Policy on faculty positions

In order to facilitate an orderly implementation of new strategic directions for the college, effective July 1, 2006, all regular tenured and tenure-track faculty positions that become open for any reason will be returned to the Dean’s Office. Positions that become open as a result of phased retirement agreements in effect prior to July 1, 2006 are exempt from this policy.

When a faculty member leaves a department for any reason the department head must make a formal request to the dean for permission to refill the position in accordance with the department’s strategic hiring plan. In some cases (see below) the request process is pro forma and approval will be granted automatically, but in the ordinary course of events the department must provide a rationale to have the position returned based on its teaching and research needs. In general, new positions are expected to be filled at the assistant or associate professor level, but exceptions to this will be considered on a case by case basis.

Approval to conduct a search for a faculty position is not subject to a specific time limit, but a reevaluation of the position parameters is needed to continue a search that is not successfully completed within three years (see below). It must be realized, however, that all college commitments for faculty positions are subject to change depending on prevailing fiscal conditions.

Unexpected hiring opportunities occasionally arise during the year (for example, a potential spousal hire or a chance to add diversity to the college). In such cases a “person-specific” request may be made to extend an offer to a particular individual. If that person declines the offer the authorization to fill the position expires.

Strategic hiring plans

Beginning in 2006–07, each department is required to have a strategic hiring plan on file in the dean’s office. These plans must be updated by September 1 of each new academic year.

A department’s hiring plan should cover a five-year period and give an indication of emerging trends within the discipline, associated research opportunities, student demand, and anticipated changes in faculty strength over the period in question. It is recognized that departments have discipline-specific needs that are important to secure the distinction or ranking of their academic programs. To the extent possible, however, a department’s hiring plan should describe how its strategic priorities relate to those of the college and the university.

In the case of a multi-area, “open” search (see below), a department is in effect requesting approval to fill a vacant position in one of two or more different high-priority specialty areas, depending on the strength of the applicant pool. A position request for such a search should specify the anticipated setup and space needs for each area in which a hire could potentially be made.

A department’s hiring plan should also report on the status of any searches carried over from the previous year, with a brief explanation to suggest why a search was not successfully completed. After three years, the department is required to provide a justification for why the search should be continued, particularly if no changes to the position description are envisaged.

Position requests

A request to conduct a search for a new faculty position must be made in accordance with the department’s strategic hiring plan and must address the following items:

Teaching and enrollment demands

Every faculty member is expected to contribute to a department’s teaching mission. A position request must accordingly describe the teaching contributions that can be expected from the proposed new hire, including the individual’s expected role in helping the department respond to its student enrollment demands.

Research specialization

A department’s hiring plan should describe in general terms the expected future directions for the discipline, and a position request should be consistent with these directions. A position request should also describe any potential collaborative linkages between the proposed new hire and faculty in other departments in the college or the university.

Financial requirements

Each position request must include an estimate of the starting salary as well as an indication of the expected setup requirements. If the position will be partially supported by the income from an endowment or some other source of departmental funds, this circumstance should be noted, together with the amounts available.


The location of office and laboratory space for the new faculty member and his or her graduate students must be identified. If any renovation of this space is anticipated details must be provided, including the estimated cost of the renovation and a financing plan.


The College of Science and Engineering is committed to the University of Minnesota’s policy of equal opportunity hiring, and it is therefore important to know something about the availability of women and underrepresented minority candidates for open faculty positions. A position request should provide an indication of the expected composition of the applicant pool, based on demographics for the field.

Multi-area searches encouraged

Where possible and when consistent with their general hiring plans, departments are encouraged to consider “open” searches, i.e. searches in which applications are sought from candidates in multiple areas of the discipline. Experience shows that such searches are more likely to yield strong pools of women and underrepresented minority candidates than are searches in a single specialty area.

Special cases

Automatic approval will be granted for a request to fill an open faculty position created as the result of a negative departmental tenure recommendation that is subsequently upheld by the university. Automatic approval will also be granted to fill an open position created if a department decides not to renew the appointment of a probationary faculty member before the end of the faculty member’s probationary period.

If a department recommends granting tenure to a probationary faculty member but the eventual outcome is to terminate the appointment, the position will be treated as an “ordinary” vacant position, i.e. it will be returned to the dean’s office.

Approval of applicant pool

Before interviews are scheduled for the finalists for a faculty position, approval of the applicant pool must be secured from the dean’s office. For this purpose, departments should submit data about the diversity of the pool of applicants for the position compared with the expected pool composition based on demographics for the field.


Approved: April 2007