Academic Affairs  

Guide to Faculty Searches

VI. Things to Know Before Initiating a Search

C. Special Circumstances

1. Identification of Known Candidates

If an internal or external candidate is known to the department as a likely top choice for a search, the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs must be informed of this prior to the initiation of a national search. Toward this end, the department chair should submit the following materials to the Office of Academic Affairs:

  1. A brief memorandum that outlines the definition of the field, its relationship to the department's strategic plan, and the programmatic need for a faculty position. In cases where an external candidate is likely to emerge as the top choice for the position, an explanation must be provided as to how the candidate came to be identified, as well as his/her relationship, if applicable, to any members of the department's faculty. In cases where an internal candidate is likely to emerge as the top choice for the position, information must be provided that specifically distinguishes the candidate's current non-faculty role from future roles and responsibilities and, in particular, explains why the proposed change in appointment is necessary. (Please note that faculty positions are to be allocated primarily in response to programmatic need and are not to be offered to staff as "promotions."
  2. An up-to-date curriculum vitae for the known candidate(s).
  3. A description of the position as it would appear in an advertisement.

Once these materials have been reviewed by the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, a judgment will be made as to whether a search waiver should be pursued on behalf of the candidate, whether a national search should be conducted, or whether the candidate is inappropriate for consideration for appointment to the faculty.

In cases where a waiver of search is appropriate, please refer to the process outlined in Section VI.C. 2: Waivers of Search.

In cases where a national search will be conducted, please refer to the process outlined in Section VII. The Search Initiation Process. In particular, please note that the advertisement should not be tailored to fit a specific candidate or candidates. The search committee should be instructed that although the credentials of internal candidates may be more easily assessed than those of others, its members are still obliged to consider by all appropriate means the credentials of candidates having no prior association with the University. This obligation should be made clear to any internal candidate who holds or has held a non-faculty Stanford appointment. In keeping with School policy, mentors or collaborators of any known candidate (internal or external) who is likely to be a top choice in the search should recuse themselves from the search and selection process.

2. Waivers of Search

Stanford University's policy regarding waivers of the search process is described in the University's appointment forms as follows:

"On occasion, the Provost may approve a search waiver for a professorial position when an exceptionally talented person (usually an eminent scholar who is clearly a leader in his or her field) is unexpectedly available. The existence of such a target of opportunity may become known in the course of a regular search, through communication via professional channels, or even by the individual making it known that he or she is available.

Other potentially appropriate uses of a search waiver for a professorial position may include: for a scholar who would bring diversity to the school or department; for a transition between faculty lines where there is evidence that the individual's activities and stature have evolved; or for a spousal appointment. There may be rare programmatic reasons that warrant a search waiver; inquiries should be addressed to the Provost's Office. [Note: In the School of Medicine, inquiries should be addressed to the Office of Academic Affairs.]

A request to waive the search requirement for a professorial appointment must present to the Provost convincing evidence that the candidate would have emerged as the leading candidate, if there had been a search. To the extent possible, the request should be substantiated by comparative evaluations (from external and/or internal referees) and evidence of the candidate's significant accomplishments.

In addition, a rigorous review of the candidate's qualifications is expected in the subsequent preparation of the appointment recommendation."

It should be noted that search waivers for junior faculty are granted only in extraordinary circumstances and in situations with compelling programmatic needs.

In the School of Medicine, the following steps should be followed when seeking a waiver of search:

  1. The department chair should have a preliminary conversation with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs regarding the possibility of pursuing a search waiver for a given candidate. The department chair should present the business plan and identify the source of the position type (i.e., incremental, commitment or replacement), the source of salary support, and space.
  2. Upon approval to proceed with the waiver, the following materials should be prepared by the department and submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs:
    1. A transmittal memorandum from the department chair to the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs that includes the position type, the programmatic need for a faculty (as opposed to a staff) position, the method by which the candidate was identified, a description of the candidate's accomplishments in clinical care, teaching and scholarship (as applicable), as well as the explicit and compelling argument that the candidate would emerge as the top choice in a national search were one to be conducted. For situations involving a transition between faculty lines, a compelling case should be made that the candidate's role has evolved to be consistent with the proposed new line and the department's programmatic need. For the University Tenure Line, an explanation should be provided as to how the candidate will be positioned to oversee a broadly-based research program, obtain independent funding and contribute outstanding teaching and mentorship (and, if applicable, clinical care) in keeping with the overall mission of the department.
    2. The candidate's up-to-date curriculum vitae.
    3. Position number for the proposed faculty position (not required for line switches).

      Once the initial request has been reviewed and permission has been granted to proceed with a formal waiver of search request, the department should submit a grid with information about three proposed referees who can provide national assessment of the candidate's achievement and distinction. (Note: In some cases where rapid appointment review is desired, a department may wish to solicit at once all letters that would be required for a subsequent long form.) If named peers are required by the relevant long form, an additional grid with information on five proposed named comparison peers should also be submitted. For recommendations conferring tenure, referee and peer sets should be selected carefully to allow determination of a candidate's distinction within a broadly defined field. Please refer to the Office of Academic Affairs website for detailed instructions regarding the assembly of referee and comparison peer grids.
  3. Upon approval of the referee grid (and, if applicable, the comparison peer grid), the department may send a solicitation letter to referees using the appropriate standard letter template. The letter should be signed by someone who is not a mentor or collaborator of the candidate.

Once the letters have been received from referees, the materials listed below should be submitted to the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. A checklist, which confirms the completeness of the package, must accompany the waiver of search request. Elements of the package are:

  1. A revised transmittal memorandum that incorporates and comments upon the evaluations by the external referees.
  2. The candidate's up-to-date curriculum vitae.
  3. A copy of the solicitation letter.
  4. The referee grid (and, if applicable, the comparison peer grid).
  5. The letters from external referees.

The waiver materials will be reviewed by the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, endorsed by the Dean and forwarded to the Provost for approval.

Upon approval by the Provost, the department may proceed in assembling the appropriate appointment long form and, if desired, preparing a draft offer letter package for approval.

3. Transition between Faculty Lines

Recommendations resulting in transitions between faculty lines are considered new appointments and occur infrequently. If a full search for the new position was not conducted, a search waiver is required. The appointment file should contain information that distinguishes the faculty member's historical, current and future roles and responsibilities. Assertions that the candidate deserves the recommended appointment for meritorious service or time in rank are not sufficient justifications. As a first step, department chairs should consult with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to determine whether a transition between faculty lines is an appropriate action.

4. Reinstating a Tenured Appointment Following Resignation

In the rare circumstance where a former tenured faculty member expresses a desire to return to his or her professorial position at Stanford, the School may use an abbreviated process for submission of the recommendation if the following conditions exist:

  • the faculty member seeks to return within 24 months of his or her resignation;
  • there is departmental approval (where normally required) and School approval to reinstate the tenured appointment; and
  • the School has an appropriate position number and salary support available.

Under such circumstances, the faculty member may be recommended for appointment to the same rank with his or her tenure reinstated. Before committing to such a course, however, the department chair should discuss the matter with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and receive his or her approval.

A search waiver will not usually be required, and the evidence submitted for approval of the appointment by the Dean, the Provost, Advisory Board, and the President should include, at a minimum, memoranda from the department chair and the Dean that explains the circumstances for the reinstatement of appointment and tenure and provides a description of the process by which the recommendation was considered; and completion of the following sections of Appointment Form B5: p5 (position information); p7 (biographical and bibliographic information); p17 (department or School approval).

Note that this abbreviated appointment procedure in no way implies that the former faculty member is entitled to reappointment in these circumstances. This process is only to be initiated when it is decided that it is in the department and School's best interest to reappoint the individual in question.

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