry a major field or departmental designator, such as Professor of Linguistics or Professor of Pharmacology. Such designators indicate the major field of work; they may be the name of the department to which the faculty member is attached or a major specialty area associated with the department. At the time of appointment, the faculty member and the Dean of the school recommend an appropriate designator, and the recommendation is reviewed by the Provost or the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, the Chancellor, and the Board of Trust (for new appointments to a tenured position). Care is taken to avoid titles that might be confused with the areas of study represented in other departments.

Named, Centennial, Chancellor’s, University, Distinguished, and
Cornelius Vanderbilt Professorships

Certain professorships are named by the Board of Trust for a benefactor, such as Kenan Professor of English, or for someone important in Vanderbilt history, such as Landon C. Garland Professor of Physics. Centennial Professorships were created during the Centennial Campaign (1977–81), and Chancellor’s Professorships were created during the Campaign for Vanderbilt (1990–95). Both of these professorships are similar to named chairs in that they are held by faculty members of distinction in their disciplines. Cornelius Vanderbilt Professorships were added in 2002 to recognize outstanding full professors already at Vanderbilt.

For purposes of retention or recruitment, and in recognition of accomplishment or contribution beyond the normal expectations for the rank of Professor, the title of Named, Centennial, Chancellor’s, University, Distinguished, or Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor may be conferred on a faculty member. Normally this is done upon the recommendation of the tenured and tenure track faculty of the appropriate department or school. Typically, this is done for faculty who hold the rank of Professor.

University Distinguished Professor
The title University Distinguished Professor is available to those exceptional scholars and teachers who are appointed as Distinguished Professors and whose work extends beyond traditional academic fields and disciplinary lines. University Distinguished Professors will be selected for their record of extraordinary accomplishment in research and teaching and their promise for continued contributions. They will be persons of demonstrated intellectual leadership whose broad vision and scholarly interests are likely to bring together diverse segments of the University in both research and teaching. University Distinguished Professors are therefore expected to work with and tangibly influence the faculty and students of the broader University community rather than primarily those of one school.

Unlike the normal procedure in which a faculty member holds a primary appointment in one school, University Distinguished Professors will hold primary appointments in at least two schools of the University such that the person will have a full-status appointment in each. However, tenure will usually be held in only one school. The Dean of this school will be responsible for normal administrative matters involving the University Distinguished Professor, including salary recommendations. In the execution of these responsibilities, the Dean will consult with the Deans of other schools in which the University Distinguished Professor has an appointment. Appointment as Distinguished University Professor requires a majority recommendation by the tenured and tenure-track faculty of the sponsoring departments or schools (or, in the School of Medicine, the Executive Faculty) and the Deans of the sponsoring schools.

It is assumed that University Distinguished Professors will participate in the teaching, research, and service missions of each school in which they have a primary appointment. Courses taught by University Distinguished Professors normally will be cross-listed in multiple departments or schools, since they will be of interest to large segments of the University community. Upon receipt of a recommendation for appointment of an individual as a University Distinguished Professor, the Provost or Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs may consult with other Distinguished and University Distinguished Professors before making a final determination on the recommendation. If the recommendation is approved by the Provost or Vice Chancellor, it is forwarded to the Chancellor (and the Board of Trust for new appointments to a tenured position) for concurrence and final action.

A University Distinguished Professorship will normally be associated with an endowed chair.

Distinguished Professor of ______

The University has appointed several extraordinary scholars as Distinguished Professor. The title is equal to University Distinguished Professor and reflects both the distinction of the scholar and the contribution in his or her professional area in the University. Appointment as Distinguished Professor requires a majority recommendation by the tenured and tenure-track faculty of the sponsoring department and school (or, in the School of Medicine, the Executive Faculty) and the Dean of the sponsoring school. Prior to advancing the recommendation of a candidate for the title of Distinguished Professor, the Provost or Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs may consult with current Distinguished Professors on the credentials and qualifications of the candidate.

University Professor
The title University Professor is similar to that of University Distinguished Professor, except that the requirements for scholarly distinction are less stringent for University Professor. With respect to other features, such as breadth of contributions, appointments in more than one school, and procedural matters, both titles have identical expectations.

Professor of _______

Associate Professor of _______

Professors and Associate Professors, except in the Blair School of Music, hold academic tenure, if so specified at the time of appointment to that rank. In the Law School, individuals may be promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor without tenure and may later be awarded tenure while remaining at the Associate Professor rank. Individual schools in some cases offer appointments of Associate Professor and Professor without tenure. The professional standards for tenure appointments and conditions of dismissal for cause are discussed in Part II, Chapter 3.

Section B
Titles of Non-tenured Faculty

Assistant Professor of _______

Instructor in _______

The titles Assistant Professor and Instructor are term appointments and do not imply tenure. For tenure-track faculty, full-time service in these two ranks is counted in the probationary period leading to mandatory action by the University either promoting the individuals to tenure rank or notifying them that they will not be promoted. Assistant Professors may be appointed for a term of not more than three years at a time. Instructors are appointed from year to year. Procedures for renewal and termination are outlined in Chapters 2 and 3.

In recognition of benefactors who provide endowment to support a nontenured position, a name designated by the benefactor and the University may be associated with the title. An example would be Mellon Assistant Professor of English.

Titles in the Blair School of Music

Senior Collegiate Faculty

Professor of _______
Associate Professor of _______

Junior Collegiate Faculty

Assistant Professor of _______
Instructor in _______

These titles are completed with a specialty designator such as Professor of Piano. Persons holding these ranks are afforded the same rights and privileges as for tenured or tenure-track faculty in other Vanderbilt schools, except that in Blair these are non-tenured, non-tenure-track appointments.

Senior collegiate Blair faculty members normally hold five-year renewable contracts. Junior collegiate Blair faculty members are governed by the normal University standards in that Assistant Professors may be appointed for a term of not more than three years at a time, and Instructors are appointed from year to year. In the Blair School of Music, full-time service in the ranks of Assistant Professor and Instructor is counted in the period leading to senior status.

Pre-Collegiate Faculty

Artist Teacher of _______
Senior Artist Teacher of _______

These titles are completed with a specialty, such as Artist Teacher of Suzuki Violin or Senior Artist Teacher of Piano. They are held by faculty members who are based primarily in the pre-collegiate program.

All are term appointments. An Artist Teacher is appointed for a term of not more than two years; a Senior Artist Teacher is appointed for a term of not more than three years.

Lecturer in _______

Senior Lecturer in _______

Principal Senior Lecturer in _______

The titles Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Principal Senior Lecturer designate teaching appointments that are not within the normal promotion sequence from Instructor to Professor. Lecturers may be part time or full time and are appointed for terms of no more than one year. Senior Lecturers may hold part-time or full-time teaching positions and may be appointed for terms of no more than three years. Principal Senior Lecturers may hold part-time or full-time teaching positions and may be appointed for terms of no more than five years. Further differences between the three categories may be stipulated by a school with the approval of the Chancellor.

Research Associate in _______
Senior Research Associate in _______

The titles Research Associate and Senior Research Associate designate research appointments outside the normal promotion sequence from Instructor to Professor. Research Associates may be part time or full time and are appointed for terms of no more than one year. Senior Research Associates hold full-time research positions and may be appointed for terms of no more than three years.

In the schools of Medicine and Nursing, Research Associates and Senior Research Associates are not members of the faculty unless designated as such in the letter of appointment.

In the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, these titles are used with a designation identifying the association, e.g., Research Associate in VIPPS.

Professor of the Practice of _______
Associate Professor of the Practice of _______
Assistant Professor of the Practice of _______
Instructor in the Practice of _______

The title Professor of the Practice of_______ designates full-time teaching positions that do not involve tenure. Ordinarily these positions are reserved for persons whose responsibility consists of instruction in professional practice activities and do not involve participation in faculty governance of the school. Professors of the Practice of_______ may be appointed for terms of not more than three years. Instructors in the Practice of ________ are appointed for terms not to exceed one year.

Prefixes: Adjunct, Clinical, Visiting, Research, and Adjoint

Adjunct Professor of _______
Adjunct Associate Professor of _______
Adjunct Assistant Professor of _______
Adjunct Instructor in _______

The title Adjunct Professor with a designation of the school or department in which this title would be used (such as Adjunct Professor of Law) is available to all schools and is limited to part-time faculty members who normally are practitioners in one of the professions. The title is appropriate also for part-time faculty members whose main base is another institution in the Nashville area.

Clinical Professor of _______
Associate Clinical Professor of _______
Assistant Clinical Professor of _______
Clinical Instructor in _______

The prefix Clinical designates faculty members who actively practice their professions together with students for teaching purposes.

In the Medical Center, a faculty appointment is required of all health professionals who have clinical privileges. There, the prefix Clinical designates a practicing health professional who has responsibilities in teaching, research, or patient care.

Professor of Clinical __________
Associate Professor of Clinical __________
Assistant Professor of Clinical __________
Instructor in Clinical __________

The title Professor of Clinical __________ designates a faculty member in the Medical Center who has responsibilities for patient care, but very limited or no responsibilities in teaching or research.

Visiting Professor of _______
Visiting Associate Professor of ________
Visiting Assistant Professor of ________
Visiting Instructor in _______

The prefix Visiting designates faculty members who normally are based at other institutions of higher education and who temporarily transfer their main base to Vanderbilt. The titles are applicable for full-time or part-time service at Vanderbilt.

Research Professor of _______
Research Associate Professor of _______
Research Assistant Professor of _______
Research Instructor in ________

The prefix Research applies to a person who is appointed to participate in a time-limited research program. Such persons usually do not have teaching assignments.

Adjoint Professor of _______
Adjoint Associate Professor of _______
Adjoint Assistant Professor of _______
Adjoint Instructor in _______

The prefix Adjoint designates a person who is based at another institution and who contributes to the mission of a school at Vanderbilt. Such persons usually do not have teaching assignments.

Special Titles in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing

Assistant in _______
Associate in _______
Senior Associate in _______

These titles are completed with the names of the department to which the persons are appointed, such as Assistant in Pediatrics or Associate in Ophthalmology. They are held by persons whose disciplines are not represented in the organization of departments of the schools of Medicine and Nursing but who participate in service and teaching or clinical research in a particular department. For example, a person with a degree in social work might be an Assistant in Pediatrics.

All are term appointments. An Assistant in _______ is appointed for one year; the title is generally equivalent to that of an Instructor, with parallel requirements and benefits. An Associate in _______ or Senior Associate in _______ is appointed for a term of not more than three years; the titles are generally equivalent to that of an Assistant Professor, with parallel requirements and benefits.

Reserve Officers Training Corps Titles
The commanding officers of the Army ROTC and Naval ROTC programs hold the formal titles Director of the Army Officer Education Program and Director of the Naval Officer Education Program, and often the informal titles of Professor of Military Science and Professor of Naval Science. Other teaching personnel in these programs hold the title of Military Instructor, Naval Instructor, or Marine Instructor. The Directors and all Instructors in the two programs have all of the privileges of non-tenured faculty members. Appointment and dismissal procedures are set by the Provost with the advice of the Officer Education Advisory Committee, generally following normal University procedures.

Section C
Faculty in Residence

The suffix in Residence is preceded by the creative specialty in which the faculty member is engaged: e.g., Artist in Residence, Composer in Residence, Writer in Residence. The purpose of in-residence appointments is to emphasize performance or creative work to the benefit and enhancement of the broad educational goals of the University.

An in-residence appointment may be a tenured or a term appointment. In-residence appointments normally are without tenure and do not lead to tenure. Where tenured or tenure-track appointments are intended, the appointment letter will so state. If the appointment is not full time, the letter of appointment will make clear whether the conditions of full-status partial-load appointments apply.

In-residence faculty members are subject to University regulations and procedures in the Faculty Manual, except that criteria for promotion, where applicable, may be adjusted to the creative activity involved and to the faculty member’s assigned duties. In accordance with their specialized knowledge or skills, it is expected that in-residence faculty members will give public performances (recitals, lectures, readings, exhibits, etc.). While the primary responsibility of in-residence faculty members will be the public sharing of their craft, means may be devised to allow them to teach in other ways as well.

Section D
Emeritus and Emerita

A tenured faculty member who has served the University with distinction over a period of years and who remains upon active status until retirement may, upon the recommendation of the appropriate Dean, the Provost or Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, and the Chancellor, be awarded the title of emeritus or emerita by action of the Board of Trust. The title normally follows the regular title, e.g., Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus. In rare cases, emeritus or emerita status may be granted for a faculty member or administrative officer who does not hold a tenured faculty rank.

Section E
Multiple Titles at Vanderbilt

A Vanderbilt faculty member with more than one appointment in the University is listed in the Registry and in the school catalogs with all official titles and always in the same sequence: primary title first, secondary second, and so on. Multiple appointments that are truly equal are listed in the sequence that the holder prefers. Ordinarily, tenure is held in the department of primary appointment.

Section F
Other Academic Titles

Faculty Fellow
Senior Faculty Fellow

The titles Faculty Fellow and Senior Faculty Fellow designate faculty members whose primary appointments are in one department/school of the University and who are actively engaged in research funded by grants that come through other programs, e.g., the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, or who are teaching courses as a part of these programs. Ordinarily, the title Faculty Fellow designates non-tenured participants in such programs, while Senior Fellow identifies tenured participants.

Visiting Scholar
Those persons designated Visiting Scholar are visitors to Vanderbilt who have faculty status at other institutions of higher education or are otherwise distinguished, and whose presence on the campus is formally recognized for periods of up to a year in order to use the library, to observe the conduct of a particular course, to consult with a professor or group of faculty members on a matter of common interest, or to pursue some other valid academic purpose. A Visiting Scholar normally does not have formal duties to perform at Vanderbilt and is not a member of the faculty.

A person who wants to be named a Visiting Scholar writes in advance to an individual Professor or Dean of a school at Vanderbilt stating the purposes of the proposed visit, the proposed length of stay, and his or her academic qualifications. The Deans may appoint visiting scholars through formal letters of appointment.

Visiting Scholars are entitled to a variety of perquisites, generally associated with matters of convenience associated with their stay on campus. Graduate students from other universities and local college faculty members not on leave are not ordinarily eligible for designation as Visiting Scholars.

Special Postgraduate Titles in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing

Research Fellow
Clinical Fellow

Fellows are not members of the faculty. The title Research Fellow is held by persons with the Ph.D. or professional doctoral degree who are in a postgraduate training program with primary emphasis on research.

The title Clinical Fellow is given to persons in the schools of Medicine and Nursing who are engaged in studies and clinical experience, including the care of patients, beyond graduate training in a specified field of clinical education. Clinical Fellows are appointed on an annual basis by a department in the school; the appointment must be approved by the chair of the department and the Dean. Ordinarily, the Clinical Fellow will have completed one or more years of initial training and education in one of the residency-designated specialties or graduate specialties. The title Clinical Fellow also can be given to persons with master’s degrees in the School of Nursing who are engaged in specific areas of clinical study. Such appointments must be approved by the department chair and the Dean.

Student Titles in the Graduate School

Fellow
Trainee

These titles signify that the graduate student holds a service-free award, with no specific duties assigned other than those required for all students. The Fellow holds a University Fellowship, which is awarded to an individual to support specific training that will enhance his or her competence in a particular area. The Trainee holds an award made to individuals from training grants and National Research Service Awards at either the predoctoral or postdoctoral level of study.

Graduate Teaching Assistant
Graduate Teaching Scholar
Graduate Research Assistant

These titles signify a form of employment with payment for duties performed. The Graduate Teaching Assistant holds an assistantship related to teaching but without primary responsibility for instruction and grading. The Graduate Teaching Scholar, who holds a Graduate Teaching Scholarship, is an assistant who has overall responsibility for instruction in a course or courses, including the assignment of grades. The Graduate Research Assistant holds an assistantship with required duties in research. The full title, Graduate Research Assistant, should be used to distinguish the position from the staff classification of Research Assistant.