Professional-track faculty (aka non-tenure track faculty) perform a crucial role in delivering the educational mission of the College of Fine Arts. While the primary duty of professional-track faculty is instruction, many of these faculty also contribute significantly to departmental and university service, governance, administration, research/scholarship/creative work, mentoring, and other professional activities.
The institutional policy that governs the use of faculty job titles is Regents Rule 31001. The University of Texas at Austin has delegated authority to each college to define how it uses each professional-track faculty title series as long as that use complies with Regents Rule 31001.
In the College of Fine Arts, only four professional-track faculty title series are used. See this chart for an overview.
The Practice Series and the Instruction Series are only used for faculty members who are non-tenure track and who have reasonable expectation of continued employment year-after-year (regardless of contract term length), are usually expected to contribute service like a tenure-track/tenured faculty member, are included in departmental governance and service, and are generally considered members of the regular faculty of their department or school. They are usually fulltime (100% time). They are usually not expected to contribute in the category of research/creative activity.
Assistant, Associate or Full Professor of Instruction: The Instruction series is used in the College of Fine Arts as a career ladder for professional-track faculty members who are primarily focused on teaching in a seminar or lecture setting. It is generally expected that individuals in the Instruction series will have the terminal degree in their discipline.
Assistant, Associate or Full Professor of Practice: The Practice series is used in the College of Fine Arts as a career ladder for professional-track faculty members who are primarily focused on teaching in a studio or laboratory setting. It is generally desired that individuals in the Practice series will have the terminal degree in their discipline, but this title series also accommodates those who do not have a terminal degree but do have substantial professional experience in their discipline.
Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, or Distinguished Senior Lecturer: The Lecturer series is used in the College of Fine Arts to appoint part-time, temporary, adjunct/contingent faculty members, for example to fill in for a temporary vacancy caused by a research leave or retirement. They are usually only expected to contribute in the category of teaching. Special note: a small number of career faculty members in the College of Fine Arts chose to retain the job title Senior Lecturer or Distinguished Senior Lecturer rather than convert to the Practice Series or Instruction Series.
Visiting Assistant Professor, Visiting Associate Professor, or Visiting Professor: The Visiting series is used in the College of Fine Arts only when hiring a tenure-track/tenured faculty member at another university, or the equivalent in the profession, for a temporary visiting appointment, not to exceed two years.
Expectations of Employment
The job duties for professional-track faculty are assigned by the department chair/school director, or their delegate, and should be documented in the appointment letter. Typical minimum expectations are:
Practice and Instruction Series faculty members are expected to teach three organized courses per semester or the equivalent and contribute in the category of service. They are also expected to remain current or refreshed in the specific discipline they were hired to teach. In some cases, they are expected to contribute in the category of mentoring. They are not expected to contribute in the category of research/creative activity.
Lecturers appointed at fulltime (100%) are expected to teach four organized courses per semester, or the equivalent. (This means that a lecturer teaching only one organized course is appointed at 25% time.) If they are expected to contribute in areas other than teaching, that must be documented in the appointment letter.
As explained in the college’s workload policy, exceptions to these expectations of employment are at the discretion of the department chair/school director, with oversight of the dean, and should be documented in the professional-track faculty member’s appointment letter.
Hiring, Renewal, and Non-renewal Procedure
The department or school director must use a faculty search committee process, or a posting waiver, to hire any Practice series or Instruction series faculty member. Temporary/contingent faculty (i.e. Lecturers or Visiting series) can instead be hired from our continuously open job postings.
At the time of initial appointment, professional-track faculty should be provided this college policy and their department chair or delegate should explain the differing expectations for professional-track and tenure-track/tenured faculty, and the specific expectations in the areas of teaching, research, and service for their particular faculty appointment.
Professional-track faculty should be hired and reappointed using the college’s professional-track faculty offer letter template. Teaching commitments as well as expectations of additional contributions to the academic enterprise should be reasonably and clearly articulated in the letter. The more defined these expectations are, the more streamlined the evaluation and promotion processes will be.
Faculty on one-year appointments should receive notification from the Chair/Director of the intent to hire for the subsequent year or notice of non-renewal prior to publication of course schedule for the subsequent fall semester and must receive notice by August 1.
Non-renewal of expiring multi-year contracts should be communicated to the Practice series or Instruction series faculty member by the beginning of the final appointment year, to allow reasonable opportunity for job search. This may require early evaluation of teaching by the department/school.
As stated in Regents Rule 31001, all professional-track faculty appointments of any job title automatically end, without notice, at the conclusion of the contract term length.
Contract Term Length
Multi-year contracts are intended to recognize extended and exemplary service to the instructional mission. They should only be offered to faculty who have demonstrated excellent performance over many years. The decision about whether to offer a multi-year contract is made by the department chair, with review and approval of the dean. As described in the PAR handbook, exceptions require approval of the department chair, dean, and provost’s office.
Multi-year contracts are either fixed term (meaning they end without notice at conclusion of a two-year or three-year period) or rolling term (meaning that each year a new two- or three-year contract is offered to extend the contract end date by one additional year). Expiring faculty contracts can be renewed.
Assistant Professors of Practice/Instruction should be offered one-year contracts that are renewed every year, assuming good performance, funding availability, and instructional need.
Only Associate Professors of Practice/Instruction, and highly productive Assistant Professors of Practice/Instruction who have completed three or more years of excellent service in rank at UT Austin, are eligible for two-year fixed term or two-year rolling term contracts.
Only Professors of Practice/Instruction are eligible for three-year fixed term or three-year rolling term contracts.
Professional-track faculty members who at the time of implementation of this policy have a multi-year contract term that is longer than what is allowed by the above guidelines will be allowed to keep and be renewed at their current multi-year contract term length.
This chart summarizes eligibility for multi-year contracts.
As per HOP 2-2151, all faculty members (professional-track or tenure-track) appointed 50% time or more must be reviewed annually by the executive committee or budget council following the provost’s office guidelines for annual review of faculty. That annual review should be tailored to the specific expectations the department/school has of that particular faculty member, which may cause differing expectations by discipline, rank, job title, percent time of appointment, etc. Job expectations should be made clear to each professional-track faculty member in their appointment letter. The department chair is responsible for making those assigned expectations known to the executive committee or budget council.
Notwithstanding the annual review process, the department chairs/school directors are responsible for the academic quality of their instructional programs and activities and are expected to act whenever necessary to maintain their programs at the highest possible level.
Practice series and Instruction series faculty members should receive regular, substantive, and developmental feedback related to their progress toward promotion through the faculty annual review process.
Faculty Ranks and Promotions
Rank determination at the time of hiring is a consequence of professional and/or teaching experience, awards and honors, and recommendation of the chair and dean. As a benchmark, a professional-track faculty member hired at the rank of Associate Professor of Instruction or Practice is likely to have 10 to 20 years of significant professional experience at a high level. However, it is also common for faculty with long professional careers to be hired at assistant rank. A professional-track faculty member hired at rank of Professor of Practice or Professor of Instruction has only occurred in instances of exceptional qualifications and long, stellar record of accomplishment.
Promotions of Practice series and Instruction series faculty follow the university’s guidelines for promotion of professional-track faculty. Promotions in rank are intended to recognize excellence, impact and distinction in performance, contributions and trajectory in teaching and in additional contributions to the academic enterprise. Promotions are not granted based on longevity. Promotions to the full professor of practice/instruction rank must meet higher standards, workload demands, and expectations than for promotion to associate rank and include expectation of continued excellence and potential for or actual leadership in the primary area of contribution and in the additional contributions to the academic enterprise. College of Fine Arts promotion related policies and resources are found on this website.
The primary area of specialization for all faculty in the Practice series and Instruction series in the College of Fine Arts is Teaching. Any exceptions to this should be documented in the offer letter.
The additional area(s) of contribution to the academic enterprise should align with terms of employment and are identified by the promotion candidate in consultation with the department chair or school director.
Practice series faculty are required to demonstrate currency and continuing engagement with their professional practice or field in their promotion dossier. This does not require Practice series faculty to actively contribute in the category of research/creative activity. This currency could be demonstrated by actively engaging with the national professional organizations and attending conferences in their field; by participating in significant professional development, training opportunities, residencies, or fellowships; by having an active research or professional profile at a sufficient level; or by demonstrating through other means currency in the field. One external reference letter will be included in the promotion dossier to provide arms-length, third-party assessment of the level of this engagement with the practice. Instruction series faculty should take similar steps to remain current in their academic field but are not specifically required to document it in their promotion dossier or include an external evaluator letter that addresses it.
Promotion of professional-track faculty (e.g. Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to Professor) comes with an increase in salary, guaranteed eligibility for longer multi-year contract terms, ability to vote on promotions of other professional-track faculty if serving on the EC/BC, access to apply for additional funding opportunities, and the honorific of being at higher rank. In AY 2021–22, the minimum salary increase amounts were the larger of $2,500 or 5% for promotion to Associate rank and the larger of $3,500 or 7% for promotion to Full Professor rank, but these amounts may change each year.
For Practice series and Instruction series faculty, promotion review is not automatic and is not required. A Practice series or Instruction series faculty member seeking promotion review must request that review by writing to their department chair/school director.
Teaching and Mentoring Graduate Students
Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors of Practice/Instruction as well as Senior Lecturers and Distinguished Senior Lecturers may teach at the graduate level (upon approval of the Graduate School described here), serve on graduate thesis committees, and advise graduate students. As described in HOP 9-1240, to be a member of the Graduate Studies Committees, the Graduate Studies Committee Chair must petition the Graduate School on a case-by-case basis and consider whether committee voting rights are to be granted or not granted. Criteria for a successful petition should include: graduate degree in the corollary field, departmental commitment to a multi-year appointment, length of service to the department.
Principal Investigator Status, Research Support, Course Buy Outs
The Office of the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors determines who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) of a sponsored research grant as documented in the PI Book. As of the writing of this college policy, assistant, associate and full professors of practice and instruction are eligible to serve as PIs, just like tenure-track/tenured faculty members.
Professional-track faculty are eligible to apply for many internal research funding opportunities, including but not limited to Dean’s Fellow leaves, Faculty Development Awards, Faculty Travel Grants, Fine Arts Creative Research Grants, Fine Arts Co-Sponsorship Grants, Fine Arts Community Engagement and Public Practice Seed Grants, OVPR Book Subvention Grants, and OVPR Research and Creative Grants. For more information visit the college’s research support website
Professional-track faculty members are eligible for some paid research leave programs, if approved by the chair and dean, following the college’s Faculty Research Leaves policy.
It is also possible for professional-track faculty members to use external grant or internal funding support to buy out some of their teaching load and spend that time on their research project instead. In general, course buy outs are for pre-arranged, temporary periods of time to achieve the goals of the research grant or project, and teaching loads are expected to return to the prior level at the conclusion of the agreement.
To buy out one course, or the equivalent, for one semester will cost at least 1/8 of the faculty member’s nine-month academic rate plus fringe benefit cost or $10,000, whichever is less. The department or school will receive at least $7,500 for teaching replacement for each course bought out. In order to remain actively on contract, a professional-track faculty member must teach at least one organized course, or the equivalent, per semester and perform their service obligations regardless of how many course buy outs or course releases they receive.
In all cases, research leaves, reassignments of duties, and course buy outs require approval of the department chair/school director and dean. That approval should never be expected in advance and will at least be based on the merit of the project, the benefit to the department/school, and the capacity to secure any necessary teaching replacement.
Department Chairs and School Directors typically plan for leaves and course buy outs for the upcoming academic year during January, February and March. Any course buy out proposed after that is more challenging to accommodate. Therefore, please adhere to the following steps:
- Tell your department chair or school director when you apply for an external grant or internal research funding program that, if approved, would lead to you requesting a course buy out. This notifies the chair/director to begin thinking about teaching replacement options and keeps them abreast of your research activity. Faculty seeking resources or assistance with grant funding applications should refer to the resources on our research support website and/or contact Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Academic Affairs Raquel Monroe.
- If you are awarded the funding, notify your department chair or school director immediately. Provide them with the award letter you received that contains the amounts and details of the award and your submitted project proposal and budget (if applicable). This helps them and their staff determine the right process for administering the award, confirm acceptance of any conditions the external grant may place on the institution before you can accept the award, and informs them of your research success.
- If you want to use the funding received to buy out a course, or support a research leave, you should contact your department chair or school director and propose what you want as soon as possible. You should include information like how many courses to buy out, which courses, and how they might be covered in your absence. This will initiate a conversation that will 1) determine how to implement the course buy out, 2) answer whether it is approved to occur, and 3) launches the process to identify a replacement instructor. The department chair or school director will communicate with the dean during these steps if needed.
- If approved, then the course buy out must be documented formally via a reassignment of duties form (if funding flows through UT) or the request for leave form (if funding flows directly to you as an individual). The department faculty affairs staff person will prompt you to fill out this form by institutional deadlines and can assist you with completing it.
Administrative Positions, Voting Rights, and Academic Community
In general, Practice series and Instruction series faculty should be welcomed and invited to serve as voting members on any committee in the college, school, and department. Practice series and Instruction series faculty may serve as division heads, program heads, center directors, and in other leadership roles in COFA departments, schools, and the college.
Professional-track faculty who hold voting rights in the department/school are entitled to vote to elect members to budget councils or executive committees. Because of the unique roles and responsibilities of the professional-track faculty, executive committees should include professional-track faculty members in both the Instruction series and the Practice series. As per HOP 2-1310 and the provost office’s voting table, members of an executive committee may only vote on promotions to, appointments at rank of, and comprehensive periodic reviews of faculty at their own rank or lower, and no professional-track faculty member may vote on a tenure-track/tenured faculty member’s promotion, tenure, hire with tenure, or comprehensive periodic review.
Except in some unusual circumstances described in HOP 2-1010, professional-track faculty are eligible to vote as a member of the general faculty of the university if they are and have been appointed 50% time or greater for four or more consecutive semesters. Per HOP 2-1020, any faculty member eligible to vote as a member of the general faculty is eligible to vote on any and all business of their college, school, and department, including but not limited to all degree program changes, curricular matters, and changes to the governance document.
HOP 2-1020 also gives colleges, and by delegation departments, the authority to determine voting rules for the college or department that differ from voting rules of the general faculty described by HOP 2-1010. Professional-track faculty in the Practice and Instruction Series should be granted departmental/school voting rights immediately upon the start of their appointment exactly as tenure-track/tenured faculty are, not after two years of service as required for general faculty voting rights in HOP 2-1010. This can only be done by establishing those terms for voting rights in the department’s or school’s governance document as permitted by HOP 2-1020. In no case may a department, school or college governance document modify the voting rules governing its executive committee or budget council’s review of promotion cases, hires with tenure, or comprehensive periodic review described in HOP 2-1310 and the provost’s office voting table. In general, governance documents should include Practice series and Instruction series faculty in departmental operations.
Practice series and Instruction series faculty should be invited to faculty meetings and included in all regular departmental correspondence when appropriate. This principle extends also to online departmental faculty rosters, web biographies, and other instances where faculty achievements are announced or internal and external information is shared.
Practice series and Instruction series faculty in the College of Fine Arts are eligible and should be routinely nominated for awards, honors, research grants, and leaves, unless explicitly excluded by the terms of the particular program.
Practice series and Instruction series faculty are eligible to apply for departmental and college research and travel funding.
The College of Fine Arts will include Practice series and/or Instruction series faculty on its faculty advisory committee and that committee, or a subset of it, will review this professional-track faculty policy periodically for revision, liase with Professional-Track Faculty Advocates, and if needed help with college-wide activities intended for professional-track faculty.
Professional-Track Faculty Mentorship
The department chair or school director, or their delegate, is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the successful mentorship over time of the faculty in their department or school, including the professional-track faculty members.
While not required, each department/school may designate a Professional-Track Faculty Advocate from among the professional-track faculty ranks. This professional-track faculty advocate would partner with department leadership and individual professional-track faculty members to ensure that they are supported in their professional development and pursuit of promotion. A recommended list of responsibilities is here and a tracking document template for the advocate to organize their work is here.
Related Policies and Resources
COFA professional-track faculty offer letter template
Professional-Track Faculty Job Title Chart
Multi-Year Contract Eligibility Chart
Professional-Track Faculty Journey
Professional-Track Faculty Advocate Job Duties
Professional-Track Faculty Milestones Tracker
University’s Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure of Professional-track faculty
College of Fine Arts Promotion Guidelines
Board of Regents Rule 31001: Faculty Appointments and Titles
HOP 2-1010: Academic Titles and Tenure
HOP 2-2160: Recommendations Regarding Faculty Compensation, Faculty Promotion, Tenure, Renewal of Appointment, or Nonrenewal of Appointment
Final Report of the 2018-19 COFA Task Force on Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Final Report of the 2021-22 Professional Track Faculty Committee
This document will be reviewed and updated by the dean’s office at least once every two years.
With the endorsement of the department chairs and directors, Dean Ramón Rivera-Servera adopted this policy on October 18, 2023.
Last Updated November 29, 2023.