Department, Institute, and Joint Searches

Faculty Search Applicant Tracking (FSAT)



Appointments to the University Tenure Line (UTL), Non-tenure Line (NTL) or University Medical Line (UML) in the School of Medicine are initiated by departmental action.  A department chair must present the case for a new faculty appointment to the Vice Dean and obtain formal authorization from them before a search can be launched.

Departmental faculty and the School administration must regard every search authorization as a potential long-term commitment. The Vice Dean's authorization is based upon the availability of resources (including a billet commitment) and an assessment of the department's present and predicted future needs in research, teaching and clinical activities, as well as priority judgments both within the department and between departments. Contributions to interdisciplinary institutes may also play a role in assigning authorizations to departments.

In most cases, recommendations for an appointment are to be preceded by a rigorous and comprehensive national search. The scope of the search, the judgment exercised in evaluating the pool of candidates and the documentation of the entire process will receive close scrutiny at each level of review. Perfunctory or limited searches and pre-selection or incomplete assessment of candidates are easily recognized during the review and may lead to delay or disapproval of recommendations.


The School of Medicine’s Institutes of Medicine are designed to improve human health by facilitating, augmenting and catalyzing the basic, translational and clinical research of the School's and the University's faculty in selected, complex, multi-disciplinary areas that transcend the domain of any single department.

These Institutes have been allocated billets for the purpose of recruiting faculty who will work in selected, complex, multi-disciplinary areas that transcend the domain of any single department.  However, like all members of Stanford’s Professoriate, such faculty have their primary (and, if applicable, courtesy) appointments in academic departments. 

As a result, the search, recruitment and appointment processes for Institute members are of necessity a joint effort between institutes and departments.  It follows that, in order to be successful, there must be a maximum amount of collaboration between institutes and departments at every stage of the process.  

Institute leaders and staff are encouraged to become familiar with the following best practices in conducting institute searches.

Institute Faculty Searches:  Policies, Procedures and Instructions

Institute directors, staff and members of search committees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the information available on the Office of Academic Affairs website regarding faculty searches.  The information presented here is tailored to circumstances that emerge with institute searches; however, it is intended to be a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, the more detailed and thorough information on the faculty searches presented in subsequent sections.

Composition of the Search Committee

An institute may initiate a search in collaboration with a specific department in the School.  In such cases, the department chair and institute director should establish the search committee and jointly manage the search process.

In cases where the primary department cannot be predicted at the time of the search initiation, an institute director should create a search committee that includes representatives of the departments that could conceivably provide the academic home for the selected candidate.
While the structure of search committees varies, the optimal composition for institute searches is three institute members and several members from a department (when the primary department is known) or departments (when the primary department is unknown).  At the institute director’s discretion, committee members may be drawn from the ranks of assistant, associate or full professors or at the same rank or above that of the position under search.

A diverse search committee helps to encourage a diverse candidate pool.  Institute directors are encouraged to appoint committee members with different backgrounds, perspectives and expertise and with a demonstrated commitment to diversity.

Search Committee Diversity Officer

Institute directors should ask one member of the search committee to serve as a diversity officer.  Faculty serving in this capacity are expected to monitor the procedures of the search process (including outreach efforts), the diversity of the total applicant pool and of the group selected for interviews.  The diversity officer is also responsible for authoring the section of the appointment long form that describes aspects of the search related to diversity.  The Office of Faculty Development and Diversity is available to brief the diversity officer so he or she feels competent to perform this role and to serve as a resource in bringing diversity to the applicant pool.

Primary Department Involvement in the Search and the Long Form

Search committees should include representation from a department (when the primary department has been identified at the outset) or departments (when the primary department is to be determined). 

Prior to the second round of interviews, the search committee chair should contact the chair(s) of appropriate department(s) to determine if there is an interest in the candidate(s).  If so, members of that department should be fully engaged in the second round of interviews and in the selection of the candidate of choice.

In order to assist with the decision of the final ranking of candidates for full or associate professor, the primary department and institute may agree to solicit external letters of evaluation for all of the candidates.  Under such circumstances, the letters should be solicited in compliance with standard procedure (including approval from OAA) so that they are usable as evidence in the appointment long form of the candidate of choice.  Normally, the referee grid and the peer set should be developed by the primary department in consultation with the institute director. 

In situations where there is a strong consensus about the candidate of choice, the primary department, in consultation with the institute director, should develop the full referee grid and the peer set (when required) and submit these materials to OAA for approval.  This should occur as negotiations with the candidate are ongoing.  The goal is to have a majority of letters in hand for submission with the search report and offer letter.  Concurrently, the primary department should be completing other sections of the long form – all except for the Narrative Report and departmental vote sections, which are completed once all evidence is in hand.

Selecting External Referees and Peer Set for Senior Appointments

Suggest we say: The chair of the primary department (in consultation with the institute director) is responsible for developing the referee list and the peer set. Guidelines for referee and peer selection can be found in the Evidence Tables & Guidelines section on the Faculty Affairs Resources page.

External referees should be recognized as national or international leaders in their field and, when possible, should be from institutions comparable to Stanford or organizations of similar high quality (e.g., the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and similar government organizations).  The distinction of the external referees should be documented through leadership positions held, memberships (e.g., National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, etc.), and major honors and awards that are national in scope and/or of great significance to the field. 

The peer set should be of similar high caliber with the group composed of academic leaders who would meet the standards for a tenurable appointment at Stanford.   


The principles governing joint appointments and the search processes to be used are outlined Chapter 2.6.2 of the Stanford University Faculty Handbook. Some general principles are provided here.

General Principles for Joint Appointments

As a general principle, all professorial appointments are to be: in departments (or in schools without departments); held jointly between a department and a specified policy center or institute; or held between two departments. A joint appointment may be made when a faculty member makes a major contribution in terms of time, effort and programmatic need to the academic programs of two or more departments, schools or institutes. This contribution should be on a continuing basis and judged to be sufficiently significant for the joint appointee to have voting privileges in both (or all) of the units in which the appointment resides. These units frequently share salary or other support and may share in the tenure commitment. In all joint appointments, even those that are divided evenly between two units, one unit is designated as “primary” and the other as “secondary.” The primary and secondary designations are made at the time the joint appointment is initiated and may be changed with the unanimous consent of the faculty member, the relevant department Chairs, institute directors, and school Deans.

Faculty holding joint appointments are expected to carry a normal load of teaching, administrative, and leadership responsibilities. The precise nature of those responsibilities will depend on the roles the faculty are expected to play in the departments, schools, or policy institutes to which they are appointed. The Chairs (or Deans or directors, as applicable) of the relevant academic units should consult on these matters.)

Searches for Joint Appointments

Although searches may be conducted by a single department or school, they can also be conducted more broadly across several departments or schools, or by one or more departments using a joint billet, which may be joint between a specified policy center or institute and a department or school.

Faculty searches are generally conducted (or overseen, in the case of broad-based searches) by the group requesting the search. The search committee should be composed of faculty from both departments and the relevant institute.  For initial appointments that are joint between an institute and a department, the votes of the institute and department should occur separately.  For new hires, both the institute and department must vote positively.