Academic Specialist

Academic specialists contribute to the intellectual fabric of our community of scholarship in specialized ways, in a primary functional area and often in other areas of the academic mission. Like all faculty, academic specialists have a responsibility to the university to strive for academic excellence and to be held accountable for academic integrity.

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  • Preparing for Review

    Units provide criteria to all faculty members at the time of appointment or promotion to current rank. Primary appointing units are responsible for initiating the reappointment and promotion processes and providing the specific timelines, procedures and criteria for their faculty.

    Academic specialists are responsible for familiarizing themselves with their unit timelines, procedures and criteria prior to submitting a request for continuing system reappointment, award of continuing status or promotion and completing the required forms and other documentation.

    The CHM criteria for continuing system reappointment, award of continuing status, and promotion review are based on the Specialist Position Description, the specific criteria for promotion defined by the unit, and the specialist's primary functional area:

    •  Teaching
    •  Advising
    •  Curriculum Development
    •  Research and Scholarly Activity
    •  External Service/Outreach
    •  Administrative Service


    Academic specialists are evaluated annually and provided feedback on their performance by the applicable unit administrator. Written annual evaluations are conducted as part of regular reviews related to assignment, planning and salary adjustment. Processes and criteria for reappointment and promotion should be a topic at this yearly meeting.

  • Review Timelines

    Specialists in the continuing appointment system with probationary appointments undergo the reappointment review process in the year prior to the final year of their appointment. Academic specialists in the continuing appointment system complete two probationary periods of three years each. Successful review during the first probationary period results in a second probationary period appointment. Specialists are notified of the outcome of the reappointment application one year prior to the end of their first probationary period.

    Academic Specialist Continuing Status timeline graphic

    Successful review during the second probationary period results in the award of continuing status. Specialists are notified of the outcome of their continuing status application one year prior to the end of their second probationary period.

    Academic Specialist RPT timeline graphic


    Specialists in the fixed term appointment system negotiate the conditions of reappointment with the appointing unit(s). Appointment or reappointment on a fixed term basis does not involve any commitment to appointment in any of the continuing academic personnel appointment systems, which require separate and distinct procedures.

    For both continuing and fixed term specialists, a recommendation for promotion to senior specialist should be based on several years (generally five to seven years) of excellence in the performance of assigned duties together with the recognition by peers and colleagues both within the University and regionally, nationally and internationally. Such recognition is to be based on external peer review involving evaluation of performance in one or more of the assigned functional areas, consistent with performance levels for similar roles expected at a premier, land-grant AAU University. Fixed term academic specialists applying for promotion to senior specialist are required to have sixty or more FTE service months. Fixed term specialists may request their current FTE service month balance directly from MSU Academic Human Resources at

  • Review Process

    Specialist candidate completes and submits to unit:

    1. CV
    2. Reflective Essay
    3. Sample of Scholarly Work (for internal/external reviewers if appointment includes research; not required for reappointment review)
    4. List of recommended external and internal reviewers (not required for reappointment review)
    5. Form on Progress and Excellence for Academic Specialists (applicant sections)
    6. Academic Portfolio


    Unit adds:

    1. Specialist Position Description (SPD)
    2. Specific criteria for promotion for the position
    3. Internal and external reviewer letters
    4. Signed annual review letters for each year in the review period


    A review committee of individuals knowledgeable about the position under review and the Academic Specialist Appointment System, including at least one academic specialist, provides advice to the academic unit administrator, as stated in the unit bylaws and in accordance with college and university bylaws, policies and procedures. Faculty are given an opportunity to confer with the unit peer review group before a decision is made. The unit administrator conducts an independent evaluation, taking into consideration the peer review committee’s evaluation, and forwards a recommendation to the CHM Office of Faculty Affairs and Development (FAD) for college-level review.

    Unit administrator completes and submits to college:

    1. Completed Form on Progress and Excellence for Academic Specialists
    2. Items 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 above


    Units submit materials to FAD by the first working day in March.

    Deans independently review each recommendation and approve or disapprove, taking into consideration unit recommendations. Deans forward recommendations to the Office of the Provost, where the final decision is made.

  • Designation B

    Fixed term academic specialists who meet eligibility requirements may apply for Designation B status. Designation B is a policy in the Union of Non-tenure Track Faculty (UNTF) contract that recognizes sustained excellence in teaching. For faculty who are granted Designation B status, the next appointment shall be for at least three years subject to satisfactory completion of a major review. See Designation B for additional details.

  • Resources