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 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, the Chancellor, and, for new appointments to a tenured position, the Board of Trust. 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, or 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 the Dean of the School of Medicine (in the case of faculty with a primary appointment in a Clinical Department in the School of Medicine) 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 for faculty in a Clinical Department of the School of Medicine, the Dean of the School of Medicine, 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 for faculty in a Clinical Department of the School of Medicine, the Dean of the School of Medicine, 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 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.1 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 non-tenured 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.

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.

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 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 and Associate Professors of the Practice of  may be appointed for terms of not more than five years. Assistant 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 part­time faculty members whose main base is another institution in the Nashville area.

Titles of Non-tenured Faculty 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 some of these are non-tenured, non-tenure-track appointments.

An Artist Teacher is appointed for a term of not more than three years; a Senior Artist Teacher is appointed for a term of not more than seven years.

Those senior collegiate Blair faculty members who are not tenured normally hold seven-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 rank of Assistant Professor 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.

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.

Titles for Faculty who may provide health care services

Under Vanderbilt University’s affiliation with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, credentialed/privileged faculty members may provide health care services. Health care professionals in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center who have medical staff or professional staff privileges at facilities on the main campus and 100 Oaks are required to have a Vanderbilt faculty appointment.

Professor of _______

 Associate Professor of _______

In the School of Medicine these titles may be used to designate faculty members appointed on the Educator track (without tenure) who contribute a significant portion of their professional effort to educational programs.

Clinical Professor of _______

 Associate Clinical Professor of _______

 Assistant Clinical Professor of _______

 Clinical Instructor in _______

The term Clinical within the academic rank designates volunteer faculty members who actively practice their professions together with students for teaching purposes. In the Law School, these ranks designate paid term appointments that do not involve tenure.

Professor of Clinical _______

 Associate Professor of Clinical _______

 Assistant Professor of Clinical _______

 Instructor in Clinical _______

The prefix Clinical when used before the discipline or department name designates a faculty member in the School of Medicine or the School of Nursing who has responsibilities for patient care, but very limited or no responsibilities in teaching or research, other than those that are incidental to providing health care services.

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.

Visiting Professor of _______

 Visiting Associate Professor of _______

 Visiting Assistant Professor of _______

 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.

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.


1 A person holding the title of Instructor in the Law School’s Legal Research and Writing Program is not considered tenure-track faculty and is not offered opportunities for professional growth and achievement comparable to those enjoyed by tenure track appointees. If such a person subsequently acquires a tenure-track position, time spent as an Instructor in the Law School’s Research and Writing Program would not count toward the probationary period leading to mandatory action by the University either promoting the individual to tenure rank or notifying the individual that he or she will not be promoted.

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, and 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, 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
Retired

A faculty member who has served the University for an extended period of time, contributed to the mission of the institution, and is in good standing at the time of retirement, may, upon the recommendation of the appropriate Dean and concurrence of the Provost be awarded the title Retired. The title normally follows the regular title, e.g., Professor of the Practice of Special Education, Retired. A faculty member who is granted the title of Emerita or Emeritus is not eligible for the title of Retired.

Section F
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 G
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 typically 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.