School of Nursing: Standard On Faculty Appointment, Promotion, And Tenure

Unit Standard


School of Nursing: Standard On Faculty Appointment, Promotion, And Tenure



To describe the guidelines for appointment, promotion, and tenure (APT) in the School of Nursing (SON) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University").


This document provides guidelines and serves to clarify the requirements for tenure-track faculty appointments, reappointments, promotions, and tenure at the UNC-Chapel Hill SON.

Faculty appointments, reappointments, and promotions at the SON are carried out in accordance with UNC-Chapel Hill policies and regulations. These actions are governed by:

  1. The Code of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina and the UNC System Office Policy Manual;
  2. The UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Code of University Government;
  3. Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure in the UNC-Chapel Hill; and
  4. UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Policies and Procedures.

Tenure-track faculty members are reviewed by the SON APT Committee.

Although all faculty members are responsible for their own career successes, the SON has in place a plan - the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing Faculty Mentorship Plan - by which each tenure-track faculty member will be mentored toward academic advancement and continued scholarly achievement.


Section 1. Guidelines for Tenure-Track Appointments

I. Definitions

  • Appointment refers to the original designation of rank.
  • Promotion refers to advancement to the next higher rank.
  • Tenure-track appointments are those appointments leading to tenure, either by original appointment, reappointment, or promotion. Tenure-track ranks are (a) Professor, (b) Associate Professor, (c) Assistant Professor, and (d) Instructor.

II. Descriptions of Appointment at Each Rank

A. Tenure-Track Appointments
  1. Professor: Promotion to or initial appointment at the rank of Professor confers permanent tenure from the effective date of the promotion or appointment.
  2. Associate Professor: Initial appointment at the rank of associate professor is for a probationary term of five years. Under special circumstances, an initial appointment to associate professor with permanent tenure may be made. Promotion to the rank of associate professor or reappointment as an associate professor confers permanent tenure.
  3. Initial Appointments as a Newly Hired Associate Professor:
    The typical trajectory for a newly hired associate professor is an initial probationary appointment to the rank of untenured associate professor for a term of five years. The probationary period provides an opportunity to evaluate the newly hired faculty member’s professional competence; fit for the department or unit; and ability and commitment to effective teaching, research, and service. The associate professor is usually reviewed for reappointment with tenure prior to the end of the fourth year of the five-year probationary appointment.

    The Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill allows for early consideration for reappointment with tenure provided that the probationary faculty member has been in active employment for at least 18 months.

    New hires at the rank of associate professor will generally fall into one of three categories:
    1. Applicant is untenured in current position. For these candidates the review process for tenure will not be initiated prior to the 18-month point in the probationary appointment.
    2. Applicant is tenured in current position at a peer university. In these cases, the University generally awards tenure with the new appointment if there is compelling evidence that the individual meets the University’s expectations in terms of research, teaching, and service.
    3. Applicant is tenured in current position at a non-peer university. These appointments are to be made judiciously. For these candidates the review process for tenure will not be initiated prior to the 18-month point in the probationary appointment.
  4. Assistant Professor: Appointment to the rank of assistant professor, or promotion to the rank of assistant professor from the rank of instructor, is for a probationary term of four years. Reappointment is for a term of three years. A second reappointment at this rank confers tenure. Reappointment at the rank of assistant professor following expiration of the second probationary term should be made only in clearly exceptional circumstances.
  5. Instructor: This rank is appropriate for an individual appointed to the faculty with the reasonable expectation that in the normal course of events the individual will progress to the professorial ranks in this or another institution. Initial appointment is for a probationary term of one year; three additional one-year terms, for a total of four terms, are allowed without promotion.
B. Visiting Appointments

This appointment is appropriate for individuals of faculty rank who are waiting for their permanent faculty appointment to be reviewed by the SON APT Committee, and the University Health Sciences Advisory and APT Committees.

C. Joint Appointments

Joint appointments are a primary mechanism of promoting interdisciplinary scholarship. These appointments must have a single department designated as its base department and the base department is responsible for processing all personnel actions.

  1. Joint appointments can be made between:
    1. two academic departments with promotion and tenure decisions requiring votes in the two departments;
    2. an academic department and a curriculum, institute, or center that does not have faculty lines with promotion and tenure decisions requiring a vote only in the home department; and
    3. an academic department and a curriculum, institute or center that has faculty lines with promotion and tenure decisions requiring votes in both units.
  2. There are two types of joint appointments, including:
    1. mutual-hiring joint appointment made at the hiring stage, typically in response to the availability of special funding for that purpose; and
    2. sequential joint appointment made at the request of a faculty member already holding an academic appointment.

    Mutual-hiring joint appointments typically involve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the appointing units that specifies the expectations for teaching and service, the salary split between departments, and the method for constituting review committees at the time of consideration for tenure and for promotion.

    Sequential joint appointments require completion of a “Recommendation of Joint Appointment” form signed by the heads of each appointing unit that accompanies other paperwork provided to the Office of the Provost.
  3. Academic units involved in joint appointments should develop an MOU, a copy of which is provided to the faculty member and filed in the Provost’s Office, which includes expectations for:
    1. teaching and service in each unit and how these needs will be met if the jointly appointed faculty member is no longer able or willing to meet them in one of the units;
    2. the salary split between units;
    3. procedures for making recommendations in salary adjustments;
    4. provision of space;
    5. provision of administrative support;
    6. administration of grants and contracts;
    7. split of Facilities & Administration (F&A) funds and patent/royalty income;
    8. description of the process that will be followed in promotion and tenure proceedings;
    9. if one unit is the primary tenure home, specification of the role of the joint unit in the evaluation process; and
    10. description of procedure to be followed if the joint appointment is dissolved at the end of its term, either because of denial of tenure in one unit or request of the head of one unit or faculty member.
  4. Grounds for dissolving a faculty member’s joint appointment in a particular unit should be articulated (e.g., because that faculty member no longer contributes to the unit). Procedures to initiate the dissolution are articulated at the level of the Provost.
  5. Specific procedures established at the level of the Provost are established for situations in which one unit denies tenure and/or promotion and the second unit approves (or would approve if it could). For example, if the joint appointment is between units that both hold faculty lines, the joint appointment could be dissolved, leaving the candidate with promotion and tenure in the unit that made the affirmative decision.

III. Failure to Give Timely Notice of Non-Reappointment

If a decision not to reappoint is made but not communicated to probationary tenure-track faculty member in a timely manner, a one-year terminal appointment commencing on the date of expiration of the current term of appointment must be offered in writing. This offer serves as timely notice of non-reappointment upon expiration of the terminal-year appointment.

IV. Standards for Appointments and Promotions

A. Criteria for appointment and promotion by rank

The three major criteria against which appointments and promotions are judged are competence in research, teaching, and service. Service includes practice; service to the SON, state, nation, international community, and profession; engaged scholarship; and activities. Persons appointed to the tenure-track ranks are expected to demonstrate satisfactory competence in two of these domains and outstanding competence in at least one of these domains. Movement from local to national and international recognition for scholarship is expected as the faculty candidate moves up the ranks. Competence is expected to increase as rank increases.

SON faculty are evaluated through assessment of their performance, evidence of the impact/significance of their work, and evidence that their work is being recognized by others. These are defined as follows:

  • Performance: The scholarly, teaching, and service activities in which the faculty member has been engaged. Performance is what the faculty member has done.
  • Impact or Significance: The importance and influence of the faculty member’s work in shaping nursing research, education, and practice. Impact and significance also can be reflected in the faculty member’s influence on the work of others.
  • Recognition: Evidence that peers and students as well as professional and community leaders hold the faculty member’s accomplishments in high regard.

Tenure: Tenure is not just earned; rather it is bestowed by the University following an assessment of institutional needs and resources and evidence of service to the academic community, potential for future contribution, commitment to the welfare of the University, and demonstrated professional competence, including consideration of commitment to effective research, teaching, or service. Tenure may be withheld on grounds permissible in the Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration and Team Science: The SON faculty values and is therefore committed to encouraging and optimizing opportunities for collaboration within and across disciplinary lines in research, teaching, and service. The SON considers team science to be defined as: “a collaborative, cross-disciplinary, effort to address a scientific challenge or question that leverages the strengths and expertise of professionals trained in different fields” (Bennett, Gadlin, & Levine-Finley, 2010, p.1).

It is often through interdisciplinary and sometimes transdisciplinary team science that creative solutions and new knowledge emerge for many of the complex health problems with which the discipline of nursing is concerned. Therefore, faculty are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary research, teaching, and service.

For interdisciplinary team science activities that involve collaborations, evaluation of interdisciplinary contributions in the areas of research, teaching, and service must clearly document:

  1. the candidate's specific contribution to joint scholarly products (including multi-authored publications and media), and
  2. as relevant, and when available, the percent effort expended on the product (e.g. funded grants).

Faculty who submit team science products as a substantial portion of their scholarship dossier should include independent evidence and evaluation of performance, impact, and recognition in the form of an additional letter(s) describing these contributions. It is a faculty member’s contribution and the scope and significance of the activity or scholarly product that will be evaluated for promotion and tenure.

B. Rank-Specific Criteria

Instructor: The University does not hire into the rank of instructor on the tenure track, except in very specific circumstances. This rank will not be included further in this document.

Assistant Professor: Initial appointments to the rank of Assistant Professor should be made only to persons who hold the doctoral degree in the discipline or in a related discipline. Seven years is the usual time to serve as Assistant Professor, with interim review in the third year (also called the midterm review) and review for tenure and promotion in the sixth year. Candidates for early tenure and promotion must show exceptionally strong documentation of achievements. Equivalent previous academic service may be considered as time in rank.

Associate Professor: Persons proposed for promotion to associate professor with tenure or newly recommended for appointment as associate professor with tenure must show evidence of satisfactory competence in two domains and outstanding competence in at least one domain (research, teaching, service).

Professor: Appointment or promotion to the highest rank should be reserved only for those with a clear record of sustained achievement in all three areas (research, teaching, and service); evidence of national and international recognition in their fields of scholarship; and promise for sustained future accomplishment. Achievements in one designated area must be outstanding. Five years is the average length of time between appointment to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure and promotion to Professor.

V. Criteria for Appointments and Promotions

A detailed table is attached to this policy that outlines criteria by rank for research, teaching and service.


I. Affirmative Action

All appointments and promotions must comply with appropriate affirmative action and equal employment opportunity rules and regulations. The details of this procedure are published (the UNC-Chapel Hill Policy Statement on Non-Discrimination and the UNC-Chapel Hill Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct), but may be stated briefly as a commitment by the University to equality of opportunity and a pledge that it will not practice or permit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, genetic information, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

II. Composition and Selection of the Appointments, Promotion and Tenure Committee

The SON APT Committee is composed of all tenured full professors in the SON, four tenured associate professors elected by the faculty to serve for three-year terms, and any division head at the rank of tenured associate professor. The SON APT Committee reviews all tenure-track faculty candidates for appointment, reappointment, promotion, and tenure and makes recommendations to the SON dean. The DON APT Committee develops criteria and processes for these reviews that are then reviewed and voted on by the faculty.

III. Deadlines

Appropriate paperwork, complete in every detail, should be initiated in time to reach the SON HR manager’s office in accordance with the review schedule. This schedule will be released from the SON HR manager’s office in September of each academic year.

IV. Processing Steps

  1. SON APT
  2. SON Dean
  3. UNC-Chapel Hill Health Sciences Advisory Committee
  4. UNC-Chapel Hill APT Subcommittee (Provost's Office)
  5. UNC-Chapel Hill APT Committee
  6. UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees

V. Frequency of Evaluation

Evaluations will be scheduled according to the length of the faculty member's appointment as follows:

  1. Instructors: annually
  2. Assistant Professor without tenure: in the third year of the first probationary term and second year of the second probationary term.
  3. Associate Professor without tenure: no later than the fourth year of the probationary term.
  4. Associate and Full Professors with tenure: post-tenure review no less than every five years. (See the SON Policy on Post-Tenure Review.)

No recommendations for promotion or reappointment conferring permanent tenure may be initiated until the faculty has been employed by the University for at least 18 months.

VI. Grievance & Appeal

In the event of a negative recommendation for reappointment, tenure, and/or promotion, faculty may request a meeting with the Dean to discuss her/his recommendation within fourteen (14) days after receiving written notice of non-reappointment.

If faculty are not satisfied, they may then proceed as provided by:

  1. Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
  2. UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Code of University Government; and
  3. Procedures for the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Grievance and Hearings Committee.

VII. Personnel Files

  1. Access: Faculty members may review their personnel files by making a formal request through the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of University Counsel. Access to personnel files is limited to division heads, the Office of the Dean, and Administrative Services personnel.
  2. Annual Updating: Faculty members are responsible for maintaining their own current and accurate curriculum vitae and to submit them annually to their division head's office.
  3. APT dossiers: Full professors will have access to all review folders of faculty up for review uploaded to a secure drive. Associate professors who are elected members of the SON APT Committee will have access to folders uploaded to the secure drive to be considered in SON APT Committee meetings except those of faculty applying for tenured full professor and of tenured associate professors and full professors undergoing post-tenure review. Materials (all materials except scholarly products and teaching evaluations) assembled for the APT dossier will be included in the personnel file or returned to the faculty member as appropriate (i.e., scholarly products and teaching evaluations).



Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

Unit Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Primary Contact

Mary H. Palmer, APT committee chair

Mary R. Lynn, APT chair-elect

Other Contacts


Important Dates

  • Revised 3/2020
  • Revised: 11/2013
  • Revised: by University Counsel 5/2013
  • Revised: 5/2011
  • Revised: 9/8/2008
  • Revised: 9/2005
  • Revised: 11/2004
  • Revised: 8/2003
  • Revised: 1/2002
  • Revised: 10/2001
  • Revised: 12/1995
  • Revised: 10/1992
  • Revised: 3/1987
  • Revised: 5/1986
  • Revised: 9/28/1983
  • Revised: 4/26/1982
  • Revised: 5/11/1979
  • Revised: 3/19/1979
  • Effective Date and title of Approver: 1977

Approved by:

Mary H. Palmer

APT committee chair

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Article ID: 132410
Thu 4/8/21 9:30 PM
Tue 10/31/23 1:20 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
School of Nursing
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
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Umphlet Distinguished Professor
Next Review
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08/05/2023 12:00 AM
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08/05/2020 4:06 PM
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08/05/2020 4:06 PM
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08/05/2020 4:06 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
01/01/1977 12:00 AM