Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments

Established: June 6, 2000

​Last Updated: April 5, 2011

Class: F


This policy defines appointment categories (regular, research, visiting, adjunct, special), appointment types (tenured or continuing, probationary-term, definite-term) and appointment intensities (full-time, part-time, fractional load) for faculty appointments at the University of Waterloo. Hiring procedures for regular faculty appointments are described in Section 5.

Faculty appointments are normally made in four ranks: Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor. These titles, without additional qualifiers or with the qualifier “clinical”, are reserved for regular faculty appointments (see 2.A). Titles for other faculty appointments (see 2.B) which incorporate these ranks must include an additional descriptive qualifier other than “clinical”.

Professorial rank is intended to reflect a faculty member's stature and record of accomplishment as a teacher and scholar. An Assistant Professor normally has a doctorate or terminal professional degree, as well as experience or strong potential in teaching and scholarship. An Associate Professor has demonstrated ongoing competence, maturity and independence in teaching and scholarship. A Professor has demonstrated a clear commitment to teaching and has shown substantial achievement in research as evidenced by the production of a body of scholarly work that is widely known and respected.

Faculty appointments can be made in departments, schools, Faculties, or other academic units approved by the Board of Governors. The approval route is: department Chair, Faculty Dean, Vice-President Academic & Provost (VPA&P); new appointments with tenure also require approval of the Board of Governors. Faculty appointments are reported to Senate for information.


A. Regular Faculty Appointments

These appointments may be made on a full-time or fractional-load basis in the ranks of Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor. Clinical faculty appointments can be made at all these ranks. Reference to faculty ranks in this policy include all regular faculty appointments, including clinical appointments, except where explicitly noted otherwise.

Lecturer appointments are of two types: definite-term or continuing (see 3.D). Regular appointments in the professorial ranks are of three types: definite-term, probationary-term or tenured. Effective January 1, 2002, tenure will be awarded only at the rank of Associate Professor or Professor.

Regular full-time faculty in the professorial ranks are normally assigned formal teaching duties in two of the three terms in which the University operates, but are expected to engage in scholarship, supervise students as required, and contribute to University service throughout the year. However, due to the close relationship between clinical practice and scholarly activity for clinical faculty, it is typical and appropriate for the clinical teaching duties for clinical faculty in the professorial ranks to be spread over all three terms. During a term for which formal teaching duties are not assigned, faculty members are expected to increase their scholarly activity. In special circumstances, a faculty member and the department Chair may arrange a different assignment of responsibilities. Any such arrangement must be documented and must have the formal approval of the Faculty Dean.

For full-time Lecturers (including Clinical Lecturers in the School of Optometry), duties are primarily limited to teaching and service, and are normally assigned in all three terms, though Lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term. Assignment of duties must take into account the distinctive feature of university teaching (i.e., that instruction is provided by scholars who are expected to remain current in their field and maintain their scholarly competence) regardless of whether a separate rating for scholarship is part of the Lecturer's performance review. Prospective Assistant Professors may be appointed as Lecturers for a definite term pending completion of academic requirements (normally the PhD), and in such cases, duties will be as described for Assistant Professors in the preceding paragraph.

Procedures for tenure consideration for faculty members who hold probationary-term appointments and promotion procedures for faculty members who hold tenured appointments are set out in Policy 77. For those holding definite-term appointments, a recommendation to reappoint at a higher rank shall be considered by the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee (FTPC), and requires the approval of the Dean and the Vice-President, Academic & Provost.

The results of annual performance reviews carried out for each faculty member must be taken into account in considerations for reappointment, tenure or promotion.

B. Other Facult​y Appointments

All faculty appointments, other than regular appointments as described in the preceding section, are definite-term appointments (see 3.A). They may be full-time or part-time, as specified in the letter of appointment.

Research Ap​​pointments

These appointments carry the titles Research Professor, Research Associate Professor or Research Assistant Professor, with rank determined according to the same scholarship criteria that apply to regular faculty appointments. A recommendation to reappoint at a higher rank shall be considered by the FTPC, and requires the approval of the Dean and of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost.

Research faculty members are normally appointed to an academic department or school, and their duties are as specified in their appointment letters. Duties will be primarily research-oriented, but in some cases may include some service, teaching and/or student supervision. Research faculty members should be encouraged to take part in the normal life of the department and Faculty, as permitted by their research duties. The performance of research faculty members should be reviewed annually, in accord with the nature of the appointment as specified in the letter of appointment, by the research director (supervisor, principal investigator) and the department Chair. Where the appointment includes components of service, teaching or student supervision, the department Chair shall review the performance of the research faculty member in these specific areas annually. The results of all such reviews shall be communicated to the research faculty member as soon as possible upon completion.

Research appointments are definite-term, and may be conditional on the availability of external research funding, as specified in the letter of appointment. A conditional appointment may be terminated should the external research funding for this purpose be discontinued; otherwise the usual considerations for definite-term appointments apply (see 3.A). If a research appointment is terminated prior to the contract end-date because external research funding is discontinued, any salary component promised from department operating funds and the associated teaching or other duties may, at the option of the appointee, be continued until the end of the definite-term contract period.

Visiti​​ng Appointments

These appointments are definite-term, normally of duration one year or less, and carry the titles Visiting Professor, Visiting Associate Professor, Visiting Assistant Professor or Visiting Lecturer.

Adjunct Appoin​tments​

These appointments carry the titles Adjunct Professor, Adjunct Associate Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor or Adjunct Lecturer. They are made to individuals, external or internal to the University, who are qualified to undertake certain specific responsibilities within an academic unit for teaching, scholarship or the co-supervision of students. Where appropriate, adjunct faculty members should be encouraged to take part in the normal life of the department and Faculty.

Special Appoint​ments

The titles given (e.g., Visiting Critic, Writer-in-Residence, Resource Person) are expressive of the functions performed; the normal ranks are not used.

C. Miscellaneous Appointments

Overload Appointments

An individual who already has a faculty appointment in one of the other categories and who is asked to take on specific duties additional to her/his normal responsibilities may be given an overload appointment with additional remuneration. An overload appointment is for a definite term, and requires approval of the Chair of the individual's home department.

Cross and Joint Appointments

The terms 'cross' and 'joint' applied to appointments denote administrative arrangements, not different appointment categories. A faculty member with a joint appointment has responsibilities in two or more academic units to such an extent that these units share salary and other expenses. A cross appointment does not involve cost sharing, but does identify a faculty member who is formally associated with the work of more than one academic unit.

Administrative Appointments

Faculty may hold administrative appointments as department Chairs, Deans, Vice-Presidents and so on. These appointments are covered by separate policies, and are not categories of faculty appointment under this policy.

Honorary Titles

The titles Professor Emeritus/a and Distinguished Professor Emeritus/a are honorary designations, and do not indicate categories of faculty appointment under this policy.


A. Definite-Term Appointments

A definite-term appointment is an appointment for a contractually limited period of time. Although reappointment is not precluded, a faculty member on a definite-term appointment is not entitled to consideration for reappointment upon the expiration of the term.

A definite-term appointment is for any period up to five years. There is no limit on the number of definite-term appointments for Lecturers or for faculty members who are not on regular appointments. Normally, for those with regular appointments in the professorial ranks, no further definite-term appointments can be made beyond the fifth year; however, they may be considered for probationary-term appointments.

A faculty member with a definite-term appointment of one year or more shall be notified by the Dean no less than six months before the end of the contract with regard to reappointment. Faculty members with definite-term appointments of less than one year may request, in writing, notification concerning reappointment on or after the mid-point of their contracts, and the Dean shall respond within one week.

For regular faculty members, a recommendation to terminate a definite-term appointment before the contractual completion date is handled in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University of Waterloo. For non-regular faculty members, a termination before the contractual completion date is handled in accordance with the Employment Standards Act of Ontario.

B. Probationary-Term Appointments

A probationary-term appointment is a regular faculty appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor for a contractually limited period of time. A faculty member holding a first probationary-term appointment is entitled to formal consideration for reappointment to a second probationary term. A faculty member holding a second probationary-term appointment is entitled to formal consideration for tenure; see Policy 77. Faculty members with probationary-term appointments are not eligible for promotion prior to the granting of tenure.

A first probationary-term appointment shall have an end-date of June 30th, and its duration shall be at least two years and ten months, but less than three years and ten months. A second probationary-term appointment shall be for three years. If an appointment is at fractional-load, the duration of each probationary-term appointment may be extended by one year. Pregnancy, adoption or parental leaves reduce the time available to prepare for tenure consideration. Therefore, the probationary period and the time to tenure decision will be extended by one year on request to the Dean. The maximum extension is one year for each such leave during the probationary period.

An extended period of illness that prevents the fulfillment of duties can reduce the time available to prepare for tenure consideration. A period longer than 180 days may result in a Long Term Disability leave, in which case an extension to the probationary term and the time to tenure decision shall be made. A continuous period of debilitating illness which prevents the fulfillment of duties, but does not result in Long Term Disability, may also be eligible for an extension to the tenure clock upon application to the Dean. Normally such extensions will be for one year; renewable depending on the severity and continuation of the illness as determined by the University Physician. The applicant shall provide relevant medical information to the University Physician, who will provide detailed written advice to the Dean. The University has the right to request a second medical opinion, at the University's expense. Any medical information provided shall be kept in a separate confidential file, accessible only by the University Physician. If the Dean denies the request, he/she shall provide written reasons to the applicant, who may appeal the decision to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost. The decision of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost is final.

Consideration for reappointment to a second probationary term shall occur during the final year of the first probationary-term appointment; see below. If reappointment is not approved, the candidate's appointment shall be extended as necessary to provide twelve months' notice from the date he/she is informed of the Dean's negative decision.

Termination of a probationary-term appointment prior to the contractual end-date constitutes dismissal and is subject to the terms set out in the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University of Waterloo.

Probationary-term Reappointment

The Chair shall give the candidate written notification of consideration for reappointment at least 13 months before the end-date of the first probationary term. The candidate shall meet with the Chair to discuss the process to be followed and the materials to be submitted. Except in unusual circumstances, external reference letters are not required for reappointment; however, if the candidate and/or the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee (DTPC) decide that external referees should be contacted, the procedures in Section 6. of Policy 77 shall apply. The Department (DTPC), Faculty (FTPC) and University Tenure and Promotion Advisory (UTPAC) Committees are described in Section 5. of Policy 77.

For reappointment, the candidate is expected to present a record as a good teacher and evidence of scholarly or creative work as described in sections 2. and 3. of Policy 77. The DTPC shall assess whether the candidate is making satisfactory progress towards tenure, recognizing that at this stage it may be necessary to make judgments in some areas based on potential. The DTPC Chair shall forward the DTPC recommendation to the Dean and shall inform the candidate in writing, including reasons if the recommendation is negative.

Upon receipt of the DTPC recommendation, the Dean shall decide whether to reappoint, and shall inform the candidate in writing, including reasons if the decision is negative.

The candidate may appeal a negative decision in writing to the FTPC within ten working days of being notified. For purposes of the appeal, the FTPC shall be chaired by its non-voting UTPAC member; the Dean and the DTPC Chair shall be available to present evidence and to answer questions, but shall not otherwise participate in the proceedings. The candidate may choose to appear before the FTPC and may choose to be accompanied by a UW academic colleague. The FTPC shall decide whether to reappoint and shall inform the candidate and the Dean in writing, including reasons if the decision is negative. The FTPC shall conduct its proceedings in accordance with the principles of natural justice and its decision shall be final and binding, except that an alleged failure of the FTPC to comply with the above procedures may be grieved under the grievance and arbitration provisions of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University.

The Dean and/or Chair shall write to candidates who are to be reappointed to summarize any concerns that may have been identified, and to provide advice on preparing for future tenure consideration.

C. Tenured Appointments

Tenure is a form of continuing appointment granted only to regular faculty members, full or fractional load, in the professorial ranks. For clinical faculty, the term “clinical tenure” is sometimes used, for instance in advertising open positions. This alternative terminology does not reflect any difference in the status of the appointment; it is in place because it is sometimes useful to indicate that suitable candidates for the position can have scholarly activities that differ from those typical of non-clinical faculty. In particular, they may focus on activities described in Policy 76, sec. 2 as “new applications of knowledge to the problems of society.” Assistant Professors who are granted tenure on or after January 1, 2002 will automatically be appointed at the rank of Associate Professor.

Normally, faculty members are considered for tenure during their fifth or sixth year of probationary appointment at the University of Waterloo. The criteria and procedures for the granting of tenure are set out in Policy 77.

An initial appointment with tenure is unusual and can be made only at the rank of Professor or Associate Professor. An appointment with tenure must be recommended by the FTPC, and requires approval by the Dean, the VPA&P and the Board of Governors.

A tenured appointment can be terminated prior to retirement only for adequate cause or for reasons of financial exigency. Dismissal of a tenured faculty member is handled in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University of Waterloo.

D. Continuing Lecturer Appointments

A Continuing Lecturer position is an ongoing faculty position at the rank of Lecturer. Duties are primarily in teaching and service, and are assigned in all three terms, though lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term. Faculty members with Continuing Lecturer appointments are not eligible for tenure or promotion consideration or for sabbatical leave. These positions are understood to be unusual and offered only in special circumstances.

The recommendation to appoint a Continuing Lecturer originates with the Chair and Dean, and must be approved by the VPA&P. The candidate shall have a record of strong teaching and service at UW, and normally shall have served for at least three years in definite-term appointments. The Chair and Dean, in consultation with the DTPC and FTPC, shall determine whether the candidate is suitable for a Continuing Lecturer position. The Dean shall forward the recommendation and all supporting documentation to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, whose decision shall be final and binding.

Dismissal of a Continuing Lecturer is handled in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University of Waterloo.


Full-time faculty appointments are 12-month appointments which carry an obligation for some combination of teaching, scholarship and University service throughout the full year, excepting annual paid vacation.

Part-time appointments may be made in any of the non-regular faculty appointment categories (Section 2.B). A part-time appointment carries a lower time commitment than does a full-time appointment, and may also have a more limited range of duties and responsibilities, as specified in the letter of appointment.

A fractional-load appointment is a regular faculty appointment that carries the same distribution of duties in teaching, scholarship and service as does a regular full-time appointment, but the total commitment of time to the University is not as great. Fractional-load appointments can be made at any fraction of total load (normally at least 50%) that corresponds to a practical assignment of University duties. A faculty member who holds a probationary-term appointment on a fractional-load basis is entitled to formal consideration for reappointment or tenure at the same fractional load.

Regular faculty members may apply to change their appointments from full-time to fractional-load (or vice versa). Such changes require the written mutual agreement of the faculty member and department Chair, and must be formally approved by the Faculty Dean and the Vice-President, Academic & Provost.

Temporary Reduction in Workload

Faculty members who desire a temporary reduction in workload should apply for a partial leave of absence; see Policy 3.

A reduced load to retirement is a special fractional-load appointment with respect to participation in UW pension and benefit plans; see Policy 59.


This section describes the procedures to be followed in hiring probationary and tenured faculty members, as well as those regular faculty members on definite-term appointments of at least three years duration.

Academic excellence, the cornerstone of UW's mission, is achieved by the commitment of the University community to the highest quality teaching, scholarship and services that support the academic enterprise. That commitment underlies admission and examination standards, hiring and promotion decisions, criteria for performance evaluation and academic goals.

Consistent with the mission of achieving academic excellence, UW is committed to recruit the best faculty possible, within the context of its budgetary considerations and academic programs, as well as priorities such as faculty renewal and employment equity. Faculty recruitment will be carried out through the application of the highest standards and best practices. Recruitment of faculty of the highest quality is a very competitive process and as such requires prompt actions on the part of all involved with the recruitment process. The VPA&P, Faculty Deans and Department Chairs will take appropriate administrative measures to realize this goal.

The need for a new or replacement appointment is identified by a Department Chair in consultation with the department. Authorization to advertise a position must be obtained from the Dean and the Vice-President, Academic & Provost to ensure that the appointment is consistent with Faculty/University priorities and budgetary considerations. Care should be taken that the position is not defined so narrowly as to limit unreasonably the pool of qualified candidates.

Procedures are to be adopted to ensure that an adequate list of possible candidates of the highest quality is obtained though proactive national and international searches and that selection from this list has been effectively carried out. The search process will continue until an adequate list of possible candidates of the highest quality is obtained.

Positions are advertised in University Affairs and/or the CAUT Bulletin, and normally in relevant professional journals and e-lists. Also, the Chair shall send advertisements to appropriate contact persons at other Canadian universities. Advertisements should specify the desired areas of specialization, the anticipated rank and starting date, the deadline for applications, and immigration requirements. They must include UW's employment equity statement. It is recognized that in a highly competitive environment, advertisement is a necessary tool for recruitment but is not a substitute for other forms of proactive recruitment such as identifying potential candidates through professional colleagues.

In addition, the Chair and other department members should strive to identify qualified candidates and encourage them to apply. This is particularly important when one gender is seriously underrepresented in the department. In some cases, it may be necessary to exercise flexibility with respect to starting date and/or non-traditional career paths.

A. Department / School Advisory Committee on Appointments (D​ACA)

For each regular faculty appointment of duration two years or more, a search committee (DACA or equivalent for inter-departmental and joint appointments) shall be established. The DACA is normally chaired by the Department Chair or equivalent, and normally consists of from three to five tenured faculty members chosen in a manner acceptable to the department(s) or equivalent. In the case of smaller units where there may not be a sufficient number of tenured faculty members or when a particular disciplinary expertise is needed, senior probationary-term faculty members may be chosen to serve on the DACA.

It is highly desirable for the DACA to include both women and men. Where this is not possible, a department, in consultation with the Dean, should consider inviting a faculty member from a related discipline to join the DACA.

The DACA shall participate in short-listing and interviewing candidates for the position, and shall provide advice to the department Chair concerning the selection procedure and suitability of the various candidates. In determining suitability, the DACA shall take into account UW's commitment to the highest quality teaching, scholarship and services which support the academic enterprise. Selected candidates must have demonstrated records or at least the potential to meet the above standards. The DACA will determine appropriate processes to evaluate candidate suitability based on these measures. These measures should include a research seminar, and some form of teaching evaluation. If there is significant disagreement between the advice of the DACA and the Chair's recommendation, it shall be noted, and become part of the record.

Candidates should be asked only questions relating to bona fide position or occupational requirements. Enquiries as to an applicant's birthplace, ancestry, marital status, family status, age, sex, religion, record of offenses or handicap are contrary to Human Rights legislation and could form the basis for a discrimination claim.

B. Role of the​ Department Chair 

The Department Chair plays a critical role in the hiring process. It is the Chair's responsibility to ensure that candidates being interviewed and the selected candidate meet UW's expectation of the highest quality teaching, scholarship and services which support the academic enterprise. In addition, it is the Chair's responsibility to provide each candidate interviewed with information about salary levels, teaching loads, performance expectations, procedures for reappointment and/or the granting of tenure, and other terms and conditions of employment.

The Chair is expected to consult widely and generally to involve other department members in the hiring process (e.g., by making CVs of short-listed candidates available). Before making a hiring recommendation, the Chair must review with the Faculty Dean the list of candidates considered, ranked according to desirability for the position and department needs. If a man and a woman are judged to be equally suitable for the position, preference will be given to the underrepresented gender.

C. University​ Appointments Review Committee (UARC)

This Committee, appointed by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost in consultation with Deans' Council and the President of the Faculty Association, shall advise on regular faculty appointments of duration more than two years. UARC shall consist of one or more members from each Faculty, and shall include at least two women and two men. The term of office is three years, staggered to provide continuity. The Chair of UARC is chosen from among its members by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost.

UARC shall review the hiring process and provide advice to the Dean before a hiring recommendation is sent to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost for approval. The Chair (through the Dean) shall provide UARC with a brief summary of the recruiting process including efforts to solicit candidates from the underrepresented gender. Documentation (such as CVsletters of reference) will be provided for the top three candidates. If all three are of the same gender, documentation will also be provided for the top candidate of the opposite gender.

Special arrangements may be required to permit continuous recruitment for multiple vacancies when the hiring environment is highly competitive. The department Chair and Faculty Dean shall seek the advice of the UARC Chair on the proposed recruitment strategy, and shall obtain the written approval of the VPA&P.

Because faculty hiring is often highly competitive, UARC will respond expeditiously, usually within a week of receiving documentation. Normally, the UARC Chair will review cases in consultation with the UARC member from the relevant Faculty, and will act on behalf of the Committee. The UARC Chair should meet with the Committee, or a subset of it, if there appear to be problems with the hiring process.

In exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, the UARC review process may be bypassed. When this occurs, the Dean shall provide reasons in writing to the UARC Chair for information.

More generally, UARC monitors the hiring process to ensure that positions were properly advertised, that both the letter and the spirit of the hiring procedure were followed and that there was a thorough search for candidates, especially candidates of the underrepresented gender. It provides advice to Chairs, Deans and the VPA&P with respect to faculty hiring, and reports to Senate annually, via the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, on its activities and operation.

D. Exceptional ​Candidates

The opportunity to recruit uniquely qualified, internationally recognized scholars may necessitate prompt hiring decisions to attract such individuals to become UW faculty members. In such cases, with the recommendation of the DACA(s) involved in the proposed hiring and in consultation with the VPA&P, the Dean(s) may waive normal hiring requirements. The following process will then ensue. After a departmental presentation by the candidate and upon a positive recommendation from the DACA(s) with the approval of the Dean(s) and Vice-President, Academic & Provost, the candidate may be offered a position. The Vice-President, Academic & Provost will provide an annual statistical report on such cases to Senate, with special attention to equity.


In accordance with its academic mission, UW is committed to the principle of recruiting the best available faculty in its pursuit of excellence. Increasingly, recruiting involves couples who are both academics. In such cases, it is desirable for UW to benefit from the combined excellence of both the recruit and the recruit's spouse. Spousal appointments are intended as positions from which the spouse may find a more permanent position.

Spousal appointments are governed by the following criteria:

  • The spousal appointee should be of such calibre that were a vacancy to arise in the spousal's hire area in the department/school, he/she would be a credible candidate for that position.
  • The spousal appointment normally is a Definite-Term Appointment [see Section 3], and normally is for a term of up to three years.
  • The sponsoring unit must provide justification in support of the sponsoring unit recruit. The host unit through its appointments committee must also make a strong case in support of the spousal recruit.
  • Due to the special nature of the spousal appointment, there is no requirement for advertising and competition, but all other requirements set out in section 5 must be met.
  • UARC will review the two hire files concurrently.
  • Department/School and Faculty approval processes (apart from advertising and competition for the spousal appointment) must be satisfied.