Nonreappointment & Full-Time Renewable Term Appointments

The Applicability of the Standards for Notice of Nonreappointment to All Full-Time Faculty Members on Renewable Term Appointments

The following statement was approved by the Association's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure in June 1995.

The Association's Standards for Notice of Nonreappointment provide that, 

Because a probationary appointment, even though for a fixed or stated term, carries an expectation of renewal, the faculty member should be explicitly informed of a decision not to renew an appointment, in order that the faculty member may seek a position at another college or university. Such notice should be given at an early date, since a failure to secure another position for the ensuing academic year will deny the faculty member the opportunity to practice their profession.

The document goes on to state that

Notice of nonreappointment, or of intention not to recommend reappointment to the governing board, should be given in writing in accordance with the following standards:

  1. Not later than March 1 of the first academic year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if a one-year appointment terminates during an academic year, at least three months in advance of its termination.
  2. Not later than December 15 of the second academic year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if an initial two-year appointment terminates during an academic year, at least six months in advance of its termination.
  3. At least twelve months before the expiration of an appointment after two or more years in the institution.

The Association has viewed these standards as the minimum of proper notification if faculty members are to have an adequate opportunity to secure the professional appointments for which they are qualified.

Regulation 1(b) of the Association's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure provides that, “With the exception of special appointments clearly limited to a brief association with the institution, . . . all full-time faculty appointments are of two kinds: (1) probationary appointments; (2) appointments with continuous tenure.” The AAUP has repeatedly spoken out against the use of full-time renewable non-tenure-track faculty appointments. As the authors of Committee A's 1978 report on this subject concluded:

We think that the very limited exceptions allowed by Regulation 1 (b) are the most that should be allowed.  The teacher with tenure is a teacher whose service can be terminated only for adequate cause, and we think that every full–time teacher should either have that status or be a candidate for it—save for those who fall under the exceptions allowed by Regulation 1 (b), in particular, those who are visitors, or temporary replacements, or for whose subjects the institution in good faith expects to have only a short-term need.

Despite the Association’s strictures, colleges and universities have increasingly been appointing faculty members to ongoing full-time positions in which they are recognized neither as tenured nor as probationary for tenure.

While academic institutions commonly adhere to the Association’s Standards for Notice of Nonreappointment with respect to faculty appointments that they recognize as probationary, in many cases they have not considered those standards to be applicable to those full-time faculty members whose service under non-tenure-track appointments has involved more than “a brief association with the institution” and who continue to serve on annual appointments that are indefinitely renewable at the discretion of the administration.  Typically, although the terms of their appointments may stipulate that they are for one year only, the faculty members are given reason to expect that, so long as they perform creditably and so long as enough courses remain available, the appointments will be renewed.  Frequently, however, at or near the end of an academic year, these individuals are suddenly notified that their appointments are not in fact being renewed for the following year.  Despite what may have been an extended affiliation with the institution, the faculty members are not viewed as entitled to the notice of nonreappointment that would be given to colleagues who hold appointments designated as probationary.

Committee A considers all full-time faculty members holding renewable term appointments, whatever their title or status, to be entitled to notice of nonreappointment as called for in the Association’s recommended standards.  We do not view it as necessary, or indeed as equitable, to deprive full-time “non-tenure-track” faculty members of the safeguards that the standards for notice are intended to provide.