The Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty

The Board of Visitors has exclusive authority to confer faculty status. It does so by “electing” an individual to the faculty in a formal resolution. The term “election” therefore has a special meaning and is used only when action by the Board of Visitors is required. By comparison, the president makes administrative appointments to assist that office and other administrative officers in conducting the business of the University. (The Board of Visitors approves only the appointment of the president, the vice presidents, and the chancellor of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Other appointments are merely reported by the president.) “Appointment,” therefore, is an action taken by or for the president and reported to the Board of Visitors. Thus, a clear distinction is maintained between faculty status and administrative assignments.

The University has no single, formal, written contract with a faculty member. Currently, when a person is invited to join the faculty, the relevant dean writes a letter specifying the proposed conditions of employment. If accepted by the candidate and if approved by the Board of Visitors, these conditions are the basis of formal action by the Board of Visitors which passes a resolution stating the title, salary, and term of the election. If the election is for a defined period of time, it is an election with term. If no time limit is specified, the election is without term, the equivalent of tenure. Usually, when an administrative appointment is involved, the Board of Visitors elects the faculty member to a term that is the same as the period of administrative appointment.

The statutes of the Commonwealth of Virginia do not provide specifically for tenure, but when the Board of Visitors elects an individual to the faculty of the University of Virginia without term it, in effect, grants tenure. This action and its effect have been recognized by the Commonwealth (Faculty Tenure and Activity, Senate Document No. 7, Commonwealth of Virginia, 1977).

By long tradition, the University of Virginia recognizes the importance of academic freedom for faculty and students as an essential ingredient of an environment of academic excellence. An election without term is a fundamental means of achieving academic freedom in the University community. Faculty members may be elected without term after a probationary period as assistant professor and promotion to a higher rank, as associate professor (with or without a probationary period), and as professor. Only full-time teaching faculty may be elected without term. All part-time elections and all administrative appointments are made for limited periods.

The teaching and research functions of the University are performed by a variety of individuals with various titles, some of which may lead to tenure, others of which remain of fixed (or limited) term.

The Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Non-tenure-track faculty may perform an array of functions including teaching, research, or public service, as well as providing academic support in areas such as student services and the libraries, and performing administrative duties that relate directly to management policies and procedures or the general business and administrative operations of the institution.

Please refer to the Faculty Handbook for more information.